So it goes on. International football this week with World Cup Qualifiers, friendlies and whatever you class the Confederations Cup as.
Comedy galore when Hugo Lloris gifted Sweden three points in a match played with all the intensity of post-season friendly. Olivier Giroud took the headlines with an outstanding goal which made his record something like 124 goals in 124 starts for his country.
It’s used as a justification for keeping Giroud at Arsenal. Conveniently, that record does nothing to explain why the French international has prolonged barren spells; was the last fourteen games? It’s no surprise that he’s made way in the Arsenal team.
Yes, he did well in the FA Cup final when he came on; everyone played well as a benchmark. And there’s no doubt, he offers something different to the pace we usually try to use. However, if Danny Welbeck found a way to score consistently, Giroud’s path to the starting line-up becomes harder.
The question became something to consider when rumours of a £20m(ish) bid from Marseille or Newcastle surfaced. Giroud is 31 in September – he’s still 30 for the moment – and the question is whether that money is a good fee for him?
Arguably it’s £5m to low but we don’t set the levels, clubs do. There’s a danger that we place too much importance of the fees paid by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea. There’s a ‘tax’ involved in their deals, where selling clubs know the wealth backing the pair so hike the prices.
The real world continues along elsewhere. It’s why I pay no heed to stories telling us Alexis is off to Bayern or Manchester City for £40m. If that’s the level of fee being offered, then holding onto the player for another year – as Arsène wants – is not a bad idea.
Setting The Fee? A Trifling Matter
Wenger, of course, was being ‘cute’. He’s put the board in an invidious position whereby any sale of Alexis is easily positioned as the directors selling the player, not the manager.
And that’s irrespective of the truth; no sale would happen with Arsène’s approval. It’s the story tame journos will post for him and the club can’t fight back without making Wenger’s position impossible. The directors don’t have the balls for that fight.
The Chilean grabbed an assist in his country’s draw with Russia in Moscow last night. Earlier in the day, claims emerged that his agent had agreed personal terms with Manchester City. Just a fee with Arsenal to negotiate, apparently.
That part of any deal is quickly becoming seen as an incidental by the ravenous desire of the media who presume that a transfer will proceed simply because personal terms are agreed. Maybe it is; maybe that financial power means they take the view, ‘you won’t take £40m, here’s £50m. No? £60m – we can do this for hours’.
It’s distorting but as I said, includes a premium. Other fees aren’t noticeably higher but it is a more crowded marketplace for us. We don’t shop with Europe’s élite but the nouveau riche are elbowing their way into Waitrose.
Elsewhere, the Premier League flicked its middle finger at supporters again with talk of 22 matches kicking off at 11.30am on Sunday to suit the Asian ‘market’. Starting in 2019, this is on top of the already screwed fixture list.
You may wonder why the fuss? English football has a long tradition of travelling support which Woolwich Arsenal fans were pivotal in instigating – see Woolwich Arsenal: 1893-1915: The Club That Changed Football for more details.
De-railing Supporters Once Again
Reducing the travelling support will change atmosphere’s in stadia. Public transport in the UK makes these journeys difficult to the point where, unless you drive to a match, it’s pretty pointless trying unless the kick-off is 3pm Saturday. Which reducing numbers are.
Years ago, we were OK. Yes, the service was crap but it ran to suit passengers rather than the latter being required to adjust their lives for the service. Midweek travel is appalling now unless you live in a Home Counties hub. God knows how many times the ‘milk train’ meant I could get home and go to work for 9am.
It’s a different world now, of course, but not all changes are for the better. The Premier League is wrapped up in making money that it forgets that football without fans doesn’t work. Football played in a library atmosphere will kill the sport. And where will their money get them then?
Finally, a reminder that the Record of the Week on Dad’s Jukebox is the outstanding Waiting on a Song by Dan Auerbach.