It’s a mythical beast like the Rok – or a good film with the Rock in it – the Unicorn or Phoenix; extinct and the stuff of fairy tales. It’s the ‘one that got away’, seen less frequently than the Loch Ness Monster, Centaur, Chimera. Scarcer than a Yaya Sanogo goal in a competitive match.
The ‘one club man’. Except the ‘one club man’ never was truly tied to one club their whole career. There was always another club or two after the ‘one club’ but never living up to the ‘one club’. Typically but not always, the reality was that the playing days were over but as every retired player seems to say, that’s the drug they don’t want to give up.
The likes of Geordie Armstrong, David O’Leary, Tony Adams or Pat Rice; the ‘one club man’ has been hunted into extinction by football economics.
Not that this morning’s headline makers will ever find a home where they feel they truly belong. Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez; they are the modern footballer, emphasising how the game has changed.
This morning there’s a distinct change in tone surrounding Mesut Özil’s future. His agent clarified the German’s future,
“Özil wants to play another two-three years in the Premier League.
“Talks with Arsenal are ongoing regarding a new deal, what I can say right now is that negotiations are going well.”
Loosely translated, that means no-one has yet come forward with an offer which matches Arsenal’s. Of course, it won’t be long before the situation is spun into ‘he never wanted to leave, we were just negotiating’ or ‘he’s staying because of Arsène’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Özil is staying because no-one else wants him badly enough.
It’s Getting Faster, Moving Faster Now
Comparing the gossip around the pair is instructive. Özil is a luxury player, one who makes a very good team great but unlikely to lift a decent side to title challengers. Sanchez can do that because he scores 15 – 20 goals a season. Both are undone by the foibles of colleagues and neither is enough on their own. But ask any fan what they prefer: the creator or the finisher, and the latter is most people’s answer.
Clubs, it seems, are no different. While Özil taps into the heart of Besiktas and Internazionale but not Manchester United; they have no heart, they appointed Mourinho. And stymied by rules which keep them waiting until next summer for a deal.
Sanchez meanwhile is coveted by the current leaders of Europe’s five major leagues.
Yet the latter cops the flak. He’s the traitor, the one who will leave next summer. He’s the ones the ‘cool kids’ of the dressing room don’t like because he’s too showy, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Who does he think he is?
One man remaining is Calum Chambers. He bucked the trend by signing a new deal yesterday although it later emerged he thought he was signing an autograph but that’s life, eh?
Neither player comes close to the definition of a ‘one-club man’. They never will either nor do I think they want to. There’s flightiness to their nature which is evident in their career history. That’s football; no different from life in wanting the best in your career.
It’s Getting Out Of Hand
This in a sport where employers show less loyalty than those in the ‘real world’. Players are sold on a whim without regard for whether they want to leave or not but dare they choose to leave? My goodness, Hell hath no fury like a football supporter scorned.
Players don’t help themselves. We’re not daft; we know they are instrumental in all contact with other clubs. If they were honest about their intentions, maybe we’d react better.
Mind you, I see Twitter every day so maybe not.
But proclamations of a heart’s desire for Arsenal followed by a swift change of scenery are as hollow as claims of losing your heart to a starship trooper. Footballers need to man up, to stop relying on the fix adulation brings while supporters need to stop acting like spurned lovers.
This is the modern football you want; don’t go crying when it shows itself to be something altogether less appealing and wholesome. If you want to moan about Alexis and give him abuse for doing so, I’m sure you won’t hold back on the manager for his treatment of Sanogo, Jenkinson or Debuchy. Or is that against your code.
Alexis is leaving because we’re not winning trophies. Özil would do the same if a club could carry his luxury. In coming years, I expect Ramsey to go, Lacazette and Bellerin too. That’s the nature of football. Players come and go.
I’ve Got The Spirit But Lose The Feeling
Yet I still see that people invest in them. Invest instead in the club. Players aren’t the personification of clubs nor is the manager. These are employees, handsomely rewarded and like many, I’d argue over-compensated. More than ten times the national average salary earned in a week? The economics of football, to me at least, undermines an sense of investment in individuals.
Players always earned more than fans in the past but were less distant, seemingly more ordinary. Now? Not the case. Maybe that’s how it should be with the state of football today. If ‘fans’ want to sling abuse about every aspect of players lives on anti-social media, maybe we’ve got the players they deserve.
It’s time to man up, my fellow fans.
Finally, a reminder that the latest installment of Jukebox Classics can be found here.