Unfortunately becoming something of the norm in football
The new season is barely a month old, and already the likes of Hugo Lloris, Bacary Sagna, Marouane Fellaini have all spoke about their employers in unflattering terms.
Newcastle’s Senegalese striker Ba is the latest to come out and publicly express his unhappiness, much to the annoyance of his manager Alan Pardew.
Ba explained on Monday night how he was ‘not so happy’ with how things have been going for him of late, with his agent declaring if things did not improve for his client they would ‘be looking for other solutions.’
The comments from the above mentioned players have drawn angry responses from managers and supporters, but sadly they should not be surprised.
Lloris, Sagna and Fellaini all made their comments during the International break, a time that is no longer just seen as a opportunity to represent your country, but to voice concerns about your club and engineer moves by the means of your native press.
Foreign players appear to feel more comfortable conversing with the press in their native tounge, rather than with the UK media. How often is it the case that comments are made which are claimed to be ‘lost in translation?’
The vast majority of player outbursts come at a time when they can avoid immediate confrontation, and have the protection of their International teammates and management.
The players involved are all aware of what they are doing, and voicing their concerns is often a calculated process. They will also be aware their comments are more likely to be heard, with journalists needing to fill collumn inches during an international break .
Demba Ba was in a position of power the moment he made his comments, having come off the bench to score twice at Goodison Park.
With the fans singing his name, Ba saw this as the ideal time to give his opinion on why things have not been so perfect for him at the Sports Direct Arena of late.
It puts Pardew in an awkward and uncomfortable position, admitting he “can’t keep everyone in the squad happy.” With Ba doing his job on the pitch, it makes it all the more difficult for Pardew to discipline him for his comments.
Player power is a force that has been growing and developing season upon season, and one that is without doubt here to stay. As more money has been bought into the game, players are made millionaires by their clubs within a couple of years, and know if they perform well have the power to demand more.
It is all well and good to say footballers should put up or shut up, but that is not ever going to be the case. Young, ambitious, millionaires with an ego are not going to stay quiet if things are not perfect for them, especially if they know their worth to the team.
With comments like these unhelpful and distracting, the question remains as to what can managers do to avoid these situations?
Unless you are Sir Alex Ferguson, who holds such power and authority the answer is not so much.
If you are David Moyes or Alan Pardew, do you want to discipline the likes of Fellaini and Ba and risk losing a key player to your squad?
The old ethos of no one player is bigger than the team remains true, and it would be great to see the players have the book thrown at them by their managers.
Whether this happens remains to be seen, but sadly with player power at an all time high, you feel it will not be the case.