Sunday 25 February 2018

Fabian Delph and James McClean's off-season storms in matching teacups

'It’s refreshing to see a footballer believe in something, anything'
'It’s refreshing to see a footballer believe in something, anything'
Fabian Delph chose to swap Aston Villa for Manchester City

Ger Gilroy

Fabian Delph and James McClean managed this week to upset fans of the last two relatively big midlands football clubs in England.

Aston Villa were first told by Delph that Delph, their captain, had rejected the chance to move to Manchester City and presumably trouser a massive pay increase. So they had it from a good source. Massive celebrations. Apparently having had a conversation with Micah Richards who had just left City he changed his mind. (Nice work there Micah, great start to your Villa career!)

McClean offended the British establishment and a load of Irish people too by turning his back on the English flag during the anthem. I clicked on the YouTube of a pre-season friendly to see the pre-match rituals involving West Brom in America to see what the fuss was about. About 15 seconds in and before the fateful moment I realised that I was getting sucked into a nonsense wormhole that would vacuum up my time.

Who cares if McClean doesn't like the song or the flag? It's almost certain he's an attention seeker, which isn't a crime, but he gets paid to football and not to worship icons. The notion that he should leave England to play football for less money and he's a hypocrite for taking sterling is a dangerous line to walk. England for the English or only those who think like the English? It's an idea that works for Nigel Farage alright but maybe you'd expect the football media to have a slightly more calibrated view. Maybe not.

While Delph looks foolish for changing his mind, or rather for having to change it, it's clear he did the right thing for his long-term financial security. His "greed" will eventually be forgotten by almost everyone. For McClean the outrage won't dim for a while and ultimately it will affect his ability to make money the next time it comes to negotiating a contract but reading the outrage about his bowed head and closed eyes you'd think he'd used the flag as toilet paper. Let's be clear here, the two incidents are about on a par. There is a slightly upset bunch of fans who'll get over themselves. This would never happen when there's actual football to report on.

Irish Independent

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