We go again. The wait is finally over, with the English Premier League season kicking off this weekend. The European Championship filled the gap over the summer, but it is merely a distraction from the real excitement, the English Premier League. The likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid may make the English teams look average on the pitch but there is no debating the fact that the English league is on a different level for entertainment, benefiting from a fairer distribution of TV money across all teams in the league.
While the government bond market, drowning in negative yields, might have you questioning the soundness of the financial system, the football transfer market makes you wonder has the world gone completely mad. Manchester United, a club who have adopted a ‘throw money at the problem’ strategy since Alex Ferguson left, are paying £89 million for Paul Pogba a player they left go on a free transfer in 2012. Forget about buying low and selling high!
Of course, the self-proclaimed special one Jose Mourinho has accused rival managers of being “unethical” for sharing their opinion on the valuation. A great manager, but Jose has a slight habit of painting himself as the victim. It was this time last year, when still Chelsea manager, he accused his rivals of buying the title: “Now, they are buying the title. All of them, they are buying the title”. Leicester obviously bought it on the cheap.
In recent years the Champions League has garnered much of the attention, a by-product of the financial rewards it brings, but the league is the league, what legendary Bill Shankly called “our bread and butter”. The fact Liverpool have no European football to distract them this season gives me further belief that our German maestro can orchestrate something special this year. I’m not going to say what I’ve been saying for 25 years – ‘this is our …’ – but you know who my money will be on! YNWA
Finally, while Pogba’s transfer has attracted all the headlines, flying under the radar was the signing of Niall Quinn by my former club Straffan AFC (see link). The ex Irish International is now leading the line for the Masters team (over 35s), with pressure on to bring goals back to Lodge Park after I made the move to Naas United when Straffan’s senior team folded. While many of my ex-teammates have moved into masters football, something I’ll be delaying as long as possible, a partnership with Quinn could be on the cards in the future with the club looking to spend big in the next transfer window. Stay tuned!