So here we go again. The pre season mad rush that is the transfer 'merry go round' is well under way and the rumour mill is in full swing.
Forget the January sales (although that will, of course, happen in the mid season 'none break'), the July/August version is the serious one when players agents and club scouts and negotiators earn their money big time and meaningless 3, 4 and 5 year contracts are agreed with a smile and a hand shake in front of gawping media cameras.
By 'meaningless', I mean that no one these days really expects players to see out their contracts. The Bosman ruling has helped contribute to that phenomena but the modern day trends of lack of loyalty and the increasingly avaricious quest for more and more money from players and agents alike make early renegotiation or transfer demands commonplace, particularly for the top names in the Premier League.
Long gone are the days when the bulk of a team was made up from home grown talent whose dream was to represent the team they had grown up watching from the terraces.
It was easy for fans to identify with them. There was a common bond which, inextricably, bound them together for better or worse. The fans knew that these players would not necessarily go bleating for a transfer as soon as they failed to qualify for Europe the next season but would stay and fight for the cause.
There were exceptions even then, of course. Jimmy Greaves, for example, in the 1960s moved from Chelsea to A.C.Milan and then to Tottenham before finishing his League career at Upton Park. Even he, however, can mostly be identified with his period at Spurs where he spent nine prolific years as a more than loyal servant,(averaging more than a goal every one and a half games) helping his club win two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup in the process.
Loyalty today is the exception rather than the rule. For every Ryan Giggs or Jamie Carragher, there are dozens of Craig Bellamys or Ashley Coles; football mercenaries whose idea of club allegiance is to kiss the badge every now and then or throw themselves into row A of their supporters in a fake gesture of solidarity.
They are loyal to the highest bidder and that can change with the wind or, more accurately, the latest whim of an overseas billionaire. While success is sweet, the resulting euphoria must be severely tempered if you are a Chelsea or Man City supporter, in today's climate, knowing that money, rather than the development and nurturing of local young talent, will be the foundation of any future achievements.
Sir Alex Ferguson has his critics and his outlook may be partly due to the financial restrictions he finds himself in at Old Trafford, but his recent comments about encouraging the young players at the club and his reluctance to get involved in a bidding war for, in his opinion, overrated and overpriced players has put him even further up in my estimations.
In a recent interview he said: "There are some good players who have come through the system. They understand the club, they're loyal to the club and we can build through that".
Hurrah for some sanity! Let's hope other leaders of our game take note.
In the mean time, speculation abounds. Will Becks go to West Ham? Will Torres stay at Liverpool? Will Milner go to Man City? What about Scott Parker? Will Peter Crouch yo yo back to Anfield?
All will be revealed in the next few weeks, no doubt, but, what is for sure is that supporters going on holiday soon who do not have, or wish to have, access to a newspaper or computer during their break (that's me by the way!), may find a very different look to their team on their return.
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