LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 05: Boise State Broncos fan Kara Dudley of Idaho holds up an "Occupy ESPN" sign during a game between the Broncos and the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium November 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State won 48-21. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
As you are all aware, it is a dreadfully slow news week here at CFC what with the trial of Harry Redknapp and it being an FA Cup week. Luckily for us, some outlets will still manage to pump news and features out even when it seems like nothing at all is happening. This is especially true of our dear friends at ESPN. Unfortunately for US soccer fans, ESPN's soccer coverage is relegated to a ghetto, a far flung corner of their website within which it seems nothing of substance comes out and transfer rumors are even spottier than the ones seen in the Sun. While perusing the site there today, I came across this article by Norman Hubbard in which the man seems to say very little while writing a pretty sizable piece. As I am want for articles to write today, I decided to bring a favorite story type of mine around to these parts, and give this article the Fire Joe Morgan treatment, made famous weekly nowadays by Drew Magary's splendid pieces breaking down Peter King's horrible columns. Will this be funny? MAYBE! Should the FA Cup final be played on a magical field in Wichita with no crowd? ABSOLUTELY!
'Money,' sang Barrett Strong in one of Motown's first hits, 'that's what I want'. While it could seem the Premier League's anthem, the division's relationship with pounds and pence is a little more complicated.
No, no, I'm pretty sure the only complication in the relationship is that teams want to win titles, while making money hand over fist. Why else make replica jerseys where the material cost 2 dollars and sell it for threeve percent markup?
Their greed is almost taken for granted but while most clubs have never been wealthier, many have rarely been in more debt.
It's almost as if the true value of ten pounds has, (gasp) decreased since 1950! Norman, you may have just unraveled a decades long conspiracy to make us all poorer!
The more they spend, the more secretive they try and become about it. Transfer fees are often undisclosed and even lengths of contracts can be glossed over.
Little known fact: Daniel Levy facilitated the transfer for Rafael van der Vaart by performing dead drops of transfer offers, coded three times over, by dropping his coat at a Madrid street corner for 3 weeks.
Readers of ESPNsoccernet's sister sites may have noticed that the exact levels of remuneration of players from teams like the Miami Heat or New York Yankees is displayed. The same is not true of Manchester United or Chelsea footballers - but not because of editorial oversight.
But because Bill Simmons would neglect his wife and kids and sell his body for bandwidth if anyone could develop a Trade Machine for European Football.
There is no culture of openness, least of all when it comes to cash. It is a sign of unease about lavish expenditure.
I think you may be missing some signals, I'm pretty sure Roman Abramovich publicly orgasmed at the thought of spending 40 million dollars for a young Croatian man child.
Occasionally, however, important details cannot be denied.
Occasionally, however, they totally can be.
It is undisputed that, in January 2011, Chelsea broke the British transfer record to spend £50 million on Fernando Torres while Liverpool, in turn, made Andy Carroll the most expensive Englishman ever by paying Newcastle £35 million for him.
Prior to that the most anyone would spend on an Englishman was paying Ricky Gervais a few quid per day to mow the lawn. Now what is that poor person going to do when Ricky finds out he's being underpaid? LIVERPOOL RUINED CHEAP ENGLISH LABOR!
As each approaches an unhappy anniversary of his arrival, it is impossible to argue either has been a success.
I feel like every new parent feels the same when their kid turns 1 and no longer shits green tar.
Each, rather, is an expensive embarrassment; an indictment of Roman Abramovich and Kenny Dalglish respectively.
Thankfully not of Harry Redknapp though, he's got enough on his plate. No need to be indicted by an ESPN Soccernet writer of CRIMES AGAINST HUMAN DECENCY!
The impotent strikers are trapped by their transfer fees. To sell either at a huge loss would be humiliating, while it is utterly implausible any offers approach their inflated values of 12 months ago.
This same line of thinking gets people to spend more than blue book value on their car trying to repair it. This also would have been good advice for Zynga when they thought about going public.
Moreover, with every failure, their fees appear still more excessive. They are quoted as the case for the prosecution mounts with every skewed, sliced or scuffed shot.
Wait? This is a trial now? They still get to wear the wigs in England and stuff, right? Torres would look funny in a wig.
Yet, compared with the references to Carroll's cost, count how often Liverpool's other attacking addition last January is deemed 'the £22.8 million striker Luis Suarez' with references to Carroll's cost.
22.8 just doesn't roll off the tongue like 35 does.
Torres' team-mate Ramires was an £18 million midfielder when he was struggling to adjust to life in England; his price tag is often ignored now he is possibly the club's player of the year.
Greggggggg Easterbrook Keys to Soccer Success: Play with 2 central defenders AND 2 sweepers, get rid of the big money glory boys, play only team captains from Conference National sides WHO JUST WANT IT MORE!
I don't even know if this makes sense? So basically, because the team TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY NEEDED someone in that position, it wouldn't matter if they spent 100 million pounds on the dude? This flies in the face of EVERYTHING YOU'VE BEEN SAYING UP UNTIL THIS POINT! Besides that fact, Sergio Aguero is one of the goal scoring leaders in England, so how has he NOT been worth the money? I'm sure you also thought that the Ronaldo transfer was obscene and the Brazilian only worth 10 million pounds AT MOST!
Stewart Downing being arrested every other week isn't an issue at all I guess. I feel like you would be that guy, whne we all went out to the bar, refused to buy hard liquor because 'you could spend half as much and drink alone at home.'
By focusing on what appears a misuse of money, both public and press show society's values. But that seems a source of irritation to managers, who exhibit either a naivety or a wilful ignorance of the outside world to imagine money doesn't matter.
"Surely you don't need my taxes, just fucking fix the numbers a bit."
The notion that they - or in Chelsea's case, the owner - can be judged on their spending is embraced by those who have bought well and resented by those who have not.
Let's be honest, when it gets down to it who here HASN'T run their Football Manager club horribly into debt? The people who resent Chelsea just wish they could be that willfully ignorant of "fiscal responsibility." And the key to being that willfully ignorant is to be Russian.
It is part of a wider managerial hypocrisy; coaches complain about criticism of how they have spent while calling for reinforcements at every opportunity. While a select group, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez, do not believe money is the automatic answer to any problem, plenty presume there is bottomless pit of cash.
David Moyes fixes his squad cheaply because the club told Moyes that any transfer purchases came out of his contract. That was AFTER they sold his dog without asking to fund the Donovan loan.
It is often the argument of the underachieving manager, a game designed to shift the blame, bringing attention to the chairmen and chief executives who are vilified simply for balancing the books.
"Paolo, we're firing you."
"What for? I got mid table, what more can I do with this squad when we have no money!"
"You're giving us excuses Paolo, that squad was good enough to win the league with all the money we pumped into it. We're lucky we broke even."
"You can't be serious! You gave me a blind man to play keeper!"
"Just because he missed a couple of sitters..."
"HE'S ACTUALLY LEGITIMATELY BLIND!"
"We don't have to take this, you're done. Now if you excuse me, my mistress and I are driving my Jaaaaaaaag down to Brighton for a caviar tasting gala."
Words like 'ambition' are used as euphemisms as if there are no ways of demonstrating a sense of aspiration or realising goals without heavy expenditure when actually, as Swansea, Norwich and Newcastle are showing there is another way.
One is not like the other...
The Premier League, with its seeming objective of world domination, can appear one of sport's financial success stories of the last two decades, drawing in money from across the planet, whether from supporters or owners. Yet no player, we are often assured, was motivated by money as a child.
That's because children are stupid and don't have a family to support, a house to pay rent for, hookers to pay for. Kids don't have responsibility because kids are weak and useless.
Neither, originally, were many adults. The game has come a long way since a schism between public school amateurs and northern professionals in 19th Century England. The latter were the victors, setting up the Football League. Eleven years later, in 1899, the FA considered limiting transfer fees to £10.
I'm beginning to wonder after your earlier comment if you just completely fail to grasp the concept of inflation...
It is a policy that may get belated support from Stamford Bridge and Anfield. A simpler solution would be to deny their fans information and ape other clubs' policy of refusing to reveal fees. Then, perhaps, they would spend less time on the defensive.
Because it is completely sound strategy to release your financial dealings to every club in Europe and have clubs be aware how much they need to price you out of transfer negotiations.
A reality check would help, though. Strange as it sounds, some managers seem surprised that more is expected of a £35 million forward or a £50 million striker than his cut-price counterpart elsewhere.
Oh now you just completely pulled this out of your ass. That of you've been talking to Brian Clough from the other side of the grave.
In a season when Torres and Carroll are being outscored by Heidar Helguson, Danny Graham, Grant Holt and Steve Morison, the evidence that money does not necessarily buy success is particularly compelling.
That would explain why Manchester City, a team completely built of homegrown players, grassroot efforts, and hopes and dreams is top of the table. Oh, and the fact that money bought success.
By doubling up as soap opera and sport, the Premier League offers escapism in abundance. Yet sometimes it reflects reality.
I often score bicycle kick goals when playing indoor soccer in my rec league.
In two high-profile cases, the mocking choruses of "what a waste of money" from opposing fans have a truth. As the gap between rich and poor grows, the example of Torres and Carroll shows it is not necessary to succeed to accumulate unimaginable wealth.
You're right, you can totally just fail, finish bottom of the table, get relegated, and still accumulate unimaginable wealth. FANTASY wealth!
They are anti-heroes for the modern, moneyed age.
Andy Carroll is Batman?