EPL Week Three: A Look Back

EPL Week Three: A Look Back

European Soccer

EPL Week Three: A Look Back

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Talk about a week to remember for Manchester City.

As if posting a rousing 3-0 victory wasn’t enough, City fans enjoyed Christmas a few months early when a new ownership group took over for Thaksin Shinawatra and promptly delivered Brazilian star Robinho in a record-setting transfer on Monday.

The deal was just part of a shocking Transfer Deadline Monday that suddenly made the results of the weekend in the EPL less important. SBI EPL correspondent James Tyler of The Unprofessional Foul discusses Monday’s shocking developments in this week’s installment of ‘A Look Back’, our regular breakdown of the recent week’s EPL action. Here is his take on Week Three:

Man City the new EPL power broker

By JAMES TYLER

In the grand scheme of things, discussing West Ham’s impressive win over Blackburn and Arsenal’s return to form (thanks to the return of their one-man team, Cesc Fabregas) just doesn’t seem right. It seems seedy and insignificant when you consider that the notion of the Big 4, the quartet of unshakable, richer EPL juggernauts, is on life support. While I’m excited for an end to the status quo, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the situation at Eastlands, or should I say Middle Eastlands.

Manchester City’s new owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) and their chairman Dr. Sulaiman Al-Fahim, have figured out the obvious: to compete with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, they’re going to need a lot of money, and the desire to use it. Common sense, perhaps, but until now we’ve seen nothing from the next tier of clubs below the Big 4 that suggests they got that memo. Modest spending within means, not making player purchases on loans, and other sensible practices have been commonplace. Now, Man City has more money than the EPL’s previous richest man, Roman Abramovich, and if they spend it like they’ve already done in their first 24 hours in charge, they should be able to buy themselves an FA Cup or an EPL title within three years, and I have to ask: is that really a good thing?

Chelsea and Manchester United still have enough muscle to bully the rest, although they must now accept a new bruiser in town with the rest of the league firmly at their mercy. Liverpool and Arsenal have some money to spend, but they could both use an injection of fantasy and fortune that new owners often bring. The DIC is surely just waiting out the inevitable SOS from Hicks & Gillett, a pair that will be unable to pay back their loans in time, but Arsenal have a modest spending budget due to regular payments on their Emirates stadium, and should the New Big 3 (yeah, might as well look for a new label now) go wild in January, they could well be left behind.

On a lighter note, the arrival of Manchester City and the closing of the transfer window brought closure on the two most annoying sagas of the summer: the fates of Robinho and Dimitar Berbatov. Dr. Al-Fahim nicked Robinho from Abramovich at the last minute, and almost stole Berbatov too. At 11pm last night, the revelation that Spurs had indeed accepted a bid from Man City sent shock waves through the league, although Berbatov held firm for his Old Trafford wish and finally got his way. The sullen, chain-smoking Bulgarian will benefit from the change of scenery, and the lure of some Champions League football that he so desperately coveted, and Spurs got their wish in 30 million pounds to help offset their own rampant spending.

Of course, with Abu Dhabi in town, every other team looks positively provincial in the transfer market, much like LFC and their 8 million pound left-winger Albert Riera, Everton breaking the piggy bank for Standard Liege midfielder Marouane Fellaini, Blackburn’s swoop for League One goalkeeper Mark Bunn, or Newcastle’s own sad dealings for two players we’ve never heard of, Xisco and Nacho Gonzalez.

Man City’s goals are clear, as expressed by Al-Fahim in no uncertain terms: "Our goal is to make this football club one of the best not just in England but also in the world."  With all that money, they probably will be. Money got Chelsea to the top in 2005, it helped Man United get C-Ron and bring in a slew of trophies, and now, it’ll help Man City do the same. Money will get QPR promoted to the EPL, and money (or lack thereof) is what has led Kevin Keegan to quit this morning as manager up to unhappiness at St. James’s Park.

It’s changing the league yet again, making Chelsea look like bully victims and making a lot of clubs seem quaint, tiny and irrelevant by comparison. I can only wonder what will happen when the transfer window opens again after Christmas.

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