Is there any loyalty left in modern football?

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The game has changed since the 1970s, when players would break into a first team and generally stay at that club for the rest of their careers. However, as time has passed, there are not so many one club players around. Contracts tend not to mean anything in the modern era; they only increase the value of the player. Players may not see out contracts and now they have more power, so if they want moves they will get them.

In recent seasons, Aston Villa has become more of a feeder club for the bigger teams. When players have left, the club hasn’t really replaced them with players of a good enough standard, which hasn’t gave the fans much optimism or seen the promised “bright future” materialise.

It’s no secret that Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar are both out of contract at the end of the season. The club seems to have offered the two key players new and improved contracts. However, the players have been reluctant to sign on the dotted line.  What do the club officials do now?

Delph came in for a large sum from Leeds and was plagued with injuries, including a ruptured cruciate ligament in his knee that ruled him out of action for eight months. The club, especially Randy Lerner, remained ‘loyal’ to the player when many chairmen may have cut their losses. The club stuck by Delph and staff were there to support the now England international. Now he has had an England call up, it seems to have turned his head. After being in the England dressing room, with players from the big teams talking ambitiously about their respective clubs, what does Delph have to say about Villa?

In October last year Fabian Delph was quoted as saying “I’d love to be here for the rest of my career”, which raised the fans’ hopes that the player would remain loyal. Recent reports have squashed these hopes and left Villa fans wondering how likely it is that we will find a player who will be able to fill the void left by Delph.

Ron Vlaar is another player who has been linked with numerous teams. After a summer of speculation following a good World Cup with Holland, it seems that the links will not go away. The player’s agent has added fuel to the fire by confirming that it is likely that the Dutch defender will leave the club:

“It is obvious that for Ron, now is the moment to make a nice big move in his career. Ron is very ambitious.

The situation is ideal for Ron right now. You can imagine that we are not in a hurry. I don’t want to react to the rumour that he will move to either Arsenal or Man United, but Ron is very ambitious.”

It doesn’t bode well that the captain of the club may be allowed to leave on a free. On the other hand, I feel that he can be replaced and if we get a good offer in January the club should take it and invest the money from a sale back in the team. While Delph is a vital member of the squad, Vlaar is not someone we can rely on to play week in, week out.

When players have left in the past, it has caused uproar and it is never nice to see key players move on. This was the case for several players including Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young: the first time big clubs came sniffing around them, they jumped at the chance to leave Villa Park. With the exception of Gareth Barry, the key players who have left in recent seasons have not been able to replicate the form they showed while playing for Aston Villa. Ashley Young has won trophies and may have fulfilled his dreams but he played a bit-part role and has lost his place in the England squad.

Gabriel Agbonlahor is a player who has stuck with the Villans through the good times and the bad, which has been respected by the Villa faithful. Has he ever been genuinely linked with a big team? Gabby had the potential to be a top player but that hasn’t really worked out and now the only thing I feel makes him a threat is his pace. Without this, I doubt he’d be in the Villa team. The former England international does have games when he is unplayable but they don’t come around frequently enough. If he were a more consistent player, he would have had the top teams looking at him much more closely and, in turn, Villa fans would have seen his supposed loyalty really put to the test.

Matt Le Tissier is a prime example of a player who was capable of leading the line for a number of top teams but he remained at Southampton for the rest of his league career, having very nearly joined Tottenham in 1990 after originally agreeing to join them.  That sort of loyalty is sadly lacking nowadays and we should expect very little loyalty from members of our current squad.

5 COMMENTS

  1. But even in the 70’s players moved on ever here tell of Davis Platt ? and there were plenty of others who have succeeeded at Villa and moved on . And it’s not just players who want the dosh as a regular clamour from fans is for money to be spent on buying success and who can’t ignore the lure of more dosh ? As that’s not exclusive to footie players

  2. As Villa fan, we must face reality.

    Point 1) At some point, manager tactics call into question. Out of favour players, Andy Weimann being played out of position.

    2) Likely third straight struggle against Drop with Lambert at helm. Funding and takeover talk aside, where’s the progress? No better than previous manager.

    3) Villa players honest bunch, but season after season of struggle will test any player.

  3. There hasn’t been any loyalty in football for a long time cos to most players it’s just a job, the same as laying blocks or trading shares.

    As far as clubs are concerned players are investments that will either increase in value or will help them earn more by winning trophies etc. Why shouldn’t players act like comodities when they’re being treated like them.

    As for Gabby the only reason he’s loyal to the club is cos there is no chance of him getting a better offer and he knows it. He’s always been an ‘almost’ player and will soon be a never was.

  4. Loyalty isn’t a dirty word it’s more of a feeling, what I mean by this is that us supporters want our top players to stay with our club for the duration of their careers. The reality is somewhat different with vast amounts of cash to be earned playing in or being a part of a very successful squad, most if not all of the best players around put themselves up for grabs to the highest bidder the team that can offer the most in wages,in competitions like the Champions league and (this one pisses me off) being able to cement thei position at international level . The other side of this is that the selling club will try to get as much cash for them as possible knowing full well that they can’t hold back the player’s desire or ambition to move on.

    For me all players are up for grabs it just depends on which club is doing the buying and which club has the greatest ambition (cash flow).

    The other thing is most players have if you like a use by date. Because a team is always evolving the turnover can be massive, if he stays for four years you’ve had good usage out of him, if he never gets picked to play you can bet your last pound he will want to move on, so why do we expect loyalty? The answer is we shouldn’t. You buy a player you get the best out of him, if not you move him on and so it should be ….. The players are after all a commodity and you’re buying their craft…

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