Arsenal might be grinding out a handful of big transfers this summer: it’s hard to tell, because they’ve been totally silent, and all we get is a bunch of tabloid nonsense. Probably the behind-the-scenes scene is depressing, and we’re better off not knowing. So, in the absence of anything exciting in a forthright manner, why not take pleasure in others’ transfer market pain? Especially Manchester United’s transfer pain! This is the most delicious kind of transfer pain, and one we don’t get to taste nearly often enough.
At the very beginning of the summer there were articles everywhere claiming Moyes had Cesc Fabregas as his number one target, and that ManU had confidence that they could make a deal happen. It was going to be a big statement of intent, blah blah blah, and absolutely nothing has come of it. May nothing come of it yet- what a nightmare. Thiago, if the media were to be believed (including big places like ESPN), was their second choice. After it became clear Cesc was unavailable, suddenly the purchase of Thiago was to be a ManU masterstroke. The midfield genius of the future for a song! Thiago would exchange the company of Xavi for Michael Carrick, and in doing so, finally get a starting berth. Alas for the Red Devils a better team in Pep’s Bayern Munich has snuck in and beat them to the punch. I think this is pretty hilarious, and I really hope it’s true. I dislike Bayern, but this United schadenfreude is a blast. It would be better, obviously, if Arsenal was the one twisting the knife, but there’s no reason to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Whether it’s a good choice for a player in search of more time on the field is a different question. Thiago will have absurdly good competition at Bayern, and there won’t be room for error or poor form. He’d have that room at ManU, which says something about the current state of the two teams’ midfields. Bayern’s is much, much, much better. Of course, Guardiola said that Thiago is his only target of the summer, and if he doesn’t get him, he’ll settle for no one. I can’t imagine he’d intend his singular choice to warm the bench. And it’s hard to imagine a player turning down the most vaunted coach in the world’s offer. Especially when the coach was also your beloved mentor.
Who is David Moyes’ third choice, I wonder? Fingers crossed it’s another banana peel.
A few days ago, Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness voiced concern that the Bundesliga was becoming a duopoly, with the two powers being Munich and Dortmund, and that this concentration of power would ultimately hurt the league. At first glance, this makes sense. Everyone is sick of how top heavy the big leagues are, and while everyone envies the evergreen success of Real Madrid and Barcelona, no one particularly wants their league to be so out of whack. Good entertainment requires more than two possible outcomes (actually I’m not sure that’s true; worth revisiting later).
But what on earth would a president of a big club want beside a never-ending parade of victories? They want to win, and win forever. Ideally, the victories would be hard-fought and well-earned, but they’d all be victories nonetheless. So what a club president would honestly want in an ideal world, I think, would be a league in which he could consistently win without an aura of corruption (Serie A…) or the impression there wasn’t real competition (La Liga). (Does this bring us to Man U and the EPL? Maybe). So when a club president says his and his rival club should take action against the concentration of power, what does he mean?
Today, the day before Dortmund plays Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals, it was announced that Bayern are triggering Mario Gotze’s buyout clause and bringing him over this summer. They’re simultaneously buying their rival’s most promising young player and moaning that the league isn’t competitive enough. The announcement has been timed to inflict maximum psychic damage before Dortmund’s most important game of the season.
What these guys want is to win. When they talk about anything else, they’re still talking about winning.