Footballers are a remarkable breed. Last season’s performances were abject, we all agree and whilst the managers have paid with their jobs, Randy Lerner slung his hook, the players continue about their business relative unflustered.
A new manager, Roberto Di Matteo, has injected new enthusiasm into the squad with new faces keeping players on their toes.
But despite their culpability, many seek pastures new. We got you into this mess, find someone else to get you out of it, seems to be the dictum by which they live life.
Sometimes, and I make no bones about this, we welcome the fickleness. There are always squad members whom we would readily drive to the airport to ensure they got the flight to wherever their next destination is. It’s a fickleness which you may argue means we don’t deserve any loyalty from the squad. Hands up, you’ve got me on that one.
However, we pay the money that funds their wages and signings, in one form or another. It’s why so many find the constant talk of transfers irritating in the media, particularly if your club is on the receiving end.
It’s why when you find that a key player may stay, a little bit of hope remains.
Speaking yesterday, Di Matteo noted that “Ciaran [Clark] is a Villa man, a Villa boy, he has pledged his future to us, he will be staying with us,” reports the Express and Star. There was plenty of opportunity for the Northern Ireland international to leave and with clubs hovering, the majority of us would shrug our shoulders and get on with life if he left.
A declaration of allegiance is always welcome.
Compare that with Idrissa Gueye whose reported £7.2m release clause has been triggered by Everton. You might argue that he is moving to a Premier League club; not a bigger one because I don’t think they are, but a top flight club. Yes, that’s the top flight that we fell out of last season. Would he be interested in a move if we hadn’t been relegated? I don’t think so.
Di Matteo has made no secret of his desire to keep Gueye. I’m not surprised, he’s one of the more talented members of the squad but the minute the Italian walked through the Villa Park doors, he probably realised that this was one of those players likely to leave. Marseille’s interest floundered when their own financial difficulties meant they couldn’t raise the transfer fee. It’s unlikely anyone else will trigger it.
A shame that there is no sign of conscience in these situations. Is it too much to ask that the better players hang around for a season to see if we can get back into the Premier League? It seems so.
I don’t think you can have any qualms about a player leaving twelve months after relegation if we can’t bounce back but then there’s a strong argument for only keeping those committed to the cause. Have a squad full of hungry players who want to succeed.
And that’s the difference between players and supporters. It’s our lifeblood, it’s their pay cheque. Rarely do the two meet yet we still impose our own loyalties upon them. And we never learn but when some loyalty is shown, it does make the world seem a brighter place.