Monday 1 May 2017

Same old hypocrisy over Payet and Costa

Off the ball

West Ham's Dimitri Payet
West Ham's Dimitri Payet

Joe Molloy

The football world, no more than the world at large, is not immune to bouts of great and glaring hypocrisy. There has been hand-wringing and tut-tutting aplenty in the commentary and general dismay surrounding duplicitous duo, Dimitri Payet and Diego Costa, both of whom are keen to leave England, citing reasons such as lifestyle, family and lots more money.

One newspaper reported that West Ham fans are "heartbroken" and in "utter shock".

These are the same souls who booed Sam Allardyce all the way to promotion from the Championship in 2012 and latterly smashed in Manchester United's bus as a farewell to the Boleyn Ground.

Chelsea fans have had their failings as well, to put it mildly. Both, one suspects, will survive this heartache and shock.

Payet's manager Slaven Bilic feels "let down and angry. We gave him (Payet) everything, we were always there for him. I expect him to show commitment".

Harry Redknapp experienced similar woes as manager of West Ham in 1997. He was "bitter and angry" when his top striker and future West Ham manager Slaven Bilic wanted away.

Redknapp bemoaned: "He's on a fantastic contract, the highest paid player."

Bilic patiently explained the obvious: "We are professionals - all players know, if anyone gets the chance of a big club, he must take it." Indeed.

Neither Payet, nor Costa, are in line for sainthood, of course. Both, it seems, have declined to play, a tactic which doesn't enamour, but it is a tactic nonetheless. The notion of 'loyalty' has been raised; do these players have no loyalty to the club? The short and understandable answer is no. And why should they? Clubs and owners treated players abysmally for decades.

Payet wants to return home. His family, struggling in London, have already moved back. Marseilles will also give him more money. What fan, journalist, manager or owner would think twice?

Costa meanwhile doesn't like London. Never has. He is there for his career and money. He can be just as miserable in China and make £30m a year.

Frankly, if I'd grown up in a Sao Paulo favela, I'd probably want every penny for my family before retirement too.

These players are professionals. They have triumphed in the most global and hardened of meritocracies; an industry which will one day brutally cast them aside.

Is their perspective so shameful?

Irish Independent

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