It’s often said that the Premier League is the strongest league in the world. And the European exploits of Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal would seem to reinforce that view. But when you delve a little deeper, things aren’t quite so rosy. If you, like me, watched the Saturday TV game between Blackburn Rovers and Spurs you’ll know what I mean. The skills on show were distinctly poor with misplaced passes, loose control and very little creativity. The crowd noise level was mediocre, the refereeing completely inconsistent and it was made all the worse by Sky TV’s Andy Gray, whose use of meaningless words knows no bounds. This time it was ‘up top’ as in “Samba is going to play up top”. No he’s not Andy. Samba is going to play up front. Up top is training ground slang and doesn’t belong in a TV commentary. A distinctly average couple of hours all round.
Sven’s coming back
You have to admire the front of sports agent Atholle Still. His top client, Sven Goran Eriksson has just been given the push by Mexico and Still is telling all and sundry that the Swede views a return to the Premier League as his preferred option. I’m sure he does. A multi million pound contract to start with then millions more in compo when he gets the push. Bearing in mind that Eriksson has overseen a run of results which has left Mexico behind both Costa Rica and Honduras in their qualifying group and in danger of not making the World Cup finals for the first time in 16 years, you could be forgiven for wondering what PL club would want him.
Uefa president Michel Platini doesn’t come up with too many good ideas but his view that the trading of players under the age of 18 has to stop is bang on. There is no evidence that Manchester United did anything wrong when they persuaded Federico Macheda to join them from Lazio, but the annoyance of the Italian club is completely understandable. What’s the point, they argue, of finding, developing and nurturing young talent if they can be whisked away with little or no compensation by foreign clubs? Much better to insist, as Platini has suggested, that the first contract that any young player signs is with the club who have aided his football education. It only needs to be for a couple of years, after which, if the kid is good enough, he’ll be able to command a decent fee from any interested parties, so providing the selling club fair reward for their efforts.
He’s gone where?
Just imagine for a moment that you run a successful business. After letting your staff have a short break, you get back to the office only to discover that your top salesman has been given leave to work short-term for a rival company. And all without your knowledge. Chances are, in the world of business, this would never happen. But at QPR it just has with leading scorer Dexter Blackstock farmed out on loan to Nottingham Forest without the consent of manager Paulo Sousa. As a Rangers fan, I was mildly excited by the Briatore take over. But after a succession of laughable decisions and incidents, of which this is the latest, the quicker the club is back in the hands of ‘football people’ the better.