Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez, two players obsessed with their former club. Adebayor was shunned by his fan base, after likening his feelings of being courted by Milan to a fella being told Beyonce wanted a piece. He fancied himself for getting a move to a club like AC Milan and Barcelona, but neither came knocking. He was then desperate for a move to United or Chelsea, but again, neither team were interested. So he signed for City and has been talking about Arsenal ever since.
Tevez, by contrast, was adored by the fans for his hard working nature. Whilst his goal scoring wasn’t impressive enough for a club challenging for the title and Champions League, he was loved for putting effort in every single week. By the end of the season, some fans were getting weary of his complaining, in light of his lacking ability. Manchester United legends, like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, worked just as hard for the team and were understanding they couldn’t play every week. The problem for Tevez was he thought he was better than he actually was and the 45 minutes he played in the Champions League on the day his contract expired was not enough for him. So he signed City, earning double what he had been on at United, joining a team full of players who hadn’t even got close to a Champions League final. Since then, he also can’t stop talking about United.
Adebayor on Arsenal…
July 24th 2009: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger put me where I am today but he cannot stand up and say last summer I told him I wanted to leave. I told him I wanted to stay. I don’t think our relationship is broken. I know a lot of people will say ‘He’s gone for the money’. But I would like to see one Arsenal fan who worked somewhere for £10 and was offered work somewhere else for £30 to say they would refuse.”
August 16th 2009: “I think it’s possible they could lose Cesc if they don’t get into the Champions League. Since he was 16, he has enjoyed Arsenal, so for him it will be a blow if they are not in the Champions League. If that happens, there is a chance that Cesc and the other big players will leave.”
September 11th 2009: “These sort of things stay with you in your heart and it will stay with me not just for the rest of my career but the rest of my life. It was strange because I was such a happy boy there. I always gave my best for the team. I even remember a game two years ago when the boss asked me to play even though I had a hamstring injury. So I played for the team, worked hard and scored, but afterwards people were only interested in me being linked with Barcelona.”
September 12th 2009: Adebayor runs the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Arsenal fans and kicks a former team mate in the head.
September 14th 2009: “It was silly to run up in front of the Arsenal fans. But these people have been insulting me all game. Even in the warm-up they were insulting me. They were saying things that are not nice to hear, personal things. I didn’t plan it, not at all. I didn’t even know that I would score. The way things were going from the warm-up, at the end it came into my head.”
September 24th 2009: “When you are being abused for the whole game it affects you. People are saying 10 seconds like it is a long time but it isn’t. The whole of that 10 seconds I was running and I was running on pure emotion. I was not thinking like I would normally do. After you score a goal there is an instant high and that high can last a while.”
October 4th 2009: “If I play in the Emirates and score I will celebrate of course, but I will do it with my fans. I don’t want to talk about Arsenal at the moment. I remind them that we beat them 4-2, that’s all.”
October 30th 2009: “My final year at Arsenal was difficult, so it was an easy decision to move. Some of the fans would never forgive me after some clubs tried to sign me a year ago, but what could I do?I scored 30 goals for Arsenal two seasons ago and it was all forgotten because the fans decided I was not loyal any more when Barcelona and AC Milan showed interest in me. It was hard to take and there did not seem to be anything I could do to change their mind.”
November 17th 2009: “People here have treated me well and that was not happening at Arsenal. If I had stayed there, I don’t think I would have even played. Arsene Wenger didn’t actually say that in so many words, but we did have a good discussion. Basically, I was told that I must leave, even though I didn’t want to. He said they had come to an agreement with Manchester City and that it would be best for me to go.”
January 12th 2010: Adebayor wears Arsenal t-shirt for an interview.
Carlos Tevez on United…
July 5th 2009: “If I play for Manchester City I don’t think the United fans will feel I am a traitor. They have to remember that at least as far as I know I have been thrown out of the club and I have to study the best offers available. I gave everything for Manchester United and people know that. For that reason I don’t deserve the way things have ended up.”
July 14th 2009: “The fact that I am not staying at United is not because of the fans, it is because Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill did not do enough to keep me there. If it was down to the fans, I would still be there.”
July 16th 2009: “I am sad to leave United.”
July 25th 2009: “I respect United fans because they supported me from day one and I think they will understand my decision.”
July 30th 2009: “My relationship with the United fans was always excellent. They were very supportive of me, and they will always be close to my heart. I hope I will get a good reception, because I am very fond of them and we had a good understanding.”
August 24th 2009: “Ferguson is history for me but I know that he is scared of playing against us.”
August 27th 2009: “I think I deserved more respect than what was shown. It was very strange. In the first year everything went very well – I was part of the team and felt like I was important to the coach and the club. But in the second, there was a big change. There was no communication with the manager and I began to feel as if I was not wanted.”
September 18th 2009: “I expect to have a good reception. While at United, I always gave my best and I had good relations with the fans. They know I did everything while at Old Trafford to try to score the goals that would help the team win matches, so I don’t know why I should have a bad reception.”
September 22nd 2009: “I must admit I did believe I would get a different reception from the United supporters. Initially everything was positive and I was greeted by my former team-mates and United staff without any problems at all. But as soon as I entered the field the atmosphere was very different. It was hard to take because previously I was always wanted by those people.”
September 30th 2009: “In the derby against United I had also decided not to celebrate our goals but, after the bad treatment I received from the supporters that day, I have changed my stance on that. If I score in the next derby then I am sure that I will celebrate.”
December 4th 2009: “Obviously I was disappointed because I don’t think I deserved to be treated that way. When I was there I was a hard-working and loyal player who gave my all. Obviously I’d be delighted to beat United and reach the final but I still have respect for the club. I won’t celebrate if I score. I don’t want to rub their noses in it.”
Some might argue that it is the norm for players to talk about their former clubs, particularly in the run up to when those teams face each other. But which other players have been so obsessive?
How many times did Antonio Valencia talk about Wigan? Does Michael Owen ever refer to his time at Newcastle? Do we ever hear what Lescott thinks about Everton? Is Barry constantly talking of his love and respect for Villa fans? Some of those transfers were not at all well received by the fans, but the players manage to cut down the column inches. They are focussed on their new club, not their old one.
Adebayor’s sprint to face the Arsenal fans and Tevez’s replication of the goal celebration he performed in front of Sir Alex Ferguson when desperate to get a new contract may have made the City fans giddy for a while, but what does it tell us about those players? They are more concerned about proving a point to their former club and old fans than they are with celebrating with their current fans. Beating Arsenal was of course a great day for City, beating United in the first leg of the League Cup semi was even greater, but the City players who got them there were too busy thinking about their old clubs.
When Valencia scored against Wigan at Old Trafford last month, he didn’t even glance in the direction of the away support. When Wayne Rooney scored a crucial goal at Goodison Park against his boyclub Everton on our way to winning the league in 2007, he ran to the United fans, arms outstretched. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of banter and it’s enjoyable to watch interaction between players and fans. Rooney has been guilty of trying to wind Everton fans up with kissing the badge, but they’re not his obsession, and he would never blab on and on about the club or fans in the press, month after month, despite his move being far more controversial (thanks to the ‘once a blue, always a blue’ t-shirt as a youth player).
There has been a lot of talk about the power shift in Manchester of late, and sadly, we can’t deny where the money is. But for as long as City are signing players more intent on proving a point against their former employees, trying to vindicate their reason for leaving and ‘prove’ what great players they are, it goes without saying who the more impressive club is. Manchester United players think about Manchester United. When looking at the priorities of Manchester City players, I wonder where the club features amidst the thoughts of their salary and bigger clubs they wish they played for.