Something For The Weekend (240)
I am not sure if the Spanish laugh much, as I can't actually remember ever hearing much Spanish tittering in my time but if we can defy a few pedants and call Barcelona Spain, then I bet they have been guffawing in the streets this week, as the Catalans witnessed Real Madrid having a spend-thrift shit-fit, in their attempt to heal the agonies of seeing Barcelona not only win the Champions League with enough strutting panache to make a flamenco dancer look diffident, but then having to read the outpouring of accolades which followed, in their native Castilian too.
Nice Juan Barca.
As every hubby knows, if the wife's sister has just bought a conservatory and a bit of cane furniture, sooner or later, hubby is going to have to do the same and almost certainly, one slightly better than the in-laws. Its the way of the world and the closer people are, the deeper the jealousies, and there's no deeper jealousy than between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
But at least, having rebuilt Spain using British money over the last decade, as donated via the EU, we can take satisfaction in Real actually sending Man United a cheque for £80m the other way. I assume this is their own money but I will still be keeping a sharp eye on that ten quid, I have/had in my Satander account.
As mad Ronnie Reagan proved twenty years ago, if you can lure someone into an arms-race, its possible to bankrupt them before a shot is even fired and it certainly looks like Real have fallen into a similar trap, in their struggle to play catch-up with Barca. How they expect to solve their debt problems this time round, as I assume they won't be able to sell their training-ground twice, remains to be seen.
Okay, so I'd probably swap marvellous Marlon Harewood and Emile Heskey, for Ronaldo and Kaka but its still madness. And, Villa didn't get where they are today by spending that sort of money.
For Man United its probably good news but when you think that £80m is only a tenth of the cost of Wembley, or slightly less than a Veron, a Shevchenko and a Berbatov combined, it will be easily spent. Surely, if Ferguson is to find replacements for Giggs, Scholes and Neville, he'll need to spend most of that, let alone finding another Ronaldo. But obviously, they should use it to pay off their debts, if Platini got his way and good sense prevailed.
I know I'll really miss Rocket Ron because there are real consolations in being beaten by players you sincerely dislike; and Ronaldo is particularly easy to dislike. But it has to be admitted that he was so good, that even last season when he obviously couldn't give a toss, he was still better than most players in the Premiership.
Some neck that Ronaldo has, I keep hearing people say.
Even though he would probably be only five-foot-four, if his neck was of average length, some say he's still better looking than Marlon Harewood, which all goes to show its not a fair world.
What his departure says about the Premiership is unclear and it looks like we have a number of options when it comes to explaining why the best players not only will not come (Kaka) but why they are so eager to leave, once they have made their mark. Is it that the Premiership is so competitive that the likes of Henry can't hack it? Or, maybe they just get fed-up with the Manchester drizzle. Or, maybe, its just that although the British might have invented the game, the Latin nations still have a perceived monopoly on glamour and the Dolce Vita? But never having to defend a Rory Delap throw-in again might be something to look forward to.
Once all the hand-wringing and the cries of 'obscene' had died down, and the Devilish schadenfreude had been enjoyed, there was the troubling thought of Man United asset-stripping the wannabes, with their cash injection, which might set back a few works-in-progress a couple of years.
In short, would they come a-knocking for our Ashley?
Villa's star winger certainly looked the part when he donned an England shirt this week. The opposition were not exactly five-star but that didn't stop them from making Peter Crouch look a bit ordinary for most of the game. Ashley stood out on the left touchline and enjoyed some wonderful service from Beckham and it was easy to see why they call England's maestro Golden Balls. Every time Dave pinged a ball twenty yards and hit Ashley in the chest, I could only cry, 'Wow!'. He never missed once, as far as I could remember. Gladly, our boy hardly put a foot wrong and his first-touch was always assured. He skinned the back at will and provided a range of crosses and it was clear that he offers something a bit extra compared with the head-down-and-charge alternatives, who have been in and out of the
squad over the last few years.
He certainly showed what he could do and seemed to impress Teddy Sherringham in the television studio. There's little doubt that with the right understanding with Ashley Cole, Villa's star could be tremendous for England.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are more concerned whether he will carry on being tremendous for Villa, rather than someone else.
Barry's departure has opened up a can of worms and Villa fans are reverting to the old negative habits. Without doubt as we enter another week of the close-season my whinge-detector tells me the Villa knockers are in the ascendancy and the drone of moaners can be heard for the first time in a number of years.
Only one thing can stop this snowballing into wholesale traditional Villa misery and that is ambitious signings, or the nearest thing we can afford.
Old habits die hard.