There has been a lot of talk over the past few days about Samir Nasri and his seeming reluctance to sign a new deal with Arsenal. This, as is usually the case, has promoted angry responses from Arsenal fans who feel the club aren’t doing enough to keep him (why not pay him what he wants then ignore the reason tickets keep rising), or the player himself should show some more loyalty than what we are getting at the minute. Leaving aside the fact that the club have offered him numerous contracts which he has refused to agree, the club are right not to be held to ransom. But that’s not what I wish to discuss here.
Player loyalty. Is it a thing of the past?
Sure, there are some players who could be said to be loyal, the Newcastle players like Nolan who stayed and helped their team win promotion after having been part of the team which succeeded in getting relegated in the first place. This is how it should be. This is what fans want to see – contracts that are honoured, not players who bail out when the going gets tough. We want to know that if you helped get us into a hole you will stick around long enough to help us back out of it.
Unfortunately, top players don’t see it like this.
Imagine you are in a job which requires you to go to places such as Bermuda, New York and Paris. You have a nice six-figure salary, a company Mercedes, and a ten-bedroom mansion. Now imagine you hadn’t done your job to the best of your ability, but you weren’t alone. Your colleagues had been slacking too and your manager? Well, let’s just say he was smoking something funny while he was making a lot of important decisions. As a result, profits are down, cutbacks need to be made. You’re no longer going to New York or Paris, you’re off to the Isle of Man (no offence), you’ve been moved into a terrace house and your Mercedes is now a mini. Oh yeah, and your six figure salary is now four.
As part of the problem you should accept these cuts, but you won’t especially not when a few other companies start sniffing around, wanting to reinstate all your previous privileges and maybe throw in a few more.
It’s not your company, why should you stay?
And this is how many footballers see clubs.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s true, and there’s nothing at all we can do about.
Most football fans, and I include myself in this, are hypocrites. We know all this yet we still get angry when a player fails to show the required standard of loyalty. I make no apologies for this, and nor should any of the rest of you who also feel this way. For fans, the club will always come above all else, to be protected from all those that are viewed as a threat, against those who would betray and inflict pain upon that which we love above all else.
We want to know that the players love the club in the same way that we do, even though we know that to them it is just a job. We want to know that if they are part of a team which underperforms they will not bitch about not winning things but instead will look at the part they played in the poor room of form. Unfortunately, football no longer works like that.
Did it ever, when you look back through the rose-tinted and misty glasses of time, back before players could earn more in a week than players used to earn in their careers? Probably. Back then it was about the football and the prestige of playing for a top club. Now, unfortunately, for a lot of players, it is about money. No longer do players play where they want simply because they want to. Take Tevez for example, who has recently expressed a desire to play for Boca Juniors again but states that they couldn’t afford him (transfer or wages) but if he really wants to play where he states his heart lies, how is this an issue? He has three years left on his City contract, run it down, move to Boca for free and play for what they can afford to pay you, it’s not like the money he has amassed while at United and City would leave him rummaging through dumpsters to feed his family. If he can’t wait three years, I’m sure he could buy out his own contract. No matter what his mouth says his heart feels, the fact is that it is the paycheque at the end of the week which matters most.
He is not alone.
No-one said it was sane, it is football after all.
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