In the annals of tabloid journalism the above was an early banner headline that captured the public's imagination. It related to an unremarkable Northern factory worker back in the sixties who found she’d hit the jackpot on her pool's coupon. In those pre-lottery days, the nation's accepted route to claiming millionaire status by dint of staking a few shillings each week hoping to correctly forecast a spread of results across the Saturday fixtures.
Viv Nicholson was the lady's name. Splashed across the front pages with her peroxide bleached bee-hive and clutching the million-pound cheque to her heaving bosom, Viv shrieked she was going to live the high life and spend it as fast as she could. Once the cash was gone the poor woman found herself friendless and a pitiful object of derision. Four husbands and suicidal depression accompanied her downward spiral -- a lesson in how quickly the perils of avarice and greed corrupt. Her spectacular fall from grace was chronicled via television and the West End stage.
In this wonderfully hypocritical nation of narrow-mindedness we call the United Kingdom, Miss Nicholson went from media darling to a woman scorned with all the rectitude of sour-faced Victorian worthies in the twinkling of an eye. And now that summer is here welcome to the Mad Hatter's tea party that sees the Premiership club owners rushing to spend monies not yet banked, hurling themselves headlong down a helter-skelter in pursuit of a trophy the vast majority have no earthly chance of winning.
With no meaningful signs world economies are recovering, are we now seeing the last days of the Circus Maximus, or resilience in football's ability to buck all financial trends and live by its own rules?
The craziness at Manchester City has already begun with no manager in charge, though Manuel Pellegrini is assumed to be on his way. It wasn’t so long ago Robinho’s £32 million pound capture by Mark Hughes had us all aghast, and look how that marriage turned out. Now the £30 million price tag for Shakhtar’s Fernandinho barely makes a ripple.
It’s obvious why. Traditionally cautious in recent years, Arsenal started the week announcing they were set to make not one, not two, but three record-breaking moves in the market. Jose Mourinho and David Moyes are yet to hit their stride, though United have added full-back Guillermo Varela from Penarol and the Special One is expected to shell out £100 million before long with Hulk and Edinson Cavani top of his shopping list. The money tap will really be set to gush when a chain reaction of mega deals start the ball rolling. Luis Suarez out at Liverpool, Gareth Bale on to bigger things, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres to who knows where? Take your pick.
Fulham of course remain on the margins of all this. While Mr. Jol seems to have neatly sidestepped any searching questions from the Chairman as to the distinctly lacklustre season, it seems clear he’s being asked to operate again on a tight budget. A sizeable chunk of his play money has already gone on a new goalie, and now it seems even Norwich City have more muscle to flex in the transfer market (PSV’s Nils Ola Toivonen).
There's little value to be had from any of Fulham's aging squad, so if Spurs really are serious about Alex Kacaniklic, being the traditional selling club the Whites are, any sizeable bid from that quarter -- especially if Tom Hudddlestone and/or Jermain Defoe got thrown into the mix -- I imagine would be very tempting. I can see it happening, though a handful of useful games at the tail end of the season does not for my money make Alex the next ‘golden boy’ at the Lane post-Gareth.
There will be acres more newsprint of wild speculation before we get round to match action again. I respect the board’s policy to proceed with caution. It is also clear that even a club of Liverpool’s stature now sits much closer to Fulham's business model than the spendthrifts in the top four. The Fenway Group appear chastened by mistakes made in the past by the Reds' previous owners.
While the alpha males of the Premiership go hunting big game, we are left to wish Martin good luck, hoping Fulham survive with his underpowered peashooter in the jungle, that he can be ‘creative’ and that all his summer picks turn out to be winners. If not, then we’re all heading down the road just travelled over the last underwhelming nine months.
The sooner the sharks are corralled into the larger pool of a European elite league, the better it will be for the rest of us. Yes, I know you are still awaiting my grand design for this. Subject for my next blog I guarantee -- unless Fulham sign Christiano Ronaldo in the meantime . . .
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