Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just go to Milan, Frank

We've all learned to take pretty much anything in the media during the transfer window with a grain of salt. The summer transfer window, where most big signings take place, is three months of rumor, innuendo and outright lies. Who can blame them? Football is a year-round sport, and there are countless pages to fill when there isn't any action.

The Euros should've taken up the majority of reporting, but given England's much-maligned inability to qualify for the tournament, the typical transfer sagas began in full earnest from the UK papers. But it seems like we've been talking about Frank Lampard for years, specifically what he'll do when his contract at Stamford Bridge is up.

The debacle that ensued after Luiz Felipe Scolari's presentation as the new Chelsea manager pretty much sums up the current state of footie for me. I know that since the Bosman ruling, which transferred the bulk of bargaining power from clubs to individual players, this has been going on year after year. However, what makes this a whole new ballgame is the amount of money we're talking about.

Arsene Wenger has come out to lament the current "mercenary" state of football, but I'm not sure why he's suddenly complaining about it. Could it be that loyalty no longer matters in football? Of course, and the Arsenal gaffer will find it increasingly difficult to hang onto or mold a squad and keep all of his players intact.

The chain of events following Scolari's claim that Lampard wished to end his career at Chelsea were so transparent and buffoonish, yet so typical. As soon as Lamps saw Scolari make the claim, he rushed to the Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon to tell him he never said such a thing.

Perhaps all is lost in translation, but given Scolari's worldliness and mastery of English, I highly doubt there was a misunderstanding. Big Phil knew what he was doing, and so did Lamps. Or so he thought.

Claiming that his client wished to end his career at Stamford Bridge, but that Chelsea were "not allowing" him to do so by not giving him a five year deal vs. the four they've offered, Lampard's agent may have seen all of his typical work in deceit undermined.

I can understand Lampard trying to get all that he can at the end of his career, but if it's true that the Blues have offered $280K/wk, which would make him the highest paid Englishman (until John Terry renews his contract), he's got his priorities jumbled. Five more years would see him at the Bridge until 35, a fairly useless age in football, especially at the top level.

Shouldn't Lampard be thinking about where his best chances to win are? Shouldn't he be thinking about winning the Champions League? Is one more year of $14.6 worth missing out on that? What happens when the Blues give in, give him that fifth year and Inter lift the Scudetto and the European Cup?

I suppose the thing that bothers me the most is that the notion of an Englishman, especially one in the top-flight, does not feel motivated by challenges abroad. The days of players like Liam Brady spending half of their career in Serie A are gone. Could this one of the reasons why England stink it up on the international stage?


1 comment:

Colin said...

I'll take the condescending guff about Sunderland on the chin, but then I haven't much choice. As I admitted in print not long ago, our last period of sustained success was the 1890s (though we were still quite a force in the 1930s!)

Looks as if Younes - Youseless , according to the Spurs fan who wrote in to my site at

won't be coming, but we have two of the other three: Chimbonda and Tainio, so maybe things are looking up