Friday, 5 September 2008

On Transfer Policy, 2

Yesterday I blogged about who ought to control transfer policy. The evidence all points one way: that the manager, and no-one else, should be in charge of football matters.

But how likely are we to see this in the al-Fahim era? Will their petro-billions be spent on players that Hughes wants, or on Dr al-Fahim's superstars of choice?

As you all know, we alreay have an example of transfers under Dr al-Fahim: the signing of Robinho. The fashionable thing to do in the press is to say this was done with no input from Hughes, that it is a sign of al-Fahim's unilateralism.

In a BBC interview this week, though, Mark Bowen offered a different version of events. He said that when the news of takeover came out, him and Hughes were asked if there were players he'd like to sign; and "we did a little bit of homework, and Mark basically said that he wanted to go for Robinho if we could, amongst a few others I might add." If true, this is a positive sign.

Garry Cook, in another BBC interview, made similar comments:

Mark’s made it quite clear that he runs the football club. We’ve made it quite clear to anybody that is not inside the football club that he runs the football side of the business. And he’s anticipating nothing changing from that. He’s far more knowledgeable about football than many of us.
By far the most significant comments come from Dr al-Fahim himself. He was quoted in Manchester Evening News this week as saying:

"The coach will choose the players and we as investors will assess his choices, their abilities and their financial cost."
And Mark Hughes talked to the newspapers yesterday about the transfer issue. Ian Herbert writes in The Independent that Hughes was responsible for the list of strikers we bid for on deadline day:

Was he asked by the Arabs for help in drawing up a list? "It was something like that." Hughes adds that it is his "understanding – and it has to be – that I recommend players and they see if they can get them," but there is a sense, in the wry smile as he predicts that, "I'm sure January will be an exciting time for everyone again", that he is prepared to give reign to the owners' desires.
There are similar pieces in the Telegraph and Guardian today, carrying the same quotes and making the same points. Hughes does seem to recognise the need for some degree of compromise, an acceptance that he may not have total autonomy on transfers:

“If you understand that and you understand where the business side overlaps with the football side and you understand the owners' point of view - and equally they have to understand where you're coming from and respect you - you can avoid disruption and dispute. You have to work together"
I think this points towards the ultimate direction: a hybrid of managerial and 'trophy' signings. Hughes will submit a list of players in key positions (left back and centre forward I imagine primarily), who ADUG will bring to the club, probably for inflated fees. But if Dr al-Fahim really wants to buy Ronaldo, Figo and del Piero Hughes can't really stop him.

1 comment:

433 said...

If Al-Fahim and Hughes get along, it's probably going to work fine. They both seem like fairly smart guys, so I would not be surprised at all if they make it work.

The similarities to Chelsea are pronounced. Chelsea had pushed on a bit and got themselves into the Champions League, and then got the HUGE, HUGE boost of the Abramovich money. Manchester City have pushed on a bit under Sven, with Elano et al., and had a good run for a while last season, and to build on that, you've brought back SWP and now have the biggest transfer budget in the history of the World and Robinho.

To get Cesc, though, you're looking at well more than the 135 million pounds you're talking about for Ronaldo.

The terms should be along the lines of: "Pay off the Emirates stadium debt in one lump sum (some 400 million pounds), buyout the naming-rights deal so it can be called Ashburton Grove instead of the Emirates, and give Arsenal the rights to have the player back on a free after 3 years."

It would totally be worth it to have Cesc in your side for 3 seasons. That kid is ace.