Date: 21st March 2008 at 3:03pm
Written by:

Hlebs ice cream expedition and continuing questions about Flamini`s commitment to extending his contract has added to similar concerns earlier in the season following quotes attributed to Bendtner and also to Cesc`s agent. Clearly many see these as displaying a lack of loyalty towards the team but how much loyalty can we expect in the modern game? Was it ever in reality any different? Anelka is held by some as the epitome of disloyalty while Liam Brady is looked upon as one of our greatest midfield players yet he left us not long after his 24th birthday. His best years were spent elsewhere.

Teams are always in transition and players` loyalty to the club and the clubs loyalty to the players extends only as far as they are of benefit to the club and the player. The business of football makes it economically impossible now to keep players on beyond their financially ‘best before` date. Ljungberg apparently made it clear that he wanted to stay but he was given little encouragement to do so and every incentive to leave. For the club it was the right thing to do. Players have to be looked upon as a resource. The clubs loyalty is to the club and its supporters (or more commonly now – its customers). The players loyalty is really only to themselves.

The mentality of the supporter is that the player owes undying loyalty to the club but even that is a one sided loyalty. These and other forums are forever listing players we should get rid of and young players who ‘won`t make the grade`. So the average supporters loyalty to players is only for as long as that player is performing. A poor run of form, a bad month, a bad game even and that player will be put on some supporters exit list. Supporters should bear this in mind when reacting with sensitivity to ‘disloyal’ quotes attributed to players in the press.

The business of football makes loyalty dependent on meeting market value. Arsenal has one of the highest wage bills in the Premiership only exceeded by the distorted finances at Chelsea and very close to that of the higher revenue generating ManU. Loyalty depends on it.