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Where's your loyalty, eh?

Should LFC fans really feel betrayed by Torres' transfer request? Tony Schumacher looks at the evidence

Published on February 3rd 2011.


Where's your loyalty, eh?

MY mate stared into his pint and slowly shook his head. “I know football is a business nowadays, and I understand that they have a short career and need to make the most of what time they have, but I’m gutted. You know, I thought he was different. ”

If a player remains at a club for any lengthy period of time today, it’s only because someone hasn’t offered him enough money to go somewhere else

I nodded, concerned that I’d not seen him like this since his girlfriend told him it was either her or the X-Box. “All that talk of loving the club, and now he wants to go. I can’t believe it.”

So it was in 2004 when Rooney headed down the M62, to join the Reds after leaving the Blues.

One wonders, as Fernando sits in his car at the Rocket pondering what route to take, if similar conversations will be had this week as he heads down the motorway to join the Blues after leaving the Reds.

Flitting through the fan forums this weekend felt like circling the room at a wake, catching snatches of gloomy conversation such as: “I’d let him rot in the reserves for 18 months, somehow I doubt he’d be so unprofessional and ungrateful.” Or “We’re going to have to get used to playing without him, the sooner the better...he’s no use to us with that sort of attitude”, and “the thought of him sulking around the pitch while he costs us thousands a week makes me sick”.

Those Blackpool fans seem pretty upset don’t they? God knows what the Liverpool forums are like. Too scared to look.

Of course there are certain players who are held up as beacons to days of yore; Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs or Tony Hibbert to name a few. But let’s look at each of their situations. It’s true Gerrard has remained at Liverpool, but don’t forget, it was only a few years ago his case was packed and the Bentley was loaded before he mysteriously changed his mind and stayed at Anfield, rumour abounds as to the reasons for that change of heart, but I’m sure the £140k a week went some way to reminding him where his loyalties lay.

What about Giggs? Well his is a special case in that in his prime where else could he go? At the time, United were the biggest team in the world and his was among the highest wages, he bumped against a cut glass ceiling with his other “loyal” Man U friends. Only Beckham moved on from their golden generation, and he didn’t jump, he was pushed. What of Hibbert? Would anyone else have had him?

Fact is, if a player remains at a club for any lengthy period of time today, it’s only because someone hasn’t offered him enough money to go somewhere else.

This weekend, the magic of the FA Cup was conjured to entertain us once again, ESPN and ITV enticed us with footage of black and white players on muddy pitches shrouded in cigarette smoke.

Poetic Shakespearian voiceovers spoke of white horse finals, Finney, Lofthouse, Mathews and Moore like Henry stirring the blood of his troops at the walls of Harfluer!

But as I sat watching Drogba clutching his face for the tenth time I realised that the only thing they were stirring was their coffers and the greatest magic on display was creating the illusion that football was still a game.

The very clubs we support are now no longer really part of our community: one has only to look to Spurs’ unseemly bid for that Olympic stadium to see how little they seem to care about the fans the move would inconvenience.

And when Everton almost moved to Kirkby to pack bags at Tesco’s was there a tear shed for the shops of County Rd by the Peoples Club? Of course there wasn’t, because Uncle Bill told us they needed to move to stay alive, a bit like a shark does.

We like to pretend the only loyal people in the game nowadays are the fans, but ask yourself honestly, if West Ham came along and offered you ten grand a week to cheer them on I’m sure the jellied eels wouldn’t touch the sides. I know I’d be hopping off the Tube like Dick Van Dyke in my pearly suit at Upton Park in minutes, so given the chance would we be any different from the players we call mercenaries?

To say football is a business and players are businessmen, they aren’t loyal and they don’t care may be too simple a statement to be true in all cases, but it applies in most, and for all our booing and their kissing the badge, we need to understand Shankly was only joking when he said it’s more important than life or death. After all, money isn’t everything... is it?

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2011.

Good comment. Anyone who pays the wages, season ticket holder, SKY Sports subscriber is an idiot. When are you all going to wake up. They don't matter.

ADJanuary 31st 2011.

Do the cheep digs at Everton make you feel better? All comes across as rather bitter.

I bet Liverpool fans wont be complaining when Charlie Adam dumps blackpool to come and earn more money or to have a better chance of a trophy in his short carear.

EditorialJanuary 31st 2011.

Actually, AD, Tony is an Evertonian, but we keep it quiet. Damn!

saladdazeJanuary 31st 2011.

That old scouser had it right when he said that capitalism tends to monopoly. The rules by which Starbucks and Walmart and General Motors and Tesco and BAe Systems live (and die) are the same rules which apply to footy. Some clubs are sustained as vanity projects by crooks; most just operate in a rigged global market and delude their fans into thinking that every week every team will win and none will lose. Basically at the end of the day it's a game of two halves going forward. Like. The answer is in Looking for Eric or Micmacs - or, for older viewers and people's club supporters, The Golden Vision.

TaxpayerFebruary 1st 2011.

I take that VAT at 20% will be payable on these transactions?

I know they are all millionairs used to having their own way tax-free but after all we are all supposed to be in this bankers' mess together.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2011.

So 1500 jobs are to go in Liverpool because the council needs to find £91 million savings.

Meanwhile, one job is worth £50m.

Anyone who pays to see these jerks is a dickhead. Fans, stop clogging up the internet twittering and wittering about them, and stop believing that daft old Shankly rubbish about football being more important than life. MOVE ON.

Big JuddaFebruary 1st 2011.

Well said 'Anonymous' - Stop buying Sky Sports and see how the river stops running with money and football becomesworking class again. ~I KNOW I'M DREAMING. God bless Billy Liddell and Ralph William Dean

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2011.

This article is all over the place... the REDS are liverpool yet they sight Man U as the REDS they are RED and BLACK..... who is teh article about? torres leaving or Man u having 'really loyal' players? yeah right..... think you should have got someone who wasn't biased against LFC and Liverpool generally to write this article.

soft joeFebruary 1st 2011.

Typical bluenose, can't resist the digs at LFC and Gerrard. Quiet night, was it?

Dear, dear meFebruary 1st 2011.

Can't win here. One minute the writer is called an Everton hater, the next a Liverpool hater. As for me, I think there is no bias whatsoever in this piece, which is about loyalties, and you are making yourself to look exactly like the sort of dickhead anonymous refers to.

Do you honestly think the sports writers and reporters in all of our newspapers, radio and TV have no club allegiances? Phil McNulty the BBC's chief soccer writer for example is as bitter a blue as you will find.

Grow up and get someone to draws some pictures with red and blue crayons.

RealistFebruary 1st 2011.

Who are whingeing Liverpool going to blame now?

Erik DerojaFebruary 1st 2011.

I don't see anybody thanking Torres for the time he has spent at Liverpool. If I was in his shoes I'd be thinking that it was time to change something new. Like any job, no matter how well paid, there must come a time when you feel that it's time for a change. Good luck to him, though I don't wish him every success, especially playing against Liverpool
Good artical Tony. I didn't find it bitter, more of lager top.

Stuart LeighFebruary 1st 2011.

There is no loyalty in football any more, it's who waves the biggest pay check. Has been for years. But the "I'm at a big club now" from Torres was a bit much. He was great for us but in the end we won nothing with him in the team. Hopefully onwards and upwards

Family ManFebruary 1st 2011.

The family means everything to me, we live and breath the family in our house, so did my father and his father before him. That´s why it´s always painful when I have to sell the children and get new ones, ones of a higher calibre, able to pass higher level exams, better job prospects to make money for me.

Sometimes when we sell a couple of the children, they are bitter about it and moan about how they are better off now with a top rated family. Actually it just means that it´s a family that could afford to buy them from us and will give them better, more expensive toys.

Family loyalty is everything to me – but only for the family you are with at the time. Yes, it´s hard selling the kids you have worshipped, even harder when the little b*stards find a family they would prefer to live with and leave you. But that means I can afford to buy better and more talented kids, kids to be proud of. And those kids will be cherished and adored unless the little swines want to move on or I spot some better ones, then they can sod off. But that´s what family loyalty is about, nothing to do with you lot. So stop getting on your high horse, this is family business and to be honest, we couldn't give a toss what you think.

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