Within any organisation, company or business throughout the country, Europe and everywhere on planet Earth for that matter, there will be a section within, that employees will jokingly refer to as ‘the good ideas club’.
The selected members of this exclusive club, usually entails the ‘highest echelons of the business world’ or supposedly so, they would have you believe.
Among the employees however, the outcomes of the good ideas club usually involves a process of longing dread, complete with a sense of ‘this may not quite work out as it should’ or ‘this will have long lasting effects that will affect us all’ – for instance which highly paid employees of the good ideas club, at both AOL and Time Warner thought in their infinite wisdom that merging both companies would prove to be a ‘good idea’; ironically it didn’t, the companies parted ways nine years later and saw their collective value had shrunk from $300 billion to $40 billion, and who would have though, the reasons sited for the parting of ways, a lash of cultures and leadership differences!.
Now this high powered level of thinking isn’t just necessarily restricted to the high powered business world, not in the slightest, as of last year, this level of strategy was introduced into football, and in particular, English football, not the lower leagues of the EFL, but one which included the highest grossing, most watched and arguably the most talked about league in the world – The Premier League.
In September 2017, senior executives from all of the twenty top flight clubs met in a central London hotel to consider the proposed changes of alternating the transfer window to finish up on the Thursday before the opening game of the season, with the change only affecting the incoming signings to any respective club, thus meaning the Premier League would become the first (and only) top flight European League to abandon the existing deadline of the end of August, thus meaning that clubs in Europe will be able to buy players, but with the added negativity of not being able sign a replacement.
Not all twenty senior executives voted unanimously of course, five voted against (Manchester City, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Watford and now relegated Swansea City, with one abstention – this is believed to be Burnley) – with those that did vote against, the reason believed that why they voted in this way, was they would be worried the selling clubs would be left short if their players are bought after the domestic window shuts and they are unable to replace any outgoing players.
Which is precisely the situation which everyone currently finds themselves in now – Manchester United’s vote against, was seemingly against the wishes of manager Jose Mourinho, who has been quoted in the past as saying he would “prefer the window to close as soon as possible” – now in a rather ironic twist of fate, it is Manchester United and elite clubs in the English top flight which are at their most vulnerable position since the transfer window opened.
Lets take the example of Paul Pogba, now the English transfer window has concluded it’s business until January, but with over two weeks of the European transfer window still left to run, that is an enormous amount of time for a European giant, such as Barcelona to flutter its eyelashes, send out cryptic tweets or in the media, and do anything and everything to unsettle a player at a European rival – Pogba hasn’t exactly come out and declared his future to Old Trafford since murmurings started; on another note surrounding Manchester United.
It was no secret that the Red Devils were pursuing a new centre back, names such as Raphael Varane, Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin were being bandied around, concerning the latter, this was nothing more of an agent exploiting the desperation around the corridors at Old Trafford to get an improved deal for his client at his existing club, the trick in fact worked a treat and, in hindsight, there was absolutely no chance of Diego Godin moving to England.
But it could be argued in the case of Sergio Ramos that this gamesmanship has been concluded before, and under the rules of the old transfer window regime, but not to the extent of the shenanigans of last minute panic which had surrounded Manchester United in this window, and just days before the season was due to begin.
And what did the changes themselves bring about?
Did it change the grisly, inflationary last minute chaos? No. Did prevent clubs unsettling players at what would be perceived lower league or clubs smaller than them? No. Will it prevent clubs facing doubt or insecurity going until the end of August, errrrr No.
So the changes brought about haven’t exactly helped matters – and for Chelsea(one of the clubs who voted for the changes), a week before the season opener, Chelsea found themselves short of a top class goalkeeper after allowing Thibaut Courtois to join Real Madrid, which left themselves little time to find a replacement.
And when Chelsea did find a replacement in Kepa Arrizabalaga, Roman Abramovich found himself paying way over the odds at £71 million(a new world record) for a goalkeeper, in the goalkeeping world – a rookie – at a very high inflammatory price, now if say the transfer window was as it was, Chelsea would have had, at the very least, two more weeks to find a replacement at a more realistic transfer fee – this isn’t to say that Chelsea haven’t signed a very good goalkeeper, the money in which they paid for the player could prove a bargain in the years to come, but at this present day it still represents a gamble, an expensive gamble at that.
And we still haven’t come to Eden Hazard;now everyone and his mother knows that the Belgian’s dream move is to the Santiago Bernebau, Florentino Perez and Real Madrid know this all to well, it is hardly a well kept secret, and as in the case of Paul Pogba, there is no hush hush agreement in that the giants of European football cannot unsettle or look lovingly over the channel, they still have two weeks left to run, so those clubs can in effect, do as they please.
With what is happening at White Hart Lane (or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium if you will) Danny Rose is potentially looking at a loan move to Schalke, there is also this eventually to factor in – with those players that haven’t made the Premier League squad, Champions League squad or out of favour in general, the club with which to buy those players has much more considerable power than those that are selling – for the selling club do they stick or twist – keep paying wages to a player who will not be playing or sell to a European club at a much reduced rate – Toby Alderweireld certainly falls into this category.
With any change or high powered decision that comes within the boardrooms of the ‘good ideas club’ this could have all been avoided if a little more planning and thought was engaged.
Yes, if an early transfer window is what is voted for, then have an early window, but perhaps confine the date of the transfer window to a domestic date. Domestic deals could end early, such as this season on 9th August, however if a restriction could be passed that from the proposed date of the English transfer window concluding it’s business, the only transfers which could be made until 31st August, would be ones that are negotiated across Europe and beyond, therefore not leaving English clubs in such a vulnerable position as they find themselves in the current climate.
And like any change or high powered decision to emanate from the ‘good ideas’ club, most of which doesn’t actually benefit the organisation in which it is suppose to.
As always, and as the past has shown with the likes of the 39th game, the secret matches debate in the 1930’s, pre match fireworks, automatic Champions League places for the elite clubs and three points for an away win – that on occasions the executives and directors would have us believe that they are a lot smarter and clever than we give them credit for, whereas in fact, that like most employees, they give them far to credit than they are due.