Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Absurd for Fans to Yearn for Football's Good Old Days They Never Even Existed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Absurd for Fans to Yearn for Football's Good Old Days They Never Even Existed

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Evans @tonyevans92a

THE word 'mercenary' has been bandied about a lot this week. It has been used so often about Dimitri Payet that it is surprising Karren Brady has not tried to trademark it.

West Ham are not the only London club going through a spell of breastbeating because one of their stars wants to leave.

At Chelsea, the fury directed at Diego Costa is palpable. Tianjin Quanjian of the Chinese Super League are said to be prepared to pay the striker PS30million a year.

Supporters who would switch jobs in an instant for a PS30 per week pay hike rage at the Brazilian-born 28-year-old's disloyalty.

Some yearn for the simpler, less craven days before money distorted modern football. It's absurd.

There is a splendid irony at the thought of Chelsea being bullied financially over players. This is a club that helped transform the game and inflate the transfer market in the immediate aftermath of Roman Abramovich's takeover 14 years ago.

Costa is highly paid and signed up for the next two years but he has little allegiance to Chelsea.

He knows that contracts only matter to a club when a player is productive. It's a brutal business when you become surplus to requirements. No matter how happy and settled a player is, he is shown the door when he falls out of favour.

Those who refuse to leave are put through a series of indignities designed to force them out. Training with junior teams is one tactic. At Chelsea, Nicolas Anelka and Alex were banned from the first-team block at Cobham and told to move their vehicles to the youth car park. It does not matter how much a footballer earns, daily humiliations have a wearing effect. It is the other side of the coin to a player going on strike. Both sides are loyal only when it suits them.

Payet's loyalty has been a big talking point at the London Stadium. The Frenchman is talented but the only reason he ended up in the East End for a knockdown fee of PS10.7m was his reputation as a troublemaker.

For all his flair, the 29-year-old was always likely to push the self-destruct button. It is no surprise that Payet is looking for a way back to Marseille now things are not going so well for Slaven Bilic's team. …

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