By Tony Attwood
As the media circus hang on to and reprint every word of Sir F Word (apart of course from the F-words) and as Manchester IOU go into emergency session to decide what to do about the Potato Man’s agent (who seemingly pulled exactly the same trick on Everton when his guy moved to Man U five years ago), there remains the issue of cows and fields.
To put it particularly: would anyone actually want to buy the young fella-me-lad? (Or in the case of Sir Alex, would you buy a pint of milk from this man?) (see footnote for more data).
There is an assumption that Rooney is a player of such talent that all the world and its dog will be after him. A player for whom the market would fall apart at the chance of a purchase. And thus by implication, he will go. 2+2=7, ergo, viz, op cit, point proven, point taken.
But I think maybe Man U can hold onto the Potato although not for the reasons that one might imagine.
First, I am not sure that everyone will put in the bids that are expected, simply on the grounds that for quite a few months the warm glow of the delicious apple on a sunday afternoon has deserted the poor mite and he has not looked like the great player he clearly once was. This can’t all be down to the issue of Sir F Word – after all Rooney was fairly awful for England too in the WC (world cup).
Second, his agent’s reputation is now so low, having pulled the same self-enriching stunt twice that everyone knows Rooney will come with contractual baggage. He is after all the man who proved to the unthinking classes that the light at the end of the tunnel is the express train travelling in the opposite direction.
Third, there’s the delicate issue of Uefa’s spending rules. Apart from Arsenal very few clubs are actually in a position where they can say to Uefa, come and look at us, we pass the test. I know that the Tinies are doing this, and it might be that Uefa will be so inept that they won’t actually think of looking in the Virgin Islands, or even wondering where all the funding comes from.
But as for Man City, Real Mad, WC Milan, Barca and Inter, there is no preparedness for the new regulations, and although there is still time to get it right and hide a fair amount of the debt under the mattress, every major purchase makes it harder to get the figures to make enough sense that someone might actually believe them.
Fourth there is the issue of cash. The fall-out from the Liverpool Affair might be more or less over as far as football journalists are concerned, but not as far as the banks are concerned. RBS got their money back and indeed made a fat profit out of Liverpool – but there were times when this was by no means certain. The number of banks willing to lend to clubs for players is getting smaller by the day, and indeed the number of banks willing to have anything to do with clubs is getting smaller.
Remember Barca in the summer and the way they failed to pay their players on time. This was not a technical hitch, but a situation in which the club had run out of sources of money. The banks said no to any further loans, and even the loan sharks looked the other way. And that was just to keep the old con-artists in business – not because they wanted to actually buy someone.
So the rule is sell before you buy, because there is very little cash on offer – but what Man U want is cash. Any deal will have to be front loaded – meaning a lot of the money as the player is handed over. Less than that will not help the Glazers out of their little local difficulty with paying the rent on their shopping malls.
Fifth is the problem that Rooney is English. While I am more than happy to get the Eurostar to Paris, stroll across Lafayette and argue the toss with the man in charge over whether his ticket machine is working properly or not, not all Englishmen have that certain ability in the old foreign lingo. And as we all know, Brits don’t travel well when it comes to football. The number who have done ok on foreign soil is tiny, the number who have not is huge, from Gazza to Rush (and back again).
The ability of players to fit into a new country is a significant issue for all managers to consider – you only have to think of Reyes to see a potentially brilliant player who just could not hack it in foreign parts.
Part of Rooney’s problem will be that of his wife. She is apparently devoted to her disabled sister, and the thought of moving the sister is (so the media says) causing her some distress. Mrs Rooney always seems to come across as a genuinely good person (and of course I have no insight in this and am just repeating tittle tattle), and she may well not be that excited by the move to a country where neither she nor her hubby speaks a word. (Mind you Rooney doesn’t do very well in English either, so I suppose that is a start).
Sixth we come back to Mr Potato himself and his agents. There will be salary demands far in excess of the £7.8m a year that Man IOU were thinking of offering him. In the past we have always assumed that foreign clubs pay more than the English, but English clubs earn more in revenue than a lot of foreign clubs and they are struggling. True the President of Italy might stump up a few quid to help AC Milan buy him, but then that just makes life harder under the Uefa deal. The KGB in Fulham, and the oilmen in Manchester could afford anything – but the former are trying to cut costs, and the latter must start thinking about the Champions League some day soon.
So ultimately we are back to the transfer fee. Manchester United will need to replace the Roon with another good player. Sir F Word has mumbled about his brilliant crop of 14 year olds, (in between discussing the milk yield of cows in fields) but we know at Arsenal that a brilliant 14 year old is not always a brilliant 15 year old. Does he really have a shedload of Wilshere’s lined up to replace his ageing team? I doubt it.
Already they are wondering how the hell they replace Giggs and the other old timers. To replace Rooney as well, will mean a need for more and more money. And that really is where we started. Who is going to pay?
Of course if they don’t sell the Roon, then he walks. But with the KGB apparently offering just half the price Man IOU might expect, life is not going to be simple. Rooney could well fetch only a fraction of what Sir F Word really needs.
Footnote: this is Sir F Word’s entry for the Nobel Prize for After Dinner Metaphors, as taken from his new play, An Absence of Forewords, currently running at the Notional English Theatre of Commerce.
“Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field. It’s a fact, right, and it never really works out that way. It’s probably the same cow and it’s not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think there’s a better world somewhere else. It never really works.”
Yup. That’s about it.
“Making the Arsenal”. The story of Arsenal in 1910. Not a cow in sight. “Brilliant, the best book ever in the history of history” (Untold Arsenal)
The Index. An analysis of recent articles, and links to other indexes which cover other things. “Brilliant. The best index ever.” (Untold Arsenal)
“The Arsenal History site.” Everything about Arsenal’s past. “Brilliant. More history than you can shake a stick at.” (Untold Arsenal)
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