Loyalty, it’s a funny old word isn’t it? We’re all loyal to our friends, family and partners (unless your name is John Terry that is), but when it comes to football it goes to a whole different level.
When you’re a football fan you will stay forever loyal. Through thick and thin, conference or Premier League, you’ll continue singing that you support your team until you die. But for those employed by the game, managers and players, loyalty seems to go as far as your drive or as far as wages allow.
Take Darren Bent for example. I think I can speak for most fans when I voice my disbelief that he has traded in Sunderland (who at the time of writing were sixth in the league) for Villa who are currently 17th.
Now we’ve all been there and moved jobs for extra cash or better prospects. But why on earth has Darren flown the nest? He may be receiving more cash but for a man who has declared that he wants to be back in the England squad regularly, what use will Villa be to his England career?
I doubt Capello will make any trips to Derby or Watford to see him play next season.
Was it the cash? Or does he prefer to be the best player in a struggling team? I doubt we’ll ever know, but his move has seen outrage from fans and managers alike questioning first his sanity and secondly his loyalty.
They’re not alone, Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has publically said that Sunderland fans have ‘every right to feel massively let down’ by Darren Bent’s departure for Aston Villa.
Hold the phone…
Is this the pot calling to call the kettle black? Is he suffering in incredible lapse of short term memory loss? Is this the same man that early in his managerial career changed clubs at the same rate that he changed his Y-fronts?
Any disconsolate supporters in need of understanding should get in touch with Wigan or Crystal Palace fans who directly experienced similar issues when Bruce walked out on both clubs in the space of six months in 2001 to take jobs elsewhere.
Now Bruce probably had his own reasons for moving (cash anyone?), but the fact that he is now mouthing off in the press about Bent beggars belief. And it’s not just Bent that’s getting an earful. Houllier has also been at the end of Bruce’s wrath for poaching Bent from under his nose.
The irony is that Bruce will have to replace Bent with someone from another club, who he’ll poach from another manager – which will turn the subject of loyalty, once again, on its head. Football is a business and loyalty is as long as a player or managers own aspirations go. Gone are the days of Mabbut, Adams and Giggs.
With United, the most successful team of the past 20 years having the longest serving players averaging just five years, isn’t it time we realised that loyalty and football no longer mix in the same circles?