WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUE
Has Sky Sports News ever been more addictive than the frantic transfer activity we saw on Monday?
For those who missed it, it was fascinating stuff. Well, as fascinating as a continuous loop of repeated sports news can be anyway. The ‘breaking news’ ticker tape became oddly hypnotic as it scrolled brightly across the bottom of the screen. The big news was City’s roller coaster takeover and the club’s, slightly demented, transfer policy of bidding 32 million for any star player previously linked with a move. There were twists and turns galore and all that was missing was the happy ending for us (but more on that later).
News came in of Liverpool’s big name, quality transfer, former Premiership misfit and poor man’s Harry Kewel, Riera. Arsenal hilariously stuck to their rigid summer transfer policy of buying no one. Spurs spent big again on a questionable Russian. West Ham continue to implode. Then Man City tabled (an accepted) bid for Berbatov and looked like they might just nick the miserable sod off Manure. How we laughed at it all.
This was all well and good but there was no news coming from the Bridge regarding the Brazilian sand dancer. What was going on, another eleventh hour signing on the cards like the Ashley Cole saga? The excitable Sky presenters had nothing until City only tabled a bid for the man himself. My first reaction was to scoff, laugh bitterly, and snort in general contempt. Robinho won’t go to City, I said confidently, they’re shit. My second reaction was more reasoned but pretty much the same outcome. Firstly, Robinho had held a press conference only the day before proclaiming his undying hope to join Chelsea and Chelsea was all he was thinking of. Secondly, Scolari was a father figure as a national coach and was widely regarded to be the man to get the best from Robinho’s exciting potential. Thirdly, we’ve a squad full of world class players, aiming to win world class trophies and if he wants to be the world’s best footballer he’s not going to be playing at club more used to fighting relegation. Well, how wrong can you be?
As I stared at the mocking ticker tape thing I felt a bit shocked and genuinely gutted we had missed out on Robinho. This was what it felt like to be gazumped. After nicking the likes of Essien and Ballack, it was probably a bit of karma. Maybe the number seven shirt will now no longer be cursed? The office stick the next day was good banter because, genuinely, hats off to City for the signing. It’s proven to be a pivotal transfer for a few reasons. Not only a new British transfer record, not only another world star plying his trade in England but it seemed a case of the proverbial baton being passed. City had just joined the big boys and stated their intent. They had outbid Abramovich to get their man. The press have run with this and now City are being linked with all kinds of ridiculous signings and hyperbole. It certainly looks as though they’re the new big spenders and we’re the (relative) paupers.
Moreover, this was a pivotal moment for our club. Kenyon wasn’t bullied by Madrid; he stuck to his guns with a fair bid and didn’t bow to crazy money of the Wright-Phillips days. We conducted ourselves with integrity throughout (you heard of pot, kettle, black Calderon?) and we aren’t the ones who come out of this looking bad, far from it. Robinho isn’t worth thirty two million and he isn’t worth 158 grand a week either. There seems to be a much more astute and mature policy on transfers over the last two seasons and the Robinho saga has made it more apparent. The message seems clear, that other clubs can no longer name their price and we happily pay it.
Any disappointment with not signing Robinho was quickly forgotten about in the cold light of day. He is a class player but his motives don’t look too clever at the moment. Besides which, in last season’s player of the year, we already have a near identical trickster in Joe Cole. Joe’s Chelsea through and through and I know who I’d rather see in the side, anytime, every time. It might have been that Big Phil was planning to play both but it still would have meant a fall guy out of Essien, Lamps, Ballack, Deco etc. Whichever way you look at it the team is full of unbelievable talent, Robinho would have been just another, albeit nice, option. It also gives a chance to the attacking youngsters such as Di Santo, Sinclair and Stoch. If one of those makes it this season everyone connected to the club will be absolutely delighted.
City’s dramatic upturn in fortune seems to have put them in pole position for the tabloid fodder that has dogged us in recent years. If a player wants a new and improved deal, his agent might be mentioning Man City from now on. We might be able to do business more successfully at market prices now that Abu Dhabi United Group are looking to pay money we haven’t even came close to. It could be them who are asked to come back with a bigger offer for a player. Roman has always kept a dignified silence in owning the club and already Dr Al-Fahim has been shouting his mouth off about how he’ll be signing Ronaldo in January. If Roman and the club have generally been hated for throwing about the cash there could be a whole new wave of dislike heading to Manchester. Not from us though, we know the score. But that’s not to say we’re not still bitter. As we’ll have to listen to a stadium-full singing they’ve ‘got Robinho’ we really need to give them a football lesson a week on Saturday. They might be the new superpower off the pitch but it’s what you do on it that counts.