In a week of madness the transfer window closes in a flurry of excitement, Curbishley has satisfied the bookies by being the first manager in the Premier League to leave his job, and Kevin Keegan has walked out on Newcastle, again. Sky Sports News have never had it so good, I don't remember seeing one re-run this week - it's been that exciting.
What has actually happened though?
Well Man Utd have continued to do what ever they want to, irrespective as to contractual obligations, FA (UEFA or FIFA) rules and regulations or moral decency; Man City have joined that exclusive club of institutions that are run out of the pocket of a rich man who has more money that he knows what to do with; and West Ham and Newcastle have raised the white flag in their war on a Champions League place.
In more detail Man Utd have continued to spend money they they don't have by remortgaging their future revenues to spend the money today. I have not looked at their accounts so cannot say for sure if they are able to continue to spend at this rate of if they will one day have to pay off the loans, but for now it doesn't really matter. The way in which they conducted the transfer of Berbatov (or the way Spurs did so) has, I believe, brought the whole game into disrepute. I added the Spurs comment as we will probably never know if Spurs were using the "Man Utd do not have permission to talk to the player" comment for their own personal ends. The suggestion is that Man Utd payed a higher fee (blood money) to buy Spurs' silence. It could, in reality, be any number of things; keeping fans appeased, making the player out to be the bad party, the list goes on.
One thing that it does signify is that Spurs have had to accept that they are not in the same league as the top four. What ever the 'reasons' are they have now lost Carrick, Keane and Berbatov to the teams that have Champions League Football and in so doing have massively reduced their chances of getting it themselves.
Man City are a revelation. I was quite enjoying seeing Shinawatra go under and was looking forward to the first lesson being learned about the horrors of foreign investment. I actually quite like City, well I don't hate them. I am certainly looking forward to seeing Man Utd being humbled by their rivals. Their splash in the transfer market for Robhino looks like a rushed gamble, but if you are worth billions £32.5m plus wages is a drop in the ocean.
What interests me much more are the shenanigans that took place at both West Ham and Newcastle. If we put aside the emotional interests in Curbishley being involved with Charlton for so long, and the irrational belief on Tyneside that Keegan in the saviour there seems to be a consistent thread.
It was not that long ago that Newcastle were a top four side themselves, 4th in 2002, 3rd in 2003 and 5th in 2004. Bobby Robson was well past normal retirement age and not in great health, but was pushed out the door in a disrespectful fashion - not something that surprises me about Newcastle. Since then they have been nowhere near the Champions League, and this at a time when it was most financially beneficial to be involved.
Sam Allardyce was brought in to turn Newcastle from a glamorous team to a winning, functional team. He lasted eight months. It was clear that he either had to play lovely football or start winning immediately. January 2008 and the return of the Saviour. I have no idea what conversations Keegan had with Ashley before he came in, but there was speculation that the only reason he didn't spend £50m in January was that the transfer window closed too quickly.
This summer Newcastle have spent nothing like that, and Keegan has gone. The justification for his departure has been put down to a lack of being able to manage, but either way it is clear that there was not £50m available to spend on players.
West Ham are a slightly different situation. Richard Murray suggested in June that the owners at Upton Park had run out of money, and from the little interest I have had in them this summer they have, like us, been net sellers. Curbishley is not the best wheeler dealer in the transfer market, but he makes few howlers. The signings he made in January 2007 were all over price, the wages were all way too high, and none of the players could be off loaded for what was paid. However, it is not easy to sign players when you are in trouble and desperate. It is not helped when you have a new Charmian that is bragging about how much money he is going to throw at it. Thus I would say that Curbishley, by avoiding relegation, can be excused those signings.
Last summer Curbishley over spent on several players, but he was still working under a regime that was aiming for Champions League football and 'had money to burn'. The players did not manage to achieve what you would have expected from that level of investment, but 'Rome wasn't built in a day'.
Clearly there has been a change in the thinking at West Ham, and even though I don't want to get bogged down with the day to day events it is clear that they no longer genuinely aspire to a top four finish.
The balance of power in English football is changing. Arsenal are the only club in the top four that are not owned by 'foreigners' and they could well be the most at risk if Man City are going to step up to the plate. Newcastle and West Ham have both had significant injections of capital in recent seasons yet both have now at least postponed their drive for the Champions League.
It suddenly makes our summer seem a lot less depressing and our sabbatical in the second tier of English football much more palatable.