Friday, 23 September 2011
This City Has Been Has Totally Fallen Out Of Love With The Game
Wednesday night at Eastlands was not the most exciting night of my footballing life, it was cold, wet, windy and the football on the pitch didn't exactly create excitement and hysteria in the watching fans. The League Cup is suffering somewhat of a crisis, and in recent years it has morphed into the title that 'does a job' the one that 'you'll accept', it isn't really high up on anyones list of priorities until the select clubs get towards the business end of the competition. Even defending holders Birmingham had little to no interest in the tournament, they have far bigger fish to fry and the distraction of the League Cup is an unwanted one.
City on the other hand have a squad capable of challenging for all major honours and I am sure that as the rounds progress stronger squads will be put out each time, amongst the mixture of quality, kids and the downright average was a defender who was signed for £10million not so long ago but now finds himself not just out of the picture but out of the whole art gallery!
Wayne Bridge though is making no effort to get his career back on track, one of many awful signings made by Mark Hughes, Bridge arrived in January 2009 and signed a 4 and a half year deal on a reported £90,000 a week. It was clearly a great offer and at that time City were throwing money around like confetti. He never sparkled however and struggled to hold down a place after the 2009-2010 season and barely featured last season, ultimately being loaned out to West Ham for the second half of the term.
All Summer there has been numerous options for the player to move on, and yet the 30 year old has remained. There was speculation about a move to Newcastle as a replacement for the outgoing Jose Enrique, there was the possibility of moves to QPR and Stoke but none of these rumours seemed to be anything more than heresay. To be quite honest I don't even know if he is good enough for the Premier League any more, his game has deteriorated hugely over the last 3 or 4 years and he did nothing against Birmingham on Wednesday night to demonstrate otherwise, he was pretty much entirely ineffective for the majority of the game.
He could have a future in football though if he wanted one, clearly he would still be more than adequate for a strong Championship team aiming for promotion, he could have made his move to West Ham permanent but again this didn't come off. The inference coming from Eastlands is that the player has lost his motivation for the game pretty much entirely. Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto in a very refreshing display of honesty, described football as a 'job' a couple of years ago, and fair play to him for being open about his thoughts, it would appear Bridge views the game in the same fashion, but without that honesty.
If he had been willing to be flexible he could have found a new club long ago, but it appears that he now has other priorities in his life. Winston Bogarde famously remained professional and continued to draw a wage from Chelsea even after numerous attempts from the club to move him along, he stated that no other club would offer him what he was receiving at Stamford Bridge, so why should he move? Clearly players like this aren't playing for the love they are playing to earn money, and I have no problem with that if the players in question were honest about their mind set.
Bridge is happily ensconsed in leafy Alderley Edge with some pop starlet, they supposedly live happily and other than a few hours training each day he has no other responsibilities. He hasn't been named in the City 25 man squad for the Premier League so he knows that his Saturdays will be free for him to spend as he see's fit. No football loving professional would be happy in this situation but for Bridge it seems perfect. He could have moved on, he could be playing football week in and week out, but he would prefer to spend his time doing other things and still be paid for it.
The concept makes sense to me in many ways, why would you leave a highly paid job to do the same thing for less somewhere else, but this isn't a man who is short of money, he has earnt enough over his career to last him a life time, by this point it makes no difference whether he is earning his 90k a week at city or 20k a week at Leicester. Bridge in my eyes can no longer claim to be a 'professional footballer', he may do what is expected of him so he can continue to be paid, but his desire and love for the game died long ago.