|photo by adactio||via PhotoRee|
So Fernando Torres (aka, the Ladyboy) has off and joined Chelsea, then. Is this what the EPL has come to? I don’t like my current team, or my well paid contract, and despite my protestations to the contrary, I’m ready to move to a bitter rival at a moment’s notice.
It seems indeed as if the culture of English football has definitively changed this year, and not for the better. And it’s not just Liverpool and the transfer saga they underwent this week with their oft-injured striker, either. No, this season opened with the “will he or won’t he” storyline playing out on the streets of London and Barcelona, as Arsenal’s Captain Cesc Fabregas sat down with Le Professor to profess his undying love not for the Gunners, but for the Blaugrana. Although young Ab-Fab was mollified in the short-term, I’m not sure there’s anyone alive who doesn’t believe that his life-long dream will be fulfilled in the next 12-18 months.
The saga next shifted scenes to the tony streets of Cheshire, as balaclava wearing fans milled threateningly outside of Wayne Rooney’s home while he contemplated a move across town to join the nouveau riche gang at Manchester City. Once again, the dalliance proved fleeting, although not before good ol’ Wayne questioned the very ambition of his club, and the strength of his current teammates (that seems funny in retrospect. Should’ve been the other way around, huh?), alienating fans and fellow players alike before changing his mind and signing a new five year contract to stay at Old Trafford.
Fade to black and look across town in the same city, less than two months later as Carlos Tevez, El Capitan of the aforementioned City side, handed in his transfer request (presumably written en Espanol), informing club and fans alike that he was no longer happy with his current situation and would like to depart in order to to: a) retire to Argentina to spend more time with his beloved children; or b) play in Spain for Real Madrid and vacation in the Canary Islands with his current girlfriend. In any event, the whole sordid affair was sorted out by Tevez putting his tail back between his legs, crawling back underneath the rock from which he came, and agreeing to stay on at City for the same wages he was previously being paid.
And now it’s Liverpool’s turn to suffer the jilted lover syndrome, complete with burning shirts and all. Presumably Chelsea has not suffered the same problem because on current form no one would want any of their “star” players (John Terry on offer, anyone? Anyone?). And so as the Ladyboy moves south to London Towne, it’s appropriate to check on the health of the game we all love. Sure, I understand the economic arguments behind the moves (Andy Carroll to Liverpool for more than $50 million? The old saw about the definition of insanity has a new punchline.). And no, I don’t question that the clubs treat the game as a business, so why shouldn’t the players…? More and more, though, this sport is reminding me of the big problems faced in American sports that I’ve abandoned for the one I now love.
Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but a contract is still a contract to me. Even if it’s not on paper. If you give someone your word, you give them your bond. And the clubs are obligated to pay any contract to which they've committed, so why should the players be allowed to choose when they want to live up to a contract and when they don't?
And it’s alright if things don’t work out exactly the way they expected when the contract was signed – that’s life (it was John Lennon who captured this so eloquently with the lyrics from his heartbreakingly poignant song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”).
And apparently there are a few players who still believe this, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes chief among them (I heard a story this weekend that Paul Scholes has never negotiated a contract in his life, preferring to sign whatever United has put in front of him. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but it sounds about right). So in the end, I’m tired of all the drama and the excuses. Either you live up to your word or you don’t. No if’s, And’s, or But’s about it. That is all.
This is farlieonfootie for February 1.