The forthcoming winter World Cup in Qatar has presented a number of problems to top-level teams this season.
However, now the tournament is here and the Premier League has started its six-week break, clubs face the task of keeping their players whose nations didn’t qualify – or weren’t selected by their countries – match fit for the return of top-flight football on 26 December.
Sure, they can get a head start on the Christmas shopping and put in some quality time on games console but, after a while, even that might get a bit boring.
Step forward Northern Premier League Premier Division side Ashton United.
The non-league club have submitted a, presumably VERY tongue in cheek, loan bid for Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.
Haaland, who has scored 23 goals in all competitions for City since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, won’t be featuring in Qatar after Norway failed to qualify, so City’s local ‘rivals’ have asked if they could have him on a 28-day loan deal.
Boss Michael Clegg is hoping the potential to come on the club’s Christmas do in Newcastle could help sway the Norwegian’s mind.
“We’re in the hunt for a striker so we thought why not,” boss Michael Clegg told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s been hard for any of the teams in our league to get any momentum so I’m sure slotting the big man in would only help us climb the table. I’m sure he’d hit the ground running and I’d be hoping for a minimum of six goals a half from him.
“My mate is the kitman at City so I’ve been asking him who else we could maybe take from them.”
|Manchester City||Ashton United|
|Division||Premier League||Northern Premier League Premier Division|
|Record signing||Jack Grealish (£100m from Aston Villa in 2021)||Andy Whittaker (£9,000 from Netherfield in 1994)|
|Premier League titles||Six||Zero|
Clegg added: “I think we’d have four or maybe five games while he’d be here and he could even come on our Christmas do in Newcastle.”
Ashton is just six miles from City’s Etihad Stadium home and the town does have fine World Cup pedigree – England’s 1966 hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst and Three Lions team-mate Jimmy Armfield were born there, as was Italian midfielder Simone Perrotta, who won the trophy in 2006.
The transfer window is still open in non-league so, theoretically speaking, City could let him go to the Hurst Cross side in time for next week’s trip to Lancaster City, who are eight points below the Robins in 17th place.
The non-league side say they are yet to hear a response from the Premier League champions. Maybe don’t hold your breath on that one guys.
According to boss Pep Guardiola, Haaland is going to spend the break on holiday in Marbella and back in Norway with family before returning to training with City, who are second in the Premier League.
But who knows, maybe he could be swayed into spending a month with Ashton and spark a wave of similar transfers?
Mohamed Salah to Marine? Miguel Almiron to South Shields? Martin Odegaard to Barnet?
Probably not, no. But still, worth asking.