Ohh, it’s been some time we have done this. Let’s just set one thing right at the start itself. Most of the fans support or cheer a player rather than a team. That’s not bad in any way but when the fandom goes slightly over the top to boast of the club’s legacy and rich history, let’s just draw a line, please. This summer gives rise to new species of such fans for all the right reasons and hence, we need to address something. We want to maybe curb your enthusiasm to the point that you start seeing the true picture. That the so called superstars are good for selling shirts and club merchandise but are they truly going to do any wonders for your team.
There’s no doubt that this has been a wild transfer window in every aspect with all the money, teams and players involved. Biggest English signing ever in the Premier League, the best players of this generation shifting bases, some hits and misses and just the overall excitement in Europe for club football. From the looks of it, there are some definite winners and some unfortunate losers. PSG, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City have all made big signings while Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich have remained silent. Arsenal, do not even think about getting a shout out with the mess you have created.
It all looks good from the outside with the buzz and speculation for the remainder of the season. Messi leaving Barcelona which no one would have expected in their wildest dreams and joining a star-studded PSG with the likes of Ramos, Hakimi, Wijnaldum and Donnarumma. City adding Grealish, Chelsea adding Lukaku and Manchester United bringing back their favourite son along with much-awaited Sancho and Varane. It’s going to be a blockbuster premier league season. Bring out your prediction hats because surely they all look like contenders. Let’s just be the party pooper for a minute because the initial few weeks have told a very different story.
PSG is expected to achieve the ultimate prize in club competition but everything doesn’t seem right in the dressing room. More so they haven’t looked like a cohesive unit on the pitch even when the trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe has started the game. With a draw against Club Brugge, they have made the road to the Finals a bit tougher for them as they still await the group stage fixtures against Manchester City. Similarly, Manchester United has already been knocked out of a competition and lost to Young Boys in the Champions League opener. While one might say that Carabao Cup adds no prestige, trust me it’s just sour grapes. Any silverware at this point will be appreciated by the United faithful.
On the other hand, Liverpool and Chelsea have really made a solid start. While Chelsea has added Lukaku, they already have a core team that conquered Europe a few months back. Similarly, Liverpool has had a really solid start to their campaign with the same core team which brought back the glory days. Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, in my honest opinion, would have still performed at the same level without their star signings. But it definitely doesn’t hurt to sign another star to an already loaded squad. What United and PSG have done on the other hand is put a band-aid to cure fracture. It doesn’t work.
There are a few deep-rooted problems that no one wants to address. PSG’s primary XI might look like an All-Star team but guess what, they do not have the depth needed to make deeper runs in important competitions by keeping the main players fresh using rotation. United has been trying to fill the holes which might not exist while leaving aside the obvious requirement- defensive midfielder. Hence it might make the video game players and the player-fans hopeful, not sure if that helps in lifting any major silverware.
Superstar signings bring a lot of ego in the dressing room resulting in unnecessary tensions and friction within the squad. Plus without a proper game plan, tactics and manager’s vision, it’s all sizzle without substance. Ole and Pochettino aren’t the most experienced names amongst the current crop of managers when it comes to managing teams with expectations of winning Champions League or League titles. Hence we are seeing strong squads struggle on occasions. They do not deserve 100% credit for any failure but the ability to give a certain direction to a club and make certain clutch decisions is important which seems amiss. In an era where managers at a club change more frequently than the weather in England. You either need Klopp or Guardiola who shape the club in their vision and define success or Tuchel who has adapted to the Premier League like a fish to the water.
Galacticos Era is the biggest example of a failure of the highest proportions. The squad assembled with the sole purpose of possibly winning everything fell short by a mile. All the great clubs and their most successful years had real solid core players with the flexibility to add or remove a few pieces. Barcelona under Messi-Iniesta-Xavi, United under Ferguson, the three-peat Madrid, Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles. You would not see a major overhaul in these squads. Please note that winning a mere league or cup title in a notoriously uncompetitive league should not be counted as an achievement. Trust me, all the great players would themselves acknowledge this. Adding players like Ronaldo, Messi, Lukaku pads up the stat sheet but it doesn’t necessarily translate into team success. There’s no major proof in the recent memory which suggests otherwise.
There’s still some time for these teams to discover their ideal formation, lineup, game plan and execute it to the T. But the results have to follow. PSG didn’t invest in their summer signings to primarily gain overnight Instagram followers and keep trophies in the backseat. Every mistake will be scrutinized and everyone will be under the microscope. With such a gruelling season ahead with intense competition, one can’t leave too much to do in too little time. The next few weeks will be crucial to see if this transfer market indeed was worth all the hype.
It has also just increased the divide with the teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Spurs, Juventus, Arsenal. These teams can do fairly well but face an uphill task if pitted against the likes of City, Chelsea or PSG. Everyone cannot win but everyone should still have an equal chance. It’s an unfair ask at this time. This might have looked like a rant by a cynical fan, but trust me, when your team is no longer in the mix of winning trophies, it’s the optimism that goes down the drain first. I might be wrong and it can all turn out for the best, but only time will tell. Till then, let’s hope the best for our teams. Let’s hope for the best version of football.