Mourinho adds Matic signing

Much has been made about price and ability of players in this transfer window. Kyle Walker cost £50 million so I’m going to say much of the criticism is warranted. 

Money plays a huge role in signings and has overtaken passion and desire to win trophies but the signing of Nemanja Matic shows that managers still have some influence in the market. 

If Van Gaal or Moyes was in charge at United we would be seeing Matic holding up a Juventus jersey at the moment. Mourinho has pulling power in the market and United are reaping the rewards. 

Mourinho’s signings are tactical and precise. Every pundit with a vague interest in football could tell United needed a centre back, holding midfielder and a striker to replace Zlatan. Despite the usual rumours about Neymar, Bale and Co. Mourinho was precise in the market. 

So far we have had the positives of United’s transfer policy but it may prove costly. For every new United signing, there was a valid alternative. Lindelof could have been Virgil Van Dijk, Lukaku could have been Morata and Matic could have been Dier. That means if United hVe a bad season it will fall on Mourinho and the players he chose to sign. 

I haven’t spoken about the money involved because I think it is a useless argument to have at the moment. Until spending rules or caps are introduced, prices will continue to rise as revenues rise. It is, unfortunately, a part of the modern game. 

Players out 

There has been no major departures from Old Trafford so far this window. Mourinho quickly killed the idea of Fellaini going to Galatasaray and De Gea to Madrid seems to be off the table also. 

I think Fellaini should go. It is hard to justify him in a team ahead of Mata, Pogba, Carrick, Matic and Herrera but Mourinho, like Van Gaal and Moyes before him, seems to see something in Fellaini. 

Adnan Januzaj was unlucky at Old Trafford and fail to impress at Sunderland so a move to Real Sociedad was the right thing for the player and the club. Mourinho has trimmed the squad and added quality instead of quantity. United’s season and inevitably his job, depends on the new signings. 

Manchester City helping rivals with early transfers

Great goalkeepers are in short supply at the moment in world football. Ederson of Benfica would hardly be considered great but Manchester City have still valued him at £35 million surely driving up the price of shot stoppers around the world.

Ederson to Manchester City

If Manchester City are to pay £35 million for Benfica goalkeeper Ederson it will only serve to help their rivals across Manchester.

Ederson
Ederson is set for a medical at Manchester City

Manchester United appear set to lose David DeGea to Real Madrid but they will receive a healthy price for De Gea. If Ederson is worth £35 million it would be easy to see United ask for £50 million for their De Gea.  Transfer rumour around David De Gea

De Gea has featured in almost every team of the season for the past number of years and he has claimed player of the season for United in three of the last four seasons.

The more Jose Mourinho takes in with transfers the more he can justify spending. With fringe players likely to be cut loose from the United squad Mourinho could generate £60-£70 million before spending anything.

United have identified a number of key positions to buy in but if De Gea leaves, goalkeeper will be another headache for Mourinho.

City have started their transfer business early clearly in the hope that a full pre-season with Pep will serve them well next season.

Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool are set to join the Manchester sides in spending big this window as they are all in the Champions League and Arsenal may need to spend big to regain top four next season.

Liverpool

Liverpool are in a precarious position next season, this is the last season Klopp will consider a top four finish alone, a success. A run in a cup or the Champions League is a must as well as a return to the top four.

Arsenal

Arsenal losing out on top four could help them in a strange way next season. Their aim is 100% get in to the top four. That will be a success for Arsenal but it is something that has been seen as not enough in previous years. Under-achieving will actually be achieving for them next season.

For the Gunners, their main goal in the market this summer has got to be holding on to players rather than buying. There is nobody Arsenal can afford or attract at the moment that would replace Sanchez, Ozil or Cech.

Chelsea

Antonio Conte has the horrible task of managing expectations next season at the Bridge. As good as Chelsea were this season I don’t think they will be so dominant next season. The Premier league is the best in the world because the so-called “lesser” teams learn how to play against the best.

This Chelsea team showed they can down-tools as good as any Leicester City player in Mourinho’s last season with them so if things begin to unravel next season it will be interesting to see how they stick together.

Chelsea could line up next season without Diego Costa and although he is not irreplaceable, he would be missed by any team. Lukaku would be a perfect fit for his former club next season.

Spurs

Spurs have been knocking on the top-four door since Harry Redknapp but now they have silently slipped in to the role of regular title challengers. Daniel Levy has always been cautious with the money and this is to be expected again this season.

Spurs have bought well in recent seasons by not pursuing big names but talent that can be coached. Work horses like Son and Dier are excellent purchases to go along with Erikson, Kane and Co.

Spurs need a back up for Kane because their entire season hangs on his form and fitness every year. So far he has delivered but if they are to compete in the League and Champions League, striking options are a must.

City have set their stall out and it is up to the rest to follow. As usual the transfer market will play a big role on the shape of the premier league table next season. It is not about spending big it is about spending wisely.

Super Bowl LI: A record breaker

Super Bowl night is the one night of the year that Europe or at least Ireland and the UK. The time differences mean we have to sacrifice sleep to be a part of the conversation the next morning. BUT what a conversation that is.

I was listening to a different language for the first half. “Line of scrimmage”, “The quarterback got sacked”. I couldn’t see the ball most of the time but just like the Patriots, I got in to the game in the second half.

lady-gaga
Lady GaGa performed the half time show at Super Bowl LI

The passion and commitment by the players was on another level. Super Bowl earned the right to be called one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Listening to commentators talk about Tom Brady, you got the sense you were watching the Lionel Messi of NFL and something huge could happen. The New England Patriots ran out eventual winners 34-28. The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

If Super Bowl LI was scripted and put in a movie people would say it was too fictitious. The Falcons had a 21 point lead, Tom Brady needed to win to be a record breaker with 5 Super Bowl titles, the first overtime in Super Bowl history and then with the last play the Patriots and Tom Brady did the impossible.

Sometimes it’s not important to know all the rules and tactics to a sport. Sometimes it’s just good to enjoy the passion and nothing beats a comeback story.

How Chinese investment is ruining the beautiful game

Football has lost all sense of money and value. It did that a long time ago but it has not plateaued, instead, it grew exponentially. It started with the “Top 4” of English football spending crazy money on distinctly average players (Gary Cahill).

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich were the only real big guns in terms of spending outside of England. PSG have now entered that league while Juve, and the two Milan teams still keep their spending relatively low.

Eventually other teams such as teams such as Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have made a market for themselves by selling their stars to top European clubs and successfully reinvesting time and again.

Now there are new players to the game but all they have is money. No disrespect to the Chinese clubs but nobody watches their league in Europe and we won’t start now because Oscar has arrived.

The damage is being done in terms of the knock-on effect. Players in England will start demanding even bigger salaries and transfer fees. Agents will push transfers to get a cut of the fee. At least if Manchester United or Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid pay €80 million for a player, they have a reasonable chance at success and will play to millions of people every week.

Who will pay when the next generation of players demand more money or they threaten to leave for China? We will. The supporters. The cost of tickets are rising, most teams have 3 jerseys per season not including training outfits which are all close to €80 each. We are constantly being asked to pay a little more.

Chinese clubs should focus on developing their own game. Attracting big name coaches may be more beneficial. They are throwing money at the problem and that does not help their game. The US teams did that and they are nowhere near as successful as they would have hoped when they signed Kaka, Beckham, Keane etc.

The Chinese clubs will not become Barcelona overnight or even in a few years but we will have to pay for their experiment to keep our top players at our clubs. I don’t believe any top player wants to play in China but a big offer is a powerful bargaining chip come deadline day.

Careers go to the MLS to die. Now they are going to the Chinese league to experience a very lucrative premature death.

Do Gender Quotas have a place in sport?

The Irish Government announced this week that sport bodies could face funding cuts if they do not meet quotas for female representation on boards.

The news was not received too well on social media with most people saying the “best qualified” should be on the board regardless of their gender.

Another good argument is that if this much effort and pressure was put on the funding and development of the grassroots female sports, it would be more beneficial.

But the government are practicing what they preach. In the last general election political parties would lose state funding if they did not meet a 30% gender quota.

How many women sit on the boards of top sports here in Ireland? The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has a board made up of 11 people which consists of 11 men and 0 women.

But that’s football,  a once off surely? GAA Ireland’s national sport, has 18 members on their board and still not one woman. The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has one woman on a board of 23 people.

Does the state have business demanding who is on these boards? Well yes they do. The three organisations mentioned above, which are the top three in the country, receive approximately €7.5 million of state funding every year.

We have seen some female success on the ground in Irish sports with many female Olympians and Para-Olympians returning home with medals. Katie Taylor has won her first two professional boxing bouts after dominating the amateur world for years.

The list goes on and more will go un-mentioned but the question must be asked, will female athletes fare better if there are females on the boards of their sports? Will the sport themselves do better regardless the gender of their athletes?

Of the 20 sports organisations which receive state funding in Ireland, there are 239 board members, 56 are women. 13 of those 56 are on the Camoige Association which is an all-female sport.

Quotas may appear to be controversial but the panic and anger over political quotas passed and the same will probably happen in sport. It would be nice to see some initiative on gender balance before we have to implement gender quotas on anymore organisations.