Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wood and Catgut, Paper and Ink

I once read a really good quote about footballers and their fans.

"To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink."

I think that sort of feeling and faith in the game is good to remember. Especially during transfer months. You're going to read a lot of underhanded things that clubs and managers are supposedly doing and about players that only seem to follow the money.

Some of the things you'll read today might reinforce that idea:

Multiple headlines today cover Liverpool's belief that they can buy their way to the top of the league. "We Can Spend More Than Manchester United, Insist Liverpool -The Reds have at least £20 million to splash this summer and are willing to spend big, claims a report in a Sunday newspaper." "We can outspend United, claim Liverpool." I thought it was interesting that although the articles all mention that Chelsea could outspend them all...the headlines all focused on United.

I think something I read today annoyed me more than anything I've seen for awhile. "Manchester United Are Raping Brazilian Football." This was a quote from Brazilian legend Carlos Alberto. So...raping? Really? Basically he says that European leagues, but the Premier League and Manchester United in specific, are poaching young Brazilian players and this is a giant detriment to the top league in Brazil. I'll agree, there are a few players from Brazil at United - Anderson and Fabio and Rafael da Silva. But three players currently on the first team hardly strikes me as anything excessive. Four if you count Rodrigo Possebon. There are also three Italian, two Portuguese, two Scottish, two Irish ( along with three from Northern Ireland ), two Serbian, and players from the Netherlands, Bulgaria, France, Germany, South Korea...and scads of young players from England. Most of the young players are from England. The article continues to say:

Reports also claim that the Red Devils have an agreement with 17-year-old defender Dodo, who is expected to arrive in Manchester early next year.
However, according to the News of the World, Alberto has insisted that United should not be allowed to take his country’s best players at such a young age.
“It is disgraceful United are allowed to rape Brazilian football,” he explained.
“The big teams have the money and can take our best players. It is a big problem in Brazil.
“The clubs cannot keep hold of them, if they are good young players, because they can make much more money in other countries.
"They should change the law so, at least until the age of 20 or 21, the best players are playing in Brazil and get some experience before moving to Europe.”

I agree that Brazilian football is having some issues. It is losing young players. The clubs can't maintain control of the players they invest in. I don't think one club is the problem though. The players go where the best and most competitive football is, and right now that is in England. I don't think that FIFA should have the right to force players into their national leagues until a certain age. While that will definitely help struggling and underdeveloped leagues it will stop the best football from being played. You wouldn't see Rooney set up an amazing shot for Ronaldo. You wouldn't see Rio and Vidic on the back line. Maybe that's an exaggeration...but you wouldn't have Macheda playing with Ronaldo and Rooney, or playing against Torres.

A lot of whats going on right now is talk a lot, hype a lot, and wait. We're waiting to see what happens with Tevez. Waiting on Kaka. Waiting on Ribery. Waiting...on Ronaldo? There are a lot of big players this year that might be moving around. Even Barca, Real Madrid, and AC Milan are trying to get the attention of Nemanja Vidic, who seems happy at United and has a contract until 2012.

I think its good to remember the magic happens when the 90 minutes are on the clock. I think in the end that's more important than anything behind the scenes. Maybe they are hirelings kicking a ball - but you won't make me believe it.

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