The Michael Wood Column

Wednesday 06 February, 2002

Beni Carbone: Conspiracy or circus?

Benito Carbone is set for a move to Middlesbrough, the team that tried to sign his on deadline day last year.

Is this the end of Beni The Bantams? Perhaps, but with Boro looking for borrow Beni not buy one gets the feeling that the Italian may be wearing claret and amber once again in the future.

Beni's problem, his real problem, is that although he is very good, he is not that good, not £40,000 a week good. When he sits around a table to discuss terms with the likes of Steve McClaren, and McClaren looks at how he will have to stretch his budget to he asks himself, what will Carbone give me for my money? Sure he takes a decent free kick that can win a game, but I already pay Alen Boksic £63,000 a week to do that.

Beni is a match winner yes, but not often enough for the terms he asks for. For £40,000 people want a Paul Scholes, someone who performs at the same high level week in week out. Arguably Carbone can be at a higher level that a Scholes offers, but truly he has not been that high since the 3-2 win over Leeds in the FA Cup for Aston Villa. For perspective: Scholes gets less than £40,000 a week.

For City the Carbone problem is clear. He is too expensive. If he got £20,000 a week then his wage would be outlandish but might be worth sustaining because of the level of ability he possesses, but in this league, and understanding that no player can win you games week in week out, no one is worth paying the Carbone money to. We need to get him off the wage bill because keeping him makes no sense.

So short term loans make sense. Long term they are questionable. Not only are we going to be saddled with paying Beni £40,000 a week to sit on his bum watching the World Cup all summer after a season letting other clubs get the benefit of employing him we will also soon be holding the contract of a player who is the wrong side of 32, not the prospect for a club to sign.

Ideally Benito Carbone would sign for Middlesbrough permanently and keep them up, so we got the £500,000 owed for Dean Windass. We would use his wage to get in the likes of Jamie Burt and Anthony Elding and one day roll into the Riverside a Premiership team once more to see the then 33 year old Italian still plying his trade. Worst case scenario and Beni come back from Boro after they go down and we can not sign anyone in the summer.

Of course there is another idea circulating Bradford. A conspiracy theory that suggests that when Beni Carbone says he loves City and the City fans, that he wants to stay for four years and become captain, he is utterly earnest and would do these things if it were not for the club forcing the Italian striker out.

Even David Icke would raise a smile at this notion.

City have made no secret on the club's line on Carbone. He is a great pro, or was before last week, and a superb player but he costs too much money to keep around and while we love to have him in the squad, if he can arrange a deal he can leave. This has been the club's policy, stated or otherwise, since around the time of Jim Jefferies arrival and the acceptance of Premiership relegation.

For Carbone's part he wants to play football at the highest level available to him. If that is a loan to a Premiership club then great, he will take it and try play for a move. If that is at City then (Preston excepted), he will play to the best of his ability. The club seem happy with this attitude too.

Conspiracy? Technically perhaps, but this agenda is far from hidden but is perhaps proof of the waning popularity of the City's management team in the eyes of a section of fans who seem hell bent on turning any issue into a brickbat to attack the club with. There have been false steps by Mr. Richmond and if as a City fan you were to believe that they outweighed the good he does and continues to do for the club then one would respect that opinion, but to make this issue, this transparent and obvious issue, another attack on Richmond smacks of desperation.

I will miss Benito Carbone when he goes, but at the moment his presence leaves City in something of a state of suspended animation. The funds are frozen until the Carbone issue is sorted out. Once he goes, or stays, then plans can be made but until he does City, and Geoffrey Richmond's popularity, will continue to suffer.

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