Iain Anderson discusses the main talking points in the last week of European and English football, where Manchester United finally signed a marquee player, while Celtic limped out of the Champions League.
So, Celtic become the first club to be knocked out of the same competition twice. Not only twice in one season, but twice in one month, (give or take).
You would think that, having first lost by an aggregate of 6 – 1, they would be all fired up and determined to take full advantage of their second chance. Wrong! After a reasonably creditable 1 – 1 draw away from home, they conspired to lose the home leg 0 – 1, and back at Celtic Park to boot!
Having done the important bit, scoring away from home, they couldn’t do the second important bit; defending at home. There is a sense of poetic justice in the result however, as Legia Warsaw were very unlucky to be kicked out of the competition on a technicality and were far the better team in both legs.
Quite what difference the three minutes played by Bartosz Bereszynski made is extremely debatable, and it did seem to be a genuine mistake. Obviously UEFA thought that Celtic would have got back into the game had he not come on.
Angel Di Maria is finally a Manchester United player. Why? I hear some of you ask, and the answer is: I don’t really know. They don’t need a winger. He doesn’t score many goals. He can’t defend but he cost a lot of money and will get United some positive headlines at least.
There is a lot of nonsense being talked at present regarding United’s inability to sign players due to their absence from the Champions League. There is also a school of thought that players are asking for higher wages because there is no Champions League this season and that clubs are asking for higher fees because they perceive United to be panic buyng.
United will be absent from the Champions League for one season, (hopefully). This will not stop players signing for them. I don’t see Hull being linked with Vidal or Kroos because they are in Europe this year. I don’t see Celtic buying the best European talent and they are in the Champions League every season.
Players will always ask a potential new club for higher wages because their agent tells them to.
There is an element of truth in the panic buying theory. In fact Di Maria is testament to that. The main reason clubs are asking top dollar for their players when United come knocking is because Ed Woodward told them to when he said that money was no object and United would spend whatever it took. These were particularly stupid statements to make at the time and nothing has changed my opinion since.
Manchester City have started as ominously as Chelsea but when you look at who they have beaten, (Newcastle away and Liverpool at home), it looks a greater achievement than Chelsea’s two wins against Burnley and Leicester City. The title race already looks as though it’s between these two and, at present anyway, this writer’s money is on City. They haven’t even included Sagna, Mangala or Lampard yet and Aguero is only a substitute. The interest will be in the race for top four where another five or six teams will fancy their chances.
At the bottom of the table it looks as though the relegation race will go to the wire and be between several clubs, so that may be more exciting than the title race this season.
The season is just a fortnight old and already it’s been a fantastic spectacle.
Iain Anderson, Pundit Arena.