11 Days Remaining

Wednesday 10th
posted by Kadeem Simmonds in Sport

KADEEM SIMMONDS looks at the signing of Pogba, Klopp’s reason for not speaking to the Sun and Westfield shopping centre taking a Thatcher-like stance on fans

WHERE do I begin this week? Manchester United breaking the world record to bring back Paul Pogba? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refusing to answer a question from the Sun? Westfield shopping centre putting up barricades to stop West Ham fans entering on match days? Staying up late to watch Olympic basketball and table tennis?

Well the last one isn’t that important or interesting. I wasn’t tired and it was on so thought why not.

But everything mentioned prior to that could each be a separate Simmonds Speaks.

However, they all happened within a week of each other and I feel it is best to look at all of them today, starting off with Pogba.

£89 million for a football player is crazy. This isn’t about whether footballers should be paid the ludicrous sums that they are or whether or not Pogba is worth that money.

What I found most interesting about this transfer are its narratives.

The Frenchman is not only the most expensive footballer, he is the most expensive black footballer, the most expensive Muslim footballer.

And the majority of the media have deemed him overrated and not worth the money.

Now I doubt whether they are consciously questioning if United should pay that sum of money to a black Muslim — or at least, I hope they aren’t.

However, I don’t remember there being such a fuss about the amount Real Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale who both moved to the Spanish capital for then world-record fees.

At 23, Pogba has the world at his feet. Having already played in a Champions League and European Championship final not to mention four league titles under his belt, the Frenchman is one of the best in his position.

He has more years playing at world class level than both Ronaldo and Bale yet he is deemed not worthy of his price tag.
Gonzalo Higuain at 30 has just moved to Juventus, where Pogba has come from, for £75m yet no-one has baulked at his valuation.

The criticism of Pogba at times has been justified. His failure to dominate in France over the summer had people questioning whether he was capable of producing in pressurised situations. The amount of goals he scores has also been a criticism of the price.

But again, when Madrid splashed £56m for Brazilian Kaka, it was deemed a bargain. A steal.

Pogba costs around £40m more and is four years younger than the former Madrid player when he moved to Spain.

The new United star is a more complete player. Is yet to enter his prime and could be at the club for at least a decade.

I must stress that I am not playing the black card with Pogba, I just find it extremely interesting that when world record transfer fees have been smashed before, there wasn’t this much scrutiny. It must be a coincidence that he is black and Muslim. Surely.

Onto Klopp. The Kop boss became a bigger cult hero on Merseyside over the weekend when a Sun reporter asked him a question and he refused to answer it.

“I don’t talk with the Sun anymore,” Klopp told reporters.

Now my immediate reaction was that he had learnt about the lies the paper told in the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy and was refusing to give any quotes to the tabloid.

However, there was more from the German.

“It’s because of a few things that will happen in the next few days.

“I think that in life — no matter how much of a public figure the person is — there are things which should remain private.

“Sometimes things must have consequences.

“I thought to myself, there are eight million newspapers, so what if I don’t speak to some.”

Now, I understand where Klopp is coming from but of all the reasons to not speak to the Sun, for me this is quite trivial.

Other papers have and will print stories about players’ personal lives.

Given the way the paper treated the families of the 96 people that lost their lives that day, I had expected Klopp to have refused any questions from the paper the moment he arrived.

I wasn’t, and am still not, sure whether the club allow the newspaper into Anfield. I wouldn’t have thought so since the city boycotted the newspaper. But even if they are banned, it seems on the surface that Klopp has been taking questions from Sun journalists.

Well done for standing up for his player but there is an argument he shouldn’t have been speaking to the paper before this weekend.

And finally Westfield. I walk through the shopping centre every day and past the Olympic Stadium to get to work.

I recently noticed that these metal “barriers” had been put up and I couldn’t work out why. I assumed it was part of their continued effort to make the rush-hour traffic more streamlined and manageable. Was I wrong.

These monstrosities are there to keep football fans out. Walking to the station on Thursday, prior to West Ham’s first match in their shiny new stadium paid for by taxpayers, I found access to certain areas, where the bars were situated, closed off.

Security were stationed by doors letting fans out but stopping them from coming in.

If you could prove that you had a valid reason for entering, like your car was parked there or you weren’t a football fan, you were given permission to enter.

Cafe Football, a restaurant for football fans, were not letting in football fans in club colours. You were allowed into Westfield if you were a member of the public not watching the game but that was it.

An old man was turned away from Cafe Football because he didn’t have ID.

Never before have I seen someone so clearly over the age of 21, he probably has grandkids of that age, being turned away from a place for not having ID.

I honestly doubt he was going to start any trouble yet he wasn’t allowed in to watch the game.

I have been in the area during the Olympics in 2012 and the Rugby World Cup last year and fans of those events were not treated like this.

They were able to wander freely around Stratford to do as they pleased.

Yet West Ham fans, who are largely working-class may I add, are being kept out. Coincidence?

The message Westfield are sending to football supporters is similar to the one Margaret Thatcher sent in her torrid time as Prime Minister, when she tried to force through the Football Spectators Act 1989 which would have seen fans giving their passport number to become part of a membership scheme and receive an identity card so they could attend away matches — you are troublemakers and we will not tolerate you around the rest of society.