The August Riots

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Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday Match Report: The best game of the weekend that you may not have seen

The newest regular Monday feature set to become an internet sensation, 'Monday Match Report' gives you the best game of the week, but not the usual Manchester United thrashing of Blackburn Rovers at home, nor a tense, high-scoring Premier League six pointer at the foot of the table. This Chemical World has scoured the internet world and produced its recommendation of the game you ought to be watching for the next few days, that is until a similar feature, Friday Football Focus, makes its Blogger debut.

Palermo 0-7 Udinese
Italian Serie A
Sunday 27 Feb 2011

Scorers: Di Natale (10, 41, 61), Sanchez (19, 28, 42, 48)

For video highlights visit: http://bit.ly/gTeBtC.

An incredible result for both teams, surprisingly not Palermo's biggest ever defeat - that honour having been reserved for AC Milan, 9-0 winners over the Rosanero all the way back in 1951 - but their biggest ever reversal at home. Veteran Italy international Antonio Di Natale bagged himself a hat-trick, bringing his Serie A tally to 21, at the expense of nine man Palermo, whilst coveted young Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez netted four against the Renzo Barbera outfit, who will undoubtedly be looking to forget this result as quickly as humanly possible.

Possibly also worth mentioning is the fact that owner Maurizio Zamparini, known for having an 'innovative' approach to hiring and firing, sacked coach Delio Rossi immediately following the defeat. Despite the understandable devastation in the home dressing room at full, and indeed half time, the visitors demonstrated impressive technique in dispatching eighth-placed Palermo, especially in such a clinical and highly impressive manner.

Europe-bound Udinese opened the scoring through Di Natale after ten minutes, the striker latching onto left back Pablo Armero's inch-perfect cross having evaded his marker, cleverly looping the ball just past the desperate dive of Palermo 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu. Abysmal defending from the hosts then allowed Alexis Sanchez to double Udinese's lead after 19 minutes, blasting into the roof of the net after Palermo had failed to clear their lines.

Sanchez proceeded to make it 3-0, finishing off a superbly worked and clinical counter attack from the visitors, demonstrating incredible composure and mesmerising footwork to round Sirigu and fire home, Udinese three goals to the good even before the half hour mark. Sirigu's error then gifted the visitors their fourth, and Di Natale's second, a few minutes before half time, the home 'keeper spilling a shot from distance straight into the path of Bianconeri's lethal front two.

Armero was once again the provider for Sanchez' third goal a minute later, but he ought not to take all the credit; a minimal amount of pressure by Sanchez on Cesare Bovo caused the Palermo defender to surrender possession on the left hand side, before Sanchez relentlessly moved towards goal, firing past Sirigu. Going in 5-0 up at half time did little to deter the Bianconeri, particularly Sanchez, who netted just after the restart to lend the scoreline a particularly one-sided appearance. Di Natale completed his innings, after the superb Sanchez had been withdrawn, scoring from the spot after the troublesome Armero had been clearly felled in the box by Matteo Darmian, the second Palermo player to be dismissed, for his horrendously mistimed and clumsy challenge.

Photos courtesy of (in order): Svenska Fans, Foto Partite, Getty Images, Zimbio

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Arsene's Blues - When will the Gunners wait for a trophy end?

Perhaps the statistic most commonly trumpeted by supporters and journalists concerns Arsenal, and the six years in which the north London outfit has failed to triumph in any competition. Arsene Wenger had a golden opportunity to end this streak and silence their critics at Wembley yesterday, facing a Birmingham City side entirely unexpected to reach the final and widely condemned as simply a 'sideshow' alongside the 'main event', and cannon fodder, appropriately, for the Gunners. In the event luck was on the side of the Blues, who won their first major trophy since 1963, a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Western world was preparing to meet a young group of Liverpool lads called The Beatles, and John F. Kennedy was in the White House.

The combination of little and large won it for City, giant Nikola Zigic heading them in front just inside the half hour mark, the Serbian striker's height making it impossible for the Arsenal defenders, and vindicating manager Alex McLeish's decision to start him. Arsenal fired a few warning shots at the Birmingham defence, superbly marshalled by the excellent Stephen Carr, who led from the front throughout the match, but failed to net an immediate reply. They did level inside fifteen minutes, however, Robin van Persie netting an exquisite equaliser on the turn, after Jack Wilshere's stinging effort had smashed off the crossbar, and Birmingham had failed to clear. With the teams level at half-time, and City naturally reeling from the disappointment of going behind, Arsenal were always going to be the favourites in the second period.

Indeed it transpired as such, the Gunners providing a stiff test of City goalkeeper Ben Foster's ability, but he was more than equal to the challenge. Roger Johnson was a rock at the heart of the Birmingham defence, whilst the substitution of a clearly disappointed Craig Gardner for Chile international Jean Beausejour tipped the midfield balance slightly, and gave the Blues a different attacking dimension for the final half an hour. Few would have imagined the identity of the hero - on-loan attacker Obafemi Martins - but he was another inspired change by McLeish, tormenting Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djorou with his incessant pace and willingness to battle for every ball. His time came in the 89th minute, Zigic's header provoking a catastrophic mix-up between Koscielny and the formerly reliable 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who appeared not to call for the ball. The two practically collided, leaving Martins with the simplest finish of his entire career, and undoubtedly the most important goal he has ever scored.

The timing of the strike was crucial as it gave Arsenal no real time to get back into the game, despite a succession of long balls aimed at substitute Nicolas Bendtner as the Gunners abandoned their cautious, elegant build-up in favour of a direct style rarely employed by Wenger's players. The reaction of the thousands of devastated Arsenal fans as the minutes of added time slipped away summed up the day, and the ramifications of this defeat for Arsenal. From anticipating an easy victory against apparently 'lesser' opponents, the Gunners had conspired to essentially hand victory to Birmingham, and throw away the best chance they will have in any competition this season to end the most unwanted record in top-flight football. This ought not to take anything away from Birmingham, however, who battled superbly, admittedly rode their luck, but went for the victory against a technically superior side. The reaction of Alex McLeish and his players showed the extent of Birmingham's achievement - becoming the first team outside of the Premier League 'top six' to win the Carling Cup since Middlesbrough in 2004 - and their joy was well-deserved. McLeish's substitutions were inspired, and although it is presumptuous, the manner in which the Blues approached the second half having suffered the deflating blow of conceding a goal five minutes before the break, suggests that his team talk was particularly inspirational, vital at such a crucial time.

Going back to Arsenal, it may be suggested this defeat could take a quite a long time to recover from. With fans having been dreaming of an unprecedented quadruple, taking for granted victory in yesterday's game, they now face an extremely difficult trip to the Nou Camp, the task of chasing down an imperious Manchester United in the Premier League, and a number of FA Cup games to ensure their second trip to Wembley this season. Whilst it would be foolish to suggest that Arsene Wenger ought to be subject to speculation as to his future at The Emirates, some serious questions will need to be asked, particularly about the manner in which Arsenal approached this game, and Wenger's policy towards young players, much maligned in the past few years. In terms of the Carling Cup itself, today's match was a vindication of the format, and a triumph for excitement, tension and surprise, the core tenets of a relevant and enthralling cup competition. It might be said that English football needed a result like this. Having been served up uninspiring ties for the past few years in the 'showpiece' domestic cup finals, today's story was the sort of fairy-tale supporters up and down the country can appreciate, and long may the Carling Cup enjoy its Indian Summer, and transformation from irrelevant distraction to bastion of unpredictability, upsets and controversy.

Photos courtesy of (in order): The Guardian, Getty, AFP and Reuters

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Career opportunities: will they ever knock for the jilted generation?

Apologies for the attempted musical pun in the title, which may perhaps be seen as an attempt to divert attention away from the real issue needing to be explored: the dearth of real graduate employment opportunities in the United Kingdom. After all, the government which a number of us elected is perfectly willing to ignore the ever-growing number of graduates who leave perfectly-reputable universities with impressive degrees, only to find themselves in the same black hole of opportunity currently blighting this country. The fact that Britain has a higher rate of youth unemployment, that is, those aged between 16 and 24 (20.5%) than Bahrain (19.6%), a country in the midst of revolution, is a damning indictment of the government's lack of care for this generation.

Indeed the coalition has been perfectly willing to proceed with its savage programme of funding cuts, which in turn have an adverse effect on the employment rate and the presence of job opportunities for the population as a whole, and raising the cost of tuition fees to astronomical and impossible levels. So the most apt question appears to be: why are the British people not up in arms about this farcical injustice? To be frank, it appears that the population at large simply does not care. University is regarded by many as a right, which of course it is not, and should not be, rather a privilege for those who have demonstrated sufficient levels of hard work, application and intelligence and wish to further their knowledge at a higher level. Yet for the older generations in particular the student lifestyle is often open to ridicule and inaccurate stereotyping. Yet whilst students admittedly spend the best three years of their lives at university, paying a significant amount of money to do so, is it not fair that when they graduate they should be entering a world in which their talents are rewarded and utilised by the government for the technological, social and economic advancement of the country and the rest of the population. Seemingly not.

Admittedly a few have been willing to raise their heads gently and cautiously above the parapet to reveal the true, shocking state of affairs surrounding graduate job opportunities. However they are constantly being shouted down, amidst repetitive statements of 'a fair chance for all' from the government and employers. As a student expecting at least a 2:1 grade in my degree, I am frankly insulted by the notion that being unemployed for a significant proportion of time, as I almost certainly will be upon the culmination of my three year course, is a fair reflection of my abilities. Graduate schemes appear to hold the key, but in fact are just as false as the statements and press releases emerging from Number Ten. The fact is that youth unemployment ought to be one of the biggest millstones hanging around the coalition's neck, but instead it appears to have been well and truly swept under the carpet.

The millionaires currently running this country appear to have decided that individuals spending upwards of £2,000 to obtain and finance work experience from which they gain no full time employment or monetary recompense are being fairly treated. They appear to think that it is fair for a graduate who has paid upwards of £20,000, all costs taken into account, to finance a degree whereby they enjoy just a few hours of contact time a week, to expect to be unemployed for months and possibly years following graduation. These are not exaggerated examples. They may not yet be the norm but in a few years’ time, without a significant reversal of policy, these tales of woe may be the common denominator amongst graduates who, shockingly and quite probably, could have even fewer job opportunities and in effect 'life chances', and a far greater burden of debt. Welcome to the big bad world kids, just try not to let that £30,000 you owe become a distraction whilst you sign on every week...

Photos courtesy of (in order) - The Daily Mail, Labour List, Socialist Worker

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

‘An ugly scene’ – Is the spectre of hooliganism creeping back into the beautiful game?

Football hooliganism is by no means a modern phenomenon; indeed since the dark days of the 1970s, when fights and football went hand-in-hand, and the tragic era of the 1980s, when a combination of inadequate stadia, ill-behaved supporters and a policing strategy geared towards ‘containment’ rather than safety combined to result in successive disasters, it has lurked uneasily beneath the surface. Naturally with the advent of substantial television revenues and the subsequent explosion in ticket prices, which has transformed this ‘working man’s sport’ into a penchant for the privileged, the more notorious ‘hooligan element’ has been mostly priced out. Yet as Millwall displayed at the weekend, despite having safe, all-seater stadia and astronomical ticket prices, coupled with the gentrification of football in the past twenty years, the potential for trouble remains. The spectre of Millwall supporters hurling coins and bottles at the visiting Middlesbrough players brought memories of the 1980s vividly back to life.

Whilst the majority of fans would naturally abhor such displays of violence and flagrant disrespect for the ‘rules of engagement’ most supporters adhere to, it is nevertheless a situation which the authorities ought to be monitoring. One might justifiably say that clubs such as Millwall are the exception, having more or less constantly been associated with hooliganism over the past 40 years, and likewise Cardiff City and West Ham United, both of whom have tainted pasts and presents in that regard. Yet it is the clubs which, for one reason or another, appear to be falling into the trap, devoid of the sort of reputation which sets Millwall apart from the Football League pack, whom we ought to be worrying about. For instance the club I support, Queens Park Rangers, has recently accrued a number of negative headlines and a not insignificant number of column inches relating to clashes with visiting fans in and around the Loftus Road area. Indeed the number of police officers and riot vans patrolling the stadium during last night’s visit of Ipswich Town, themselves not a club widely associated with hooliganism, was a worrying portent as to the direction which this, as it prefers to be publicised, ‘family club’ may be heading.

It may be pertinent at this point to remind ourselves of just how far football has come in the past two decades, particularly in this country. The 1980s saw football played in out-dated, often dilapidated grounds entirely unfit for their advertised capacities. Fans were penned in, often uncomfortably and, tragically, fatally at Hillsborough in 1989. Back then these problems were easily disguised and offset by the headline-making actions of a few mindless ‘supporters’ for whom the football was a sideshow, and fights with opposing fans were their raison d’etre. The fact that just purpose-built ground, Glanford Park in Scunthorpe, emerged from 1955 until 1988, whilst millions of pounds were spent on policing and hundreds of fences erected around football grounds is an indictment of the manner in which hooliganism for far too long covered up football’s ills. Yet this is not the situation nowadays. Since the Taylor Report in 1990 recommended the introduction of all-seater stadiums across the United Kingdom, many of these such grounds have come into existence. Stadiums such as The Riverside in Middlesbrough, The Ricoh Arena in Coventry and Pride Park in Derby stand as testatement to a sea change in attitudes towards safety and investment in football.

Yet what this also means is that supporters and supporters’ groups can no longer hide behind the banner of unsafe stadia and unfair policing priorities to cover up the lawless actions of a minority. Football cannot and it mustn’t return to the 1970s and 1980s, and nor do I believe it could. The demographic of a typical fan-base for even a Championship or League One club nowadays is so vastly different and has grown up or at least become accustomed to an entirely different footballing universe than its predecessor. Yet we must condemn the few and their attempts to bring football back into the dark ages. By no means do I wish to claim that modern football is a perfect, flawless game for that would be a fallacy that I could not endorse. Yet it would be a shame to see all the hard work described above go to waste, and let incidents such as those at Millwall and West Ham in recent memory, pass by without acting to punish the perpetrators, and send a clear warning to that, and indeed any club, which feels it can ‘gloss over’ the actions of its supporters.

Photos courtesy of (in order): Sporting Life, The Telegraph, Who Ate All The Pies?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Europe in 1989, Middle East in 2011: Has the Iron Curtain fallen to people power once again?

Some years are rightly remembered as being momentous in the history of human existence. 1989 was surely one of these, and judging by the tumultuous events which have swept across a host of countries in the Middle East, long denied the freedom and democratic rights we take for granted, 2011 is set to become another. Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian ruler since 1981, has already fallen amidst an unstoppable display of people power and common desire for reform. Yet we cannot romanticise these protests, which draw natural parallels with the events of 1989 in Eastern and Central Europe, in the light of those whom have already perished at the hands of the mechanisms they are so committed to destroying. In Libya, despite the communication problems brought on as a result of the political struggle there, reports have reached the outside world of between 100 and 300 deaths. The ‘revolution’ in Egypt achieved its aims with a similarly high level of bloodshed, the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirming that 302 people had been killed, not all of these protestors, since unrest broke out on 28 January. Yet for the citizens of Libya, it appears the government of Muammar-al-Qaddafi, commonly referred to in the West as Colonel Gaddafi, is willing to fight on until the end, no matter the consequences. As stated today by the Libyan leader’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi:

“Our spirits are high and the leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is leading the battle in Tripoli and we are behind him, as is the Libyan army.

“We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing...We will not leave Libya to the Italians or to the Turks...Our spirits are high.

“Our army will be in Libya, and Muammar Gaddafi will be in it until the last moment...We will eradicate them [enemies] all.”

Colonel Gaddafi’s rule in Libya is said to have lasted 41 years and 173 days, since 1 September 1969, a length unthinkable in Western democratic societies, where ten years is considered a long time and, sometimes derogatively and in a tongue-in-cheek manner, suggested to entail some of the hallmarks of dictatorship. Make no mistake about it though, Gaddafi’s rule is the above, and if the army continue to back his increasingly alienated and baseless position as leader of Libya, and critically not of the Libyan people, then his power will remain untouched. Crucial to the collapse of 1989, where regimes long bolstered by the assurance of military assistance from the Soviet Union should internal revolts become too difficult to handle, as applied in the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine in Czechoslovakia in 1968, faced a population unwilling to return to quiet acquiescence, was the change in policy of Mikhail Gorbachev. He would not send troops into Poland and Hungary, thereby hastening the demise of the regimes in these countries and across Central and Eastern Europe. Sadly for the Middle East, there is no monolith ruling over it with an iron grip, relentlessly keeping it in line until the grip is slowly loosened, to be replaced by a flood of change, popular uprisings and the toppling of corrupt, faceless dictators.

The revolt hasn’t merely been confined to Libya and Egypt. Indeed it was Tunisia where the wave of popular revolt began, against the leader of the Republic of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President since 1987. The protests themselves were sparked in late December following the act of self-immolation by protestor Mohamed Bouazizi. The President was finally ousted on 14 January, following weeks of protest alleged to have been organised primarily through labour unions. Sources state that 219 were killed during the ‘Tunisian Revolution’, as it has come to be referred. Bahrain was the next state to experience major unrest, this time directed against the unelected monarch, head of the Al Khalifa ruling dynasty, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain is certainly a very different case to the others, being just one of many examples of a ‘rentier state’ in the Arab world, and economically dependent on the substantial revenues derived from the export of natural resources. Unlike the other countries plagued by unrest, Bahrain is an economically successful state, ranked 34th in the world by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for GDP per capita, above Russia and Brazil. Despite the reported human rights abuses in Bahrain, and the lack of democratic values and multi-party politics of the Western World, its citizens have fewer economic reasons for demanding reform. Libyans, ranking 48th, Tunisians 97th and Egyptians 116th, all of whom do not enjoy the substantial welfare state in existence in Bahrain, all benefit the least from the relative successes of their countries.

Indeed the people of Bahrain it appears have reason to celebrate, for after a rather briefer period of unrest than in the other states, and far fewer needless deaths (a reported seven), the King has agreed to enter into a dialogue with the various opposition movements. How the situation will end up is not yet clear, but it may be said that the people of Bahrain have set an example to the rest of the Arab world, along with their fellow protestors in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Whether any positive, and obviously this is a very subjective term, change will emerge from the events of the year so far remains to be seen. As for the parallels with 1989, it appears that rather than citizens longing for the wealth and freedom of their neighbours, a wave of popular revolution has swept across countries previously symbols of stability in the extreme. With conflicting reports of Colonel Gaddafi having fled Libya and declared himself ready to fight until the end, time will tell as to whether his damaged dictatorship can heal the wounds inflicted on it by a people denied democracy and fairness for over 40 years. The outside world has already renounced its previous ties with the Libyan ruler, just after his own people have done the same. Yet with the armed forces still seemingly fiercely loyal to the crumbling regime, it appears the bloodshed is not over yet.

Photos courtesy of (in order): Left Foot Forward

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Football's New Financial Regulations - Has UEFA cured the madness of the January transfer window?

It appears that a new era is dawning for European football, one in which clubs will seemingly no longer be able to operate in financially-unstable manners, and spend colossal sums of foreign money on players who, outside the madness of the January transfer window, would be valued sensibly and accordingly acquirable for reasonable outlay. UEFA, the often-maligned guardian of European competition, namely the Champions League and Europa League, announced earlier this week plans to enforce fresh ‘Licencing and Financial Fair Play Regulations’. Understandably, these announcements need some clarification, given the deliberate vagueness surrounding their title. Essentially free-spending Premier League clubs which have for too long belied financial scrupulousness will be nervously looking to the future after UEFA voted unanimously to adopt a ‘break even requirement’, to be introduced over a period of three financial years (2010/11-2012/13). This means that by the time of the 2013-2014 UEFA competition, clubs will be assessed according to whether or not, in essence, they have lived beyond their means or stuck to a prescribed budget. Yet does this key announcement for the future of the European game, described by UEFA President Michel Platini as an attempt to “put stability and economic common sense back into football”, sound the death knell for the sort of Premier League-led extravagance witnessed over the past few days?

This January transfer window, often a burden and a source of undue pleasure for managers and fans alike, sometimes within the space of 24 hours, has certainly lived up to expectations in terms of the outlay it has produced on footballing talent. Collectively, on just four players, Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa have conspired to spend an astonishing £135 million. Naturally the individuals upon which this monstrous sum has been readily dished out, Luis Suarez, Darren Bent, Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll, have seen their abilities subject to significant price inflation, a naturally-occurring phenomenon during the transfer window, infamous for being a period in which clubs are willing to sacrifice natural fiscal activity for the sake of an assumed short-term advantage. Yet with UEFA’s announcement, has the fun gone out of the silly season which delights and infuriates supporters up and down the country annually? I would have to say it has; for Chelsea’s £50 million signing of Fernando Torres could easily become a phenomenon of the not-so-distant past, with clubs clamouring to reduce expenditure and operate at reasonable levels with at least a modicum of financial responsibility. Naturally for Arsenal the announcement will be of little concern, given that as pointed out by an esteemed journalist a couple of days ago, half of the Gunners’ starting eleven cost less than the silky Spaniard. Yet for clubs such as Manchester City, attempting to break into the top four seemingly by brute force of expenditure and a financial recklessness not witnessed in the Premier League since the early days of Roman Abramovich’s reign at Chelsea, UEFA may just have forced a rethink. Having said that, with a squad as large, young, talented and expensive as City’s already having been assembled, they probably needn’t spend again for another five or six years, not that this dose of common sense will fall on anything other than deaf ears.

When the paltry sum of £30 million was spent during the previous post-Christmas transfer window, analysts were clamouring to point out that the ‘age of austerity’ had finally hit football, up until that point the last bastion of financial insanity in a country and a continent tightening its belts and sheltering from the approaching storm. The claims that clubs such as Chelsea could possibly achieve a financially stable situation in which they would soon be in a position to ‘break even’ was spectacularly dashed just a few days ago, with the monied monoliths of West London announcing spectacular losses of £70 million up until June 2010. Journalists and spectators have also attempted to defy the odds and place Manchester City into this highly unrealistic category of Premier League clubs, claiming that the £200 million-plus shelled out by City’s extremely generous owners could be written off and turned into a profit over the next few years, providing for the existence of substantial Champions League revenue and the increased sponsorship that comes with this particular windfall. Yet despite the unrealistic sound of both Man City and Chelsea’s claims, each had better start trimming the fat and, no offence intended, ‘do a reverse Leeds’ if they wish to remain eligible to qualify for the lucrative fat-cat picnic that is the Champions League. Clubs which fail to adhere to UEFA’s new regulations will be banned from 2015, and whilst cutting back may seem a monumental task in itself, deprived of revenue from Europe’s premier club competition, clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City would quickly find themselves almost inoperable. Surprisingly enough, it is only Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur who would currently pass through UEFA’s stringent detectors unscathed; all other top five clubs, plus Liverpool, made substantial losses in the previous financial year, and the Merseysiders have done little to reverse this trend. Perhaps the aforementioned clubs are hoping for some change of heart from UEFA, and a relaxation of these deeply inhibitive regulations, but they are unlikely to get it from Michel Platini, whose negative feelings towards English football are well-documented in the domestic press, and for whom financial ‘common sense’, in his words, is a cornerstone of the new European order.

Furthermore it is also worth mentioning that not only the English clubs, so often maligned for their share of the ever-expanding Premier League financial pie, could fall foul of UEFA’s rulebook. Barcelona and Real Madrid, both of whom, particularly the latter, have spent astronomically in the past few years attempting to capture the coveted Champions League crown, are loss-making enterprises. Barcelona in particular announced staggering losses for the previous financial year, and Real’s extravagant and sometimes vulgar level of spending in the previous summer will surely not be a one-off should the requisite success not manifest itself at home and abroad. So it appears as though the tumultuous events of Transfer Deadline Day will soon be cast into the pages of history, to be replaced by an era in which clubs are forced either to recruit players who unlike Andy Carroll haven’t seen their fair market value grossly inflated, or simply work with the squads they currently have. In light of UEFA’s ‘parent-esque’ intervention into the January party, the insolent clubs such as Chelsea and Liverpool have had one last drink, desperate to spend the vast sums of money available to them through television revenues before a new age is ushered in. Only time will tell how this will impact upon European club competition in the long-term, but in the meanwhile it might be pertinent to expect a somewhat less dramatic deadline day, and the egregious spending on Carroll and Torres in England, as well as Kaka and Ronaldo in Spain, to become the hallmarks of a bygone age for Europe’s top clubs.

Photos courtesy of (in order): Zimbio, The Chelsea Blog, Football Pictures