English Premier League: Weekly wrap
Manchester United's new player Robin van Persie. AP Photo/Jon Super
How much is a goal worth in the Premier League? Whatever it is, it seems certain that Manchester United will get a sizeable return on their £24 million investment in Robin van Persie.
Two starts, four goals. A match-winning hat-trick against Sunderland. With Wayne Rooney injured, the former Arsenal captain has slotted into his position seamlessly.
In fact, Rooney may not get his spot back at all.
Van Persie, at 29, was always going to be a no-fail purchase for whatever team scooped him up – that’s despite the claims from broken-hearted Gunners fans that he was a crock, as if saying that was going to make them feel better.
Sir Alex Ferguson paid big money (in what some have called a vanity transfer) but he got a big striker. That’s generally how it works.
Want a proven, quality striker that has a track record of scoring goals at the highest level?
If you can pick the right one – one that will fit in with your system and compliment the other players in your team – then you’ll generally get goals, wins and points in return.
The idea of picking the right one helps explain the Andy Carroll discrepancy, and that he was once worth £35 million in the eyes of Liverpool and Kenny Dalgish still astounds every time that figure is repeated.
Incredibly, that’s £11 million more than van Persie. But I digress.
More often than not, when you’re talking about the big boys and proper scouting, you get what you pay for in the Premier League.
Sergio Aguero? £35 million, apparently, from Atletico Madrid to City. The return? 30 goals in 48 games, including the one that sealed the title.
Third in the golden boot last season – behind van Persie and Rooney.
Dimitar Berbatov was bought for £30 million by Manchester United in 2008 from Tottenham. In the context of his £4 million move (that’s an unconfirmed figure) to Fulham, that sounds steep.
Indeed Liverpool fans have jumped quickly to describe Berbatov’s move as a Carroll-esque failure, as if one Premier League golden boot and 56 goals in 149 appearances in all competitions was nothing special.
United got the best out of the Bulgarian, then palmed him off at the right time – he’ll be 32 in January. That’s a good piece of business.
Which brings us to the Fenway Sports Group.
Another good piece of business would have been if Liverpool had gone for Clint Dempsey for the £6 million that took him from Fulham to Spurs.
He was perfect. Brendan Rodgers was chasing him all summer. He wanted long-ball lightning rod Carroll out, but that left only Luis Suarez and Samed Yesil on the books as proper, main strikers.
The former is moody, the latter is 18. In desperate need of someone else, and with £4 million courtesy of Charlie Adam in the back pocket, FSG choked.
Why? Was it because they were still spooked by the Carroll affair, or were the Moneyballers trying to play hardball?
Whatever the case, Rodgers – a guy who will spend his entire career at Anfield under a special kind of pressure that managers at only a select few clubs have to deal with – has been left one man short for want of what is, in Premier League terms, chump change.
With the spectre of Financial Fair Play rules looming large, every club that isn’t controlled by an egomaniacal tycoon is trying very hard not to overspend, especially after what’s happened to Portsmouth and Rangers.
But FSG can’t be using that as an excuse under these circumstances. And this is a word of warning to world football as pursestrings tighten everywhere – you do get what you pay for, if you do your homework.
Transfer fees are not simply avoidable, fashionable write-offs for billionaires. They are investments. Good investments pay dividends.
Fenway Sports Group have failed Liverpool and poor old Brendan Rodgers, one of the most exciting tacticians in the Premier League, is the man who will be forced to deal with the consequences.
Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard of the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. A Port Adelaide fan by birth, he's now sports editor of The Area News in Griffith, NSW.