Money, Mercenaries, Manchester and Madrid

This article originally appeared in the UCC Express as a column in which I ranted under the psuedonym
of ‘SureShot’ – a once-beloved Express staple whose memory I tarnished forever.

It was that greatest of social commentators, Notorious B.I.G., who once uttered the insightful words “Mo’ money, Mo’ problems”. Now SureShot isn’t in the habit of agreeing with the musings of rappers and the like, be they deceased or otherwise, mostly due to the incoherence of the majority of the slouching, groin-grabbing, shite-mumbling space-wasters. This phrase however has stuck in my mind recently as I believe it sums up much of what is wrong with modern day football. Promises of huge wages and signing-on-fees are flung at players by clubs with underlying identity issues. If you’ll allow me to don my Freudian cap for a moment I shall explain my theory. You see, the main players in this summers’ silly season have been Manchester City and Real Madrid, and both are operating with an arrogant disregard for actual footballing logic. City’s is a strange tale; having initially flirted with reasonable success via an exiled Thai Prime Minister, they became the new plaything of a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi – whose bank account sings to the tune of 33 billion pounds. Now, this new found and obscene wealth has brought on the classic psychological side-effects. City have very quickly developed delusions of grandeur to replace an inferiority complex which grew steadily in the shadow of their more illustrious neighbours. Such a significant jump in self-esteem can affect the mind in many ways. The club immediately set about identifying money-loving mercenaries who would bring instant success and appease the fans’ bloated expectations. On whether he had his agent phone the club begging for a trial, Michael Owen was quoted as saying. “Yeah, course I did…now who do you fancy in the 3:40 at Kempton?”, while making love furiously to his wallet. This is where logic, or the lack thereof, rears its ugly head. Lasting success takes time and footballing logic dictates that lots of marquee signings do not necessarily a great football team make.

[Enter Real Madrid]

Franco’s team are bankrolled by the Spanish government and are akin to an STD. They have trashy, classless connotations and give you a pain in your head. Every few years they attempt to create a ‘dream-team’ while neglecting the need for any kind of defence. The primary reason for this is that defenders don’t sell many jerseys or pack out the stadium for their unveiling in the famous all-white kit. Madrid are that slutty girl everyone knows who turns down the nice, caring guy so she can have a one-nighter with the most popular guy in town. A dirty slag of a club. All this reckless money-slinging just helps breed mercenary players who will happily jump ship for a few extra fivers and creates lucrative careers for the back-stabbing leeches known as football agents.

Modern football is becoming a dark, depressing place and nowhere more so than at home. The Eircom League has the stability of a house of cards in a hurricane. SureShot was very disheartened by the goings on at Cork City and it seems madness that one of the best-supported and most successful clubs in the country can be brought to the brink in such fashion. In July I attended a press-conference with Roy “I have strong sexual urges towards my dog” Keane. The Great One was questioned about the plight of his fellow Leesiders and proceeded to lament the situation and express his sadness that a well-loved club could be about to go under over such a small sum of money. Yet in almost the very next breath, ‘Keeeaannnee-OOO’ declared Madrid’s new greasy Portuguese winger ‘cheap’ at the paltry sum of 80 million pounds. Care to run that by us again Roy?

While we’re on the subject of the lesser Ronaldo, I found myself repeatedly vomiting into my morning Corn Flakes due to the ridiculous coverage the man was given by our media during his brief stay on this island. Every morning the paper treated us to pictures of Ronaldo standing on the training pitch, walking to the training pitch, chatting to a team mate or signing an autograph. Christ, it was painful stuff – are there really people out there who enjoyed the perpetual reporting of the man’s every waking second in the country? But it wasn’t just the media bending over backwards to accommodate the Ronaldo ‘circus’. The company that organised the match itself denied reporters from some of the national sporting press attendance to the packed game. Fair enough you may say, there was huge demand on space inside the ground. And I’d agree, were it not for the fact that the girls from Expose were allowed access to cover the game. Yes, the same bunch of Madrid-like slags who spent the prior week running a feature on what’s inside Ronaldo’s ‘short shorts’.

It’s been an emotional return to these hallowed pages for me and having ranted myself out for tonight I must retreat to my chambers for a glass of whiskey and a ‘Sounds of the Ocean’ CD to soothe my aching head. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you about whatever these coming months throw at us in the world of sport. So until next time, I’m off phlegm on a picture of Jorge Valdano.


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