Archive for July 13th, 2008


The shine is wearing off

I watched the game that Frank Lampard played immediately after the death of his mother.  I was at the pub with Tacoma’s biggest Chelsea fan and she was effusive with praise for Lampard the whole time which reached a critical mass when he scored.  “He’s so precious” she said like a mantra “so precious.” I couldn’t help myself — I vomited up “He’s not ‘precious’ he’s a gold plated turd.” Of course my outburst brought a well deserved rebuke from her as she stood her ground.  I knew better: Frank Lampard is a hero to Chelsea fans and they will stand by him until the bitter end.

That “bitter end” is rumored to be Jan 1st, when Frank Lampard will sign a free transfer with Inter.  Owch, he’s so pissed off at Chelsea’s paltry £30m contract offer that he’s going to screw them out of a transfer fee?  Owch.  Chelsea fans are starting to realize that some of the shine has worn off Chelsea’s gold plated turd.  You know it’s bad when even Andy Dunn takes a few minutes out of his weekly screed against Arsenal and current column lambasting Hleb (yeah, Hleb’s the poster child for greed and whining in the EPL) and spares a few inches to call out one of England’s heroes.

What do people expect?  The culture at Chelsea breeds this sort of greedy attitude and spreads it like a plague across Europe.  The salaries they pay distort reality, the transfer fees they throw around distort reality, and their problems on and off the pitch are symptoms of that distortion.  It was always only a matter of time before the greed and pomp that Chelsea used to lure players into their web would come back to bite them.

Of course Lampard thinks he deserves more, he’s just swallowed the Chelsea party line.

But who cares?  Lampard will go to Inter and flounder around in the overly defensive, boring, divey Serie A.  Away from the protective cocoon of the almost cult-like worship of English fans, his private life will be under constant scrutiny and his many dalliances will be the subject of daily columns.  Or as Arsenal great Denis Bergkamp put it

The problem for an attack-minded player in Italy is that you can never play your own game. Their fans are happy with a draw. Some times they consider a draw like a win. It is all about the result… There were also intrusions into my private life I did not like.

And that’s just the tip of the garbage heap: corruption, greed, toxic waste, the mafia and the garbage strewn streets of Naples are the wonders that await Fat Frank in Italy.  Not to mention playing in 3/4 empty stadiums in front of the world’s least forgiving fans.

Yeah, it’s a dream move for any professional.  Have fun, Frank, and say hi to Adebayor for us.

Certainly Chelsea’s distorted business practices are a problem.  I hear fans nearly every day calling on Arsenal to be “less stingy” and we’ve all read the quotes from Robin van Persie, Adebayor, Flamini, etc calling on Arsenal to break their wage structure and “pay.”  But Chelsea aren’t alone in this with clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid able to pay higher wages as well.  So what’s the solution?  Should we all run out and sign on to Platini’s “Salary cap + Indentured Servitude + The Kitchen Sink” plan?

No, please, thanks.  I’m not anti-regulation but I’m for sensible regulations.  Forcing young players to sign professional contracts with their academy clubs is far closer to the “slavery” that Sepp Blatter supposedly decried last week.  And if you add in the idea that they have to be homegrown players well, it’s just getting plain batty.  But why stop there?  Why not limit television broadcasts, punish teams who go into debt, and force clubs to pay fielty to their new lord and master by having players carry the bust of Platini out to mid-field and genuflect properly before each game?

No, please, thanks.  There are problems in football: greed is running rampant, agents are out of control, debt is threatening to kill the biggest clubs in the world, diving, cheating, off field antics, on an on and on.  But most of these problems will sort themselves out: Chelsea can’t keep paying the crazy salaries that they are paying, agents can be regulated with some very simple measures, if teams don’t want to lose their academy players they can sign them to a contract, and if debt kills a club so what?

Football is bigger than all these problems.  Frank Lampard disappointing a few starry eyed Chelsea fans isn’t going to destroy football.  Adebayor’s greed isn’t going to ruin Arsenal.  Arsenal signing Cesc Fabregas isn’t going to ruin Barcelona.  And cutting off television broadcasts isn’t going to fill stadiums.  Just ask American football fans.

Football is bigger than all these problems.  Football will still be here when they have gone away and we’re all wringing our hands about something else.


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