When even the dumbest person in the room can see something a mile away, you wonder what the rest of the room is watching, or how they are looking at it. Scottish football has one big story above all others at the moment, and nobody wants to write it.
I would love for us to be that story.
I talked earlier about how Sky turned a segment about how we’ve just signed Jota into one about Ibrox; the truth is, although I am pissed off that they hijacked the Jota segment to do it, it needed to be done.
We’ve spent upwards of £15 million this summer, and that might be the most this club has spent in one window as far as I can remember. It’s serious cash, and under normal circumstances it really would be the dominant story in the game here.
But of course, the bigger story is what’s happening across the city.
Or rather, what isn’t happening across the city.
The reason it’s the bigger story is that it has bigger implications than who we sign.
We are putting the foundation stones in place for next season. They are facing a crisis so profound that if it all spins out the right way, you could put our next three or four titles in the bag right now. This is exactly why the media refuses to write it.
The reasons so many of us were in a funk this time last year is that you could see, clearly, the ways in which the failed Lennon experiment might have long term consequences. Had Ange been a disaster we would have been facing another rebuild this summer, whilst Ibrox had the Champions League cash to spend. A downward spiral was more than possible.
Had we just emerged from a season of turmoil, we’d be facing another Ibrox shoe-in for the title, and more Champions League cash on top of that which they’d already have netted.
We’d be forced to rebuild the team on the cheap, whilst they were able to go out and strengthen.
Their trip to the Europa League Final gave them an uptick in earnings, but those of us who’ve looked at the state they are in knew it wouldn’t translate to big spending.
For that, they need to sell. This time last year, that was us. Had we not been able to, all Ange’s magic would have been wasted on a squad assembled with crazy glue and we’d have been in just as bad a shape going into this summer, perhaps facing a full-scale managerial hunt at the same time. They aren’t in melt-down, but the conditions for it exist there.
In order to strengthen their squad, they have to ship out some of the players who are entering the final year of their contracts. Not only can they not afford to have these guys run down their deals, but those guys can’t be relied on to push themselves to the limit as their current contracts ebb away. The financial costs are only part of it.
Imagine we win this title, and those guys are still on the books. All of them walk for free next summer. Where is the money to replace them coming from? Their club can’t count on another lucky run to a European final. (Seven wins. Twenty-one games, guys.)
Kris Boyd is not the smartest guy in the world, but he can see the necessity of trying to move these guys on, and he knows that until they do there’s no money to build Van Bronckhorst’s team. He has at least said publicly what others know in private; that their club has serious financial issues to overcome in spite of last season’s alleged success.
They know what the risks are should they allow us to establish a critical advantage. One season of Champions League income has let us put Ange’s revolution on rock solid foundations, and there are more signings to come. If we get a second straight qualification to those groups, it might allow us to establish a gap that they find impossible to bridge.
The fear on their forums suggest that they realise how serious the changes to UEFA Financial Fair Play might prove to be. The appetite for eating more losses was already virtually non-existent; those changes might well mean they’re not able to fund the club like that anyway. There is a deepening sense there that the walls are closing in on them.
We now have former players, like Kenny Miller, talking sense over Morelos’ valuation. This is in part inspired by the article which appeared in The Athletic recently, where they interviewed several scouts from EPL clubs, and which pretty much confirmed a lot of what this blog has written for a while about the daft way they value their players.
The long and short of that piece was that their European run did not significantly increase the values of their players or the way they are thought of south of the border.
The kind of analysis scouts and clubs down there do is not like the sort done by the Daily Record, and on Ibrox fan forums, where they seem to think a blue jersey turns average players into superstars.
The lack of offers for their players so far has shaken them.
The window has been open since 10 June, and clubs were putting plans in place before then.
The Record’s Mark Pirie was clutching at straws again yesterday, going over Steven Gerrard’s words in the vain hope that somewhere in there was an allusion to plans involving Calvin Bassey.
But there was nothing. Villa isn’t going to pay £25 million for a guy with one season behind him and neither is anyone else.
They’ve been trying to sell Kamara for the last three years to no avail.
Boyd said on Sky today that there have been stories about Morelos in every window since he signed; most of them came out of Ibrox and there’s been only one bid and they had to over-exaggerate that.
Likewise, with Kent; they were dying to get an offer for Leeds last year and even leaked details of a minimum release clause in the contract. Nobody was interested then, or now.
Aribo was supposed to get offers. You notice how Forest have already moved past him? Who else is there? Villa are a hopeful in that one too, but there’s no actual movement.
The longer they go without selling, the tougher it will be for them to make strong moves. They will probably seal a deal for the PAOK striker; that’s less than £2 million and when a Greek club legend is saying that he will be easily replaced you wonder why they are bothering. He’s their Ittern replacement. What a deal that turned out to be.
The fantasy that they will sell all three of their “stars” and net upwards of £30 million is predicated on interest which just doesn’t exist and them getting huge sums for players clubs in England and elsewhere have already decided are not worth it.
Barry Ferguson’s confident prediction about how four sales can net them £55 million is even more bonkers. These guys are wired to the moon.
I think three out of four of those they are most desperate to punt will still be on the books when this window shuts. If they get rid of all of them they will do it for much less than that, and we’ll see how much of what they bring in that they are able to spend.
Boyd at least has realised that this is big, and bad. He’s not intelligent enough to properly articulate it, but he understands the shape of it if not the full scope and its implications. I have to think that there are others in the media who know the same.
They won’t write about it. But that won’t make the problems go away.
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