City had 71% possession on Saturday. They attempted 23 shots to Fulham’s 7. They completed 646 of their 726 passes. Fulham attempted just 276. If those stats aren’t enough, the passing charts bear out the notion that this really was a match between the haves and the have-nots.
And so it is. Like Chelsea before them, and Leeds before them, and whoever else before them; City resembles everything that is wrong with current economics of football.
No, it’s not about wealthy owners coming in, “splashing the cash” (dear lord that cliche is awful), and buying whomever they wish. And it’s not it the media touting bullshit narratives like Mancini didn’t get all the transfers in he wanted; despite dropping nearly £90m over the summer.
Nor is it having loads of depth off the bench; that’s what good teams always have.
What’s so maddening is how they, like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, et al, are freely able to amass talent and own not just the best players, but all the not-so-best-but-still-damn-good players too. And just pay them to basically do nothing in the reserves, or make an occasional cup appearance.
Honestly, what the heck is Victor Moses doing at Chelsea (anyone remember Steve Sidwell in a Chelsea shirt?) Or Nuri Şahin at Real Madrid? I’m sure we could flood the comments with other examples.
For all the chatter about how a salary cap will fix this issue; it won’t. It’s the fact that players get new contracts whenever they sign for a different club that spurs on the stratification. The wealthy owners will just continue to spend, spend, spend and ultimately kill the game not just because they can, but because the players are all willing accomplices.
Take a look at City’s bench. I won’t list the names, but how much they cost: £1m, £22m, £16m, £24m, £25m, £27m, £22.5m. Nearly £140m just sitting there; and that’s not including their annual salary. Most of them are bonafide stars, but several aren’t. And lets look at the players who didn’t even feature because of injury or whatever else: Jack Rodwell (£12m), Sinclair (£6.2m), Maicon (£3.5m), Kolo Toure (£16.m).
No wonder the likes of Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz are still on City’s payroll; and Adam Johnson and Jô were for so long.
I’ve written about this before, but how can any sporting system that allows this to happen even consider itself legitimate?
Take baseball in America: a sport that everyone loves to hate because the New York Yankees always have the highest payroll and it’s the least socialistic in its share of revenue and payroll. “The Yankees buy everyone” is often the refrain; as the masses turn their attention to the NFL. Yet what limits the Yankees literally buying everyone like the big European clubs do is that they can only give good players BIG contracts when they are free agents. And so they often have to make do with the likes of Eric Chavez and Raul freaking Ibanez.
Players like Matt Weiters and Manny Machado from my local Baltimore Orioles, who will probably someday play for the Yankees, are going to remain an Oriole until their contracts run out. There’s little incentive for them to join a better team and possibly not play much if they’re going to get paid the same. It behooves them to play out their contract, and hopefully do really well in their contract year.
Yet if this was footy, they would be Yankees by this time next month when the season’s over, mainly because they’d see a huge increase in their salary. And the fans wouldn’t bother come watch the sport anymore.
This isn’t sour grapes, just something that annoys me. And I wish we didn’t have to play these type of teams as I get no enjoyment from it; win, lose, or draw.
(Okay, I enjoy the win. But we all know the narrative won’t be about us winning, but them losing).