Footballer’s selfishness often starkly contrasts the blind loyalty of the fans that pay to watch them every week. As incidents involving Ashley Cole and a few others in recent weeks have once again highlighted the barrier between the country’s top stars and those who support them.
While I accept that football for them is a career, the disrespect and disloyalty footballers sometimes ignorantly show fans is sickening. The most shocking hurtful revelation to come out of Darren Bent’s big money move to Aston Villa was that the England international actually asked for a transfer at the end of his first season with Sunderland. The Black Cats rejuvenated his career after a tough spell at Tottenham Hotspur and yet at the first opportunity he wanted out, without any consideration for the team which made him relevant again. It is also highly likely despite his claims he was fulfilling a dream by playing for Aston Villa had there been substance in rumours linking him with Liverpool he would have jumped at the chance to ditch the Villains.
Grant Holt also highlighted the disloyalty regularly displayed in modern football with his transfer request this summer. The Norwich talisman’s intentions weren’t clear but his willingness to leave the club that gave him the platform to prove himself at the highest level after just one season, stunk of greed in my opinion. Whether he genuinely planned on leaving the club or was bargaining for a new contract it showed a disloyalty to the club that finally gave the journeyman, and unfairly typecasted striker a chance prove himself on the global stage.
Jermain Defoe stated he never wanted to leave White Hart Lane instantly on his re-arrival at Tottenham Hotspur. The England frontman did a great disservice to Portsmouth who offered him an opportunity to remind everyone of his goal-scoring prowess at a time when first team opportunities where rare for him at Spurs. This ignorance and lack of respect for a club who looked after him for a year further shows the ignorance and arrogance of modern footballers.
The method and motivation of footballers can also be hilarious in the wake of Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure’s transfer to Manchester City, Gael Clichy said the following: “I really believe if you are a player who thinks only about money, then you end up at Manchester City.” A quote that really came back to bite him after his transfer to the Etihad last year. So are we to believe Clichy entering the second half of his career had become financially motivated, or was the left back moving at a time when City were passed greed-mongers and genuine title contenders. Either way the disloyalty in football bow means very few players now spending longer than three years at one football club, for a multitude of reasons.
Robin Van Persie completed his first injury-free season for Arsenal and eradicated any doubts about whether or not he is a world-class performer. The Dutchman then also somewhat inevitably left the London club further highlighting how greed and ambition often outweighs loyalty. While it is accepted that footballers will move on from clubs they are adored at the somewhat fake backhaned compliments displayed by the Dutchman bothered me. Stating he would always: “feel like a Gunner” in an apologetic goodbye, that in my opinion stank of insincerity as he left the club for their title rivals.
This pragmatic mentality of footballers to try and coax the most out of their careers at the expense of the fans who grow attached to them, has also transferred over into management. Paul Lambert swiftly jumped ship from Norwich to Aston Villa after an extremely impressive debut Premier League year. Owen Coyle left Burnley to languish, ditching them for then more established Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers. However it would be short minded of me, to not accept that loyalty is not always the best policy. Steve Tilson mastered Southend United’s meteoric rise up the Football League. United managed back to back promotions to England’s second tier and a memorable league cup win over Manchester United. Lacking the resources to compete at Championship level their inevitable fall began, Tilson stuck with the Essex club and his managerial career has faltered as a result. Tilson is now managing in non-league football after Southend sacked their loyal manager during their fall. While you could argue if he was that talented of a manager he’d return and conjure up more great things. I believe timing and luck play a huge role in sport, and he may have missed his moment through being overly loyal.
While disloyalty in football can be infuriating it pales in comparison to some other examples of football power. When at the biggest club in Britain, Cristiano Ronaldo claimed he was a “slave” I almost vomited in disgust. Carlos Tevez also refusing to enter the pitch due to bizarre circumstances in a pivotal Champions League clash against Bayern Munich was also an incredible display of egotism. The levels footballers go to secure transfer deals is easily one of the most frustrating aspects of football. Clint Dempsey’s refusal to be included in the Fulham’s Premier League matchday squad due to his determination to leave the club, was an aggravating show of selfishness.
Footballers only have a 10 to 12 year window to make the most of their careers, but in the process of trying to make money and win trophies, it would be nice if they could treat the fans who help them get to where they are with more respect. Forcing through transfers, making wage demands public and disrespecting clubs you’ve played for, just furthers the divide between multi-millionaire footballers and the fans that pay to watch them.
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