For as long as we have been able to think, man has sought to explain the mysteries of the world through analogies of that which we better understand. And while few can accurately claim to fully understand football, it has nevertheless often been the subject of such analogies and at times has been very successful at doing so. With the world in the midst of war and economic instability amongst other things, some would look to football in a bid to snatch some light from the end of what can seem at times to be a never ending tunnel.
But in some ways, football does not serve as much of a comparison any more. I mean that in a financial sense mainly. As huge old corporations the world over go bust and we look set to slip into something resembling a depression (I’m not a financially-savvy man I’m afraid, and the technicalities are lost on me), the mad little world within a world that is football continues on it’s merry way, for the most part indifferent of the crisis that surrounds it.
Yes, Chelsea may not be able to spend more than fifty million this transfer window and indeed, most managers will be given more frugal spending money for the month, but that does not mean for one moment that things are getting tight. One only has to look at the transfer fees that are being bandied about to see that football continues to live in a world of it’s own. Consider as well the wages that some players take home, the TV money that is poured into the game and of course, the massive amount of cash that the fans collectively pour into every club in the land.
For example, Wayne Bridge has just been transferred to Man City for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £12million. Now Wayne Bridge is a top notch player, in my books he can be as good as Ashley Cole on his day, and is certainly a more likeable person. It’s about time he moved away from Chelsea and began playing regularly again, but I think that paying £12million for him is a bit like paying £20 for a Mars bar. It’s great and will do what you want it to do, but you’ve paid over the odds a bit.
In this way then, the world of football seems to be diverging paths from the real world at long last. While we all pinch our pennies and worry about ‘the future’, Tottenham look set to spend £15million on Jermaine Defoe, a player who they sold a year ago for half that amount! Now I happen to be of the belief that Defoe would be a good acquisition for Spurs in their current situation, as he has been missed this season (as I noted a while ago). But to pay twice the price for the same article after only a year is massive inflation – certainly not what one would expect on the brink of global depression.
Getting back to my initial point, the fact that football is continuing to spend it up large while the rest of the world stutters and zips up their pockets is not something that we cam use as a positive analogy, it’s not going to conjure an end to our tunnel. Indeed, if anything, seeing such a spoilt minority living so exuberantly while we are constantly reminded about how hard life can be is quite sickening. But fear not, it is not all bad news. Football can give us a glimmer of hope.
That hope can be summed up quite nicely by looking at the recent FA Cup clash between Manchester City and Nottingham Forest. City, the world’s richest football club lost at home, three-nil, to Forest, a club in the midst of a relegation battle in the Championship, whose entire squad probably earns less in a year than Robinho does in a week. By all rights, City should have trounced Forest, especially if football played according to the rules of the real world. Money talks in our society, and those with money will continue to hold the power over those of us who need money.
But Forest upset the apple cart. They went to the City of Manchester Stadium with a bucketful of spirit and a point to prove. They weren’t intimidated by their more lavish opponents and they out fought them and overcame them in the end with relative ease. That shows us that money, in football, is not everything. It certainly counts for a lot, and indeed if you want sustained success then that is probably what you will need, as proven by the spending power of the ‘big four’ over the last few years (minus perhaps Arsenal, but Wenger counts almost as currency in himself).
But Forest, who have very little money, beat City, who have all the money in the world. It proves to everyone that it can be done, that the little guy can overcome the guy with the deep pockets. And this is where we may find our spark, our glimmer of light at the end of our tunnel. For though the world sinks into a financial decline, and we find ourselves worrying for the future of our selves and our families, against the big corporations who exist solely to take our money, we can take solace in the fact that Forest beat City (City fans may take less, but the point is there, it’s just one example).
They showed that as long as we have the spirit and the passion and the drive to succeed, there is hope for us yet. No matter what is thrown at us, humans have an incredible spirit for dealing with and overcoming adversity. It is important in these testing times that we remember as much, and in football, we have the perfect reminder. For as long as interests rates do what they do (honestly, I haven’t a clue) and currency rates drop and all that stuff, you can rest assured that football will keep us on our toes. The FA Cup will throw up more upsets, teams like Hull City will continue to defy the odds and give their all in the Premier League, Aston Villa and Everton will attempt to disrupt the ‘big four’s dominance and Man City and other big, rich clubs will continue to slip up, letting us know that all is not down hill, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Good old football, is there anything it can’t do?