By David Johnson
Loyalty is an incredibly intriguing concept within the realm of football. There seems to be no middle ground on the issue with fans completely polarized on the morals or lack thereof of modern footballers. Some feel that it is an inevitable by-product of the wealth that has been injected into the game. As it is often put, if you were offered twice your current salary to do the same job while working for a more prestigious firm, could you turn it down? Others though feel that a player should be indebted to the club who invested so much towards their development and as such they should be expected to turn a blind eye to more illustrious opportunities. Arsenal fans were disgusted with the manner in which Samir Nasri engineered his move the city of Manchester, but what they forget is that he was poached from Marseille. Why would they expect him to have any loyalty for Arsenal?Although they aided his development, Marseilles was a stepping stone to higher prominence with Arsenal and ultimately Arsenal proved to be a stepping stone to Manchester City and the promise of competing for numerous titles over the course of the next decade.
It is not just players faced with these choices but managers as well. Roberto Martinez was approached by Aston Villa in the summer, yet he chose to stay with Wigan and he should be applauded for his loyalty. However Wigan have flirted with relegation since their ascension to the premier league and it seems only a matter of if rather than when they will eventually return to the lower leagues. The stark reality is that although Martinez has bought himself time with his gesture of loyalty that another manager would not be afforded. If they struggle within the Championship,Dave Whelan will have no choice but to seek fresh leadership.(I’m sure Neil Warnock will be hanging around, willing to take another team up). Martinez will more than likely leap into a role with another team in the lower reaches of the Championship and like so many other young talented managers,will more than likely struggle to find stability. With Aston Villa he would have a higher calibre of players at his disposal to implement the attacking philosophy he has tried to introduce at Wigan. He would have had access to greater funds and would have the chance to build a side in his own image with a core nucleus of young English talent.
This is the catch 22 in football whereby promising young managers are overlooked for the highest positions because of their lack of exposure to dealing with bigger egos and their inexperience dealing with a sizable transfer budget, but how are they meant to accrue this knowledge and experience if they are never exposed to it. The harsh reality of this game is that overnight you can be turned from a hero to a villain. The margins of success and failure are so fine that when an opportunity comes along, it might be your last, so can we really condemn those who choose to seize it?