Loyalty - Schmoyalty

Dimitri Payet does not want to play for West Ham United anymore and everyone is losing their poops as if that did not have to happen. Frankly, it is a minor miracle it did not happen earlier. Payet is a bit of a peacock, is he not? And the French are known to be snappy dressers anyway. So the fact that he managed to avoid any pictures of him wearing the Hammer's kit up until now, or never just walked passed a mirror by sheer bad luck, is simply astonishing. Mainly purple, a bit of baby-blue on top of white knickers, West Ham's outfit really is not an easy ensemble to look fashionable in. And now that he finally must have seen himself in it, he decided to leave - what a shocker! Devoted West Ham fans were seen in a valiant effort to convince Payet that one could rock any frock with just enough confidence. Unfortunately, the Frenchman seems to remain unimpressed and still intends to leave.

Picture 1: West Ham fans, rockin' it!

Picture 1: West Ham fans, rockin' it!

Let's turn the page then and move... waaait a second! Just googled this whole thing, like any decent blogger would after starting to write about the subject, and it hit me; Payet's refusal to play has nothing to do with the jerseys!

All right then, time to regroup, a more serious approach clearly is needed here. Payet wants to leave West Ham, and England altogether, to go back to Marseille and play for his former team Olympique. However, Super Slav has other ideas for his future and since this is football, and the reporters are never far, a public stand-off was inevitable. Now, all sorts of accusations and insults are swirling and it is all a bit messy. As I am already half way through this piece, and not willing to start over with my extensive research-process on another topic, I might as well confuse the situation a little further. How better to do it than by going the long way around?

hen prominent players refuse to play for their teams, the outcome has become quite predictable and nowadays almost appears to be a foregone conclusion. Since the Bosman verdict in 1995 turned the power structure in football on its head, effectively taking control from the clubs and handing it over to the players and their, mostly rat-faced, agents, footballers have become more and more scrupulous in enforcing their will. The verdict has rightly been marked as a tipping point but falsely been blamed for many of the ailments plaguing modern professional football. Greedy, overpaid players, disloyalty and an increasing imbalance between rich and poor clubs have all been attributed, at least in part, to the Bosman verdict. However, it is worth remembering that by ruling in Bosman's favour, the European Court of Justice corrected a real injustice at the time. Before he won his case, clubs could demand a transfer fee for players even after their contract had expired. And if the club's demands were not met, they could block a transfer altogether, thereby leaving the player in limbo while neither being under contract nor able to go and play elsewhere. Bosman was right to challenge these rules and deserved to win his case.

Picture 2: Jean-Marc B., footballer turned legal eagle, looking smug

Picture 2: Jean-Marc B., footballer turned legal eagle, looking smug

Players wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity presented. The ruling allowed them to put their current clubs under serious financial pressure to sell them, especially towards the end of their contracts. They could now force a transfer under the threat of otherwise leaving for free. However, somewhere down the line, they just started to take the piss, bullying their way out of contracts earlier and earlier. This then leads us right back to Payet, who signed a new contract with West Ham through 2021 just last February. Whether Payet is trying to do right by his family (very honorable) or just throwing a hissy fit like a right little bitch (very French), even I was not able to discern with certainty. Either way, it seems fair to say he cocked up big time in the way he handled the situation. In my opinion, Payet underestimated West Hams resolve as much as the fans anger. It appears clubs, at least those who can afford it, finally had enough of being pushed around by players dictating the terms.

I remember it all too well when Robert Lewandowski tried to force his way out of Borussia Dortmund, the best team on the planet, to join a criminal organisation in the forbidden lands of the deep south, beyond the river Isar. In 2013, Dortmund could have collected a substantial amount of dirty money right out of Uli Hoeness' gambling fund for underprivileged children. However, in no financial need and with no adequate replacement for their top-striker in sight, the club refused and made Lewandowski play out his contract. Much to his credit, he did so like real professional and was Dortmund's best scorer that year again. Much to his discredit, he then left for said crime syndicate after the season. His career and personal life have since deteriorated and there are rumors of alcohol- and drug abuse (... since now, you read it here first). Anyway, let us not dwell on the past, it is not like I am bitter or keeping tabs or anything. Point is, the tide might have reached its highpoint and the Lewandowski example may be illustrative of a wider change. There is more money in football now than there are top-players to buy with it, especially in the Premier League after the latest TV-deal. Slaven Bilic said it on numerous occasions, the Payet situation is not a money issue for West Ham. The club may go down the same route Dortmund took with Lewandowski. At the time of writing, West Ham have turned down three offers of increasing value out of Marseille.

It could be the best thing to happen to Payet if West Ham actually stayed strong and did not sell him. Were they to let him go during this transfer window, Payet would leave London with his tail between his legs and his reputation as banged up as his car. However, if he were forced to stay, he would also be forced to make a real effort towards mending fences with the club, his teammates and the fans. The supporters attitude towards him and their (un)willingness to eventually forgive him would determine whether Payet could re-write his story and emerge like a phoenix from the ashes of the dumpster fire his career has become. I, for one, would love to see that happening. A player of Payet's ability playing with a massive chip on his shoulder? Bring it on - it is the type of redemption story they make movies about! And to anyone now screaming they would never allow such a disloyal c... back in their good graces, maybe think for a moment what you would tell your boss if you had all the money in the world, another job offer on the table and a wife in your ear to take it?

Beste Grüße,

The Naked German