My Birmingham Mail Column from Weds May 2nd 2018
If you ever needed proof that this wonderful game of football is and has been for some time morally bankrupt then just look at the reaction of players when their team is relegated from the cash cow that is the Premier League.
Most players will have a relegation clause in their contract that will see their wages at least halved. However none of those players will ever look in the mirror and question their part in the club being dropped into the Championship.
Usually the first thing on many of their minds is to get away and find another Premier League club willing to pay them the money they believe they are worth despite having willingly signed a contract. Or should I say the money their agents have told them they are worth. Never forget the part agents will play in players wanting to get away from teams that have been relegated. However I don’t totally buy that because a man can make up his own mind and tell his agent what he wants to do but usually players are led by the agent rather than the other way around. It’s hard at times to figure out who works for who?
Despite the amazing job done my Darren Moore at West Bromwich Albion since taking over from Alan Pardew which has seen two wins and two draws the Baggies still looked doomed to relegation to the Championship.
With two games still to play apparently some of the players are looking for other clubs according to James McClean. He says “they’ve got to look after themselves first and foremost”. The implication from James is that it is all about what they can earn. I just don’t buy into that garbage that we want to play premier league football when what you really mean is that you want to earn premier League money.
Now I have no problem with that after all we all work to maximise what we can earn for our families.
What gets to me is that it’s all matter of fact with the players not taking any responsibility for relegation? I am sure there are those who will say James was being honest and yes he was but he showed zero empathy towards the fans who are hurting due to the performances of him and his team mates.
He should have been more diplomatic and aware of the fans feelings: he should have said something along the lines of “we have two games left and that is all I am focusing on”. That would have been the classy way to deal with it.
I just wonder what will happen if no one comes in for him or any of the other players he is referring to. Will he be happy to stay on half his wages? Of course he would but he has angered the supporters with his comments and that makes it difficult for him. James McClean is not alone and I mention him because it was his comments in the press this weekend but lots of players from all relegated clubs will feel exactly the same as him.
This is why I would urge everyone not to be fooled by the “badge kissers” in football. It’s not the first time I have seen this and it is not unique to West Bromwich Albion in fact I would suggest it happens at every relegated club.
I remember doing commentary from the playoff final at Wembley between the Baggies and Derby County. Baggies lost and while the fans were crying their way down Wembley way come players were talking about looking for a move to Premier Clubs.
But it is worse at relegated clubs because it’s those players who are wanting away that contributed to the club being relegated. However I am sure not many will accept the responsibility as it would always be someone else’s fault. The manager, the tactics, the other players or whatever.
Sadly this is the monster we have created in the Premier League where money is King and Queen. Would I be any different? That is hard to say because I have not been in that situation but being honest probably not-but I guarantee I would not insult the supporters by saying it with two games to go.
However what some players will say is that how many clubs have used players and cast them away when not required anymore and that is true. But the big difference is that player’s wages are ring fenced by watertight contracts. Unless of course they want to move then the contracts suddenly become worthless.
By the way they might be really nice guys to talk to and deal with until it comes down to money and then it’s an “I’m alright Jack” attitude.
The players are in control these days and that makes management much harder and why many managers pander to players. Because they need them onside or they will down tools and get you the sack.
By the way fantastic to see Darren Moore, Chris Brunt and James Morrison at Halesowen Town last Sunday in the charity game in memory of Richard Eades. Now that’s class!
Next time you or your mates talk about loyalty remember with only a few exceptions player wise the only genuine loyalty is on the terraces.