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Is There Any Loyalty Left In Football?

‘Player Power’ seems to be at its peak. We’re starting to hear more and more stories about players refusing to play, going against their contract, to try and force something, the majority to get a move out of the club. Which makes you ask the question, is there any loyalty left in the game? Or are the ‘one man-club’ days gone now, as money plays an even bigger part in the modern game.

I’d like to start by saying I understand when players move for money. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t annoy me and I won’t complain if a player moves because he’ll get a fatter pay cheque, because in some situations, it does aggravate me. But I understand it. It’s life. Everyone would do it. Everyone already does it. For example, if you were working behind a bar, then a new, modern, ‘prestige’ bar opened down the road and offered you a job there, for three times your current wages, you must really love your current owner if you say no, because the fact is the majority of people will say yes. Everyday (presumably) people take new jobs, and the main reason they take it, is because of money, but I still believe loyalty and repaying your owners (managers/club in a football case) should play a factor. Which doesn’t seem to be happening in the football world.

Not all of the may have retired, but they practically have retired, at least to me.

This summer, we lost some great players, who were also loyal players and will be looked back upon as legends. Players like Alessandro Del Piero, loyal to The Bianconeri over the years, Alessandro Nesta and Filippo Inzaghi, both loyal to AC Milan. Then, not from this summer, but Paolo Maldini also retired a couple of years a go, a man who you (or, at least I) immediately think of when someone mentions loyalty in football. Another player worth a mention is Javier Zanetti, as well as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and (now retired) Gary Neville, who have/ had been at their clubs for around twenty years now. A great show of loyalty.

What I find interesting, is the majority of players you think of as loyal and one-man clubs, were Italian, or played in Italy and were around the same era. I find that odd, although it might be because I’m more familiar with this era.

Or, take a look at the Spanish league, players like Raul and Casillas, then the players at Barcelona who came through La Masia, and look like they’re never going to leave. It’s great looking at all these, especially if they’re local, like some of the Barcelona players, or Raul, a Madridsta (despite growing up an Atletico fan). But are these dying breeds? As these players start to fade out, will anyone take their place? Or will football become a big free-for-all?

Unfortunately, it’s the time of the article where we talk about dis-loyal players. I think the first lot to talk about are the injury ravaged players, who leave when they get a good run of games. I bet you can guess who I’m going to start with.

Did you guess right?

That’s it, Manchester United’s new signing, Robin van Persie. He released a statement previously, which in short said Arsenal are not showing as much ambition as he’d like and he won’t be signing a new contract. Lots of people are saying he should have shown more loyalty, as Arsenal stood by him through his injuries for many years, and I tend to agree. When van Persie arrived at Arsenal, he had temperament issues, I’m sure we all remember his red card at St. Marys where he pushed a ref’, right? Then, I read in an interview, he said he watched Robert Pires in training, and then got his head down and worked hard and it definitely paid off last season, with 30 Premier League goals and winning the Golden Boot. So is he right in saying the club aren’t showing enough ambition? In my opinion, no. First of all, look at their signings, also I think he should show more loyalty, to the club and Arsene Wenger. Last season was his first full, injury-free season. His ability has always been there to see, but only for a limited time, as it would only be a matter of time before he hurt his ankle again. Which means, he only had one proper season, playing consistently for Arsenal, yet now thinks he’s accomplished all he can. That’s wrong, I think he should have extended his contract as a minimum, as that’s the decent thing to do. Lots of players do this before they leave because it means they’re more expensive, so the club can get more money for them, but he hasn’t even done that. I think for all the years Arsenal stood by him with his injuries, or sent him to get some kind of revolutionary treatment, he should have respected this and signed up! It has been an exciting summer for Arsenal, signing three high-quality players but this was still not enough for Robin. He is a great player, but the best, iconic players are the ones who have stuck by their teams through the good times and the bad no matter what.

There’s a lot more players that have shown huge disloyalty to clubs lately, Tevez refusing to play and taking a long golf break for instance, or Gael Clichy who said this

“I really believe that if you are a player who thinks only about money, then you could end up at Manchester City.  You have to think if you want to play for a big club and have your image, or play for a good club and earn big money”, whilst playing for Arsenal, and where is he now? In fairness, he’s justified his move by winning two trophies, but you don’t say something like that then go back on yourself, as I’ve already said, I understand moving for money, but it does aggravate me. Especially when they’ve said something like that in the past! There’s probably, unfortunately, more. Managers being disloyal, players being disloyal. I’m sure you all have stories to tell about it, so please, leave your comments below, we would love to hear them!

I think this is one of the rare situations in football, in which we should look up at Craig Bellamy, he’s been no Angel in the past, but he’s halved his wages to try and get his hometown club, Cardiff into the Premier League. That’s loyalty to your club (hometown club in this case).

Is There Any Loyalty Left In Football?

Follow me on twitter@PlayedOfThePark

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