In his third Exclusive Column for caughtoffside, super-agent Rob Segal lifts the lid on what’s really going on in British football.
Firstly, what an FA Cup we have on our hands now we know that Chelsea and Liverpool are both in next month’s final.
However, I think it’s diabolical that Conor Gallagher couldn’t play for Crystal Palace against Chelsea in last weekend’s semi-final. It’s okay for them to ask for a loan fee because they’ve made a business out of loaning their players, but here we are, they’ve loaned this player out who has done really well, Crystal Palace is lumbered with his wages every week and their most recent fixture was an FA Cup tie – it’s not like it was a title decider. Why not let him play? – What harm would it do? If they didn’t rate him enough to keep him, what were they worried about? – For him to play at Wembley on that occasion would only have given him more experience if Chelsea does decide to keep hold of him next season. It’s just another flaw in these silly regulations.
If you look at Mason Mount – he went out on loan to Derby County and had a great season there. But every player on Chelsea’s books at that level is a good player so then the manager of Derby County comes back to Chelsea and of course, he had a season’s worth of knowledge and takes Mount back to London with him and plays him. But it makes me wonder if Frank Lampard hadn’t gone back to Chelsea would Mount had got his chance?
Let’s say Gallagher had gone to Derby County instead and had a good season there which undoubtedly he would have done, Lampard then goes back to Chelsea, Gallagher probably would have been given the chance and probably would have played on Sunday but for Chelsea.
One club that is nowhere near a final of any kind though, is Manchester United.
Their problems are endless – Old Trafford is falling down. The last time I went there, unfortunately, it was a real big shock what a terrible state the stadium is in. Instead of taking millions out in dividends, what the Glazer family needs to do is start pumping it back into the club and its facilities. I know they’ve just said they’re going to invest £200m into renovation work but that isn’t going to be enough, especially when you consider that Spurs’ stadium cost £1bn. £200m is barely going to put new guttering around the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.
On the field though, it’s going to take at least double that on new transfers. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick has just come out and said excluding the goalkeeping area, the club need to reinforce every other area of the squad.
This proposed squad rebuild is long, long overdue. The only thing I think they have got right in recent times is appointing John Murtough as their football director. He is a really good operator and understands and knows so many people. Darren Fletcher is great too, so between those two and Erik ten Hag, who isn’t one to mess about either, Man United now have to give them the money, give them time and let them get on with it.
The way Liverpool has done it has been the right way. They’ve gone out and bought maybe one or two key players a year and slowly integrated them – players who were exactly what they were looking for too.
I think Man United need to be wary of buying six or seven players this summer because massive and immediate overhauls like those seldom work. In terms of what position they should prioritise, it has to be signing a new centre-back. They need one really outstanding centre-back.
For example, Cristian Romero at Spurs – what a player he is.
Everyone in the industry, including coaches at Spurs, speaks so highly of him. He is nowhere near his full potential yet either – He is a top, top player.
The club’s coaches have all said he is solid, reliable, doesn’t get flustered, is good at recovering and is up there with the likes of Toby Alderweireld.
Another player who is almost certainly heading for the top is Erling Haaland and with him looking like he’s agreed terms with Manchester City, the question really needs to be asked – How many clubs in the world can actually afford him? – Not many.
Aside from Manchester City and Real Madrid, Paris-Saint Germain, of course, needs to be in that conversation, but from purely a footballing perspective, he won’t go there. His dad, Alf-Inge Haaland, is an ex-player and he will know that the only decent football he’ll get if he went to Paris is Champions League football. The domestic league is no good.
If you’re a top player and you’re going to get serious money, there is only one place to play your football and that is in England.