Barcelona Are No Longer The Good Guys And The 8 Other Things We Learnt This Summer

With no major championships these were supposed to be a quiet few months. A chance to unwind and switch off. But football never sleeps and the lessons keep coming.
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With no major championships these were supposed to be a quiet few months. A chance to unwind and switch off. But football never sleeps and the lessons keep coming.

1. Barcelona are no longer the good guys

It used to be so simple. Barcelona were the good guys – the people’s club with their sponsor-free shirts and historical proud struggles under Franco. Whereas Real Madrid were the boo-hiss fascists.

Now though Mourinho is putting together a vibrant young team full of promise and flair, whilst the Catalans have undergone a PR disaster in their aggressive pursuit of Fabregas. This summer…and last…they have used every trick in the book to unsettle a player that does not belong to them. Every trick that is except actually putting in a bid for the lad. Either put up or shut up Barca before we notice the moral rot behind the gloss.

2. Redknapp is sulking

At the best of times Redknapp has a face like a clump of pasta carbonara sliding slowly off a plate. Recently though his jowly flesh has slumped to ever-more hangdog proportions as he indulges himself in a lengthy sulk over his chairman’s reluctance to shell out Champion’s League wages for a club that finished fifth. Not being able to shift Keane and Pavlyuchenko hasn’t exactly helped his usually cheery disposition either. Where are the daily SSN interviews where he chirpily declares every player under the sun as ‘triffic’? Where are his weekly press conferences shamelessly announcing interest in players contractually tied to other clubs before believing he is craftily skirting illegality by adding the caveat ‘But that’s down to the chairman, not me’?

Not having him around this summer feels a little odd. Like being on your hols and having the mouthy, annoying club rep be confined to bed with the flu.

3. Mexico is the next gold-mine

Winners of both the Gold Cup and the U-17s World Cup this summer these are prosperous times for Mexico. An abundance of fantastic players are breaking through  and already we have Barrera and Hernandez on British shores with 17 year old sensation Marco Bueno set to sign for Liverpool this week. Expect to see more relocating to Europe in the very near future as its major clubs look to the new hotbed of affordable talent.

It seems that thirty-somethings, with their inflated wages and wearied legs, are as desirable as a Susan Boyle strip-o-gram

4. Football has become ageist

A staggering eighty-five million smackers has been splurged on players aged 21 or younger in the Prem alone already this summer. Even Real Madrid – famed for favouring established superstars – have changed their transfer policy of late and diverted their attentions to promise and youthful potential over aging players with little resale value. It seems that thirty-somethings like Drogba, Bellamy and Joe Cole, with their inflated wages and wearied legs, are as desirable as a Susan Boyle strip-o-gram and it surely won’t be long before a high-profile footballer sues their employers for age discrimination. With ex-Countryside presenter Miriam O’Reilly no doubt volunteering as a character witness.

5. Dalglish is attempting to assemble the GB Olympic team

With Henderson and Downing joining fellow England ‘fringers’ Carroll and Carragher at Anfield, along with Scot Charlie Adam and the rumoured imminent arrival of Cahill, Dalglish seems intent on assembling the nucleus of next summer’s British Olympic team. If they’re successful in their pursuit of gold let’s hope that humour prevails and Sonia blasts from the stadium PA instead of the national anthem as a flag bearing five linked signet rings from Argos is slowly raised.

6. The Modric saga is this summer’s transfer bore-a-than

Every year we are forced to endure a transfer standoff that gets dragged out across the summer months with all the momentum and drama of a Beckett play about snails. The Modric switch to Chelsea is tedium personified an inevitable occurrence that could be thrashed out in a matter of hours yet is drip-fed in piecemeal segments of rumour and denial until we’re zapped of all life-force.

The Catalans have undergone a PR disaster in their aggressive pursuit of Fabregas

7. Brazil and Argentina are no longer South American superpowers

Both surprisingly exited at the quarter-final stage of this summer’s Copa America. The widespread improvement of their continental rivals is certainly a factor but it’s undeniable that all is not right in either camp. Brazil are undergoing a seemingly eternal period of almost-reluctant transition whilst Argentina, as ever, suffer from their embarrassment of riches. Too many superstar cooks spoiling the guiso.

While both sides can continue to boast the glittering array of talents at their disposal talk of a mutual crisis will always be a little far-fetched but there’s no doubt that their air of invincibility is deflating by the year.

8. Harold Shipman was only the tip of the iceberg

A couple of years ago AC Milan turned down the chance to sign Aly Cissokho from Porto after club doctors discovered a problem with the player’s teeth alignment.

Meanwhile in Britain Kieran Dyer and Jonathan Woodgate signed for QPR and Stoke respectively this summer, both passing their medicals and hobbling out of examination rooms on crutches holding a clean bill of health. British quacks…the next time you feel poorly you are better off seeing a vet.

9. The Capello mentoring experiment hasn’t worked

It would be hypocritical to carp with hindsight because at the time it seemed to be a rare instance of common sense being applied by the F.A. England were mired in out-dated mentalities and methodologies and it was perfectly logical to head-hunt a world-class coach – paying him a kings ransom in return of course – under the one proviso that he take a young English manager under his experienced wing.

Capello’s failings have been widely reported upon. What we witnessed, so depressingly, this summer at the Euro U-21s however was that his one-dimensional adherence to 4-4-2 has in turn been passed down to the development levels too. And that is unforgivable.

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