The Increasing Cost Of Loyalty?

The players hold all the power. End of story. No, this is not another retrospective look back at Carlos Tevez and his refusal to come off the bench only to be playing again or the senior members of Chelsea causing an inside revolt amidst Andre Villas-Boas departure. This article refers to players’ true committal to the cause and the increasing cost of loyalty at football clubs. Far too often we put players on a pedestal and they don’t look like they’ll be coming down anytime soon. That’s just the way it is I’m afraid.

The Mail Online reported at the weekend that Tottenham are desperately seeking to tie midfield maestro Luka Modric to a new deal which will double the Croatian’s current £50,000 a week deal. Modric didn’t endear himself to the Spurs faithful in the summer whereby he had his head turned south west in the direction of Chelsea but eventually decided to stick out the current campaign and see where it took him. Tottenham’s season remains on a knife-edge and failure to qualify for the Champions League after remaining in the top four all season long would represent a disaster. A disaster which could have far-reaching repercussions with key statesmen such as Modric likely to consider their future if their target remains unachieved.

So amidst the doubt whether Spurs will do it or not, just throw some more money at the player and then we’ll see whether there’s a deal or no deal. The Premier League seems to have become this type of game show whereby the players are the contestants and hold all the power in their hands, and are only guided by the host or football club. In order for a show to function, there must be a contestant, and this analogy can be employed to explain managers and owners pandering nature towards some of their most talented squad members. Modric has all the cards in his hands, keeping his options open with fans and Redknapp no closer to a definitive conclusion.

‘I don’t know where we are at with Luka. I’m sure the club is looking to tie him up’ said Redknapp.

Arsenal find themselves in a similar position with Robin Van Persie and throwing money at the players is a short-term fix but leaves a sour taste in the mouth that footballers are greedy, money-grabbing and half-hearted in their loyalty. Maybe this complex is ambitious but how refreshing would it be for a player to come out publically and say I’m going to stay and try my best for the cause next time round. Of course, every player wants to win trophies immediately but a little patience would go a long way in the eyes of the fan and for the game as a whole.

It is disappointing but this unfortunate theme that players are being offered new wild contracts whilst their current one is yet to expire represents the contemporary phenomenon that football has become a bit of a circus. The Sky revolution and 24-hour sport surveillance means we scrutinise more than ever before, milking off every football outlet, shaping an opinion and degrading heroes to zeros or vice versa in very short periods of time. Nowadays it only takes back-to-back scoring, a heroic YouTube video put to some gallant music and a few punditry panels nattering positively for a new hero to be born. We saw it in the form of Andy Carroll at the start of last season, whereby he was a marauding new striking hero but a year and a bit on he is a zero in the eyes of many.

But back to the focus of the article; it is costing clubs more and more to keep their top pros. Big spending owners at Chelsea and Manchester City have introduced a culture of immediacy and impatience which is proving all but impossible to shake from the fabric of our game. There is now a fear factor in the Premier League; a fear factor as accelerated by sports media and fans that they may lose their top talents and suffer indefinitely as a result. Newcastle United have proved this term that there can be light at the end of the selling tunnel. After parting with some of their top pros, a shrewd negotiation of the transfer market has seen them improbably rise back to the top end of the division.

Whilst Luka Modric represents an exceptional talent, who wouldn’t want to be parted with by any club, fans must realise that modern-day loyalty in football is superficial and big bucks are the desperate factor called upon in trying to break the stride of a player striving for the exit door. It remains the sad truth that it only takes a bad or transitional season for certain pros to consider their future. The loyal never-say-die and redemptive cultures of old are now nothing but a distant memory.

Should clubs throw big money at their stars? Are they pandered too far too often? I’d like to know your views @