Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Players' desperation for Champions League football wrecks their chances of being remembered

Halls of fame at football clubs are accumulating mites and dustballs, so seldom are inductions in the modern day. Loyalty has been replaced by immediacy. Players, managers and clubs must succeed now and to hell with the big picture as everyone chases the dream.

None of this is news to us, of course, but it is a problem that will affect Tottenham more than any other Premier League club this summer, as the chasm between Champions League and Europa League qualification takes affect.

Top player after top player will brush aside our advances in favour of European Cup football unless the club can convince them that we are going places (and that they have to live on slightly less money).

With just Europa League football to offer prospective playing staff, our summer has started on the back foot.

We have already missed out on top target Joao Moutinho from FC Porto and we are failing to keep Gareth Bale off Real Madrid's radar.

The latest warning shot that our fifth-place finish could draw a big red line through our transfer shortlist comes from a long-term target, Internacional striker Leandro Damiao.

Damiao, 23, told the Sunday Mirror: "I would prefer to play in the Champions League but the most important thing is that they share the same ambition I have."

Not only does he almost compliment the club - by hinting that our drive to succeed might just live up to his own heady horizons - but he also leaves the door open for Europe's elite to beat us to his signature.

If Damiao really must chase the Champions League dream to the letter - and the day - then let's hope he joins Real Sociedad and they go out in the qualifiers.

But it's not just incoming players that display this impatient desperation.

Roberto Mancini was fired by Manchester City for coming second in the Premier League, Wayne Rooney wants out of Manchester United because he is not playing as often as he would like and Roberto Martinez has called time on his Wigan reign after being relegated to the Championship.

There is no doubt that agents play their part in convincing subjects to cash in while their stock is high but there are more and more glowing examples of the grass not always being greener.

Harry Redknapp refused to nail his colours to our mast when the England job came up, playing some part in his downfall as Spurs boss and he has now been relegated with QPR.

Mark Hughes left a burgeoning Blackburn Rovers setup for Manchester City - last week he was appointed Stoke boss having been fired by Fulham and almost been relegated with QPR.

Fernando Torres left Liverpool for Chelsea under a £50million price tag. His form dried up dramatically and, without the goals he provided at the Anfield club, Liverpool are not top-five - let alone top four.

Even Cesc Fabregas, who left Arsenal for Barcelona in August 2011, is already unhappy with his role in the squad.

All of the above left behind the opportunity to go down in their respective clubs' hall of fame. They gave up full stadia of fans singing their name and the chance to be remembered as an idol by forever loyal followers.

If there is anything the 2012-13 Premier League season has shown us, it's that the other side of the coin pays far greater dividends.

Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson retired at the top of the pile, Jamie Carragher had TWO farewell parties at a packed-out Anfield and even Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper was given a hero's send off, despite making only 157 appearances in 20 years at St James' Park.

Fabregas need only look to Frank Lampard, who has been told time after time that his Chelsea days are numbered only to knuckle down, break Bobby Tambling's all-time Blues scoring record and earn the contract talks he had been denied all season.

Eyeing the big prize can out work - Robin van Persie's title-winning move to Manchester United is testament to that. And nobody can deny the glamour of David Beckham's globe-trotting.

But even new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has exchanged a journeyman lifestyle of trophies and galacticos to go "somewhere he is loved", so perhaps those like Leandro should start taking that into account.

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