European Cup after World Cup have seen a snowballing of disappointment for the English football masses. Spain winning Euro 2008 has pushed our reputation as underachievers further down the lav.
And like such great philosophical musings as; Why are we here? Is there a god? Will Robbie Savage ever get a haircut?, we are left with the greatest question of all; With all the money, loyal fans, young talents….
Why can’t we win anything?
Like many who saw our demise at the hands of Croatia, there was almost a mild sense of relief by the fact that we had escaped the usual blind optimism forthcoming whenever we do manage to qualify for a major tournament. For the first time since the notorious turnip-ridden back pages of 94, we were able to enjoy the beautiful game with fingernails intact.
But again WHY?
Some blame player egos, foreign takeovers, the need for immediate financial returns because of high wages and signing fees….
Are there too many foreigners in the Premier League? Is it stopping the young talents emerging? Would we benefit from a foreign player restriction rule?
Michel Platini recently stoked the fire by saying Manchester United and Chelsea had reached the Champions League final on the ‘never, never’ regarding their success based on debts. If this is the truth then what are some of the latest solutions?
Platini called for Champions League football not to include the buy now pay later vein of clubs, but where would that leave us?
Who wants to watch the greatest club football competition without the greatest football clubs?
Should there be caps on player wages and values?
Ronaldinho’s alleged offer of £200,000 a week from Manchester City is more than some people earn in a decade. The price of players has also rocketed over the last 10 years.
Compare Alan Shearer’s £15m transfer to Newcastle in the summer of 1996 with the recent prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo joining Manchester City for a speculated £135m.To buy the current cream of the crop, it’s now necessary to have an owner with pockets of Gran Canyon depths and with suitably long arms to reach the bottoms.
There seems to be little choice but to submit to foreign ownership with the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ philosophy.
It seems that a football club has become the billionaires pin badge in the 21st century.
Blatter recently suggested restricting these takeovers and keeping club ownership local. In this way prospective buyers would have to prove that they have local connections and therefore, it is hoped, more motivation for the football rather than just the business side of the sport.
But what is this doing to the game as a sport?
In the business world there are monopoly commissions and the like to maintain healthy competition.
Would something similar benefit the game both domestically and internationally?
Add to the argument the current state of the global financial markets and one can only conclude that the gap between the footballing rich and poor is only set to widen and that the national team will remain quarter-final specialists.
As it stands, like a dog with rabies, the circle seems to be growing ever more vicious. Best brace ourselves for another 42 years of hurt.
This article is a submission for the Soccerlens 2008 Writing Competition; to participate, please read the details here. The competition is sponsored by Subside Sports (premier online store for football shirts) and Icons (official signed football jerseys).