So, I'm sitting here tucking into a tuna salad (I'm on a health kick at the minute) discussing the state of football at work. The Man Utd fan is overwhelmingly disillusioned with the game (damn you Fergie and your relentless quest for silverware).
He's not renewing his season ticket (he's a proper manc by the way - not a Surrey dweller - who lives and works in London but travels up for most games). He's a little sick of all the greedy money obsessed players. The Ronaldo saga is obviously a sticking point, but more so Carlos Tevez who will be (probably) joining Man City, not for the money, but because of the football as United have failed to make him feel part of the furniture at Old Trafford. I'm guessing Carlos will be part of City's five man strike-force including Bellamy, Robinho, Santa Cruz and Elano. No bench warming for the Argentine then.
In all likelihood Elano won't be part of the set-up next season. I can only pray and sacrifice a Chirpy effigy to the footballing Gods that Harry doesn't look towards Eastland's with a cheeky £15M bid for mad man Craig.
Even with the high tax rate taking a bite out of their wage packet (some of the poor blighters are only bringing home £40,000 a week after tax) they can rest assured that there is still legal room to wriggle around in. Much like City are doing at the moment with the Eto'o personal terms negotiations.
Little clubs like us will struggle to compete. Logistically, there ought to be no difference between us and City with regards to what we can offer players in the way of ambition. But as seen with Gareth Barry (who decided against Champs League with Liverpool or possibly Arsenal) money talks. Eto'o has no reason to sign for us. Not because we are not in Europe like City but because we can't offer £250,000 a week or sign other players of similar ilk for similar wages.
I guess the issue at the heart of the no-limit ethos is around the argument as to whether players are ambitious and prefer to join a team that can challenge from the off (or near enough) rather than a club that will not be able to attract world class players. So if you want to challenge, you need to remove the hurdles in front of you and only attempt to jump the one at the end. It's a short-cut, that may or may not work. What's ironic, and suggested to me by the manc, is that Spurs are a prime club for a billionaire.
Rather than spend £15M on several decent players which don't always pan out too well, why not make massive ridiculous bids for 'superstars' and just go for the Top 4 jugular with a razor sharp short-cut?
But alas, we are safe from such dramas. And it all feels a little too superficial. Too easy. Not that it is, but it's easier. But how would we react if it happened? Fans always scoff at the prospect for reasons I've already given. But would it be ok because we have a far more richer history than the likes of City? Or would that be an excuse to appease ourselves from the hypocrisy?
You will probably find that the hunger for success will out weigh everything else in the end.
Such is life.
We cursed Chelsea for doing something similar when Roman pumped his millions into the club. But they were already a Champs League side, and the attraction there for players was mainly down to the fact that they appointed the Special One. Who only signed on because he knew he'd have plenty of money to play with and that players would join because of his reputation. Chelsea without the money is not the same proposition. If you look at the pre-Roman days, they did more than well and signed plenty of big name players - but they were still way off the pace of title winners.
We might be in a better position with our wage budget, in comparison to our prior generosity. So say the rumours and having terminated the reserve side, there is more money in the kitty than usual to spend on first team affairs. More money, but nothing stratospheric. Meaning we are not in the same league to compete with City purely on the side of contract offers (imagine City with money AND Champions League).
But all this shouldn't cause mass depression. The Utd fan is just pissed off because modern day players are more detached than ever. But we all know this already. It's nothing new. But rather than clubs striving to match their fans expectations through the traditional ways, the option for whoring themselves out to billionaires who want a plaything seems to be the only viable desperate solution to play catch-up and catch-up fast.
As for me?
I'm undecided about City and whether I want them to do well.
Usually, outside the Top 4, we attract the most hype in off-season with transfers. In fact, we probably get more coverage than they do as we are firm favs of footballing agents and lazy journalism. We've been linked to around 80 players so far this season (if not more). At a guess, only 10 (maybe less) of them are possible genuine targets. Regardless of the stats, the pre-season dark horse tag is usually shared between us and Everton. Mainly because we splash out millions. But things have changed. City are now the team to watch as they go in search of cracking the monopoly.
So the pressure is off for a start. Hughes will have to produce the goods and man-manage with confident skill to keep all his superstars in check. It won't be easy. But they are buying up decent players, not just offensive by also defensive.
If they break up the top 4 then one of the current elite will re-join the peasants. Which would be more than humorous as that would place (the de-throned club) on our level, and they will suffer more so because of the dip in money and attraction stakes. But the consequence of this is that City will cement their place by spending even more money and being able to attract even bigger stars because of their newly gained position.
I'm undecided because from the perspective of ambition, how can we ever expect to break into the Top 4 if someone else gets there first?
And what's worse? City, buying their way into the Top 4 or Everton, spending little and getting there on a tiny budget? The latter would qualify as football justice IMO, but would have us asking questions about our obvious mis-management with our endless £15M purchases.
So do I want City to succeed? Or do I want Hughes sacked before Christmas with City bottom half?
I've decided. I simply want us to finish above them. At least that way Noel and Liam will be even more miserable than usual.