Let’s face it, football is a game of clichés. You just have to listen to mangers during interviews, hear the ‘expert’ commentary offered by the likes of Sky, read what journalists have to say about the games they have witnessed. Even if it really was a ‘game of two halves,’ these generic statements are almost more amusing than informative in the modern game.
And even when the season ends, the clichés continue. The transfer window has a dictionary of its own, whether the players are sending ‘come-and-get-me pleas’, the managers are ‘issuing hands off warnings,’ or the chairmen are ‘slapping price tags’ on players left, right and centre. It’s almost a shame these are metaphorical, as the idea of Carlos Tevez on his knees pleading with clubs whilst being stickered with ‘£50 million’ labels by Sheikh Mansour is actually quite amusing.
But one cliché that seems to have lost its meaning over the course of the last few years is the notion of a ‘selling club,’ i.e. a club that sells. Not one of the more creative ones, granted, but one that used to carry quite a bit of weight. Fans never wanted their clubs to be described as one, and yet licked their lips at the thought of the likes of Fulham and Newcastle being forced to surrender their stars.
This last couple of years however look to have signalled the end of such a concept. Let’s look at the Ronaldo transfer from Manchester United. United were under no pressure financially to sell, they didn’t really want to lose arguably their star player, and yet they still took the £80 million from Real Madrid. Why? They said it was good business, but when you’re the most commercially successful club in the world that argument doesn’t make any sense. The same happened last Autumn with the shock news that Wayne Rooney was looking for a way out of the club. In the end they managed to appease the England striker, but for fans it was a shocking revelation. How was it that United could be losing key players?
The trend has continued this summer. Tevez wants to leave Manchester City. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri look to be on the way out at Arsenal despite Arsene Wenger’s protestations. Luka Modric is determined to be wearing something other than the white of Tottenham next season.
It feels like a zombie apocalypse. The Premier League teams are the survivors, desperate to reach ‘the arc’ where civilisation, and the status quo, can continue. But there’s that niggling suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Arsenal were bitten when you were running frantically to the last safehouse. What happens if they did catch it? You’re all locked together, they could bite you next, and you could suddenly start haemorrhaging your stars?!
Back to reality. The fact is there was not a zombie apocalypse in which every team was suddenly and brutally transformed into a selling club. Selling clubs don’t exist. Horrifyingly, it is something much worse that has started happening in football.
Player power has taken a stranglehold on the game. Regardless of contracts, if a player wants to move they can force it by sulking until they get what they want, generally involving joining a team higher up and as a result gaining a higher wage package. The blame falls at the feet of the agents who sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of their client; that they deserve more, that their current club lacks ambition, that trophies and adoration will fall at their feet if they move. Not to mention the fact that the agent will get a tidy fee for their troubles.
It seems that it is no longer a case of clubs selling players, but one of players telling clubs they’re leaving whether you like it or not.
Whether this is a good thing or not depends entirely on what you stand for. If you’ve ‘had it up to here’ with clichés, you might see the death of the ‘selling club’ as a win. On the other hand, if you don’t want to live in fear that your supposedly dormant club is only moments away from exploding its best talent throughout the country, you might feel sick as a parrot at the direction football is heading in. Personally, I’m heading to the vets right now.
If you have noticed any out of place clichés in this article, or have any of your own that you feel should have been included, splash them on my twitter. Best one gets a pat on the back.