by Mike Hammond
Some of you might know from my twitter ramblings that I’ve been struggling a bit recently to stay enthusiastic about City and football in general. I’m not sure if it’s just the comedown from “that” unsurpassable day in May when we wrestled the Championship away from United with the very last kick of the season – or something deeper, something that’s been brewing for a long time. Whatever it is, lots has been written about the disenfranchisement of supporters such as myself from a game that’s unrecognisable in almost every way from the one I was brought up with.
You know what’s tipped me over the edge this season though? It’s something or nothing in the big scheme of things. Not the €80 ticket in Amsterdam. Not the soulless atmosphere and day-trippers – long prevalent at home games – now creeping into our away support. Not even that in the space of 3 days over Christmas – a time when I ‘drive to f***’ anyway visiting family – we are packed off to Sunderland away and then Norwich away. Happy bloody Christmas!
I’m not even worked up about the way the club, our club, fought to close down a not for profit fan to fan ticket exchange twitter account whilst simultaneously touting rows of unsold seats through our “preferred licensed ticketing solutions partner” or some other mealy mouthed money making scheme. No, I’m just worn down by that s***.
No, what did it for me was that this summer we spent close to £8m on a player who isn’t even good enough for the reserve team. EIGHT MILLION POUNDS. Say it quick and it doesn’t seem too bad does it? Say it slow though. Take in the words. 8 million eh? I work in the NHS, I have a family and I’m pretty grounded (don’t follow me on twitter!). I like to think I know the value of things, I have a pretty decent perspective on life and my place in it. But this just blew me away. I mean, EIGHT MILLION! POUNDS!
Before I go on, this ain’t about the cost of players in general, or even how much they earn. That has long since ceased to have any meaning for me. TV money in, TV money out. I honestly don’t care anymore. And anyway, when you’ve got an owner who can bung another £10m in to ensure the deal gets done, with the difference finding its way to the player / agent / selling club’s managers’ son or whatever, I’m pretty sure my £600 season ticket doesn’t come in to the equation.
No, and sorry to make this personal – but it’s about one player. What makes a football club like Manchester City – a team who have just reached the pinnacle of the domestic game – buy a player like Scott Sinclair? Or to put it another way, if Sinclair is the answer – what the hell was the question?
Despite making Adam “good time” Johnson one of his first signings, Bobby has clearly been searching for a game changing wide-man. Patently frustrated with Johnson’s work ethic, he forlornly courted two genuine world class talents over successive summer transfer windows.
With Brian Marwood either unwilling or unable to seal the deal, and with Johnson Sunderland bound, the frustration and pressure to buy must have rendered our normally unflappable Godfather temporarily insensible. Because how else can you explain what happened next?
Neither blessed with electric pace nor any discernible skill, our new man has a scoring record that suggests he has a somewhat lazy eye for a goal. To be honest I’d rather have Shaun Wright-Phillips back, let alone AJ, and I keep coming back to the same question – What was the point? Why even bother to sign someone who simply isn’t good enough?
And that’s what bugs me. I don’t blame Sinclair one bit. With his diamond stud earring, Celeb bird and neat boy-band hair, the little fella certainly looks for all the world like a star in the making. It’s just that he isn’t ever going to actually play is he? I mean, come on, he’s not bad – it’s just that he isn’t very good. And that’s what the club needed, someone who is very, very good. Better in fact than some of the best players in the world. And James Milner.
How can the club have possibly thought that this lad would be worth spending 8 million notes on? Was it just because we can? Maybe we were bored? When you’re used to buying up 5 or 6 players every year I suppose you just get used to it? Like when I fill up with petrol and absent-mindedly pick up a Marathon bar (f*** you Mars Inc!) on the way to the till? Its possible I suppose that no one realised we’d even done it? Anything’s possible with the amount of cash we have buried under the ground.
So, where was I? Oh yes, we banged out the equivalent of the cost of running a small A&E department for a whole year, on a player who we will sell in 8 months’ time to Norwich for a fraction of what we paid for him. No need for any accountability here, no scrutiny and oversight committee to question it, just a complete and utter waste of time and money.
THAT’S what’s doing my head in.