It would appear the days of hard graft and determination are long gone in football. Today the culture of instant gratification extends well beyond the terraces and into the hearts and minds of many of our top footballers. Rather than knuckle down and fight for their places, too many now seek the easy way out with a potentially lucrative move elsewhere.
Players may argue that their careers are short and time is a finite commodity, they would be right. However the degree of knee-jerkism shown by so many Premier League stars is in my opinion totally unfounded.
“I’ll have to think about that when it’s necessary. January is still a few months ahead.”
“I have spoken to the manager but it will remain private between us. Things can happen in a split second and change my situation. That can happen tomorrow or next weekend. In that case, we will speak differently in January. I have to be ready for that.”
A former Gunners favourite who has slipped down the pecking order behind the imperious combination of Per Mertersacker and Laurent Koscielny, for me he needs to show a little more patience and perhaps loyalty.
The nature of Arsenal’s obligations this season would suggest that Vermaelen will be called upon with regularity. Competing on numerous fronts with the potential for injury and loss of form, the Belgian would be much better placed knuckling down and proving himself once more. Wenger wouldn’t want to lose someone that provides quality competition for the rest of his centre halves, so the only one pushing for a move must be the player himself. As Club Captain I think he owes Arsenal a little more than to bolt when things get tough.
His defence is an understandable one though:
“Of course, never playing will not be the ideal situation for me to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure,” he told the Daily Mail.
“People ask me if I panic because I’m not playing a lot but I’m not.”
Herein lies a problem. While we should expect players to show a degree of patience, it is difficult when they have a yearning to represent their country at an upcoming World Cup. For Belgium particularly this drive is even greater, their first appearance since 2002 with a squad genuinely considered as the dark horses of Rio 2014, it a significant draw for Vermaelen.
My issue though is why can’t he achieve all this at Arsenal? A man who has previously led the team from the heart of defence only to have his recent years dogged by injury and loss of form. I really hope that during these apparent discussions, Wenger had the sense to tell Vermaelen that he should work to prove himself at Arsenal and with that the international call is merely a peripheral inevitability.
I’m not trying to single out Vermaelen because he clearly isn’t the sole case of this worrying lack of patience. Up and down the country players and agents continue to manoeuvre themselves towards new clubs at the first sign of any hardship or difficulty. Perhaps this is the great problem; agents whose ambition seems to be the lining of their own back pockets rather than the genuine interests of players and to a lesser extent clubs.
A hefty signing on fee often drives agents towards moving players around even when there is only weak reasoning to do so. Agent power has had a huge effect on the patience of modern players, and in reality it is an issue that is detrimental to both respective clubs and the players alike.
Someone like Vermaelen would be much better off heeding the advice of someone with actual footballing credentials like Arsene Wenger, than the self-interest of a professional football agent.
Wenger may have the interests of Arsenal at heart, but the secret to good management is how one deals with the individual needs of their players at well. Wenger will know that they both seek a mutually beneficial outcome and that involves a fully firing and driven Vermaelen turning out in the red of Arsenal.
If player and manager can get the balance right who knows we may yet see the Belgian turning out in Rio next summer.
Do footballers like Vermaelen need to show a little more patience?
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