“Anyone serving more than 10 years at a football club these days is exceptional,” said Fergie. “Especially with freedom of contract, the Bosman Rule and agents… it’s very difficult to get players to stay for that length of time, particularly when they’re not from your country, which I think is even more difficult. It is difficult to say where people are going to be in two weeks’ time, let alone two years and I certainly would not want to talk about what is likely to happen at this club. It is not my domain.”
With FIFA president Sepp Blatter pushing for players’ freedom, it appears as though we are going to see more and more footballers moving to the highest bidder, regardless of when they last signed a contract.
“If the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it’s not good for the player and for the club,” said Blatter. “The important thing is, we should also protect the player. I’m always in favour of protecting the player, and if the player he wants to leave, let him leave.”
As I’ve already talked about, in a day and age when players are less loyal than ever before, it seems these disloyal players are intent in proving their allegiances. The latest culprit, Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor.
I have a lot of time for the Arsenal fans who have been booing Adebayor, following his ridiculous pimping of himself to all the clubs in Europe. Whilst booing is something that is often criticised, I think in the case of player loyalty, it is the fans responsibility to let the player know that what they are doing is out of order, because the club certainly won’t!
The Togo hitman slotted home a 50th-minute penalty winner then kissed the Arsenal badge in front of supporters. Adebayor, 24, had been booed at the start by large sections of the crowd before kick-off and again after the half-hour when he failed to nod home Robin van Persie’s cross. But, by the time he was taken off, the African ace — who had angered many fans by threatening to move — had gone some way to repairing a few bridges.
Asked if he must rebuild his relationship with fans, Ade said: “I don’t know. I think so. It’s normal because when there is speculation, they believe in what they read.”
So, what have Arsenal fans read?
“I am very happy here. Reports which suggest I have threatened to quit are rubbish,” Adebayor said. “I love the club and the fans. We have a great set of players here with a fantastic team spirit.”
“I am a footballer, I have a three-year contract at Arsenal but as you know, a lot of clubs are interested in me,” he said. “At the moment we are just going to sit down and talk and decide what to do. Nothing has been decided yet. We will decide next week.”
“I had a dream of playing for Arsenal, and Arsenal are one of the loveliest clubs in the world,” he said. “But now I have a chance of playing with one of the biggest clubs in the world. I haven’t had a chance to speak to the manager yet. But we will sit down next week and decide what is good for my career. We will have to meet with the manager before anything can be decided. But, as you know better than anyone, a lot of teams want me to play for them.”
To take away some of the blame, Adebayor had the nerve to suggest that his move to another club would be him benefiting Arsenal. “If they’re going to get 50million for me and they bought me for 10million, everyone is getting the benefits,” he added.
“Barcelona have made a good financial offer and there is also the chance to play alongside great players,” he said. “Yes, I am still under contract to Arsenal but it’s up to the directors to satisfy my demands or I’ll leave. If my good form of last season has increased my value, my employers have to take account of that.”
“Now I can tell everyone that, yes, I will sign a contract,” he said. “I’m feeling very good here, very well here, and at the moment my heart is with Arsenal.”
Just last week we had former Arsenal player, David Bentley, proclaiming his love for Spurs after his £15 million move. Can these players really expect to be taken seriously? Fans know about loving their club, about the strong feelings they have for all connected with their team, and it’s entirely patronising and insulting for these players to spout rubbish about their love for the team they essentially know nothing about, not in comparison to us anyway, the fans.
“I grew up through the Arsenal youth team but it’s not a problem for me — all my heart is at Tottenham and all my passion will be tunnelled into doing well for Tottenham,” claimed Bentley.
“I want to stay at Chelsea,” Lampard said in March 2007. “I have never wanted to leave the club and I don’t intend to. I have everything I want in life where I am right now. For the past six years my life has been my family and Chelsea Football Club. Some players can say that and it sounds clichéd or fake. I can say it because it is absolutely true. I am very proud I play for Chelsea and of what I have achieved as part of the team. I’m very happy at Chelsea, they’ve been the best days of my career.”
However, his tune had changed a year later.
“Inter? Let’s wait and see,” he said at the end of June 2008. “For the moment I am here on holiday with my family, my future at Chelsea? I don’t know anything yet.”
“There’s always speculation that I’m going here, there and everywhere but I’m very content with my life and with my time at Spurs,” Keane said in May 2008. “I will continue to play there for as long as I am happy and for as long as I am wanted. It’s good to have a summer off but then I look forward to going back to Spurs next season.”
Two months later, he was being unveiled as a Liverpool player.
“I do not think I let Spurs down,” he said. “But this is a new chapter in my life and one that I am looking forward to. I had six great years at Spurs and thank them for that. There are players leaving Spurs, but there are also good players coming in. I can only focus on Robbie Keane and what is good for me.”
“I have a contract at Arsenal until 2010 and now only think of the game against Germany,” he said in May 2008. “I have also read [that I have said I want to leave], but I do not know who has written it. That is nonsense. I have also read that I wanted to move because Arsenal would win nothing, this too is nonsense. But I would really not like to comment on the issue really because there is nothing more to say, because the club means so much to me. I have learned so much from Arsene Wenger. This man has always supported me and given me the chance to come to Arsenal. I would therefore never say anything negative about Arsenal.”
A month later, he was kissing Barcelona’s badge at a press conference unveiling him as their player.
And Blatter thinks this is a good thing?