The Haves & Have Nots

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You know those angry American drill instructor types usually found in the army? The ones who like to shout ‘DEFEAT IS NOT AN OPTION’. Well that’s the way it should be when going into a football match. However, upon facing the newly assembled Galacticos of Manchester City at the weekend it was more a case of ‘Well, 3-0 isn’t so bad really is it?’


Now I’m not moaning about the fact that our fans were so accepting of a 3-0 defeat. On the contrary, it shows a good level of intelligence and understanding of balance sheets and football finance that most of our fans know that we can never in our wildest dreams compete with a club who have gone out and signed the best players in the world and paid them phenomenal wages. It was more an observation as to what a sad state of affairs that we can’t compete, that the dividing lines seem to have been drawn and the gap is stretching ever wider by the day. When a 3-0 defeat is perceived as being a good result, then surely something is wrong with the game in general?


All of the early signs this season seem to imply that the two Manchester clubs will be sweeping all before them this season and we could be facing a La Liga type situation where both clubs go on to dominate proceedings for many years to come. Of course it’s great for the fans of City and United and their fanbases will only get bigger as more people want a piece of those trophies that they collect on the way. For the rest of us, it leaves an even hollower existence as the level playing field becomes even more like a cliff face and we’re restricted to even more of a making up the numbers role.


Talk of a European Super League is never far from the table and when the teams at the top are in a league of their own anyway then there is a school of thought which says let them go and leave the rest of us to it. It was only a few decades ago that a team like Forest or Derby could come up from the second tier and actually win the top division, sadly the Premier League and Champions League model are both dictated by money and status to the extent that breaking into that cartel, as indeed City have done can cost up to half a billion quid.


Money may be the root of all evil but it is also the route to the top where football is concerned. Whereas this week, we’ve had great news from the club as Dave Whelan wipes out the debt associated with the club, it is still a stark reminder that keeping those books balanced and keeping our heads above water in the Premier League will continue to be a fine balancing act.


First published in the 12th Man column in the Wigan Evening Post, Thurs 15th September

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