The guy that came up with this scheduling nightmare of an International break only one week after the start of Serie A is a moron, he we are relishing the return of our beloved league and they take it away from us and instead ask us to watch Italy v. Cyprus or England v. Andorra. Not exactly world class matchups, but will be viewed nonetheless. The one good thing that comes from the International break is it gives me a minute to reflect and discuss on the Man City/Dubai issue which as much I want to forget it I can’t stop talking about with tifosi, friends, and even my pops.
My prominent concern is linked directly to my beloved Rossoneri, who as a club are certainly not a poor, but we are certainly not infinitely bank rolled like some of the other clubs in the world. Milan have always been able to compete in the open market and their strong funds and amazing legacy and history has and will always be a selling points for players of sincere motives. Now enter a club like Man City who lacks any real history and legacy, and also lacks the star power to make a superstar player feel at home but also supported on the pitch. We all know how important having a world class player like Kaka can be, but it is hard to argue that Kaka can carry a squad alone, he needs solid teammates to help him reach the highest levels. A team is more than a collection of a star or two and some role players see LA Galaxy for a look at failure with this recipe.
Move forward now to Robinho, who has been vilified for his new found allegiance with the Dubai Conglomerate of Man City. It is not hard to fault Robinho for taking the cash and a step down in play; it seems like the easy way out for a player who has a ton of talent and even more potential. He went from competing for the CL and La Liga title, to a possible 5th place finish and no silverware in the EPL. But if the conglomerate coupled with the effort of Mark Hughes can build around Robinho, Jo, and Elano and continue to make smart purchase and non-impulsive ones it won’t be long before this team is competing for silverware. But if the conglomerate takes a path of impulsive shopping leaving the team’s well being by the curb and buying players for the sake of the name this team will prove very quickly that they are a flash in the pan and unable to really compete leaving their owners embarrassed and probably quick to get bored.
Now until this potential failure or possible success happens, teams in the EPL and across Europe will have to contend with the new kid on the block with the big checkbook. It only took minutes for the whiniest manager on Earth, Rafa Benitez, to open his big mouth and say that Man City is bad for competition and that they are overinflating prices. First of all Rafa is scared that he will lose his precious CL spot and their perennial 3-4 place finish will not happen and he will lose his job, good riddance. But his claim of inflation of prices is baseless, and not exposing the fact that inflation has begun long before these Dubai boys opened their wallets, heck even Rafa is guilty.
Just these past few transfer windows, both Chelsea and ‘Pool are the prime example of smart shopping in Deco and Torres, and then overinflating players like Barry, Keane, and Robinho with only of them being moved with Keane going to Anfield. Inflation of player’s values is here to stay and as long as Roman Abramovich can pay top dollar for Kaka he will, and as long as Calderon has a man crush on CRon he will throw money around until he gets his man. The real issue is the big boys are scared now because Man City, even if they don’t get the player, will certainly be in the mix raising the price of the player and forcing the big boys to spend bigger to get their targets.
So where does that leave the second tier of shoppers like Barca, Inter, Juve, ManU and our beloved Milan. It basically forces these clubs to practice fiscal responsibility but also to sell if the time is appropriate and the money is right. I always remember when Juve sold Zidane to Madrid, think about the intelligence behind that move and where and what it left Juve with. Sure Zidane found success at Real, but Juventus built a squad that is still challenging for the Scudetto today while Zidane has retired.
Just this summer, Milan fought Man City for the signing of Ronaldinho, and in the end Dinho came to the San Siro, despite a pay cut, partly based on history and the desire to play with Brazilian Ex-Pats in Kaka, Pato, and Emerson. Fast forward to the transfer window ’09 with Man City owned by the some of the richest men in the world and featuring the likes of Robinho, Jo and Elano, and possibly the addition of some other Brazilians from the winter transfer window. Does Dinho still choose Milan? Does Man City become more attractive? Does Ronaldinho have a burning desire to build his own legacy? These are all questions that race through my mind and make me wonder where it would leave a team like Milan at the bargaining table. I guess next year will help us decide that, but until then we can speculate.
Staying in the summer transfer window of ’09, if those Dubai boys send over a blank check for Dinho, who may have regained form, do we sell. I say yes! Smartest one year investment on Earth and you are selling a guy who is nearing thirty in the same vain as Juve’s Zidane deal. If that same blank check arrives with Kaka’s names on it what do you do? I guess this season will go a long way in answering that question.
As you can see this issue is going to snowball for better or for worse and is way too important in the football to landscape to not recognize and discuss. So how long before Mr. Abramovich and Ze Russians start an all out war with new boys from Dubai?