Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Football is a project, not a game!

Robinho's first words regarding his British-record transfer from Real Madrid to Manchester City did little to comfort those (such as myself!) who think football is terminally ill and the death of the once-great game is now inevitable.

Soon after stepping off the plane Robinho, who hasn't even had a medical for City despite costing the club £32,500,000!) appeared to describe his move as part of "an exciting project". The word project conjures up images of experiments and test tubes or, in the case of my Chemistry A-level practical lessons, smashed glassware all over the bench.

The 24-year-old, who has 42 caps for Brazil, has been quoted in The Sun as saying, among other things, he knows his new boss Mark Hughes was a great player and the sight of fans buying shirts with his name on makes him very happy. Even the cynic in me (wish he would get out!) won't stoop to suggesting he is getting a cut of merchandising, as that is very unlikely.

Robinho said: "I want to help the manager and the team win the Premier League, that’s my ambition here. I’m very happy to be here. I knew Manchester City are a very big club, there’s a great team already and this is an exciting project.

"I met with the manager and it went very well, I know he was a great player and I think that will be a big help to me. I liked the project and when City made the offer to Real Madrid, I decided to come here.

"(Fellow City players Jo and Elano) are my friends and I know them very well. Having such great players already at City was one of the reasons why I decided to come here. Seeing the fans buying shirts with my name makes me very, very happy. I hope to bring a lot of joy to them."

Not too bad for a first attempt - especially as the world knows he had his heart set on a move to Chelsea - but the word "project" really does stand out as a non-football word. Sure, it may have been warped in translation, but it doesn't bode well.

For, as any good scientist will know, and this failed scientist is writing, a project has to have aims, equipment, a method, results and a conclusion. Man City are aiming for top-four this year (I really can't see it, but...), the Premier League title next year and the Champions League trophy the year after.

Their equipment is being sought, though the most important parts won't arrive until January and next summer. The method appears to involve, conversely, offering as much cash as is required to pay for the best equipment in the world.

Of course, the results are not yet known - but at least this project has a timescale. Not the so-called "five-year plan" mooted by Aston Villa when American Randy Lerner took control from Doug Ellis, but just three years. So at least we won't have long to wait...!

The conclusions, however, will be less clear. In three years time we will know if they achieved their aims, but will we be any closer to knowing if football is terminally ill? How many other "projects" will this one create? It's not clear, but the more "projects" there are, the more chance one will go horribly, horribly wrong.