Robin Sainty: Sorry, Bruce, but the 'great unwashed' are still a vital part of English football
PUBLISHED: 07:30 20 October 2018
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Welcome back aboard the rollercoaster!
After the relative tranquillity of the international break we travel to the City Ground this afternoon for what could be a cracking game against a Nottingham Forest side that likes to play passing football, but the result is anyone’s guess as with a quarter of fixtures played the Championship is as hard a league to predict as ever.
Just look at the last set of results before the break. Not only did Forest win away at Middlesbrough, who hadn’t previously conceded a goal at the Riverside, but all conquering Leeds, to whom the media seemed happy to award the title in September, were only saved from a home defeat to Brentford by an 89th minute equaliser.
Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that Ipswich, who’ve looked incapable of buying a win, managed to break Paul Hurst’s duck at the twelfth time of asking with a 3-2 victory at Swansea.
Unlike the Premier League, which has quickly assumed its standard format of four or five teams genuinely challenging for the title while the majority of the rest prioritise avoiding relegation, this season’s Championship is developing its usual manic unpredictability, with teams still able to rise or fall several places on the basis of a single result.
To me that sort of competitiveness is what football should be all about and it therefore saddened me to hear the comments made by Chelsea’s American chairman last week in response to UEFA’s plans to create more of a level playing field by seeking to redistribute some of the wealth of Europe’s elite clubs in order to try to create greater competition for trophies.
Bruce Buck believes that big clubs like Chelsea should not be forced to join the “great unwashed” and that “clubs have to seek their natural position in the football order”.
Of course, this conveniently glosses over the fact that Chelsea’s “natural position in the football order” owes pretty much everything to becoming the plaything of a Russian oligarch in 2003, and predictably enough Buck feels that Financial Fair Play rules are bad for the game because of the way in which they restrict the ability of owners to buy success.
Buck inevitably has a vested interest in there being no restrictions on rich clubs given that Chelsea have spent the last 10 years or so stockpiling young talent using their apparently limitless financial resources and as a result currently have no less than 29 players out on loan, although last season that figure reached 38.
Basically, they are getting other clubs to develop their young players knowing that they can cherry pick any successes and discard the rest, usually at a profit.
For me, one of the great things about watching City under Daniel Farke has been the way in which their own young players have been backed and given every opportunity to shine, and that faith has been rewarded by the rapid development of James Maddison, Jamal Lewis, Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons.
Ironically its been reported that Aarons is now being tracked by Chelsea among others, yet what real prospects would he have as a youngster at a club that can afford to simply go out and buy whatever is needed in its finished form from anywhere in the world?
Of course, City also make use of the loan market to give experience to their younger players and Maddison and Cantwell have been major beneficiaries of that, but there is a significant difference between the limited approach used in the EFL and the “factory farming” version employed by the biggest clubs.
All football fans love to be able to sing “he’s one of our own” about a rising star and long may that continue at City, but as the rich clubs get richer I don’t expect to hear it ringing around too many Premier League grounds any time soon.