Sunday, August 16, 2015

'Loyalty' in Football? There is none.

Whether it’s Alan Smith kissing the badge of Manchester United or Emmanuel Adebayor flaunting his success in front of travelling Arsenal supporters, any type of commitment or respect from players to clubs and fans are insincere in general.

The celebration sparked fury amongst the travelling supporters, before
Adebayor’s team-mates began to pull back the striker to avoid more trouble.
It's been quite a transfer window- a transfer window that has seen messages from people claiming to be Liverpool fans threatening Raheem Sterling's daughter on social media; a transfer window that has seen Fabian Delph express his loyalty to Aston Villa, only to sign for Manchester City a few days later. Something that has resulted in Aston Villa fans on fan forums to go incandescent with rage.

A transfer window which again raises the issue in regards to players and their loyalty.

Those wide-eyed innocents who were trumpeting Fabian Delph as an example
of loyalty were given a rude awakening by the midfielder's latest U-turn.
As fans we are completely self-serving. As fans we are also misguided. It's what makes us fans of the clubs we support. And it's the very thing that results in us being lead a merry dance and exploited repeatedly by the clubs we support and the players who wear the shirts we align to. Our loyalty to the clubs we support is never questioned, it's only ever really acknowledged through lip-service. The one thing that our loyalty is regarded as is as being a given. That is, something that is expected. While that is true, it is continuously exploited for that very reason.

We're all mugs as far as football is concerned- the detachment between the fans and the players has never been greater and yet we somehow imagine that they 'get it', that some of them are actual heroes and role models. Most of the players take the piss and just exist contract to contract.
Peace for Luis Figo? And pigs might fly...
Fans love it when a player they want signs for the team they support. Fans hate it when a player they like and rate leaves their club to sign for another team. You will never hear fans complain when a player who they don't rate is shoved out the door. And when it comes to signing a player, the question of loyalty never enters the vocabulary of the people who support the club he is about to sign for. There are also many posts on social sites such as this whereby fans refer to players that they no longer deem necessary for their clubs as being "deadwood". Loyalty, it is clear, is not a two way street. Fans want rid of players they don't want at their clubs, irrespective of how loyal such players have been, while at the same time hating players who they would rather stay at their club who express a desire to leave. It's strange really, the loyalty a fan has, as you'll often hear the phrase 'there is no room for sentiment in football' and yet surely that loyalty is exactly that.

Circumstance plays a huge part in this. Sterling has been slated by many Liverpool fans for wanting away, and seemingly employing every scheming trick in the book in order to get away. Delph has really infuriated Aston Villa fans for his apparent U-turn (a U-turn which does make a mockery of his statement the previous week). One week, we love Player X. The next, we hate him. It's all just so very fickle.

Borussia Dortmund fans showing their
displeasure with Mario Götze’s transfer.
And yet it's happened time and time again for who knows how many years that one would be forgiven for thinking that loyalty has no place in football; that such "loyal" statements should be taken with a pinch of salt. And yet we don't take such statements with a pinch of salt. We believe them when the players make these statements. And so, when it happens that the player leaves the club, we express astonishment as though it's never ever happened before, and it's an outrage that it would happen at all.

Football supporters are tribal by nature. A tribe is never objective, or rational. Some fans like to take the moral high ground and pretend they can see everything objectively. They are liars.

I don't believe there is any real football supporter out there who has not acted tribally on some issue or another, when if they stepped back away from the bubble of football they would probably see it differently. I admit that I have been tribal on some issues though. It goes with the part and parcel of the game.

True Blue? Even to this day, Everton fans feel the anger towards Wayne
Rooney, and express it very openly when Everton and Manchester United meet.
Manchester City have now signed two players whose fans of those former clubs now hate with a vengeance. It's highly amusing when one is able to step back and look at it. It's akin to seeing a stranger fall over in the street. You know it hurts that stranger, but it's funny as hell to see it happen. It has no effect on you personally other than giving you a good laugh- at someone else's expense. Yet at the same time, there's been a time when you've fallen over yourself and had people laugh in your face and absolutely hated them for doing so.

Ultimately, we only ever see what we want to see. And at this moment in time there are Liverpool and Villa fans who want to see Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph make a rapid descent into obscurity.

We all know this. Yet we still end up venting our spleen the moment it happens to the club we support.

Loyalty. Let that word sink in for a moment. It’s nice isn’t it?

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