So El Nino has followed the trail of money all the way to Gangster No 1’s rotten West London door. Who’da thunk it? Why are fans and pundits so surprised by this and other so-called acts of ‘betrayal?’ Perhaps if, like a plumber’s apprentice, you had been rescued from poverty, nurtured, trained and offered a directorship by your kindly benefactor, some act of gratitude and loyalty should be expected. Footballers are all mercenaries to varying degrees and after a century of being treated like commodities to be traded from club to club or retired at the whim of managers and directors, players and agents are playing the same game.
Managers especially should look at their own conduct before lecturing players on loyalty. Even that untouchable, ‘Sir’ Alex Ferguson was allowed to pontificate about Rooney respecting the traditions of the club during the player’s contract fiasco. This is the same Sir Alex who almost broke his club apart as he battled his former buddies, The Coolmore Mafia over lucrative racehorse stud rights. How greedy and self-centred can you get? Managers are paid employees, the same as players. Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce or Harry Redknapp have got some balls moaning about greed and loyalty. That other United sacred cow, Roy Keane also loves to whine about players attitudes and their love of bling when this is the same Roy Keane who held United to ransome over his own contract, breaking their wage structure in the process. Managers who used to boast about a lack of sentimentality when ditching ageing or injured players are the first to moan once they become the object of fan or directors/owners hostilities. United’s owners and indeed fans have every right to say to SAF ‘thanks for everything mate, now fuck off!’ His retirement atleast will be spent at the races supping fine red wine.
Footballers are not role models or politicians, they are athletes and entertainers; performing monkeys in other words. No abstract test of loyalty can be applied to them in this day and age of international, globalised muti-billion pound product. No matter what the purists and the romantics say, football is not a sport any more, it’s a business as one that pays big dividends if you get it right. The English league clubs may now be controlled by Russian gangsters, Arab tyrants, American hucksters, Indian playboys and all manner of snides, criminals, pimps, deviants and fools but that’s the way it’s always been.
The myth of fan democracy at clubs like Barcelona only extends to which millionaire businessman you want to be president. Fans are deluded if they think that any player, manager, owner or administrator have their interests at heart and that they are somehow owed some kind of loyalty from any of these people. Pay Up! Sit Down! Shut Up! Fuck Off! That’s all they expect or demand of you. Get used to it.