Wednesday 4 July 2007

Faith Restored

There's already been enough written about the departure of one Kevin Lisbie and I didn't think there was anything more to say - until I saw his signing-off comments as published in the News Shopper.

You'd think that in this day and age all players would have agents capable of making sure they keep their traps shut until they had learnt the correct lines. Or that there are available templates for statements to the press - the players do seem well versed in the post-match interview techniques of saying nothing of interest and managing to sound brain-dead in the process (there are exceptions of course, usually overseas players).

When leaving a club express thanks to the fans for their support and to the former club for helping them develop, while stressing a determination to succeed at the new club. It's not rocket science - and it's reasonable to suppose that players do want the fans to be on their side (nobody goes out of their way to be unpopular - there's an exception to this rule too: Darren Pitcher). This can be achieved by saying the right things, by some gesture (I remember Emlyn Hughes getting the nickname 'Crazy Horse' for chasing and pulling down the shorts of an opponent outpacing him - instant cult status guaranteed), or by accident (having a name that fits with a song the fans like to sing).

Darren Bent should be held up as the model for how to do it. Everything he has said and done since coming into contact with Charlton has been exemplary. You can't top: "The fans were magnificent and brilliant to me, and I loved playing for the club. I will always have a special place for them in my heart. Anyone who knows me, and the people who have seen me play in the last two seasons, will know that I always fought tooth and nail for the cause. If it wasn't for Charlton, the coaching staff and everyone involved I wouldn't be able to justify such a big transfer fee. I hope it helps the club. Hopefully the manager will be able to use some of the money to strengthen and lead the club back to the Premiership where it belongs."

Even when the parting is not so sweet there are ways to improve your stock. Take Jeremie Aliadiere, who has said that leaving Arsenal after seven years was not a difficult decision to make. "I needed to play for a club where I am going to play every week and show what I can do." Sends out all the right messages to a fresh set of fans.

Now there's Super Kev. Why didn't he stay? "What I was after wasn't on offer, so I knew from then on I wouldn't be staying." What exactly wasn't on offer Kev (in addition to the prospect of many more paydays for doing sweet FA)? "Everyone I knew has already gone. If I still had a lot of friends there then I think the decision to move might have been harder to make." So let's get this right. You feel OK about moving on because you haven't got any mates left. Presumably these mates comprised the treatment room attendent, the canteen staff, and the guy you buy your magazines from each morning on the way to the reserves training session. Or maybe you mean that Pards should resign some of the players who have departed during the past 12 years so you can have some mates with whom to while away the time.

My response to hearing confirmation KL was going included disappointment that he didn't develop into a top-flight player and frustration that injuries etc in recent years had prevented any possibility of a meaningful contribution from him. All his remarks have done is shift the balance in favour of good riddance to a waster.

He is a player looking for a club (one in the Championship according to his comments). You'd think if he didn't know it himself his agent would be telling him to say something like: "The past few years have been disappointing as injuries have prevented me from playing regularly and justifying the faith that Charlton showed in me; with a new set-up at The Valley it's time for a parting of the ways and a fresh challenge. I hope Charlton go back up but my thoughts are now on showing what I can do at a new club." It's not difficult - and you don't even have to mean it.

Maybe I'm being unfair on KL. Maybe he is just being honest and expressing attitudes that just about all footballers share but have been coached not to say. I don't know, I don't think I've ever had a conversation with a Charlton player. One of my earliest memories of the club is an open evening in the '60s when a starry-eyed kid with his autograph book held out (I still have it) watched as a bunch of old lags went through the motions of pretending to be interested in between chatting to themselves and looking at their watches (one exception was Charlie Wright, but I think he just liked talking to anyone). It was an early realisation that the players who come and go can't care as much about the club as we do.

However, there are players who deserve the benefit of any such doubt and do seem as if they mean what they say. So farewell then Darren, hope to see you again soon, and welcome back Chrissie Powell. Faith restored.


StoneMuse said...

well said BA - I fully agree with your remarks about Missbie

Hilltothevalley said...

True to form Lisbies parting shot missed the mark