It happens up and down the country at the end of every season. Fans, angry that their club didn’t finish up as champions, or get into Europe, or reach the play-offs, or manage to stave off relegation, demand action. And of course, there’s only one way to do that. “Throw some money at it, Mister Chairman!”
What happened to the time when we were happy with what we had? Why is it that every season the same cries are heard from the supporters?
Arguably one of the most important reasons behind the development of this mentality was the era of the Galacticos at Real Madrid. In the summer of 2000, Chairman Florentino Perez took it upon himself to declare that his team would rule world football through signing one marquee player per season, until he had a team of undisputed champions. Fans world-wide watched as Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham all became a part of this new era of football, and they liked what they saw.
This jealousy is one of the most important reasons behind the shouts for a summer of action at each fan’s respective club. Supporters often come across as magpies, just wanting something new and shiny for their club, which will ideally lead to something else shiny come the end of the season.
Unfortunately, this isn’t all the fault of the fans. The media plays a large role in twisting supporters’ minds to believe that there is someone out there who can come in and do the job for their club. Gossip columns, protracted speculation on players’ futures, rumours sometimes plucked from thin air that just seem so outrageous that they couldn’t possibly be true. Fans use this as their fuel, they read about who is arriving and when they don’t sign for their team they burn with a passionate rage and demand to know why.
One reason behind the desire to see change is being played out in front of us as you read. The Arsenal saga that looks set to last for the whole of the transfer window is seen as a stark warning to other clubs; make changes or face the prospect of six years of stagnation. Gunners fans have had enough now, they have snapped and they are certainly letting Arsene Wenger and the board know exactly how they feel. Other supporters both pity and fear the situation at Arsenal.
And this fear has spilt over into the boardroom at some clubs, where instantaneous success is a must or someone must pay the penalty. Usually it is the manager who falls, à la Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. But even now with the appointment of exciting new coach Andre Villas Boas it seems that the fear factor remains. Another trophyless season will not be tolerated by the hard to please Russian, despite the fact that teams often take time to gel with managers. What will seem shocking in hindsight is the fact that Claudio Ranieri was given an entire season to try and mould his new team of equally expensive (but perhaps slightly less impressive) Galacticos, whereas Phil Scolari wasn’t even given half that time.
Football is heading down a dangerous road when it comes to the transfer window. The fickle nature of fans, the ruthlessness of boards and chairmen, and the resulting inflated prices of the players that are deemed the answer. All perhaps an example of why it is now time to scrap this intrusive transfer window? I’ll let you be the judge of that.