The Lead

I’ve been criticized in these pages before for pointing out the pendulum swing in the past few decades toward player power in the game of football. It’s hard to understand why; when wage inflation forces more than a few clubs to spend upwards of 80% of turnover on player salaries—which in part explains why many (like Rangers) show losses year-after-year—it’s evident who holds the economic cards.

Beyond that, there’s the anecdotal evidence. The Carlos Tevez situation provides a telling example. He refuses to warm-up for a Champions League fixture, gets sidelined for several months, demands back pay, and when the club is forced to play him after failing to unload him on an unsympathetic European transfer market, he brazenly describes to Fox Sports how Roberto Mancini treated him “like a dog.”

Then we have Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea. He’s the thirty-four year old manager in charge of players—many of whom are roughly his age—who apparently feel nothing untoward about screaming their discontent toward the Portuguese gaffer. While Roman Abramovic may think his training ground visits will help motivate the former-Porto manager, they signal to the players where the blame lies for poor performances. Much easier to sack one man than wait until to the summer to sell five.

In fact, the current god-like status given to the manager by media and fans underlines the view that players are expensive cogs, rather than independent actors just as responsible for a team’s fortunes. Most players now apparently feel the same.

Canada

Julian Uccello set for Toronto FC trial?

England

Wolves call up Alan Curbishley, which just goes to show how idiotically small-minded managerial searches are.

Graeme Souness believes that Rangers will be fine, which would be reassuring if he was a sports economist.

Sir Alex Ferguson says United ‘close’ to matching Barca.

Giggs won’t make Scholes mistake and quit too soon.

Tevez calls Messi a “dwarf.”

Liverpool and Liverpool alone were responsible for apologies on the weekend.

Italy

Allegri backs Ibra to make a Champions League impression against Arsenal.

Inter’s whole Phoenix act crashes and burns.

Germany

Bayern interested in Man City striker John Guidetti.

Spain

High hopes for Barcelona in the Champions League.

Bits and bobs

Proof soccer is taking over the world.