The age of romance is dead


For £35m you could buy 70,140 iPads. You could buy 33 Bugatti Veyrons. You could probably even buy the whole of Charlton Athletic FC and still have enough left over for an iPad and a Veyron. In case you hadn’t guessed, I like the idea of owning all three of these things.

However, Liverpool have decided to spend their money in a different way. £35 million is the apparent valuation of Andy Carroll, judging by his recent move from Newcastle to Anfield.

I think the immediate conclusion to take from this deal is that money is no longer a suitable measure of a player’s ability, experience, or even marketability. We are talking here about a 22-year-old player with half a season of Premier League experience, who has been found guilty of smashing a glass in a man’s face among alleged implications in other off-the-pitch incidents. And he has a stupid ponytail.

Admittedly, Carroll is a very able player – and the comparisons to Alan Shearer that have been made are probably not too far off the mark. He is a classic number nine, and can produce some excellent headers. However, if transfer fees are an accurate measure of a player’s ability, Andy Carroll of Gateshead is the eighth best player in the world – and automatically the best English player. Is that quite as easy to agree with?

In order to facilitate this move, Fernando Torres took the expensive trip down to London – although the £50m Chelsea paid is a fair amount more than the £50 it takes me to get back down there.

Strangely enough, Torres hasn’t had a great season so far and his move comes in spite of a poor record this season of 0.4 goals per game, having scored just nine in 24 matches. That is over £5.5 million per goal.

These figures were supported by the first match Torres played in a blue shirt, with Chelsea at home to none other than Liverpool. While this fixture suggested that someone up in Premier League towers must write a script that this mad game follows, the dream debut did not happen. Chelsea lost 0-1 through a Raul Meireles strike in the second half, while Torres got one shot on target and lasted just 66 minutes on the pitch. In short, his performance was more than disappointing.

There was a time when the January transfer window was for readjustment. It was for small, safe signings to help a team reach their most probably half fulfilled ambition for that season, or perhaps to cover for injuries. Long-term panic buys are not for January, and the fact that Torres most definitely needs a lot of time to fit in at Chelsea judging from his performance just confirms this mantra. Football has become overrun with short sighted, egotistical multi-millionaires who are desperate for headlines, shirt sales and money.

After completing the deal and arriving at Chelsea, Torres spoke quite frankly at a press conference. When asked about the age old cliché of badge kissing, he said: “I see some players doing that when they join a club, but the romance in football has gone. It’s a different thing now. People [players] are coming and leaving. When you are joining a club you want to do the best for yourself and that club, and that’s all.”

As he strolled out on to the pitch as a £50m player while banners of “he who betrays will always walk alone” are unfurled, that the romance in football has gone might be the wisest thing a footballer has said in recent times.

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