As I opined last weekend, the boredom to soccer fans has transcended into excitement after the beginning of the English Premier League and other European club competitions. But, it is a mixture of excitement and frustration, especially after the closure of the transfer window.
Yes. Before the summer transfer window slammed shut on August 30 until the New Year, fans of the big clubs expected acquisition of new talents. Even Manchester City with a squad that excelled last season needed to be kept on their toes and kept fresh with new faces in all departments.
And ambitious players who stayed needed to be convinced that more progress is on their cards. Or else they become ‘rebels’ like Robin Van Parse who sparingly switched from Arsenal to the arch-rivals Manchester United where he has become an instant hit!
After watching some games, they reminded me of invaluable ‘assets’ United and Arsenal have over their rivals in England. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have more experience than any of their closest rivals.
Fergusson has been at the helm for over two decades- 25 years to be specific. His tenure has seen the club go through an era of success and dominance both in England and in Europe, giving Ferguson a reputation as one of the most admired and respected managers in the history of the game.
As Such, he was knighted “Sir” by Her Majesty the Queen of England in 1999 for his services to the beautiful game.
In 2008, Fergie became the third British manager to win the European Champions on more than one occasion, after Brian Clough and Bob Paisley. In short, his tenure is also the longest of all the current League managers in Europe.
Wenger, like Ferguson is Arsenal’s longest serving manager and most successful, winning 11 trophies despite winning nothing in the last seven seasons. But he is not the one to blame- he is an employee and he has to abide by the employer’s transfer policy or else he loses the job anyway.
In 1996, Wenger was named manager of Arsenal and two years later, in 1998, became the first manager born outside Britain to win the league and FA Cup double.
He led the club to appearances in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final and 2001 FA Cup Final, before replicating the double achievement in 2002.
Arsenal retained the FA Cup in 2003 and a year later regained the league, becoming the first club since Preston North End, after 115 years to go through an entire league season undefeated. And unlike the traditional bigwigs in European and domestic clubs such as Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool, the two managers have retained consistence in Champions League qualifications and top four status in the league.
This makes me believe that Chelsea would have won more trophies including Champions if billionaire owner Roman Abramovic had given Jose Mourinho the time and respect he deserved.
The Portuguese subsequently took over Italian giants Inter Milan and snatched Champions League from favorites Bayern Munich. He is now in charge of the record nine-time European champions-Real Madrid. A wealthy and successful club like Barcelona shouldn’t have allowed Pep Guardiola to walk away. He won two Champions League titles, three La Liga titles and every trophy that the club entered for during his four year reign.
In essence, European elite clubs should pick a leaf from Manchester United and Fergie’s success story and nurture or retain ambitious and strategic managers on long-term basis.
Liverpool’s new principal owner John Henry ought to be patient with the young, talented and affordable Branden Rodgers and give him the support he needs.
It was certainly a frustrating negative reaction for the American owner to new manager, letting him offload the expensive striker Andy Carlo on loan to West Ham United on the transfer deadline and never brought in a replacement.
The debacle of the last days of the transfer left Rodgers with just two strikers in Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini yet the owner couldn’t meet Fulham’s £6million asking price for Clint Dempsey.
Apparently Henry felt it was not good value for money signing the 25-year old US forward, who joined Tottenham.
Yet in his open letter to the supporters on the club website John Henry said: “We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best, but we will not overpay for players. But like many other skeptics, one wonders why they would let the manager send the third striker on loan and leave him in a mess. They talked about the fact that they are really going to be competitive and try for the Champions League.
But they have missed the point because if they had got the two more strikers they needed they wouldn’t have had to issue any statement. The bottom line is that they have left Rodgers in a messy situation.
Likewise, Tottenham owners ought to give their new young manager Andre Villas-Boas the support and the trust he needs to gain confidence and nurture the club from such a humble status to prosperity. And sacking managers repeatedly has got negative financial implications on success in winning trophies.