Player Loyalty: Club or Money?

June 20, 2011 by  

 Ambition, Affections, Approval and Andy Who?

It’s safe to say that there are numerous types loyalties in football, all of which mean different things to different participants of the game. There are the obvious ones from the loyalties of the diehard fans to the armchair loyalties of a United "supporter" who’s Dad is a Liverpool supporter from the seventies. A chairman’s loyalty, if you’re lucky,  to the fans in providing a well run, successful club. You get the players and managers loyalties to their beloved hometown club, loyalties to adopted homes, loyalties to ex-clubs they won silverware with back in the day and, the crutch of all true football fans problems these days, loyalties to the pound.

Money isn’t strictly a player or manager problem, a fan may stop going to watch their club if the price is too high or a greedy chairman can ruin an entire community by wanting to extract every bit of cash he or she can out of his plaything.  But keeping to the playing aspect of the game, its now the norm for clubs to be held to ransom by their employees in an attempt to be kept at a club. With wages and signing on fees beyond what can only be described as silly money, everyone wants a slice of the pie, and if that means moving to another club at the wave of a few notes then so be it. This mentality has seemingly become too commonplace, in my opinion, in a profession when a player can earn double the annual wage of a nurse or fireman in one week. That’s just middle of the road players too.

Then there’s that magic word- ambition. That contrived comment every greedy player or manager gives when he signs on for a bumper contract or goes off to the next lower league club on their way to going bust. By saying "the club matched my ambition(s)", all they are really saying in most cases is "this club is willing to pay me a shit load more". I hate that word ambition, from a football point of view at least because, unless you’ve moved from Rochdale to Real Madrid, all clubs have an ambition to win as much as possible from the position they are in. It’s only really when you make a step up a division or two that the ambition reason even makes sense.

If it’s not obvious by now, the main reason I was inspired to write this article is out of bitterness towards Andy "Who?" Mangan. I won’t beat around the bush with my opinion on the Mangan situation, he’s left for money and that is the only reason. I can’t say I blame him as such and I get the argument that he has a family to feed and a short career span (as a player), but let’s face it, when he retires it doesn’t automatically mean he can’t get another job. In fact he could even go onto to get another job in football- scout, youth coach, fitness coach, manager and the list goes on and on. Yes he needs to make a living, and yes he does need a stability that we can’t currently provide, but if the rumours are to be believed he had offers from Shrewsbury and possibly other League 2 clubs. Surely it would be more ambitious to move up a league?

The odd part of it all is that Fleetwood have a good set of strikers and it’s hard to see Mangan getting in ahead of Brodie, granted Magno Viera has fallen out of favour with their manager but I find it hard to imagine he will always be first choice. Whereas here, a team wanting promotion next year, who finished above Fleetwood and who were, its safe to say, paying Mangan a fair wedge are not as ambitious as a similar team. If his move was solely based on our stability and lack of guarantee on paying wages, and his PR after the move was purely guff like most press time after moves, then I will hold my hands up and say I’m wrong. I just find it very hard to believe that someone who knew the importance of the no. 30 to Wrexham fans due to Ugarte, who said he wished he’d been around to play with Darren Ferguson and who had such a great rapport with us would move for anything other than cash. For all his self proclaimed hype he has now been and gone, one good season and the wasted potential to become a legend at the Racecourse.

But loyalty works both ways, some Wrexham fans weren’t very loyal to Dean before the start of last season, calling for his head before we’d even kicked a ball. If these fans had got their wish last year, would we have finished in the position we did? Granted, there were obviously some justified criticism of Saunders at the time, but some people are very quick to judge a manager or player and this gung ho attitude to getting rid often comes to back to bite them. He’s been given the time he needed to learn how the league works, learn what players can do the jobs he needs them to and most of all he’s learnt how to build a dressing room that can win games. Because of Geoff Moss’ loyalty to Saunders, a very rare plus in an ocean of negatives, we now have a very good manager in charge of our club.

In a week that has seen the craziness of Alex McLeish move from Birmingham to cross town rivals Aston Villa, it is hard to imagine football getting back to the days of the 1 club man (or even 2 club man) or managers like our very own Brian Flynn getting 12 years at the helm of a club our size or position. The money grabbing greedy men of football, along with some very impatient fans, have potentially ruined the idea of loyalty for everyone involved in the beautiful game.