In his third exclusive column to corner him, super agent Rob Segal lifts the lid on what’s really going on in British football.
First, what an FA Cup we have now, we know that Chelsea and Liverpool are both in next month’s final.
However, I think it is diabolical that Conor Gallagher was unable to play for Crystal Palace against Chelsea in last weekend’s semi-final. It’s OK for them to ask for a loan fee because they did business by loaning their players, but here we go, they loaned this player who has done really well, Crystal Palace is saddled with his wages every week and their last game was the FA Cup – it wasn’t like It was a title decider. Why don’t you let him play? – What harm would he do? If they don’t value it enough to hold it, what should they worry about? For him to play at Wembley on that occasion, it would only have given him more experience if Chelsea decided to keep him next season. It’s just another flaw in these ridiculous regulations.
If you look at Mason Mount – he’s out on loan to Derby County and had a great season there. But every player in the Chelsea books at this level is a good player, so the Derby County manager is going back to Chelsea and of course, he had good seasonal knowledge and takes Mount to London with him and plays with him. But it does make me wonder if Frank Lampard wasn’t back at Chelsea, would Mount get his chance?
Let’s say Gallagher went to Derby County instead and had a good season there which he would no doubt have done, then Lampard went back to Chelsea, it’s possible that Gallagher would have been given the chance and probably would have played on Sunday but to Chelsea.
One of the clubs that has not come close to a final of any kind is Manchester United.
Their problems are endless – Old Trafford is down. The last time I went there, unfortunately it was a real big shock what a terrible condition the stadium is in. Instead of taking millions in profits, what the Glazers need is to start pumping it back into the club and its facilities. I know they just said they would invest £200m in renovations, but that won’t be enough, especially when you consider that Tottenham’s stadium is costing £1bn. £200m would hardly put new gutters around Sir Alex Ferguson’s platform.
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In the ballpark though, it would take at least twice as much on new transfers. Temporary president Ralph Rangnick just came out and said that except for the goalkeeping area, the club needs to strengthen every other area in the team.
The proposed team rebuilding is long overdue. The only thing I think they have gotten it right lately is the appointment of John Murtaugh as Director of Football. He is a really good worker and understands and knows a lot of people. Darren Fletcher is great too, so between those two and Erik ten Hag, who isn’t messing around with him either, Man United now have to give them money, give them time and let them carry on with that.
The way Liverpool did it was the right way. They went out and bought maybe one or two major players a year and slowly integrated them – players who were exactly what they were looking for too.
I think Man United need to be careful about buying six or seven players this summer because huge and immediate reforms like these rarely work. In terms of the position they should prioritize, it should be signing with a new centre-back. They need a really great centre-back.
For example, Christian Romero at Tottenham – what a player.
Everyone in the industry, including the coaches at Tottenham, is applauding him. He’s not even close to his full potential yet – he’s a standout player.
All of the club’s coaches said he’s solid, reliable, doesn’t get overwhelmed, is good at recovering and is up there with the likes of Toby Alderweireld.
Another player almost heading for the top is Erling Haaland and seems to have agreed terms with Manchester City, and the question really needs to be asked – how many clubs in the world can they actually afford him? – not much.
Aside from Manchester City and Real Madrid, PSG should, of course, be in that conversation, but from a purely footballing perspective, he’s not going there. His father, Alf-Inge Haaland, is a former player and would know that the only decent football he would get if he went to Paris is Champions League football. The domestic league is not good.
If you are a top player and are going to get serious money, there is only one place to play football and that is in England.