As footballers speak to the media of any form, be it print, television or online, so often is there the capacity for comments to get misconstrued. But as ex-Spurs midfielder Niko Kranjcar began voicing his somewhat toxic views on the Luka Modric situation, the Croatian certainly didn’t seem to lose anything in translation.
But whilst Kranjcar may simply have been indulging in his right of free speech, when do such comments overstep the line of footballing etiquette, a bit of dignity and a touch of class? Any remaining goodwill Spurs supporters held towards him has evaporated in the blink of an eyelid. But however you frame it, it’s certainly not done the North London club any good during a period of high tension.
Niko Kranjcar’s arrival at Spurs in 2009 was heralded as an all-round good bit of business for the football club. His three-year spell at Portsmouth had showcased his exquisite technical skills amongst a backdrop of classy midfield play. Having just turned 25, his best years of football were still ahead of him and his past relationship with Harry Redknapp suggested that his acquisition could be a fruitful one for Spurs.
Unfortunately though, as Spurs began to taste further successes in the Barclays Premier League, the Croatian’s influence steadily declined at White Hart Lane. But that isn’t to say that his spell was an overwhelming failure.
Kranjcar made 72 appearances in all competitions for the Lilywhite’s. Of course, the Croatian only started just over half of those, but his spell couldn’t quite be compared to the ill-fated spell of Giovani dos Santos (who ironically may have a future at the club if reports are to be believed).
Kranjcar played a pretty prominent role in the team that first acquired Champions League football during the 09/10 spell and it’s hardly like he was completely disposed of the following year. He featured in six of Spurs’ Champions League fixtures, including away trips to Werder Bremen and AC Milan. Granted his final season was more Stevenage and Shamrock Rovers, but he tasted some champagne moments as well as the lemonade ones.
This is what makes his current comments a little bit sorer for Spurs fans. The club didn’t treat him like dirt. He had chances to showcase his talents; the beginning of last season saw the Croatian start the opening two fixtures against Manchester United and Manchester City respectively. After those two performances, it’s difficult to imagine he had half of Europe queuing up to take his signature.
Tongue in cheek aside, you can however, relate an element of sympathy with Kranjcar. Spurs supremo Daniel Levy is a hard-nosed businessmen and he will squeeze every penny out of transfer deals. That can have its well-documented disadvantages, but it’s his steely policy that has seen Spurs elevated as one of the nation’s best-run clubs. Did that necessarily provoke these sort of comments though?
“Levy did everything to protect the interest of the club and make a profit. He has also used lies to deceive the public, which is allowed in business, but if you were in Luka’s shoes, you would probably do the same as him.
“In my three years at White Hart Lane, I never had lunch or a serious talk with the president. There was no need. It’s not customary for bosses to invite you for a cup of coffee, even if you’re their next-door neighbour like I was, in Cuffley.
“I know from my own experience how difficult these people are and how hard it is to break out of a contract with them…that is their speciality: they set unreasonably high transfer demands, but the absurd thing is they always get what they ask for.”
Now whichever way you view that, calling out your ex-employer as a liar, is a pretty damning incitement. Kranjcar is well within his right to say whatever he wishes now that he plays for another football club. Although this feels like he’s overstepped the line, no matter how frustrated he may have been.
The club paid him a good wage whilst he played for the club, introduced him to Champions League football and the fans thought highly of him whenever he played. Looking to support a friend and a fellow countrymen is one thing, but divulging you’re personal relationship with the chairman is unnecessary.
Furthermore, lampooning Levy wasn’t enough for Kranjcar, as the Croatian also saw fit to deem Dynamo Kiev a bigger club than his former employers. And it’s this sort of comment that sees the tides of favour turn against him.
Players want to win the affections of their new club; fans understand that. But what Kranjcar has done is cheap and tacky. It’s not even his choice of words- he could have picked a far more offensive line. But it’s the principal. He has chosen to publicly badmouth the chairman and aim a sly dig at the club, whilst he defends his mate who has spat his dummy out because his employers won’t let him renege on a lucrative long-term contract, he signed only two years ago.
And it’s this point that seems to personify the real issue of relatability between fans and players. Some may disagree, but the fact is a lot of supporters can understand an element of Luka Modric’s point. If one of the best companies in the world tried to headhunt you and double your wages, you’d probably be looking to leave too. Modric isn’t a Spurs fan by birth and Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs in the world.
But the immoral manner in which he’s gone about it is simply wrong on every level. And seeing players such as Niko Kranjcar, someone who has always come across relatively intelligent and astute, defend such a stance, only serves to push supporters further away.
Spurs stil have more than a few loose-ends to tie up before the season begins. The Modric situation was fraught enough as it is. The airing of dirty laundry in public won’t help anyone, especially not Tottenham Hotspur.
How do you feel about Niko Kranjcar’s tirade? Well within his rights or well out of line? Let me know how you see it, get involved in the Spurs talk on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and bat me your views.