THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Friday 30 January ~

The soap opera that is Newcastle United took another dramatic twist yesterday when Charles N’Zogbia released a statement claiming he would “never play again” for manager Joe Kinnear. The supposed reason for the midfielder’s outburst is because he felt insulted after being mistakenly referred to by the boss as Insomnia in a post-match interview following Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City. Kinnear hit straight back, claiming this was a ploy by N’Zogbia to allow him to leave St James’ Park after a lot of speculation during the transfer window about his future – he has, after all, spent most of January saying that he would welcome a move to Lyon, Arsenal or Villa.

Among the various interminable sagas to have dragged on during the transfer window, nothing competes for tedium with Roque Santa Cruz’s proposed switch to Manchester City. Indeed this has been going since Mark Hughes failed to capture him in the summer. As is traditional, the player has reiterated his desire to move to a “bigger club” but Blackburn seem to have set the fee at just a bit more than they know City are prepared to pay. With another striker Matt Derbyshire surprisingly being allowed to go on loan to Olympiakos, it now seems unlikely that Rovers will release Santa Cruz before the summer.

The transfer window has always been unpopular with the majority of English club managers and reports today suggest that the Premier League are to lobby for the window system to be abandoned altogether. There is no shortage of testimony from managers dismayed by the unsettling of important players. Steve Bruce labelled Manchester City “a disgrace” for allegedly using Wilson Palacios as a paper-weight for their own means: “It [the transfer window] just benefits big clubs because they can pay more and prey on clubs like us.”

The rise in wages and transfer fees has also been cited as a reason to end the window. Any closure could be a long way off because it would “put England out of kilter with the rest of Europe” as the notoriously Eurosceptic Daily Mail reports with some glee. Nonetheless the feeling seems to be that if Europe’s richest league made a bigger show of its discontent with the system then other leagues will follow suit. Still, only three days to go before the focus can return to football – or so we hope. Daniel Smith

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