It is a cliche that smacks of nostalgia and misplaced romanticism, of naivety even, but one stating an undeniable truth…’Football, as we knew it, has gone mad!’. Indeed its mind had been growing increasingly unstable over the last decade, but we have now gone past the point of no return.
The sport took another blow as Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez declared Gareth Bale was a “cheap” purchase for the Spanish giants. The moment when a man paid to kick a ball – which is, admittedly down to its bare bones, what footballers do – and valued £86m is considered cheap, then we should probably all return our season tickets and wonder where it all went wrong.
And yet, despite the ludicrous amount of money thrown around this summer, when Premier League clubs alone forked out an astronomical £630m – for that money one could buy 7.3 Gareth Bales or 180,000 pints of lager – and the usual flurry of greedy agents and “unsettled” players, the summer of 2013 proved that some footballers, however begrudgingly, can still behave professionally.
Doing your job when you get paid in the excess of £100,000-a-year – in many cases, even more – shouldn’t be anything to get excited about, let alone something worth praising but, on the other hand, it’s interesting to note of player power might be slightly on the vane as three of Europe’s top strikers know only too well.
Nobody does PR quite as bad as Manchester United have done over the last three months, but amid the contradicting statements that poured out of Old Trafford on a daily basis, one thing was certain – Wayne Rooney wanted out.
Having grown disillusioned with life at Old Trafford, which over the course of last season consisted of either a central midfield spot or a place on the bench, the England international couldn’t have his flirtation with Chelsea more blatant had he asked Jose Mourinho out for dinner.
Yet, despite Chelsea’s offers and Rooney more or less blatant rumblings of discontent, David Moyes stood his ground and the 27-year-old is arguably the only bright note of United’s season so far, having netted four times in the last three games and showing the fighting spirit the rest of team lacked during Sunday’s collapse against Manchester City.
Rooney could tonight face a player who himself wanted out of his club, a feeling which, for a while at least, his manager and many fans seemed to reciprocate.
If Rooney flirted with Chelsea, Luis Suarez went the extra mile and issued a “come and get me” plea to Arsenal, Real Madrid and whichever club was willing enough to meet Liverpool’s financial demands and brave enough to burden their dressing room with the Uruguayan.
Despite Suarez’s claims that Brendan Rodgers and the club had broken a promise by not letting him go after Liverpool failed to clinch a Champions League spot, the Uruguayan will remain at Anfield at least until January after Rodgers, backed by his board, simply refused to listen to any offers for Suarez and Arsene Wenger decided to use his extra £1 on a rather talented German.
Speaking of Germany, things aren’t too different over there. Robert Lewandowski looked set to be reunited with his former teammate Mario Gotze to the Allianz Arena, but Dortmund refused to let the Polish striker join Guardiola’s revolution.
Granted, as Lewandowski himself confirmed to a German TV yesterday, he will sign a pre-contract with the Bavarian club in January before completing his move next summer, but he hasn’t exactly spent the first month of the season sulking on the bench, rather he’s scored four goals in the first six Bundesliga games.
In an environment completely alienated from the rest of the world, forcing overpaid players to commit to their job might be a hollow victory, but perhaps it’s the first step towards a bigger improvement.