Posts Tagged ‘Platini

13
Jul
08

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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28
Jun
08

I want to see a Dein, Platini, Blatter knife fight.

I eat babies

With all the press/fan fervor over every word that drops from the lips of Adebayor, Vincenzo Morabito, Wenger, the groundskeeper at the Stadio Olympico, and speculative bloggers, there were a lot of significant developments this week that were swept under the carpet.

First off, Alisher Usmaqnov’s handler, David Dein, reminded everyone that his boss is filthy rich and would like to use that wealth to leverage a buyout of Arsenal in order to use us fans as his personal piggy bank — doling out dividends, piling on debts, etc etc.  What’s the reason why you fans should support such a move?  Because, he claims that Usmanov’s money is the only thing that could save Arsenal from falling out of the top four.

Since that claim has now been leveled for three seasons and has been found wanting for three seasons I think it’s kind of comical for Dein to try that tactic again.  What’s the basis for this claim, is it because Tottenham has spent £27m so far?  hmmm…  Well, given that their defense was one of the worst in the league, and the fact that they are only buying forwards (and crappy ones like Luca Modric at that), then I feel confident that they aren’t going to challenge for 4th place.  So, who next then?  Hmmm… Everton?  Good team, good coach, not quite enough to get there.  Citeh?  That’s funny.  Pompey?  Maybe!  That’s a strong team with a good foundation at every point on the pitch, but they aren’t getting there by spending loads of money, but rather through efficient management.  Which is exactly what’s happening at Arsenal.

Which is exactly why Arsenal don’t need Usmanov.  Thanks for reminding us though, Dave, I think some of us had forgotten.

Meanwhile, a drunken Michel Platini gave some type of interview in which he ranged from the Ronaldo story to debt in the Premier League.  ThOn Ronaldo, he feels like Real Madrid has done nothing wrong {sound of a record screeching to a halt}. These few days after a Platini tirade are always a barrel of laughs so I thought I would sahe some snippets with you.

Speaking about Real Madrid’s very public courting of Ronaldo (including sending their fitness coach to meet with the player) Platini had this to say

It’s part of the system we have today. Players move from club to club and I can understand why Real Madrid want him.

No seriously, that’s what said.  Which means that tapping up season has officially begun, folks: unless it’s an English club tapping up a foreign player, in that case, I’m sure he’ll be against it.

Platini continued his diatribe against England by also claiming that he wants clubs with (“excessive” — i.e “English”) debts to be banned from playing in the Champions League.  Which means only Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool would be banned because other clubs with debts are well under his radar.  I can’t think of a single move that would destroy modern football and the league structure more than this one proposed by Platini.  If debt’s so bad (which I think it is in some cases) then why not let the Man U’s and Chelsea’s just eat themselves alive?  Why interfere?  Oh yeah, because this is a power trip plain and simple.

I really wish that Platini would just go away.

While the Adebayor story was (is) raging another neat story was glossed over; Walcott was handed the no. 14 shirt. That’s a big shirt to fill, there, son, good luck filling it.  Seriously, I do think that this means we’ll start seeing Walcott feature for the first team a lot more this season.  In fact, as I’ve said before, I believe that Wenger is going to bank the money if he sells Adebayor and start Theo up front with either van Persie or Eduardo (depending on injuries, etc).  This means we’ll see Vela and Bendtner partner in the Carling Cup matches and as backups if and when they are needed.  Of course, that is pure speculation… but why not, it’s silly season.

Speaking of speculation, and my regular readers know I don’t like to do this but what the hell anyway, Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s contract negotiations have suddenly fallen through, leaving the Ajax hitman potentially available to suitors like Arsenal.  I like him a lot.  I think he’s a big fish in a little Dutch pond and a step up to a big league like the EPL could be just what he needs to break out of relative obscurity and onto the world stage.  I would love to see him in an Arsenal strip next season, but realistically this is probably just a ploy by his agent to get him a bigger contract with Ajax.  Plus, Wenger doesn’t like to buy developed talent.   Oh well, a blogger can dream right?

That wasn’t so bad, was it?  I mean, not talking much about Adenayor for a whole blog.  We can do it, folks, we can NOT talk about Adebayor and his money grubbing agent and the jerks in Milan for a whole day, right?

RIGHT???

Sigh… there will be a preview of the Chelsea v. Arsenal match (oh sorry, I mean Germany v. Spain), tomorrow morning.  See you then.

20
May
08

Barton Debtor’s prison

Maybe it would be better if they had kept the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium? UEFA chief Platini has been so focused in on his role in eradicating debt in the various football leagues that he failed to oversee the installation of a proper grass pitch for the Champions League final. But no matter, because due to insane Russian visa policies, hyper inflated costs in the world’s most expensive city, and the scary thought that Chelsea supporters aren’t really all that ardent, there won’t be a full stadium to see the crappy football on a crappy pitch anyway.

Yes, it’s true, it’s a slow news day Arsenal fans. In fact there are only two actual “Arsenal” stories: the Nasri story (which is reprinted daily) and a pretty cool story on the dot com about the season highs and lows. I know, exciting stuff.

I have to mention Joey Barton, my favorite madman, because he got 6 months for that assault at a McDonald’s last Christmas.

Yay!

That means he’ll be out until at least November. Fingers crossed that Arsenal play both their matches against Newcastle before he regains match fitness. But really, I have to wonder why this guy is even allowed to play at all? If you read the description of the assault in the link above and combine it with his glorious career as a criminal you have to pause and wonder what kind of lunatic would sign him to a contract? Oh yeah, Sam Allardyce… Good on you, Sam, how’s retirement?

The only other story is that a little bit more detail about Chelsea and Man U’s debts has been revealed in the Guardian; it turns out that this year’s Champions League finalists collectively owe £1.5bn. The funny part of the story is Chelsea’s insistence (through Peter Kenyon’s rabid drivelings) that they don’t have any debt. Oops, I mean “outside debt.”

In their rather Orwellian manner, Chelsea are claiming that they have no debt because, as it turns out, all that money that Abramovich is pouring into the club is actually just “interest free loans.” Which isn’t really a debt right? So, while the Guardian maintains that Chelsea currently owe £736m, Chelsea says “we owe no external banks.”

Right, you just have collateralized debt obligations to the tune of £578m issued as bonds in the name of Roman Abramovich and payable within 18 months of his demand. David Dein once famously described Abramovich’s spending as “Roman’s sitting in his tank firing £50 notes at us.” As usual DD was wrong, because if you look closely at those notes, they are IOUs.

Debt? What debt?

The other interesting fact in this article is that both United and Chelsea are actually running annual deficit spending as well. So, not only do that have enormous, unsustainable, club killing debts, but they run nearly £80m in the red every year. And every year their debt gets bigger and bigger and the prospect of their wealthy owners ever earning a dime on their billions in “investments” gets smaller and smaller.

I can’t see any future for these two clubs that doesn’t lead to a financial collapse. If you look, the signs of crisis are already in the offing; United can’t even pay off their transfer fees from last year‘s foray into the market. How long before teams stop selling them players on IOU? What happens to United if their banks demand payment on their debt (they currently can’t even pay their interest)? What happens to Chelsea if Roman gets sick of losing £100m a year and stops funding their unsustainable salary structure? Or worse, demands a portion of his £600m debt be returned?

There was a time, when I, like many Arsenal supporters, saw the free spending ways of Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool and wished that we had some rich guy to help us compete in the market. I no longer have any lingering doubt about the course the Arsenal board is on.

So, enjoy the Champions League final tomorrow; I’m sure the trophy will be for sale soon on Ebay.

31
Mar
08

Platini’s Modest Proposal

platini

UEFA President Michel Platini is a man stuck in the 19th century. I say that with reservations because it might actually be fair to say that he’s stuck in the 18th century.

Yesterday, Platini gave an extraordinary speech in which he claimed to have asked the “European Commission” to ban the transfer of minors.

I have told the European Commission that we should ban the transfer of minors. The first contract a player signs should be with the club who trains him. Minors shouldn’t be seen as a machine that can be transferred for the benefit of agents or clubs.

I’m not exactly sure how this new proposed rule would work. It probably would legally bind a player to a club for a set number of years (probably 2) after they sign their first professional contract. Then after their 18th birthday they could move freely around Europe. Platini wants to implement this because, he says, it’s the only way to ensure that local talent stays local and thereby increases the local fan base and, in his mind, helps the national team. Because for Platini, the way to ensure that England has the best talent is to huddle all the English players together in the rain and make them play against each other.

But how does this idea benefit the footballers? After all, they are the ones who must take the pitch in whatever strip they might be wearing — team or country. If the footballers aren’t getting the best training in the highest competitions how will they be able to play their best football?

I don’t think that it does benefit the players and I don’t just mean monetarily. Players get better when they play against and compete for spots with the best players in the world. If teams are forced to recruit only locally (probably within 30 miles of the club) the ability to pit youth against other youth in a competitive environment that will raise the level of competition across the academy is extremely limited.

And then there’s the idea that the team that trains you, owns you. Isn’t that’s some sort of 18th century indentured servitude? I can see all kinds of problems arising from this plan. Imagine a 14 year old who is a bit of a troubled youth and doesn’t get along with his coach, but he’s a tremendous talent. So, AS Nancy snatches him up at age 14 and until his 18th birthday, his ass belongs to AS Nancy. They could destroy this kid’s career. Let’s say he has a falling out with the management. Oh well, sit on the bench kid.

How does that make players better?

Or worse. Imagine if Fabregas had been forced to stay in Barcelona. He would never have had the opportunity to train with Wenger and he may never have been given the opportunity to play for Barcelona’s first team. Fabregas is a special talent, and I’d like to think that he would have been successful regardless, but you cannot deny that Arsene Wenger is one of the best youth coaches (if not THE best) in the world and thus that he has had a profound effect on Cesc’s career. And for me that’s the “coup de grace.”

Wealthy people send to their children to the best schools in the world in order to help ensure their future success. Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be allowed to go to the best footballing school in the world? Why shouldn’t some poor kid from Barcelona be given the opportunity to play against and showcase his talent amongst the best players in the world? Because of where he was born? That’s not helping football Michel, that’s stultifying the development of the game by limiting the opportunities for talented youth to fully explore and exploit their talent.

Of course, this plan is not just about educational opportunity. This is about money. Platini is proposing that a team owns you once they start training you. With that kind of legal power teams will be able to set extraordinarily low wages on players because the player has no freedom to negotiate. All of the power goes to the corporation and none of it to the individual.

Platini spoke of teams treating the players like “machines” to be bought and sold, in essence, he’s saying we need to humanize the youth in football. But freedom, Michel, freedom to move, to disagree with a coach, to get paid what you’re worth; freedom humanizes us. Your plan would do nothing more than empower the AS Nancy’s of the world to dehumanize players through a system of ownership straight out of the 18th century.

Your plan would not help football.  Your plan will not help footballers.  Your plan would not increase the talent pool for England.  Your plan would merely enrich and empower small clubs at the expense of young men.

It’s a modest proposal indeed.




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