It’ll Be Off

June 30, 2008, 11:24 am
Filed under: Opinion | Tags: , ,

(With full, maximum possible apologies for the post title. Time is against me and my creative juices aren’t flowing. It was either that or “Spain’s Euro 2008 victory resonates as far as FC United of the Northern Premier League Premier Division in an argument over shirt-sponsorship” but I’m not sure that would have fit in the little text box WordPress gives me to edit these things)

Germany may win a lot of finals, but they sure as hell lose a lot too. John Motson quoted the figure at one stage, I think he said six wins in thirteen finals, but it’s hard to be 100% certain as I was busy tucking in to a bowl of lemon sorbet. And besides, I generally try and pay as little attention as I can to the BBC’s Mostson/Lawrenson axis of evil.

But how good was Marcos Senna, not just last night but throughout the tournament? I don’t wish to open a debate about the residency rules that allowed Senna, one of four Brazilian born players, to appear at Euro 2008. I don’t give a shit about all that nonsense. I was raised on a hippy commune believing that we are all citizens of planet Earth, and we shouldn’t be defined by socio-political boundaries. I’ve left much of that behind me, cutting my hair, changing my name from Moonbeam Sunshine to Chris Taylor, and taking a hard line on patchouli oil and granola. Besides, much of the sputtering about this stems from the fact that we, England, don’t have our own pet Brazilian. There certainly seems to be a clear relationship between number of Brazilians in a team, and number of trophies won. Just look at Brazil.

What was I talking about? Ah, yes, Marcos Senna.

Despite only being 5’8, Senna appears to have a great presence on the field. He’s Makelele-like in that respect. He covers space brilliantly, and competes for every ball. Allied to this, he can play a bit too. He has quick feet, and great technique, and was unlucky not to score last night – for once his stature counted against him as he just failed to get a touch on a left-wing cross.

While the flair players, and elegant midfielders such as Fabregas and Iniesta will gain most of the fanfares, Senna was essential to the Spanish victory, and I can say (safe in the knowledge there’s no way I can be proved wrong) that they would not have won their first tournament in 44 years without him. Every team needs a player like Marcos Senna.

Which, as I was reminded by an article in The Observer, is a viewpoint shared by Alex Ferguson. Everyone’s favourite Champagne Socialist tried to sign Senna two years ago, identifying him as the man to replace Roy Keane. A fee was agreed with Senna’s club Villareal, and personal terms were also agreed. The official website even went so far as to announce his arrival. But the deal mysteriously collapsed at the last minute. And why? Well, according to Senna, AIG wanted an Englishman instead, so the club turned their attention to Owen Hargreaves instead.

Owen Hargreaves isn’t a bad choice, not by any means. In fact, given their respective ages, it could easily be argued that Hargreaves is the better choice (and if you can’t have a Brazilian in your team to guarantee success, having a German is the next best alternative. Unless it’s Michael Ballack, of course). But I can’t get over the mind-warping idiocy of letting a sponsor dictate your transfer policy. Maybe it was a member of our own 127 Club that decided Rudd would be released? Or did Williams BMW banjax our bid to sign a much needed holding midfield player and tell us to get another winger instead?

There’s been debate a lot of debate on the forum recently about shirt sponsorship, both of the first team and the fans’ team. It led to me checking the constitution, and the latest amendment voted in at the AGM: “That the clothing (ie playing kit) of the players representing the Club shall not include any advertising thereon, except as follows, which shall not be considered to be advertising:…”. I can’t be arsed to type out the whole thing, but it’s here, on page 9, should you want to read it. The amendment was passed with 343 for and 35 against. It is clearly something that the members feel is core to what our club should and does stand for.

It can be easy to get bogged down in thinking about sponsorship, and advertising, and alice bands, and white/orange/red boots and all the other extraneous bullshit that pollutes our game. With Euro 2008 now out of the way, and the friendlies just around the corner, it’s time to forget all that crap, and concentrate on the important stuff: having a beer, having a sing song, and supporting the shirts.


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