My apologies for turning this column into a game of Hangman, but it is unavoidable if I am to use a phrase that is often bandied about in business negotiations. The saying is: 'Loyalty is what they **** you with'.
If you've been watching football in recent years, you will be perfectly capable of filling in the blanks. If not, here's a clue: Wayne Rooney can say the word.
Seriously, is there anyone out there who believes the concept of loyalty exists in football any more? I ask because the hypocrisy and claptrap that has been doing the rounds since Darren Bent's transfer from Sunderland to Aston Villa has been staggering to behold.
All at sea: how Steve Bruce would appear in Pirates of the Caribbean
Apparently Bent is a traitor, Judas, mercenary or a combination of all three because he changed jobs for more money. Some unevolved specimens of humanity even went on Twitter to post death threats, proving you don't necessarily need opposable thumbs to type. Well, grow up.
We hear this nonsense every time a player switches clubs. While a certain amount of hollow outrage is to be expected from fans, as their allegiances are understandably blind, what is truly depressing is the fact that professionals in the game, who should know better, have been feeding this indignant twaddle.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has been the prime culprit, complaining bitterly like a jilted lover. First there was denial, then anger; next comes bargaining, depression and finally acceptance - hopefully before the week is through. Right now he is stuck in his tearful denial stage, sobbing loudly about how 'the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down' by Bent.
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Besides, Bruce is not best placed to offer judgment from any moral high ground. His history shows he has a chameleon-like ability to change colours if there's more money or a new opportunity to be had.
As many will remind him, he walked out of Wigan Athletic after just eight weeks. The glue holding his nameplate to the office door barely had time to dry before he was off to take charge at Crystal Palace.
But that wasn't enough, as he then quit Palace just 11 weeks into the new season for the job at Birmingham City. By now they had given up with nameplates and were just sticking an Etch-A-Sketch to Bruce's office door with a picture of a cuckoo on it.
The man is now on his seventh club as a boss. At least when Robert Maxwell jumped ship he had the decency to disappear. Bruce, however, has been leaping from rigging to rigging like Captain Jack Sparrow on speed, plundering riches merrily along the way.
The trait is not just confined to his management career, either. Those with longer memories will recall how Bruce went on strike at Norwich City and refused to play when his proposed transfer to Manchester United hit a hitch over the transfer fee. He insisted the club were 'denying him the move of a lifetime' and, in the end, Bruce had his way. Loyalty didn't figure greatly in the process.
Don't get me wrong. Bruce is a personable man, a good manager at Sunderland and he is entitled to pursue opportunities in the game as and when they arise. My issue is with his inability to apply the same principles to Bent. Either way, I'm sure we can agree he's hardly in a position to preach to anybody about 'loyalty' in football.
Then there are the journalists pontificating on Bent's decision. They seem to be people who have a) never been offered a job elsewhere and remain unburdened by the concept of choice, or b) forgotten they would run headlong into the arms of a new employer if they offered so much as a better mileage rate.
You'd have done the same too: New Aston Villa signing Darren Bent (right) poses with Gerrard Houllier (left)
One asked: 'What is left for fans to believe? Does it mean that every time they watch their idols kiss the club badge they are watching nothing but a cruel counterfeit?'
Hmm, let's think about that for a moment. I'm guessing the answer is 'yes', unless they still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Basically, Bruce has to trot out this loyalty tosh to counter the idea that Sunderland haven't been embarrassed by the Villa swoop, but the media don't have to swallow it.
People who deserve loyalty usually receive it. Loyalty is a two-way street. Let's be honest, Sunderland, like every other top club, would have had no hesitation dumping a player if it suited their ends and I doubt they will be overly concerned about the sensitivities of any rivals when they go out to spend their £24million windfall on replacements.
Besides, should Bruce ever get the call for the Manchester United job or for the England post, hands up all of those who think 'loyalty' to Sunderland will hold him back? I thought so.
Well done to Clarke Carlisle. The public at large and the media industry are quite happy to peddle stories of thick footballers and their daft exploits (yes, me included, just to spare you the email). Heaven knows there hasn't exactly been a dearth of material over the years. But let us redress the balance.
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Burnley defender Clarke took his place on the BBC Question Time panel on Thursday night. He spoke good sense, conducted himself with dignity and it was enough to outshine the posturing political clowns alongside him.
Admittedly, this wasn't difficult. George Galloway shouted his way through the programme, Alastair Campbellignorantly hectored and interrupted everyone as he spun his usual pro-Iraq War propaganda, the Tory woman said little of consequence and Simon Hughes was resolutely reasonable but utterly compromised in everything he said, as Liberal Democrats are these days.
So by the end of the night, it was quite refreshing to find the blustering hawks and blowhards had been eclipsed and a footballer turned out to be the most likeable and respected guy in the room.
Eric's back. Yes, this week the announcement was made that Eric Cantona is the new 'director of soccer' at New York Cosmos amid a flurry of welcome publicity. This was fascinating news. Or at least it will be . . . when they actually exist.
The problem is the New York Cosmos don't need a director of soccer right now because they aren't playing any. And they haven't been playing any since they were dissolved in 1985. They are a name and an idea only at present and there is no guarantee they will return.
Eric's back. or maybe not: Manchester United legend Cantona is the new director of football at New York Cosmos. But they don't yet exist
Characters like former Tottenham Hotspur director Paul Kemsley are negotiating to land an MLS franchise in New York, but the outcome is by no means certain as the New York Metsbaseball operation is also chasing the prize. Even if the Cosmos bid does succeed it will take at least two more years to establish.
As so often these days, the fuss was just public relations hot air. Cantona himself says: 'It is project - a mix between football and art.'
Indeed. And for the time being it is entirely abstract, like an exhibition of Jackson Pollocks.
The Spanish for Groundhog Day is apparently Dia de la Marmota and they're celebrating it this week at Real Madrid.
With tedious familiarity, manager Jose Mourinho has started grumbling about a refereeing conspiracy in La Liga, clashed with the club hierarchy, says he will not tolerate interference with team selection and is now putting it about that he is unhappy and considering an exit.
It was the same template at Chelsea and Inter Milan. To complete the mind-numbing cycle, you can bet the weekend will not pass without Mourinho being linked with a big Premier League club. I'm off to dig my burrow.
Pele's just one example of Olympic double-dealing
Did you see that Pele has weighed in with his opinion on the Olympic Stadium debate?
That's right. Apparently, the Brazilian football legend woke up in Rio de Janeiro on Friday morning racked with anxiety about the fate of London's 2012 arena.
Let us put aside the notion that this wonderful player has been reduced to a Mastercard-flogging, Viagra-peddling rent-a-quote during long years of commercial prostitution.
Instead, let us try and believe he genuinely cares whether West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur should take over a stadium 6,000 miles away from his homeland out of the goodness of his heart.
Powerful voice: Pele has weighed into the Olympic Stadium debate
Pele said: 'I don't really understandwanting to play with a track around the pitch. The players won't like it and it probably won't last.'
There is another scenario, however. Pele's sudden support for Tottenham could be linked to the fact that Mike Lee, a former West Ham director now being paid to push Spurs' cause, was also involved in Rio's Olympic bid. You see how it works?
As the tug-of-war intensifies, paid lobbyists are being allowed to spout spurious claims and the whole process has descended into an ugly mess of conflicted interests, politicking and double-dealing. West Ham are probably on the phone to Sir Geoff Hurst right now.
Whatever happens at the end of this week, I see nothing ahead but a mess of recriminations and litigation.
But remember how David Cameron came home from the World Cup bid whining that FIFA delegates had broken promises to him and Prince William?
If Spurs succeed with their plan of knocking down the stadium and the track, it will be interesting to hear him explain why we broke our own Olympic pledges.
Houllier: managers are picking on me because I'm French! Villa and Sunderland row rumbles on after Bent transfer Charles Sale: 2012 Olympic Stadium legacy expert left two years agoSpurs chairman Levy pens open letter to fans after final Olympic submissionPete Jenson: Jose's love affair with Real is heading for a nasty break-up Explore more:People: Geoff Hurst, Steve Bruce, Mike Lee, Alastair Campbell, Robert Maxwell, Simon Hughes, Paul Kemsley, Jack Sparrow, Jose Mourinho, David Cameron, Darren Bent, George Galloway, Wayne Rooney Places: London, Rio De Janeiro, New York, United Kingdom