Three years ago I went to Middlesbrough Vs Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season. Rumours were circulating that Dimitar Berbatov had refused to play in an attempt to force through his transfer to Manchester United. There was serious discussion amongst the fans on whether or not he should be booed. When the moment came at the start of the second half, the fans were divided. Some booed and were angry at those who didn’t, those that didn’t boo were angry at those who had, there were scuffles, Spurs lost and everyone was angry.
I didn’t boo Berbatov and I do not intend to boo Modric, there are several reasons for this. First, I like Modric, as a player and as a person. He is talented but humble and he is hard-working and ambitious. Just like Berbatov, it has been a pleasure to watch him these last three years.
Second, I did not expect any particular allegiance from him, if Modric was playing for love he would probably still be in Croatia. He is a professional, he has come here to forge a career and he is doing that very successfully. It is a logical step for him to want to further that career and despite how painful it is to admit, Chelsea can offer him more in both footballing and financial terms. It always surprises me when fans expect a player’s loyalty to match their own. Surely nobody expects that of William Gallas, why would anyone expect it of Modric.
Third, as a personal choice, I do not boo my own players, I’ll boo the team if they put on a woeful display and I’ll boo El-Hadji Diouf because I don’t like the man, but singling out a player because his head has been turned is unnecessary, divisive and creates a bad atmosphere.
Of course I understand that fans feel betrayed, Tottenham are trying to grow and Modric is integral to the club’s ambitions, his choice to go to our rivals is insensitive but I think if you look at his character you know there is no spite, no malice. He just wants to play at the highest possible level.
I recognise also that fans pay a huge amount of money to attend games and expect freedom of expression in their ticket price, they are right to assume this but would be wrong to boo just because they can, if Modric comes out and plays his socks off, then why should he be booed? If he refuses to play then everyone can give him hell.
Modric is allowed to want to move on and Spurs are allowed to keep hold of him, he may be unhappy but if he continues to deliver on the pitch then we should continue to support him and appreciate his football. Fingers crossed he’ll still be strutting his stuff at the Lane next season, if so I’ll be behind him all the way to the top four.
Who really deserves a good booing, who are our favourite pantomime villains? Tell me at: http://twitter.com/#!/philipwroe