Kieran Davies steps back from seven days of fake news, clubs in peril, and moths gathering around a flame.
Hartlepool United are looking to raise money to stop the club from going into administration and need to raise a figure to the tune of £200k to save the club. That equates to roughly 0.14% of the money Barcelona paid to Liverpool for Coutinho. To save a football club! If that doesn’t show the divide between Premier League football and the lower leagues, I don’t know what does.
I wonder how Jeff Stelling can sit there listening to Mourinho moaning that £300m wasn’t enough of a transfer kitty in the summer when his beloved club could be no more for what is decimal percentage of the figures The Boring One laments. Without the rest of the league pyramid, the game in this country, could go to the dogs. It would be nice to see if when these situations arose, Premier League clubs were to bail them out as these figures are nothing to them. Baring this in mind, maybe restructuring the FA Cup could help bridge this financial gap. In the early rounds, Premier League clubs can only be drawn away from home and must field at least 40% first team players in the matchday squad. Other than this, Premier League clubs CAN be drawn at home or away but must provide a 50% share of gate receipts with their opponents when hosting lower league opposition. There will be extreme exceptions to the rule, for example if Wolves were coming to town. If they can afford to buy £30m players in the Championship, they do not need assistance from sharing gate receipts with clubs. After all, there are still a few clubs who can only dream of spending such figures without any second thought before committing to such a transfer.
Since the Neymar transfer broke the seal on player values, clubs don’t bat an eyelid if a player goes for anything in excess of £50m+ and wouldn’t spend more than a few minutes quibbling about a few million in negotiations. These astronomical figures must seem alien to their lower league counterparts. Meanwhile, back in the land of the unbelievable, every club up and down the Premier League is being linked to every player the media possibly can. Even the smallest of strained links are enough for journalists to make up a story. Robert Lewandowski is a huge Beatles fan so obviously he is off to Liverpool. Alexis Sanchez is a big fan of buses, so he’s off to Manchester United. Riyad Mahrez is a big fan of Back to the Future so obviously he’s off to Arsenal, who still live in the past.
Half of these stories are so unbelievable they would not be out of place in the Sunday Sport just after ‘London Bus Found on Moon’. While managers re-iterate they are happy with their squads, this is all lies. The only person who could genuinely say that would be someone who finds themselves say 15 points clear at the top of the table but even they feel the need to strengthen. Donald Trump would no doubt love this time of year in the Premier League as the media is full of what he likes to call, fake news. As much as we all know this our love for our clubs still draws us into these stories like a moth to a light as we crave to know who our beloved team will sign.
The transfer window aside we are now entering the business end of the season where results really do begin to matter. Pep’s unbeaten City team travel to Anfield where they haven’t won since a Nicolas Anelka goal took the spoils and Jurgen Klopp is looking to avenge a 5-0 drubbing earlier in the season. The addition of Van Dijk should add some stability to that creaky defence as they have been missing a leader who commands the back line since Jamie Carragher. While their defensive frailties are there for all to see, you could argue that individually these are not bad players, so why can’t Liverpool defend? Communicating is key and maybe this is what they have been lacking for so long. A dream debut for Van Dijk, scoring the winner in a Merseyside derby, should make him feel like a giant walking onto that pitch. Elsewhere can Salah, Mane and co ruin Citys fantastic start to the season? With United facing managerless Stoke at home, you’d expect them to pick up all three points this weekend.
While defeat would still leave Pep and his side well clear at the top, it could be the catalyst for the rest of the league to realise they can be beaten. No doubt every Arsenal fan will be cheering Liverpool, after all, what would they have to talk about nowadays other than those Invincibles from yesteryear?
Not many clubs have been active in the window so far which is amazing with clubs at the bottom needing some injection of quality to steer themselves away from a relegation dogfight. As it stands the top six looks pretty settled and they are putting some distance between themselves and the chasing pack but both Arsenal and Tottenham find themselves adrift of that coveted Champions League spot. Maybe there will be a spurt of activity off the back of this weekend’s results. One thing is for sure, this window is the last chance for managers to shuffle their deck before the run in to the quest for silverware and Champions League football.