Why Van Dijk Needed To Stay And Then Had To Go !
Monday, 8th Jan 2018 11:09
The Virgil Van Dijk saga rolled on for six months and without a doubt his prima donna behaviour has damaged this season, but it was an event that needed to happen.
After the events of the summer of 2014 when Saints lost a big chunk of their squad in a crazy couple of months with 3 of them going to Liverpool, followed by a couple more summers of sales, many Saints fans have had the perception that Saints actually wanted to sell all these players and that they put up no resistance.
Social media is full of Saints supporters slagging off the club and claiming that they are only interested in money and that the moment a bid comes in that Les Reed and Ralph Krueger rub their hands with glee.
But the reality has always been a little different, firstly in every summer there have been players desperate to go because they are being offered big money contracts elasewhere, but have been held to that contract.
In 2014 it was morgan Schneiderlin who was told he was staying, his initial reaction was to take to twitter and moan, but after missing a couple of games to get his head right, he returned to the side and put in a decent season and got the move he craved.
Likewise the following summer Victor Wanyama wanted to go to Spurs, agan he had a little hissy fit and missed games not least a trip to Denmark in the Europa League that saw us eliminated with his absence not helping, but in the second half of the season he knuckled down and helped us to sixth.
In 2016 it was Jose Fonte who suddenly has delusions of grandeur and with his agent driving tried to engineer a move to Manchester United, something that lead the United board to question their new managers motives only weeks after he arrived, Fonte was told he had to stay and honour a contract that he was happy to sign six months earlier.
He tried to justify his actions by claiming he wanted to leave because Saints had no ambition, but the clue lay in after the United deal fell through and he suddenly found that there was no one better than Saints who wanted him, he ended up at West Ham, desperate for a short term fill.
But if there was anyone who lacked ambition it was Jose Fonte, after all with the club in a League Cup semi final it was a chance for him to ingratiate himself back in the fold and truly enter the twilight of his career on a high, but for Fonte it was not about ambition it was about money.
The sad thing about the Fonte situation was that he feels so bitter about the decision he took that he still feels the need to take to social media to slag off Saints, why would he need to do that to a club that took him from the Championship at Palace and made him not only a Premier League player but a European Championship winner with Portugal ?
The answer is that players in the main ultimately have little loyalty to any club they play for, it is all about money, yes playing for a big club comes into it, but that is only because in the main how much money a club is willing to pay a player is in direct correllation to their standing in the game.
But if Fonte showed us what the reality of football is today, Virgil Van Dijk took it to a different level !
It is true that Saints fans are fed up with players being sold, they ask why don't other clubs sell so many, the answer is simple they dont produce and find so many class players, that is the downside of our success, we have a system, it works well, but it is a conveyor belt, we have to accept that.
But the fans seemed unable to, their perception has always been that the club are the most willing participants in each transfer, it is not the player who wants to play for a bigger club with of course much more money in wages, it is not the buying club who are working behind the scenes tapping up players and luring them away, it is almost as if some Saints fans think we put the sale notices up every summer.
This is why the Virgil Van Dijk saga had to happen, the realities of how the likes of Liverpool etc tap up our players had to be exposed (in fairness every club does it, it is only the level of money offered etc that changes), the greed of players had to be exposed, the greed of agents had to be exposed, but more importantly the fact that it is not just as simple as telling a player he is staying and getting him to play had to be exposed.
At the end of last season I would suggest a big proportion of our support was under the impression that all Saints had to do to keep a player was to tell him he was under contract and that was the end of the matter, but now they know the truth.
But the truth had to be learn't the hard way, if Van Dijk had simply been allowed to go then the supporters would be up in arms and claiming that Saints just roll over every time a club makes an offer and pointing to the past three summers.
So Saints had to flex their muscles and show their supporters just what happens when a multi millionaire footballer is told he has to honour a contract, what we saw was shameful, but it showed us what the reality is in today's game, Saints do not lack ambition, they lack the financial resources of those big six clubs in the Premier League.
So the Virgil Van Dijk debacle needed to happen, he needed to be made to stay, he needed to be sold to show Saints supporters that the focus of the club is keeping it's best players as long as they can and trying to win football matches, but also to show the fans th disruption that can cause.
Of course ideally players would honour their contracts, but these days contracts are not a measure of how long a player is going to stay at a club, they are only there so that a club can protect a players value to a degree.
When Van Dijk signed a big long term deal with Saints he knew the score, he did not expect to be at St Mary's for the ength of his contract and nor did Saints, from Van Dijk's perspective he probably expected to do two seasons and then a big money move and that is what Saints would hope for too, all the contract did was mean Van Dijk got paid more and the club would get a bigger transfer fee because of the length of the contract.
Usually this would all play out amicably, (as I say the club's only fault has been producing too many very good players) but what is changing in football is the greed, both of players and clubs, Liverpool were desperate to get Van Dijk, he was desperate to get hs hands on an alleged £180k a week, if it was about ambition he would have wanted to go to Manchester City, but they weren't going to pay him that much.
So Saints fans need to cut the club some slack, there is too much finger pointing at the club and Les Reed and Ralph Krueger in general, they have their bad points, but if you look at their record it is second to none in the history of Southampton FC, we had never finished in the top 10 for 4 consecutive seasons at any time in our history, this is the best most consecutive period in our history, they have not done a bad job at least not statistically speaking.
But there always will be blips, two years ago Chelsea finished well below us, but their fans didnt desert in droves claiming they werent being entertained and demanding that Abramovich go elsewhere, they knew it was a blip and in the long term they would compete.
That is what we as Saints fans need to do now, get behind the team, i'm sick of seeing sarcastic comments on social media about the Championship, when times get tough good football supporters rally around their team and help it get out of trouble and come back stronger than before, they don't sneer at their club or ridicule it.
Ralph Krueger's comments about us being a small club in the scheme of things were ill advised, but they were true, perhaps he was sick to death of being slagged off for the job he was doing, when no one else had done it better before him, I don't know, however what I do know is we need to learn some lessons and get some pride back.
I don't go to football to be entertained, If I did so then i would have stopped going in 1975, I go to support my football club through the bad times as well as the good and it is the bad times that show us who our supporters are, anyone can go to a Wembley cup final, its Palace or Brighton at home that matters.
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