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  • 16

    UK: Manchester United’s Indigenous Team Trumps Chelsea’s Imports
    Report; Posted on: 2007-06-01 11:00:03 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Pictured: Manchester United celebrates

    by Karl Baxter
    Caste Football

    When Manchester United and Chelsea were both knocked out of the European Champion’s Cup semi-finals in early May, they didn’t seem to mind too much. This was because winning England’s top league, the Premiership, has in recent years become more of a challenge, and both sides were locked in a close contest, with Manchester United narrowly topping Chelsea, the champions for the last two years. The competition between these two was so intense that the European Champion’s Cup final, where AC Milan beat Liverpool, almost seemed like an irrelevance. What made the United vs. Chelsea struggle even more compelling were the contrasting ethnic characters of the two teams.

    These days, with the massive amount of money in the game of soccer, the trend is towards a flood of imported foreign players, completely changing the character of the British game, and stifling the development of local talent.

    The latest financial data shows that the English Premiership is now, by far, the biggest soccer league in the world, generating £1.4 billion ($2.8 billion) in income for its 20 clubs. It is expected to generate £1.8 billion next season. This pot of gold is so large that it generates its own ‘multiracial rainbow,’ with players and agents flocking in from all corners of the World. This process of internationalization is further helped by Premiership clubs trying to market themselves to foreign countries by using foreign players, rather like the recent influx of Japanese players into Major League Baseball, which increased Major League marketability in Japan.

    It is also no coincidence that the two strongest teams in the Premiership are the ones that pay players the biggest salaries. Last season United paid £85 million ($168 million), while Chelsea, flush with the petrodollars of Russian Jewish tycoon Roman Abramovich, spent a massive £114 million ($225 million).

    The only constraint on the power of money to transform the English Premiership into something resembling an orgy at the United Nations is what can be called the ‘Tower of Babel’ effect. Because soccer requires a number of different and distinct skills, no one country or region has a complete monopoly on talent. Therefore any policy of simply buying the best from around the world will create a polyglot team that will have problems gelling linguistically and culturally. If anything has been decisive in halting the dominance of high-spending Chelsea this season it has been this factor.

    Portuguese manager, Jose Mourinho’s acquisition of German midfielder Michael Ballack and Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko (for a record transfer fee of £30 million ($59 million)) have failed to deliver the quality expected; and although Chelsea’s West African coterie of Mikel, Makalele, Essien, and Drogba have settled in well, Chelsea still presents a Frankenstein image of a potent but disjointed monster stitched together from disparate parts.

    This very fact is reflected in the lower wage bill paid by United, which reflects the fact that United’s success has been based on having a more stable squad and a group of players who feel comfortable playing with each other. Although the mainstream media happily ignore this, a significant factor is that the United squad has a more unified ethnic character, with a British manager (the Scot Sir Alex Ferguson), a preponderance of British players, and a squad that is largely White.

    In season 2006-'07, both teams had 20 regular players (those making more than 20 appearances in the season). In the case of United, 13 were White (including 8 ethnic Britons), 4 were mixed race (mainly English and Black), one was Korean, and only 2 were Black. Although this team was much more diverse than its fan base, it was nevertheless a team that manager Sir Alex Ferguson could communicate with easily and motivate to play as one. Contrast this with Mourinho’s 20 Chelsea regulars, of which only 4 were ethnic Britons, among a total of 10 Whites, 9 Blacks, and a player of Berber ethnicity.

    I believe that Chelsea actually has intrinsically better players – both Ballack and Shevchenko have a quality of genius about them – but this is no longer apparent because United’s players have outperformed them this season. This is mainly because the United players have benefited from an environment where players feel more part of a team, while Chelsea’s best players must sometimes wonder.

    With Chelsea looking to outspend them again in the off-season, Manchester United can expect a serious challenge to their title in season 2007-8. To combat this it is important that they buy the right players, by which I mean players who can play well and – just as importantly – fit into and not disrupt the team’s indigenous British culture. The purchase of versatile English midfielder Owen Hargreaves from Bayern Munich is therefore a good move, but more worrying is the news that Ferguson is also interested in buying two Black Portuguese-speaking players, the 19-year-old Brazilian Anderson and the 20-year-old Portuguese Nani. These are both skillful and exciting players, but if they disrupt the team’s indigenous British soccer culture, then any money spent on them will be a waste.
    News Source: Castefootball.us


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