Transfer Deadline Special: Loyalty? What you talkin’ about Willis?

There have been a few surprising transfers this window, and it baffles me as each one seems to create waves through the football world. A lot of the talk on Twitter has seen people expressing disbelief at players showing an apparent lack of loyalty in the decisions they are making about where they are going to play their football. They should be more loyal, it’s all about money etc etc. Well it is all about money and ambition, so don’t go kidding yourselves.

It has been rather slow progress so far in changing people’s opinions about this subject and people still seem surprised that an apparent loyalty for a club is not there from a player, but the signs have been there for years that loyalty is dead in football. We are seeing this right now in Owen Hargreaves potentially signing for Manchester City. I think fair play but you won’t get game time. Some United fans have wished him well but others are reacting like they have come home after a bitch of a day and found Hargreaves in bed with their Mrs! Guys this shouldn’t be a surprise and for me things started to change over 10 years ago.

A move that signalled the death of loyalty was Sol Campbell to Arsenal. Sol Camp-bell was a player educated (in part) and given his opportunity by Tottenham where he would spend 9 years as a player. He was one of the first high profile players to really make use of the Bosman ruling when he signed for Tottenham’s arch-rivals Arsenal, sparking Spurs fans to make Campbell public enemy number one and who can blame them? I mean your player goes to your arch enemies for nothing after you have contributed massively to him becoming the player he was at the time – how’s that for a kick in the teeth? No money for a player probably worth top-whack who will be near-impossible to replace? But for Sol Campbell this was just business.

Campbell was one of the world’s top defenders and therefore deserved the highest wages he could get and to play in the world’s top football competition, the Champions League. Take out the sentiment and rivalry between the two clubs and this is simply a logical business decision. For fans that have an emotional attachment to a club, in this case Spurs, this was a knife to the heart. Emotion took over and all reasonable thinking about the situation went and only hatred was left; Spurs fans would have happily seen Campbell hanging from the rafters at White Hart Lane.

Not only was this one of the classic inter-rival moves but it was the first transfer of note where the Bosman ruling showed it could be at its most brutal and how much it would change football and the attitudes of agents and players forever.

As soon as the Bosman rule passed there was a shift of power, players and agents became empowered in an environment which was previously ruled by clubs. Players were given opportunities to make business decisions that they didn’t need to make before. Players coming in to the final 12 months of their contracts also had more power.

Perhaps the best example of this is the differences between the situations of Samir Nasri at Arsenal and Luka Modric at Spurs. With under 12months to run on Nasri’s Arsenal contract Nasri knew he could force a move if the right suitors came knocking. Nasri, or more so his agent, had the power to make a deal happen; agent knows Mancini rates the player, calls city to let them know that a deal can be done, simple. More money for Nasri and more chance of trophies despite being a lynch-pin at Arsenal.

Modric on the other hand would have put out via his agent that he would be willing to leave Spurs if the right money came in, but because Levy signed him on a long term deal last year, he has him by the short and curlies. If Levy says no, that player is not going anywhere unless the deal comes about under extreme circumstances. Neither Nasri or Modric have any loyalty to either Arsenal or Spurs respectively, they want to move somewhere they can compete for trophies, play in the best competitions and earn the most money. They don’t think like a fan, they think like someone looking for a better job.

But fans are coming round to the reality that the Transfer Window can bring. Adebayor has signed for Spurs, arguably one of the Spurs fans most hated players. Initially a lot of resistance to the signing, then logic kicked in; Adebayor is probably one of the best available, let’s take this as a positive during a relatively quiet summer, he improves the team.  No doubt a few will hate him, maybe boo him when he plays, but why? Emotion? Ex-Arsenal player? He has signed to help his career, to maximise it and this will only help Spurs. Arsenal fans will now be able to boo him even more, but hopefully this is due to a lack of respect rather than a lack of loyalty.

Players need to remember that although loyalty and such sentiment may be dead in football, respect should still be there. Samir Nasri was still performing as Arsenal’s best before his transfer finalised, but Modric has been a shadow of himself because he is pre-occupied with a move that logically is a good one. Modric has no loyalty to Spurs, he does to himself, but what he should have is respect for the club and the fans regardless of how Levy handles the situation.

There may be one shocking deal per window that really knocks fans back, makes them angry and gets peoples backs up. This summer it has shown that anything can now happen in football. Who would have predicted 2 of Arsenal’s top 3 players would leave the club for domestic and European rivals. Fabregas has loyalty to Barcelona as a player and as a fan. These players are few and far between. No player from abroad will have no loyalty to any English team. Money, ambition and logic will rule all top players in football today and next time you see a transfer that makes you think WTF, ask yourself a simple question: Is it a good business deal for the player or not.

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  1. Seb says:

    Loyalty in football is a thing of the 60′s those days are well gone now. Prices for us fans are far too high and we are the ones with loyalty, not the clubs or the players. Sometimes it hard to understand if someone moves to a lesser club or a rival, but its part and parcel of being a fan. Respect is what I want to see more of, loyaty is unrealistic now!

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