Sobering reality check with betrayal on the way?

To ponder the manner in which the transfer market has evolved since the inception of the Premier League is to trace the rising disconnect between top level sport and reality.

Consider that Manchester United nabbed Eric Cantona from Leeds for £1.2m, Roy Keane for £3.75m and Andy Cole for £7m. The latter being considered outlandish at the time in 1995.

Fast forward to now and one can only shudder to think of what the blue half of Manchester forked out to lure Erling Haaland from Dortmund. No doubt an obscene figure which will surely only further enhance the divorce between football and those who should matter most in the game – fans.

At this point, let it be said that Manchester City and Liverpool are currently meritoriously well ahead of the rest of the pack in England. Where the two differ, though, is that, notionally at least, the Eastlands club have spent multiples of the outlay of their main title rivals.

In reality, of course, the disparity in spending may not be as glaring as it appears, but, for all Pep Guardiola and those before him have spent infusing the club with the most sought-after footballing talent on the planet, they are still no nearer to accomplishing their most fundamental driving purpose – annexing the Champions League.

Mind you, they are probably lucky they don’t have to answer to Kerry GAA supporters, a late, great former manager of whom once described as “F*****g animals” when their perennially lofty expectations are not met.

However, whether the acquisition of the 21-year-old scoring sensation that is Haaland is the key which unlocks the miser’s horde remains to be seen. This corner has still to be convinced. Simply because goalscoring is hardly the deficiency impinging on their grand plans.

Erling Haaland has netted phenomenal 85 goals in 88 games for Dortmund

It could hardly be said they have many – if any – glaring weaknesses. Especially given the alacrity and regularity with which they have garnered silverware since making their breakthrough under Roberto Mancini in 2011.

Having said that, if there is one area the obsessive Spaniard in the dugout would surely like to improve upon is the amount of chances they still present opponents with. As soon no later than this evening when Wolves cut through them for an equaliser at Molyneaux.

The wizardly Kevin De Bruyne

Fortunately for Guardiola et al, they currently count on their playing roster the best footballer on the planet in Kevin De Bruyne. The best players always come up trumps when they are needed most. In the midst of a titanic title tussle with Liverpool, that need is constant.

Thus, after Wolves had equalised the brilliant Belgian’s initial deposit in the onion bag, he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Clocking up a hat-trick before half time and add to it thereafter.

You’d imagine the recruitment of Norway’s Haaland will lead to somebody, most likely Gabriel Jesus, leaving the club. Fernandinho and his midfield colleague Gundogan may also be headed for the departure lounge. Pep’s procurement process may also require the addition of a centre half.

Kompany carried City to the Promised Land

As good as Ruben Diaz undoubtedly is, his fitness being as delicate as that of Boris Johnson to do his job, like Bojo, he can’t be depended upon. Which is what underlines the inclination that City have never really replaced their original font of leadership, Vincent Kompany.

However, you suspect Pep is initiating a policy similar to that which moulded his Barcelona side into the best team in the world at the time. Operating on a mantra of ‘Whatever you score, we’ll get more’. With the likes of De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and now Haaland among their, there’s a distinct possibility it’ll work for them too.

All the while, on the other side of Manchester, what was once the Theatre Of Dreams has become not but an asylum of mediocrity and over-hyped wasters coasting to a pay cheque every week. Yes, Paul Pogba, I’m looking at you. Though the lazy, overpaid, infuriating Frenchman is far from alone in that ignominy.

Viewed through another lens, however, to note the manner in which United simply cannot compete for the world’s best talent in the transfer market. How much of that is down to financial mismanagement of the club by the Glazers.

Then again, the other side of that coin is, because of the diminishment in the team’s competitiveness – resulting in a dearth of Champions League or possibly any European football at all next season – would most certainly reduce the attractiveness of the Red Devils to top targets looking for new bases from which to operate – Haaland among them.

And still there’s another angle to the side’s unacceptable mediocre position, the most valuable – in every sense of the word – assets on the club’s playing staff may look to abdicate if their standing in the English and world game doesn’t improve. Which it isn’t going to with one game of the season to go.

Already we have seen players such as Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek and, in another way, Juan Mata, treated utterly disgracefully by successive Manchester United managers and – basically – hounded out of the club. Even though all the while, overpaid, overrated wasters like Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford lurch from one lazy performance to the next.

The former has been extensively linked with a move to the noisy neighbours in Manchester but hope would be that there would be no circumstances under which the Old Trafford Brains Trust would allow such a transaction to take place.

For all that, in no way would the ultimate betrayal be considtred beyond Mr Pogba. He has disrespected the club previously. Anybody who would do that to Alex Ferguson would do so to anybody. To a certain extent, it could be said he has done so again because for a lot of his current stint in red he hasn’t bothered his arse.

Thankfully, the biggest factor putting the kybosh on any such move is the simple fact that Pep wouldn’t want or need him.

Pep

In the red corner, they want and need every upgrade they can get but the thing is, who wants them?

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