…And on the Sixth Day since its closing, I take a look at how the transfer window has affected morals, standards and principles.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the transfer window is controlled by forces that none of us fully understand. These are forces that compel Sky Sports News presenters to evangelise at the top of their lungs, panic-stricken; through the pandemonium whilst plagues of bug-eyed ne’er do wells descend upon stadiums up and down the country. These are forces that drive Londoners to stop alongside the road, roll down their windows and speak in riddles and tongues about, “Top, top players”, “Triffic bargains”, and “Trying to hook a big one.” These are evil forces that tempt once good, God-fearing Glaswegians into abandoning their moral standards and journeying over to the dark side of duplicity, deceit and double standards.
Hypocrisy is an awful thing and whilst I promise not to see things from an entirely biased, Manchester City supporter’s point of view throughout this piece, there’s a likelihood that I’ll see things from a biased Manchester City supporter’s point of view throughout this piece. Entirely. Saying one thing, and doing another. Living a lie. Not practising what you preach. Jarring isn’t it? This year’s transfer window that slammed shut on Monday night highlighted a hell of a lot of hypocrisy from the moment it creaked open in mid-summer. Somehow, our dearly beloved football ruiners, Manchester City, have found themselves looking positively angelic as they conducted their business without turning heads, disrupting plans or insulting anyone with derisory bids for players…
David Moyes has clearly sold his soul since he’s taken charge of the Red Devils. At Everton he was a man of principle; a shrewd, noble operator who had a clear goal for his football club and a well-defined expectancy of how transfers should be approached and dealt with – both incoming and outgoing. All that was thrown out; this window. In August 2009, David Moyes branded Manchester City’s pursuit of Joleon Lescott as, ‘disgusting.’ He added, “We do not do our business in public, we would go to the right people to find out what is happening.”
Fast-forward, if you will, to July 2013 when David Moyes was asked about his coveting of Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas: “I never said I knew we would get him. I just said we had made offers. They have been rejected. We will take stock of the situation and decide where we go from there.” Hmmm. That feels like doing your business in public, David. That sounds like a player being publicly discussed, which we know fills you with disgust. Nevertheless, the disgusting pursuit of Cesc failed and he turned out to be a false idol for United supporters, just like so many others this summer.
Reading back over Moyes’ quotes from 2009 on the Lescott transfer really shows how his philosophy has changed since moving from Everton to Manchester United. Amongst a litany of furious anger towards City for what he seemed to believe was their attempt to poison and destroy his player, he said that Lescott, “had his head twisted”, and that, “There is not a chance we will sell this close to the end of the window” before going on to reason that, “We think the world of him, as a centre-half and a left-back. He gives us two players in one.”
Perhaps this ‘two players in one’ idea was what caused Moyes go back to his old club with a pitiful offer of £28 million for both Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. The bid was, rightfully, labelled as, “insulting and derisory” by the Everton board. However, the damage was done. Fellaini’s bushy head had been twisted and, presumably much to the chagrin of Everton, who don’t like to sell close to the end of the window (Moyes, 09), the Belgian pushed through a transfer at the eleventh hour. In a moment of beautiful karma, it appears that the transfer totalled £27.5 million – only half a million more than what United had offered for Baines and Fellaini. I guess they think they’re getting two players in one. What is incredible is that United’s acquisition of Fellaini (and attempts for Baines) went against everything he fought for with regards to City’s pursuit of Lescott. He even, in one of the most alarmingly disrespectful and immoral quotations I’ve ever read from a football manager said, “I also know that if I’d been Everton manager and Sir Alex Ferguson had come asking for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, I’d have found it very difficult to keep them, because I always felt the right thing to do was what was right for the players.” I’d love to know how you could sleep at night after making such ludicrous claims as these.
However, for all the malevolent forces in evidence during this transfer window, there seemed to something altogether more virtuous going on at City. Karma caught up with a few people this year and because of this, City seem to be have been elevated to a sort of divine state. Arsenal, who pride themselves on the mantra, “You can’t buy class”, smashed their transfer record, shattered their wage structure and err, bought class in the shape of £42m Mesut Ozil. Gary Neville was forced to eat his words after tweeting on the last day of August 2012, “What the transfer deadline gives you is a clear indication of which are the badly run football clubs!!!” That trinity of exclamation marks punctuating what was surely a dig at City during the climax of a catastrophic transfer window for the Sky Blues. Signing Fellaini with minutes to spare and losing out on Fabio Coentrao when the end was nigh due to malfunctioning office equipment is hardly a clear indication of a well-run football club in this instance. Get your fax right, guys.
Whilst the footballing gods appeared to be conspiring against Manchester United this time around, Manuel Pellegrini is seemingly overseeing the genesis of great times ahead for City. Panic buying, lavish overspending, being held to ransom by other clubs, looking foolish for chasing unrealistic targets, dead wood dining out on inflated wages and troublesome characters in the dressing room are all hallmarks of the City of recent times but there has been a change this summer. City’s transfer dealings were wrapped up early and efficiently and targets were of a pragmatic, necessary nature. We signed players to improve positions that needed improving. For all of City’s lack of width, we’ve signed a saviour: Jesus Navas. Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic have all been signed with the idea of having two players for every position and, with the exception of Jovetic who has been shaking off a niggle, all new players have impressed so far in the Premier League. Martin Demichelis has been brought in to shore up defence and add experience but has unfortunately suffered an injury in training. We always need a comical Typical City reminder.
Pellegrini has also overseen an exodus of players whose time at City was (mercifully) at an end. Carlos Tevez and Maicon were also shipped out to Italy with little fanfare. Gareth Barry’s departure to Everton on loan upset a lot of people after being quietly worshipped by all City fans since his move to the Blues in 2009. He was the one for me. Watching the final minutes of the transfer window tick away there was some hope and some despair as it seemed Barry would stay but suddenly there were whisperings that he was going.
I don’t remember a more unanimous voice of sadness emitting from City fans over a player leaving. Twitter was in mourning and every single person agreed that he was a graceful gentleman and a fantastic servant to the club in this era of where not every player’s motive is for the good of City. I reckon Barry will return to us and could end up as the leading light as City try to make it in New York. Don’t start spreading the news just yet, but I’d really, really love that were it to happen. On a personal note, something good could come out of Barry’s move to Goodison as a former Toffee could now flourish. With the defensive problems City are facing lately with Demichelis and Kompany’s injuries, there could be a central midfield reshuffle and we could see the rebirth of Jack Rodwell. He ended last season on such a high and (because you won’t read a sentence about him that doesn’t say -) if he stays fit he could be exactly what City are looking for: a pacey, fearless, intelligent box to box midfielder. He deserves some good fortune, does Jack.
So another transfer window has gone around and the usual dramas and surprises have come around. The sins that City have been guilty of in the past: turning heads, disrespecting clubs and players, underbidding, overpaying, leaving it late, ruining football, coveting their neighbour’s goods –none of these charges hold any credence this window, unfortunately. Instead it seems that those who held City accountable in the past could confess to being just as culpable these days. I don’t feel the first stone will be cast our way anymore. Hallelujah!
This is how it feels to be City.
Written by Ciaran Murray