Forgive me if this makes little or no sense, if the spelling isn’t up to scratch or I tend to drift from one subject to another, the problem is I’ve smashed my hands, my head and most of my living room up in a fit of rage at watching one of the most exciting young strikers I’ve ever witnessed being given just five minutes to rescue England’s European Championship chances. While I resist the temptation to pontificate on what a useless, moronic, buffoon Roy Hodgson is, forgive me if sometimes like a Tourette’s sufferer with a keyboard, the occasional “Roy Hodgson is a stupid bastard!!” just creeps on to the page.
Anyway enough of Hodgson and what a “idiotic, overpaid, muppet!” he is and to the point in hand, which is actually United’s transfer policy making a lot of sense this summer, mainly because the Old Trafford hierarchy seem to be ignoring this summer’s tournament.
Signing a player on the back of a good showing at a major tournament is a bit like appointing someone as England manager because they took Fulham to the Europa League final – it can end up blowing up in your face and you’re left with a “totally inept ditherer who ruins your national side for four years!” Buying players because they played well in the Euros or the World Cup can be a massive gamble, that is often an overpriced one. A few good games against the likes of Costa Rica, Slovenia and Denmark and all of a sudden the young winger with potential who was worth around £12 million, is now a world class superstar who costs upwards of £30 million. Juan Cuadrado anyone?
United have been burned in the past more than once by shopping at the overpriced isle in the international summer sales. It’s not a policy the club employed much under Sir Alex Ferguson, but sometimes, a player would stand out at a tournament to such a degree, the former United boss couldn’t help but be tempted by him. One such example was Karel Poborsky. Who? I hear you ask. Well while England were busy singing about football coming home and losing to Germany on penalties in Euro 96, the Czech Republic went about actually reaching the final thanks in no small part to their long haired winger who scored a goal so unique in the quarter final against Portugal’s Golden Generation that it was given its own name “the Poborsky lob” which was a mixture of a chip and a lob. Unfortunately for United fans there was more chance of seeing Haley’s comet than there was of seeing Poborsky replicate his Euro 96 goal, or form for that matter, as the diminutive winger struggled to make the right flank his own, although the rise of a certain Mr Posh Spice hardly helped his cause. It wasn’t all bad though, he did pick up a title winning medal before moving on to Benfica. Poborsky one Gerrard nil and all that.
Sir Alex would wait another six years before he allowed a major finals to influence his transfer policy, although when he did, it failed that spectacularly that Ferguson never did it again. One could argue Fergie bought Owen Hargreaves on the back of the 2006 world cup but that deal had been in the pipeline for some time longer. Sometimes I wonder if Luiz Phil Scolari knew one day he’d be challenging United in the Premier League when he labelled Kleberson the most important player of the 2002 Brazil squad. The young midfielder may have helped his national side lift the world cup, even hitting the bar in the final, but he was so poor in a United shirt, it made you realise just how talented the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho really were that they could lift football’s greatest prize carrying someone who looked out of his depth in the Reds’ reserve team. It could be worse, Leeds United thought signing Roque Junior would help them challenge the top of the Premier League, but the Brazilian world cup winner was so poor he almost single-handedly cost Peter Reid his job- it must be worth noting his one good game saw him get a brace against United in the League Cup. Leeds still lost. Just like England lost against Iceland thanks to that inept clown Hodgson! Okay, he’s quit, I’ll stop now.
It’s not just Sir Alex who’s been swayed by a few good games on the international stage, Louis van Gaal saw enough of Marcos Rojo in Brazil to become convinced the Argentinean was a good footballer. Unfortunately for van Gaal, United and the fans, Rojo makes Kleberson look like Platini and it often makes you wonder how far the world cup has fallen when a player with the composure and awareness of a three day old Labrador can make the final of football’s greatest competition.
To be fair to Sir Alex and van Gaal it’s hardly poor management to think someone who’s wowed the world, can’t do it on a wet Wednesday night in Stoke, it’s just often a gamble that isn’t worth taking. Players like Maradona, Zidane and Iniesta, were already stars before they helped their countries to the ultimate triumph and while Mourinho may look at Ragnar Sigurdsson and Jonny Williams and be impressed over the coming days, it’s safe to say the Special One knows that ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ but also one good game against Northern Ireland, doesn’t make a United player either.