The Michael Wood Column

Thursday 04 April, 2002

I think we can get Greenacre but I would be prepared to let him go

There was a spring in the step of every City fan when Joe Kinnear revealed that the Luton would not be getting Chris Greenacre because he was to join the Bantams instead.

It's always nice to know that your bigger than someone, even if it's only Luton.

Moreover though it showed a good direction for City to be going in. Here is one of the best hit men in the lower leagues and City are going for him. It would be so like the club of the past to take a glance, as we are rumoured to have done at the likes of Jason Roberts, Bobby Zamora and Neil Harris, before making a safer signing, an old hand who gives you want you see and nothing more. Dean Saunders was never going to get any better was he.

If Greenacre signed a four year deal for City we would stand to get the best part of a promising career and a decent fee if he moved on. It could be a good deal from all angles provided that the wages are right, right for City that is.

Geoffrey Richmond spelled it out when asked about the Greenacre deal "The chances are we will lose out because we will no longer be paying the wages going forward that we have been paying in the past." The days of Benito Carbone's £40,000, Ashley Ward's £18,000 and Stan Collymore's £17,000 are officially over and rightly so. The policy of throwing money at the wage bill has failed. For an Ashley Ward we could have had two Dean Windasses (purl. Windi?). It never added up.

Rumour had it that Chris Greenacre was after £10,000 a week for his services. Remembering that as good as he has been for Mansfield he was shown the door by Manchester City when he tried play at a higher level this is excessive. He is asking for proven player wages on the strength of a decent season at the lower levels. Geoffrey Richmond would not wear that with Robbie Blake, one doubts he will do with the 24 year old striker from Wakefield.

City built the promotion team on paying decent money to decent players. Three years ago Peter Beagrie and Stuart McCall's got a reported £6,500 all in, good money for good players with proven track records. In that team Robbie Blake was picking up around £2,500. Rampant football inflation has surely not quadrupled wages at this level. Perhaps it has, but if that is the case I think we should try opt out of it. £500,000 a year to one striker is a lot of money in these post-ITV Digital times. If that is what it takes to get Chris Greenacre into claret and amber, I'd rather not.

However I do not share Geoffrey Richmond's pessimistic appraisal of the Greenacre chase. Without a Premiership club interested in the player it is hard to see who will have the money to sign him. Rotherham are not millionaire, Sheffield Wednesday's Premiership payments run out this summer and Luton, well they are not big enough. If all three clubs come in with low bids after following the logic outlined above then it is unlikely that the player will not sign for any of us and on the pitch City represent the most attractive possibilities to the West Yorkshire born striker. Realistically the Owls and the Millers will struggle to better there performance of this season. If City repeat this finish heads will roll.

So my advice to Geoffrey Richmond and Nicky Law this summer is to make decent offers for decent players. At this level no one player is worth extraordinary wages. If Chris Greenacre won't sign then Jamie Burt, Anthony Elding or Tony Thorpe will. Not enough clubs are flush with cash to fuel crazed bidding wars for these players and City, looking to recruit, with a slimmed down squad and wage bill and first team places in the First Division to offer, are sitting pretty at the head of the good employers list.

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