But have that other London team, Chelsea, any real cause for satisfaction, after their unimpressive 3-1 home win against a Norwich City side reduced to ten men? Frank Lampard insists that it’s much too early to write Chelsea off and with the recent arrival of the elegant Juan Mata, who immediately obliged with a goal, and the Herculean teenaged attacker, Lukaku, now at the Bridge, he might well be proved right.
Yet for the precocious new manager, Andrew Villas Boas, the shadow over his side remains that of the non-functioning, non-scoring Fernando Torres. So long as he is there, and perhaps Villas Boas might have considered this before he walked away from Porto, since Torres and his form or lack of it arguably doomed Carlo Ancelotti. Roman Abramovich, who has just bought at colossal expense yet more accommodation in London, paid £50 million for Torres and wants his money’s worth. Will he ever get it?
If I were Harry Redknapp, I’d be even more worried than Arsene Wenger who, after the humiliation at Old Trafford, can at least console himself with the knowledge that the heart had been ripped out of the side which had surpassed itself in midweek at Udinese.
It must have been “the most unkindest cut of all” when even the stalwart Thomas Vermuelen, back at last in dominating centre defensive form after missing nearly the whole of last season, dropped out, too, shortly before the game.
True, Wenger can surely be faulted for failing to buy a decent centre back to put alongside him, or to reinforce the three shaky stoppers who were used last season; and again, alas, two of them, anyway, at Old Trafford. But he couldn’t hope to keep the essential Cesc Fabregas and a Samir Nasri who had less than a year to run on his contract and could therefore have gone for nothing at the end of the present season. Even if, had Arsene had his way, he might still have hung on to him.
Not that this is always the best policy, as we, alas, are seeing in the case of Luka Modric, a born creative inside forward who knows and has for some time done, that Chelsea want him. So he has been “not in the right mood” to play for Spurs and a bitter Harry Redknapp hints strongly at what we all surely know, that he’s been tapped and unsettled. Not that it took much tapping with almost day by day newspaper reports that Chelsea were bidding for him. But that’s how it sadly goes in these days of the plutocratic clubs.
If they want a player, all they really have to do is to rustle their money. So Nasri came to City, with Redknapp, quite correctly and scornfully, dismissing the players suggestion that he made the move for anything but money; and so to the unsettled Modric.
Manchester United haven’t the huge financial resources of City and Chelsea, not least because the ineffable Glazers have taken them over and skilfully saddled them with huge debts. But they do have much more than, say, the Gunners or than Spurs, and Alex Ferguson successfully brings through young players galore. Though he really shouldn’t boast about the fact that he is supply England’s team with so many. He paid a vast sum for Wayne Rooney, young Jones has arrived from Blackburn Rovers, Smalling from Fulham, Ashley Young from Villa.
And Manchester City? With Sheikh Mansour’s billions behind them, with Edin Dzeko now finding his true, triumphant form, with Nasri supplying him with chances, with a player as celebrated and prolific as Carlos Tevez sitting on the bench, who could resist them? Who said money isn’t everything?