Part 2 of the Cosmos Posts from the book – the Simon Allen Edition
Here’s part two:
But not every player who came over, was a big time transfer or became a star over on this side of the pond. Some players came over here on loan deals, some came, didn’t like it and left. Then there were some who weren’t good enough or well known enough yet to make a mark in the point in the USA. I will later talk about the structure of a transfer deal, and what a loan is. Some of the surprising ones who didn’t pan out over here are: Peter Lormier, Dick Advocat, Bruce Grobelaar (sp), came over at different parts of their careers. In the case of Lormier, and Advoact came over at the ends of their careers, hopeful to get some first team play, and see where they can go from here. Bruce Grobelaar, came over at the begging of his career, and that really vaulted him into superstardom when he eventually transferred to Liverpool.
Let’s also look at it this way. There were some players who came over who were at the ends of their career, and were playing in the old England divisional set up (yeah I know the EPL has only been around for twenty years). There was a number of names that at the time, the English media knew but weren’t the top of their leagues. Ok that’s with the exception of Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks, both ex-England greats, and Johnny Giles the legend at Leeds, who were all at the tail end of their careers.
Of course one would be remiss when talking about transfers and the good of clubs, to ignore the negatives. There have been times that a team will transfer in too many players or power struggles will start on the board. Ok there’s aren’t just times, there’s almost every transfer period, something stupid happens. An enterprising journalist could write a book or two on that alone. In fact if you want an amazing book about what transfers mean to a league, read the Transfer Price Index Graeme Riley and Paul Tomkins. But my point is, that I could find five or six problems and point them out. It’s all how you look at the system. Rather than look at the negative, I’ll look at the positive of the Cosmos and transfers.
Before we get into the transfer business, there is a great book out there on soccer Football Nation by Andrew Ward, one of the many things that they go into tracking a player. In one section Mr. Ward talks about how skill isn’t defined and a scout has to look at something over time: It must be transferable from one situation to another, in particular to situations of greater importance. It must also be sustainable – from match to match, week to week, month to month. Scouts studied a player’s injury and illness history[i]. I took this from an excerpt about the 1970’s, and this is apt of the Cosmos since they were starting to make their assent at that time. One scout must not look at a player only once, and take them for what they see at the time. One game can’t make a player, though there have been World Cup stars who have been transferred for big bucks because of those games. Once you get a feel for a player, and what he’ll do with your view on him and the club you’re working for, you can write a scouting report based on the style your club plays.
Then further in the chapter he talks about what scouts were saying about listening to fans: “Let’s stand on the terrace and hear what spectators say about him. What does his previous manager think? What’s he like with the other players in the dressing-room? Above all, does he desperately want to win? It was even worthwhile standing next to a fancied player and judging his true height and weight. Sometimes statistics were designed to deceive”[ii]. Once again, this does point to the previous article that like talent, statistics are almost overrated. If you think about it, one league’s top goal scorer couldn’t cut it one league, but put the most creative scorer in, and he flourishes. I know that’s a lot of generalities, and conjecture, but you can take any hypothesis in the game, and put it into this. Basically, you’re looking at a player and you want the full picture of him before you take your scouting report on him. Looking at every angle you can get, it will hopefully give you the confidence that said player is good enough to play at your club.
Another thing that could be on the good side of the Cosmos and the NASL, is how the 1970’s helped the players, and transfers get to where it is today. The issue of course, like in any change was the old guard, so set in their ways that they couldn’t see anything else change. Football is something that never is easy to change at all. Why change something that has worked so well? Mr. Ward goes on later in the book to say:
The late 1970s were an insecure time for directors of professional football clubs. Top-level transfer fees rose very sharply from £350,000 (for Joe Jordan in January 1978) to £1 million (for Trevor Francis in February 1979) and £1,469,000 (for Andy Gray in September 1979)[iii].
While the directors and the managers were seeing their players jump from club to club, with staggering transfer fees, some clubs weren’t willing to help out their managers by loosening the purse strings. So what were some players seeing? Find better playing opportunities, less media spotlight, and more money by going overseas. Andy Gray would be an interesting case, would transfer later on twice, after most people thought his career was over. Of course, each time he proved people wrong and the transfer fee was much smaller.
[i] Ward, Andrew (2009). Football Nation: Sixty Years of the Beautiful Game (Kindle Locations 3640-3641). Bloomsbury. Kindle Edition
[ii] Ward, Andrew (2009). Football Nation: Sixty Years of the Beautiful Game (Kindle Locations 3643-3645). Bloomsbury. Kindle Edition.
[iii] Ward, Andrew (2009). Football Nation: Sixty Years of the Beautiful Game (Kindle Locations 3765-3767). Bloomsbury. Kindle Edition.