Quiet news day. Cole’s transfer to Chelsea still drags on with only two weeks to the first Champions League tie, if he is going it is sure to be before then. Otherwise, Le Boss has reaffirmed that he will not pay over the odds in the British transfer market so if Curtis Davies is to join, some hard haggling will take place. His first choice centre back pairing seems to be Kolo Toure and Senderos – the interesting one will be who replaces Senderos in the first instance; Djourou or Cygan. My suspicion is that the latter will get the nod until he drops a ricket when the former will get a chance to prove himself.
The prices charged by English clubs creates a catch-22 situation. There are constant complaints about the lack of Englishmen in football – once Cole leaves, Hoyte, Walcott, Connolly and Gilbert will be the only native born players in the squad so get ready for more snide remarks throughout the season as it is unlikely that any of them will feature in the starting XI – yet the transfer fees quoted are exorbitant. Take Michael Carrick for example, valuation wise the media reports Tottenham wanting £15m yet that is the price quoted for van Nistelrooy. Are they of a similar standard? No, the Dutchman is more likely to deliver value for money as Carrick is still developing. Curtis Davies is nowhere near the finished article that one would expect to pay £10m for. And yet Arsenal have spent up to £12m on Walcott, now an England international due to the midlife crisis of Sven Goran Eriksson, so why baulk at the price for the West Brom player? The level of debt of English lower division clubs is part of the valuation problem. Earlier this week for example, Gillingham had their power cut off through non-payment of bills, with reported debts of £10m they have precious few assets to sell that would materially reduce this bill. So a vicious circle forms – the clubs want to sell but need a certain fee, buying clubs will not buy at that level, so debts do not reduce. The Chairmen dream of an Arsenal or Chelsea bid but these will not materialise unless reality sets in. With the money being bandied around from TV deals or Sugar Daddies, the smaller clubs want a piece of the action but will not get it when there are cheaper, more experienced options overseas. Someone needs to grapple with this and come up with a formula for all transfers for some sanity to kick in.
Elsewhere, UEFA meet today to decide on what to do with Italys’ proposal for AC Milan to play in Europe. As I opined the other day, they should not be admitted to the Champions League otherwise the signal is that cheating does pay. Whether Johanssen and his cronies have the balls to block their entry is another matter and somehow I doubt it.
And finally, the Govan Gob is attacking Chelsea again drawing comparisons between the £35m paid for Shevchenko and the £1m he paid for Cantona. Now there are all sorts of unconfirmed rumours about why the Frenchman was so cheap, none of which are printable, but you have to say that he probably represents the best buy anyone has made since the inception of the Premiership in its various guises. Ferguson is widely quoted as believing he and the Setubal Smirk are good friends although I doubt the same would ever be said about his relationship with Arsene. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in that Wenger did not participate in a tribute to Ferguson. Irrespective of whether you like the man or not, there is little doubt that he has been the singularly most successful manager in the history of English football, deserving professional respect at the very least. I sincerely hope that Wenger could not fit an interview into his schedule for good reasons rather than a churlish fit of pique.