Tag Archives: EPL

Football Matters Part II: Beyond the pale, the money game and the mercenaries

Author’s Note: This is the second installment of the ‘Football Matters’ series, you can read the first part ‘Two colors inside and the divisions outside’ here.

Football and mercenaries, two terms that sound unrelated and should actually be unrelated, but aren’t. The ever increasing money revolution across various parts of Europe that has seen more and more clubs being taken over by business oligarchs has seen modern football take a new meaning, where money defines how it’s run, not as a sport but more as a business.

There are two iterations valid in most cases today: Footballers = mercenaries or mercenaries = footballers, in either case money is the common denominator, not loyalty or love for the game or the club you play for. There was a time, not too long ago, when loyal and one-club men used to dominate Football all around the world. Longevity used to be a factor and the players would love to play it out at the club they loved, to be called legends at the club which to them was be-all and end-all, for money wasn’t as important as staying true to your roots and staying with the club that you’ve loved all so much, for they were as much a part of a club’s legacy as the club was definitive in making their own identity.

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David de Gea: Oh he’s gotten United with life in Manchester lately

Last season’s end brought to an end the career of one of the best goalkeepers in United’s history, van der Sar went away to cool his heels in the calm realms of the Netherlands, away from the scrutiny of the Premier League. In his place, anointed was a young Spanish prodigy with limited match experience and whose age was only as much as the number of years that his predecessor had spent at the top level in European football.

The task while being obviously difficult in itself trying to follow up a legendary figure like van der Sar in the club’s history was added to by the unmatched hype and the continuous, and at most times, unwarranted scrutiny from sections of the media for both his on field and off field behaviour. The question of whether Manchester United goalie David De Gea was good enough, at the start of the season divided opinion due to some high profile gaffes that United hadn’t been accustomed to in the seasons gone by.

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Man Utd: A look at those who got away

Not many teams have dominated the English footballing landscape in its entire history quite like United have done in the last two decades and not many teams have produced as many high caliber players from within its own youth system quite like United have and still continue to do so with Cleverley and Welbeck going great guns before being bogged down by unfortunate injuries. Rather unsurprisingly, nearly 200 footballers(or a few more) have graduated through the United academy and went on to play for the club’s first team since the WW2.

Fergie- Believer of the youthful.

Regardless to say, there isnt a better youth academy and youth scouting system in the country that has consistently brought in and reared such prodigiously talented players, and the only one’s comparable on the continent would be Barcelona’s La Masia and the youth setup’s/scouting networks of Ajax, PSV and FK Partizan.  And during the quarter of a century long reign of Sir Alex alone, the likes of Mark Hughes, Lee Sharpe, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Neville brothers, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher, Nani, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck, and countless others, have either been brought through the various stages of the United youth setup or brought in at a tender age only to be moulded to play the United way, as envisioned by the gaffer.

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Dimitar Berbatov: The story of a failed genius

For the last 3 years, or slightly less, Dimitar Berbatov has perhaps been that one player to have shouldered the disappointment of not one but several United fans (read millions and still counting). But the disappointment which bothered him the most, and still does, is the one of himself.

The big Bulgarian’s impending move to Manchester United was followed with great curiosity across the footballing world. Sir Alex openly admitted interest in him, breach of code they said. Tottenham were determined to milk it and sure they did when Berbatov moved to MUFC rejecting City in the process who also had their bid accepted. The fee was supposedly something around 30.5 million pounds and here I am writing this.

Berbatov signing with MUFC.
Berbatov displaying his new jersey amidst much razzmatazz

The new no.9 started off his United career with an assist against Liverpool. Mesmerizing ball control, turning around the defender and sliding a neat pass for Tevez. Sign of things to come? The match ended in 2-1,and yes United lost. First league defeat of the season and first to Liverpool since 2002 in the league coincided with his debut. The next game could not have come at a better time for Berba, Chelsea away and maybe time to mark his arrival. In retrospect, had his shot gone in that day the story could have been far different. Ji Sung tapped in of the rebound from Berba’s shot which was parried by Cech. Still waiting.

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