November 5th, 2010

Player Loyalty: A Question Of Trust Or Tactics?

Yes ladies (and gents), it would appear Gareth Bale has plenty to smile about. (Getty Images/Zimbio)

You might have heard of Gareth Bale. He’s the Lord Of The Rings Reject/Cutey Pup Pup currently doing brilliantly with Spurs in the Champions League and being hailed as a world class player. Rafa Benitez has already expressed an interest in Bale after his demolition of holders Inter Milan in the competition, and there have been murmurings from Old Trafford, where Sir Alex Ferguson may see Bale as a perfect replacement for fellow countryman Ryan Giggs.

No one is going to deny that Spurs aren’t a great club under Harry Redknapp (and on current form have as good a chance as any team of getting through to the final stages of the Champions League.) That said, they’re not in the same ‘big’ club category as clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid or Manchester United, for example. Their spending power is limited and it could be argued that it is Redknapp’s tactical nous that has taken his team to the top of Group A, as oppose to marquee names.

Spurs say that they do not have to sell Bale and they do not want to. But the decision may not be down to them. While Bale has pledged his future to Spurs now, if he wishes to become an ‘elite’ player and command the kind of wages and sponsorship deals that the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo enjoy, his head may well be turned by future offers from more financially powerful clubs. Who could blame him? A player has a limited time to build his career and must make the most of his financial position. (Getty Images/Zimbio)

But what of loyalty? There have been complaints from many lower league clubs across Europe in the past that they have brought on talented youngsters and then seen their investment vanish as the player is cherry picked by a bigger club as a prospect, often for a tiny fee. Fan and media ire can even be directed towards the player for making such a decision; remember Ashley Cole’s transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea?

As Shaun Wright Phillips can testify, it’s not always and easy ride when you get there, either. SWP’s great form for a pre-Sheik Mansour Manchester City culminated in a £21million transfer from City to Chelsea in 2005, but the player struggled to get a game a Stamford Bridge, his form suffering for the lack of competitive football. He eventually made the switch back to City in 2008. And don’t get us started on Robinho. (Getty Images/Zimbio)

Gareth Bale himself signed for Spurs from Southampton in 2007 and struggled for form, a run of twenty four starts with no wins surely his darkest time. Now he is enjoying the kind of attention afforded only to the elite and on current form could arguably walk into any side in the world. At least Rafa Benitez seems to think so.

But does he owe his club something for the years of training and honing, or should he be entitled to make his hay while the sun shines, the talent being his and his alone?

Are you a fan of a so called ‘smaller’ club who has lost a player and then watched them become world class, maybe as a result of what they learned with your squad?

Are you a fan of a ‘big’ club and think smaller clubs benefit from this kind of transaction? Do you think your club should be able to buy who it likes in order to ensure success?

Tell us. Tell us now.

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46 Responses to “Player Loyalty: A Question Of Trust Or Tactics?”

  1. SpanishFootieLover says:

    Love him! And as a fellow welsh-person I think he is the greatest and can make Spus one of the permanent big 4 clubs to take Liverpool's place because he is only 21 i think….

  2. ZaharaSpain NTBarca* says:

    i like gareth bale..he is very level headed and humble.
    i think, he should stay with tottenham for like one more year and then leave for a big club.its only natural for him to want to progress in his career..
    for me, i see small clubs as a place for a footballer to start and develop his football and when he has reached that special level, he should be able to leave for a big club..

    ps, Mr bale, its looking like the bananas are ripe

  3. Zinny says:

    This always happens. Players, no matter how loyal to the club, will leave for a bigger one.
    Do I resent them for that? Absolutely not! It's their right to forward their career. As long as they do it in a respectful and graceful way.

    Good Example: Fernando Torres left Atleti but the fans still love and respect him. Bad Example (well, he didn't exactly leave a small club but still): Luis Figo leaving Barca for Madrid. All you need to know is summed up in that 2000 Barca vs. Real Madrid game.

    • Leya_S says:

      Yeah, players going to rival clubs is just plain rude. I can see leaving to better themselves, but if its going to be a rival club, that's just like your boyfriend not just breaking up with you, but breaking up with you for your arch enemy bc she puts out more….rude.

      Plus then things like this can happen: http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/blog/dirty-tackle/…

  4. SoccerLoverrrr says:

    Seriously. Lord of the rings man.

  5. coys says:

    i looove your comments. but it is a bit scary how you know so much about him… :D

  6. coys says:

    I'm a fan of both 'small' (Tottenham) and 'big' ( ManU ) clubs. The premier League would become more interesting if the clubs with all the money wouldn't be able to attract top class players. The Top Four (well, maybe only Three now ) would no longer exist and almost any team would have a chance of winning the title, which would be a wonderful change. It's quite sad that players ,who earn tonnes of money already , choose the extra 50,000 a week and not loyalty to the club.

    What i love about Bale is that, if you watch any interview, you notice he isn't interested in money or fame but actually just loves playing the sport. That is, in my opinion, what it should be like for every player. I think he will stay at Tottenham till his contract runs out, because of loyalty to his club, and because they let him play every game and that is essentially all he wants to do.

    • F says:

      I know….I have such a dislike for players who just move because of money.
      Gareth is just in love with football and not the money. I know he won’t move because 1) when I met him he told me so himself
      2) he isn’t interested in a pay rise…he gets paid enough already
      3) he wants to play every game because he loves football and he knows
      he can get that at tottenham
      4) he’s a loyal guy…who is not your average footballer and is
      really down to earth. =D

    • Leya_S says:

      What you're describing is American Football and Hockey to the nth degree:
      There is no way to tell which team is going to make it to the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup every year, which is extra exciting.

      Conversely, baseball is a lot more like the EPL in that you're (almost) guaranteed to know which teams will make it to the World Series. There are surprises, yes (like this year) but lets get serious: how many World Series have the Yankees and the Red Sox been to?

  7. @AgnesWonka says:

    I agree that players have to make the most of his financial position. but the success of a ballers is not always related with the salary!

    • @DebStimson says:

      Exactly! Players do need to feel challenged and if they don't feel they are getting challenged enough at their current club, I don't believe they are being disloyal for seeking a club that does challenge them.

      And, chemistry with the coach/players also plays a big part in their success. If a player is unhappy where he's at, it's best for everyone if he finds a team where he has a better fit. Also, the players have to look at who on the team they are competeing with for playing time. For example, look at Barca. Could you imagine being the person playing behind Messi or Xavi? You would almost have to wait for them to get injured before you got any playing time. In that case, I think most players would rather move to another club if it would allow them the chance to play more.

  8. Barb says:

    No, no don't learn to write shorter posts – really enjoyed this one!

  9. [...] If you’re a Inter Milan fan, chances are you’re probably not a Gareth Bale fan right now. The EPL’s newest golden boy has picked up some serious steam. The game between Inter and the Spurs should just be re-named as ‘The Gareth Bale show’ since he pretty much did singlehandedly knocked the title holders out of the tournament. The brilliance of this lad is something other managers have been noticed. Specifically Sir Alex. But, Harry Redknapp tells the Gaffer no way. Either way, the boy is hot right now. And, we don’t just mean his game (kickette has proof.) [...]

  10. FloraJane says:

    I agree that football is too much about money and its caused many otherwise loyal players to turn their heads if only to at least catch a glimpse of what might be on the other side of the fence. But I don't think we can judge them too harshly. Who knows what we'd do in their position? And they do have the rest of their lives (and those of their families) to plan for knowing how they'll only play football for a limited amount of time. For some of them, there must be at least that little niggling fear about what they'll do when they can no longer play. And if they have the opportunity to better themselves, it must be hard to ignore.

    Having said that, though, I still prefer to be all sentimental and think that people like John Terry and Ryan Giggs have stayed where they are out of loyalty and love for their clubs. And if I"m honest, deep down, despite the talk about money, I really do believe that about those two. I might be slightly delusional but I'm happier that way. :)

  11. ridiee says:

    Playing well in a couple of games doesnt mean a player is world class first of all.
    He is a good player, but there are many much much better than him.
    Giving him due though.. good luck to him..
    Hope he leaves Spurs to go to a better club to harness his talents ;)

  12. Jo_ says:

    The draft system has its own flaws and I would be loathe to use it in football. We don't need teams deliberately tanking to get the prime draft pick.

    • BarceLisa says:

      ah see thats where football differs. I'm talking about newly promoted teams and those who just managed to avoid relegation. What a great reward would prime draft picks be. Football clubs who deliberately tank risk being relegated from their league unlike American sports teams.

    • @DebStimson says:

      lol…Surely, you're not referring to the Detroit Lions who we always joke are "going for the draft pick"? They just suck…always have so there's nothing intentional about teams like them tanking. And I may be naive but I don't know of any American team that "tries" to have a losing season…the players/coaches know that there is a long line behind them of people waiting to take their place. Also, draft picks can be bartered….i.e. "I'll give you my 2012 draft pick and player y for your player x." It happens quite frequently.

      • @DebStimson says:

        Also, one big difference about the athletes in American sports is that a good number of them do not come up through club systems for a specific team…they get drafted out of college. Yes, athletes (for pretty much all sports) will have played on 'club' teams during elementary, middle & high schools but these clubs are separate from professional teams. And, the kids live at home and participate in their club teams after school/during summer, etc. It's nothing like what CR7 experienced where he basically moved away from his family for training, etc.

        • Leya_S says:

          Agreed on this point.

          I can see the appeal of a draft system, yes, but at the same time, I feel like the detriments outweigh the benefits. I played club soccer in middle school, and all it meant was that we traveled as a team, played teams in other states, and played all year round…oh, and got cool gear. Even ODP (Olympic Development Program) doesn't take kids away from their families to harness their abilities as soccer players. There is no "Lakers youth system" or "Steelers youth system". If there were, can you imagine growing up in a Pats youth system and then getting drafted to the Jets?!?!?!?!?! Same thing: grow up in the Barca youth system and get drafted to Real? You'd be crushed!

          The thing is that while many kids aspire to be professional athletes in the states, there aren't a lot of total immersion programs geared toward MAKING them professional athletes. We don't start "making" pros in the states until during or after college really, few exceptions (Kobe and Lebron, for example) where kids come straight out of high school to the pros. In Europe, they "make" pros early. At age 8, you can be on the path to being a pro.

  13. blitzenTO says:

    Seriously? You want a draft system? So players that say….Barcelona has developed through La Masia could be arbitrarily sent away from the club of their life to say…Arsenal…or Hercules…with no say in the matter?

    • BarceLisa says:

      thats not how the draft works. When Spurs (who, according to kickette are not a big club) signed Gareth Bale, Southampton were in Division One, ie. one small-club helping out another. Therefore he is the perfect example of why a draft system would work. In fact, all of the above mentioned footballers are. btw La Masia rejects probably do not object to being "sent" to clubs like Arsenal (Cesc) and Manchester United (Pique). The poor babies!

  14. Leya_S says:

    If the player was happy enough at the smaller club to want to stay and be loyal to them, than I applaud that. In the case of Gareth Bale, I feel that Spurs have a fairly good shot at bringing home some trophies…they're a great team! Is their success less of a sure thing than, say, a club like Chelsea? Maybe. But imagine how amazing it would be for Gareth Bale to know that against many odds, he helped his team win the Champions League??

    That being said, if a bigger club offers a player from a smaller club a good sum and offers the club a fair transfer fee, than you can't fault the player for leaving to pursue a higher potential to win some silverware. Additionally, if the smaller club is willing to give up the player BEFORE their contract is up, than the club isn't necessarily showing the player any loyalty. I emphasize "before" because I am a strong believer in "if you love something, let it go", meaning if it were a situation where the player's contract was up and the club says "we'd love to have you stay and here's the form to sign on for four more years, but if you want to leave, we can't stop you and we wish you all the best," than you can't say the club is being disloyal to the player. I feel that will be the case with Cesc Fabregas…I don't doubt Arsene wants him to stay, but he knows Cesc's heart is in Barcelona, so when his contract is up, he'll have the choice.

    I would also like to point out that it's easier to complain about player loyalty when your player is ALREADY at a big club! I'm not saying that I expect players at smaller clubs to NOT have loyalty, and that players at bigger clubs must ALWAYS have it; I'm just saying that I think that a lot of times it might be easier to understand a player at a smaller club transferring because in the end, ballers have to consistently try to better themselves as players, and a lot of times that means transferring to a Real Madrid or a Chelsea. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney wants to leave ManU, and people cry foul. I was definitely one of those people. And now when I think about it, if he was unhappy (even though now we know it was just a ploy to get more money, which is basically despicable), he SHOULD have the right to leave. By the same token, I DON'T appreciate players abandoning clubs mid-season and things like that bc the club isn't doing well. THAT makes me upset. Javier Mascherano boycotting playing at Liverpool because he wanted to go to Barca?? Oh no, sir, that will not do.

    • LuvinBale says:

      I completely agree with everything you said. But if Bale left my beloved Spurs I don’t know what I would do. Do I root for him at his new club or cry everytime I watch Spurs play because he is gone. I think he is a loyal guy and he will stay a little longer with Spurs but he will eventually have to leave.

  15. BarceLisa says:

    Javier Portillo, should have been the new Raul.

  16. Amandinha says:

    Ace Ventuuraaa!!

    But yeah… thats some nice package right there! i'll need a paper bag to get the job done, though.

  17. Jo_ says:

    I agree with the "It's a business so look after yoursef, boyo" view. However, it's nice when players treat their former club with respect. Whatever the circumstances surrounding a transfer, respect the fans who have spent money and passion in supporting the team and sticking by you.

  18. Jo_ says:

    I love how you gush. :D But seriously, how do you get past the comment limiter? Five lines in and it starts nagging me. You can put a dissertation on unrequited love…that's it. Kickette's comment-bot is a softie.

  19. hereforthenando says:

    What? You like Gareth Bale?

    In all honesty, your commitment to your man should be an inspiration to us all at Kickette.

  20. DeeRoma says:

    I know it is a business and it is infinitely easier to like a player over the club. I understand both parties need to look out for the bottom line. However, I do think it depends also on the club the player in demands goes to. I think no matter what league you root for, you don't want to see your best players get bought by the mega teams. I think I'm split down the middle on this issue.

  21. blue_verry says:

    How can players be expected to remain loyal to clubs (big or small) when they're essentially treated and traded as commodities?

  22. Missy Manchester says:

    I think a player should have as much loyalty for a club…as the club has for a player.

    Let's be honest…football clubs are FOR PROFIT operations…so they're always going to do what's in the best interests of the club–not the player. If a club is run like a charity…only a few people benefit for a short time.

  23. Rossanera says:

    If clubs can unceremoniously ship off the legends who have made the club (I cried when Raul left Real Madrid, and I'm not even a Madridista), then players should be able to jump ship if they so choose. Lisa put it best when she said "In the end they can't trust that the club that loves them now will always love them."

    There's something to be said for loyalty – looking at you, Alessandro Del Piero – but I love my boys and I just want them to be happy, even if that means they'll break my heart in the process.

    • Zahara says:

      i cried too when raul left and im not a madridista either..very emotional..hey, but he seems happy, so im happy :)

  24. Mags says:

    I like this side and would love for GB to continue his run with the Spurs. Having said that, it’s his decision. Godspeed, young master Bale.

  25. blitzenTO says:

    I'm sorry, the banana in Gareth's shorts distracted me. What was the question again? @@

  26. "Small" clubs selling players to "big" clubs has been going on for a century; it's not going to change now, so I'll be pre-emptive and tell everyone to get off their high horse about big clubs poaching players. It's the business of football. Small clubs with a valuable young player in their ranks can benefit hugely financially. There is a way to go about it though, and I don't like tapping up and other nefarious dealings. And basically, no, there is no loyalty in football. It's every man for himself. And before you trot out Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs or John Terry or Steven Gerrard as examples of one club men, Paul and Ryan (as much as I adore them) had no where else to go in the world where they would have won more during their careers, John Terry made calf eyes at Man City before he got a huge new contract, and Steven wanted to hand in his transfer request to join Chelsea. Good luck to Gareth in his career (though, may I say that one swallow does not a summer make) and if that career continues at United, he's as welcome as anyone who puts on the sacred red shirt.