Game Getting Greedier


Just when we were all enjoying a summer free from the fickle world of football, like low budget reality television – it’s back, in our faces, and sucking us all in. And, though there is something so intrinsically sickening about modern football, I cannot hide my exuberance as the big kick-off draws ever closer.

I cannot begin to fathom how quickly summer’s flown and, furthermore, make sense of all the crazy shenanigans which have occurred in the short time since we’ve last spoken.

Just to start things off, two words I’m really tired of hearing on my television recently are: ‘opulent’ and ‘decadent’. Not only are these two annoying ‘buzz’ words dropped into every second sentence of every tacky TV show, but quite fittingly, they’re at the very heart of this debate – in that they represent everything that is wrong with modern life and, in this particular case, modern footballers.

Xabi Alonso’s sublime skill and integrity I will miss dreadfully

It seems the mega money wheel, which many of us had expected would curb its extravagances, shows no signs of stopping, as all the big clubs, bar Chelsea, made yet more heavy investments over the summer.

In spite of this, The Premier League, in wake of both Ronaldo’s and Alonso’s departures (both to Real Madrid), begins slightly less alluring than 12 months previous, as a cash re-injected Galacticos, somewhat obscenely, seek to address the imbalance in La Liga; a direct response, of course, to the dominance last term of modern football’s soccer supremos, and archetypes, that are the irresistible FC Barcelona. I blame neither for following their dreams.

If I am sanguine about the imminent Premier League season, this year’s Spanish Championship then, with the absurd money been spent by Los Blancos, has me teeming with expectation anticipating the epic battle that is likely to commence between Spain’s big two  – especially in the mouthwatering EL Classicos.

Back to the Premier League…

r253538 1045425 Game Getting Greedier

Dean Windass: so glad he disappeared gracefully

There are further factors which have led to the dampening of one’s spirit – namely, the things I’ll miss most this season. Not only do I envisage the PL being worse off without Xabi and Ronaldo (and I’m maddened Liverpool didn’t get someone like Sneijder in exchange!), I’m going to miss Arbeloa, Gus Hiddink, Di Michele, the Baggies, Newcastle Utd, and Dean Windass. Ok, not Dean Windass.

Of course it’s been events taking place at Manchester City hogging most of the headlines and unsurprisingly it’s been themselves making the majority of movements in the transfer market.

Will this propel them to genuine challengers? I’m not too sure. But I have to say they do look a fantastic team on paper, with more players surely on their way. What concerns me most, is, if they continue to tighten the screw, it could have catastrophic implications. Regulations are needed, I feel, and fast. Otherwise, smaller clubs must resign themselves to being nothing other than feeder clubs for the lucky big ones.

Ok, a sudden cash injection will always come at a cost, and an inflated profile has certainly catapulted themselves to within the top three clubs: most love to hate contest; rivalling both neighbours United in the most hated club in Manchester, and Chelsea in the club most begrudge happiness category. But I suppose if you’re a fan of Man City, this doesn’t bother in the slightest, and you’re probably just delighted to be getting a mention; as after all, there is only one thing that’s worse than being talked about?

adebayor mancity Game Getting Greedier

Leaving the best footballing side in the PL had nothing to do with money?!

With a track record as hapless as the Citizens’s, half of me wishes them well, and I’m in no doubt they’ll add an interesting dynamic to this league this season. But the other part of me (like everywhere apart from my little toe) – mainly on grounds of the preposterous money they’ve spent, and negative influence such shameless money flaunting has on good loyal footballers – wants them to fall flat on their mercenary faces.

That kind’ve brings me to the point which is hinted at in the title.

Both Manchester City and Real Madrid are playing their parts in moving soccer in a direction I’d hoped we’d begun to move away from. Recession seemed to be the wake up call EVERYONE needed; and it was dawning on most that society’s decline had come as a direct result of people’s sheer greediness. Aspiring to ideals as counter-productive as individualism, globalisation, and over-spending way beyond our means, certainly haven’t helped matters.

We have all had to tighten our belts, wind in our necks, and in many cases, taken pay cuts. Why should footballers be the exception?

Wage cuts and maximum transfer fees are long overdue, now they are something of a necessity if the game is to remain sustainable and competitive.

As fans – as removed as we naturally must feel – for the purpose of our own well being, it is probably best to turn a blind-eye to the obscene cash currently been flashed about and hope it subsides eventually. For the moment, salvage as much enjoyment from matches as possible and, maybe for just one more season, try real hard to remain biddable and content in your lives as spectators.

Ultimately, football, in places like England, risks alienating itself from the people it was supposedly created for. If you lose that connection with the supporters, there’s nothing left. The more money that gets thrown at it the more mercenaries it attracts and, like flies around your pint, its appeal is severely lessened.

 44887400 2gallery Game Getting Greedier

Kildare’s inspirational Johnny Doyle puts soccer players to shame

Over the summer I decided to embrace the games which are indigenous to the island I now live. The Gaelic Games (GAA) have not only enamoured me with huge vigour and excitement, over what was a welcome summer void, they have also taught me an invaluable lesson about the nature of sportsmanship; and I must say, I’ve been mightily impressed. It now demands my undying respect.

Part of the draw – which I must add adds massively to the drama – is that Gaelic footballers and Hurlers, for those who did not know, do not get paid, and do it solely for the love of their sport; and I’d bet anyone, who dare suggest to the contrary, they are as dedicated, hard-working, and devoted to their sport as any soccer player on the planet. When you consider the majority of players also work a full time job, it sheds vulgar light onto PL footballers; and puts the £150,000+ per week (!!!!??????!!!!) players like Tevez, Toure, Adebayor, and Gareth Barry are reportedly being paid at Man City, starkly and alarmingly into perspective.

Of course, I don’t – completely – blame the players.

They – or their agents, rather – are just negotiating the best money they can get, at this stage of their career, a career which could so easily end as soon as tomorrow. The money being offered by clubs should not be so high in the first place.

Some might argue the players only earn a fair percentage of what huge revenue the game generates. Bullshit. If this was the case then why are there so many clubs suddenly going into administration? With most clubs facing financial uncertainty, it seems it is only the clubs at the disposal of playboy Billionaires – who seem to treat PL football clubs like designer handbags – who seem unfazed by the game’s unsustainable overheads.

It is not only the players’ pay-packets, however, chipping away at my soul. There are also huge question marks hanging over soccer players’ loyalties: both to their sport and, more specifically, to their football clubs.

When the going gets rough, Owen gets off.

Michael Owen is a prime example. Always a bit self-absorbed, Owen reflects an ugly selfish streak within modern society, as he undoubtedly places personal success far above that of his club. The manner in which he ditched the sinking ship of Newcastle for the gravy train at United is frankly quite scandalous. His poor return up at St James’s, where he was on astronomical wages, suggests Owen is quite spineless, and his latest test of loyalty, which has been tested before don’t forget, has rubberstamped what I had somehow always expected.

Barry, Adebayor, and that little prick, Bellemy, are just more examples of this unsavoury, self-centred, and unwanted culture, blighting our great game.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, recently spoke out about the dangers of communicating via social networking sites, such as Twitter, about disloyal footballers, and the negative influence both are having on society: accusing them of dehumanising society. I found it quite poignant then, when Darren Bent somehow managed to combine the two, when he left Spurs for Sunderland over the summer, after putting in a transfer request via his Twitter page!

Darren Bent Bolton v Tottenham celeb 1856939 Game Getting Greedier

Journey-man Darren Bent has never had the best social skills

Though far from the Luddite you might suspect I would have to agree with Nichols on this one, as indubitably, it is true, of most places, that people’s social skills are worsening, and that communities are in decline. However, this is surely a wider problem that has to be addressed from top to bottom? Nevertheless, we have to expect, that society’s role models, which footballers unquestionably are, have to lead by example and must set a precedent.

For the moment, at least, let’s sink our teeth into another season of obscenity. As, even though the ‘decadence’ and the ‘opulence’ may not sit perfectly with all our principles and prejudices, for a few hours on a Saturday, a few afternoon beers on a Sunday, and possibly for a sneaky meet-up with the lads in midweek, it offers wonderful escapism and indulgence; which personally I intend to embrace, and to squeeze every ounce of pleasure from as it is humanly possible. I suggest, my friends, you all do the same.

Good luck.