The age of austerity… Kicking in?

by admin

Friday, November 26th, 2010
 

Two years on from Lehman brothers, and the global crash that signalled the end of our high flying boom years, the word ‘recession’ now seemingly courses through our veins, and austerity has become something we have now grudgingly accepted. Eurozone countries’ economies seem to be collapsing like Dominos, while George Osborne determinedly leads Britain to ‘recovery’ by proudly living up to his nickname of ‘the slasher’.

All these fiscal difficulties seem to have a blanket effect, encompassing everybody’s lives, no matter what trade they are involved in. However, it is said that football is a ‘recession proof’ business. In a sense, and on the surface, it really is for many. Crowds still flock to the big stadiums, fans are willing as ever to shell out even more cash to see their team in action, and most gallingly, people like Stephen Ireland still get paid obscene amounts of wedge to live a lifestyle that is hopelessly out of touch with reality.

But of course it is not REALLY recession proof. Clubs flirt with administration in the lower leagues all the time. In the Premiership, it seems as though the frugal approach is starting to filter through, and we are now seeing a transfer market that is centred around bargains, value for money, and revelatory signings from nowhere. Thank god. Isn’t it refreshing not to have an emphasis on splashing the cash on a big money marquee signing that flatters to deceive? At least there’s an element of fairytale, hard work and a path to success with unheralded successes. On that note, I’d declare that perhaps one of the most pleasing aspects of this season has been the amount of great signings for such little money.

Blackpool, who thus far have been impressing everybody with their attitude, style of play and banterrific gaffer, have led the way with astute signings, and instances of players coming from nowhere to impress in arguably, the biggest league of all. Luke Varney, a player who had hitherto only proven to be a consistent performer in League 1 and sometimes the Championship, has arrived on loan from Derby to steal the show, and chipped in with a healthy amount of vital goals, including a potential goal of the season last week. Similarly, 19 year old Matt Phillips has looked like a fearless wizard in his appearances from the bench, particularly for someone signed from Wycombe for 350K…

Indeed, this season has been a tale of a jampacked table, where anything can happen every weekend due to the bottle neck nature of midtable. That said, many teams have been punching above their weight and pleasantly surprising people, thanks in no small part to their outstanding bargain signings, or spendthrift faith in their youth system. Newcastle, who have been impressing everybody of late, have had youth product Andy Carroll as their standout performer this season. He has been backed up by the quietly impressive defensive battleaxe of Cheick Tiote, signed for a paltry 3 million in a position where there is a dearth of true class at the moment. He has looked like the heir to Makelele’s crown on more than one occasion. Similarly, West Brom, one of the biggest surprise packages so far, have been led by the sensational (when fit) Peter Odemwingie, a steal for 2.5m who offers pace, verve, skill and deadly finishing ability. Everton, although much more used to life at the higher end of the table, have also seen the fruits of their astute transfer policy, with Seamus Coleman, signed for 60K from Sligo Rovers, slipping into the first team at ease and proving a standout performer in performances against Arsenal and Liverpool. Aston Villa’s aversion to big money transfers and faith in youth has also paid dividends, with Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark proving to be two of their more impressively consistent performers thus far.

Even Rafael Van Der Vaart, a proven world class performer and probably THEE signing of the season thus far, was acquired for the comparatively astronomical sum of 8 million. However, in the greater scheme of things, this has proven to incredibly good value, and money well spent in an environment that has become increasingly about optimising your precious money, rather than lashing out outrageously inflated fees on players who were no guarantee for success, a trend which essentially summed up the noughties transfer merry go round.

Such frugal policies can only be good for the game, as it ensures players will work harder, and young players will know they now have a better chance of progressing to a higher level and will be granted an opportunity to shine, as managers will now be casting their eye a bit more shrewdly. Similarly, fans should rest easier, as they know the clubs books now have a tighter rein, and the money they put in each week is being considered within a much wiser budget…

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