Posts Tagged ‘loyalty’

The Beautiful Game

6 September, 2008

What a wonderful few days for football. The sagas played out on transfer deadline day and beyond may yet prove to be the events that saved the wonderful game. In particular I’m referring to the Manchester City, Robinho and Berbatov transfers, Curbishley’s resignation and the farce that is still bubbling away beneath the surface at Newcastle.

For me the issue at stake here is ‘loyalty‘. Surely then any footballer who accepts a transfer to another club is being disloyal. I think the argument on this point ends there, except that you do have to take account of other factors that may make life hell for the poor little millionaires as they attempt to ply their trade. Personality clashes with the managers, training ground fights with fellow players, the media pressure of being followed everywhere, the choice of hairstyle and clothes, the kiss and tell stories, the WAGs. It just makes life hell for them and I guess they have to move on to keep their agents employed.

I suppose we have Jimmy Hill to thank to some extent. Campaigning for the abolition of the maximum wage of £20 a week (yes, really!) for footballers all those years ago was an early indication that money is more important than the joy of soccer, and that footballers have employment rights. The Bosman ruling just had to happen eventually and loyalty was blown right out of the window.

Now we have a word to rhyme with loyalty – Royalty. The Abu Dhabi United Group were looking to buy a football club. Any football club. To make them the best team in the world. They have the resources (oil in this case) and therefore enough money to do just what they want. So before the ink is dry on their own contract they snatch Robinho from Chelsea. That made me laugh. Even funnier was the fact that they couldn’t tempt Berbatov across the city of Manchester with a few extra millions. Spurs were ready to do the deal, apparently Berbatov still mistakenly believes that United are going to be the best team in the world. I have news for all of them. All over the UK on Saturday afternoon (in fact most Saturday afternoons) there were chants of ” …. by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen”. None of these were singing about the Manchester clubs, or indeed any of the premier league. Such is the loyalty being shown by football fans all over the country that we still believe our own club is the place to be. The place where eventually all our dreams will come true.

I have to accept that Layer Road was hardly the place where all our wildest dreams were going to come true but we did make it to 10th in the Championship at the first attempt. If a few other games had swung the other way then who knows? If the unthinkable had happened it would have been disastrous for Colchester United as we know it. We have to earn our place in the elite of football, but I’m not sure that I want them to be ‘up there’ while commerce runs the show. I’d rather see teams compete on footballing ability.

I see that Sir Alan Sugar is predicting that this latest phase in football will eventually blow out when the rich kids get fed up with their toys. I certainly hope so. I’m already bored of them and I’m really excited by the possibility a round of huge FA punishments being handed out to the ‘big four’ when they go into administration. Manchester United v Leeds, Chelsea v Liverpool, Arsenal v Manchester City – great League One matches in about 5 years from now.

Who is to blame? It doesn’t matter really since money is at the root of it all. We are told that significant amounts of the money being ploughed into the game is being used for youth development and other such schemes. What a load of cobblers. Manchester City’s assistant coach has this week confirmed that the new money they have found will effectively kill the future opportunities for their youth players. Arsenal have been developing the youth of other countries for years while stifling the youth of England. Anyway, money being spent at grass roots doesn’t do any good really. If someone has talent and they have the desire to play the beautiful game they will find a way through. We want to watch people playing football for the love of the game, not because it’s the road to fortune.

Take a look at this article. It doesn’t take much imagination (premier league supporters may have to work at this) to replace American football with real football (Association Football – soccer) and to translate husband to wife, and daughter to son if necessary. The sentiments are exactly the same. My wife is therefore a real football hero in the sense described in that account. How many real football fans out there need to acknowledge the same?

Please give us back our beautiful game.