First published in The Pink, Saturday, February 12, 2011
LOYALTY is a rare commodity in football, so we hear everyday.
Reams of newspaper, gigabytes of data on websites and hours broadcast material every year refer to how footballers are only in it for the cash.
What is often overlooked is that clubs are not any better, although we all know it.
But the thing which is denied is that us fans are just as bad as all of them.
We exalt players when it suits us, bemoan them at the first sign of a dip in form and crucify them should they have the audacity to want to move on to somewhere new.
Adam Lallana’s contract extension was met with jubilation, the midfielder held up as a rare shining light of loyalty in the desolate landscape of footballing morality.
Meanwhile, Paul Wotton was shipped out once again. He’s never been a mercucial talent, but he gave his best. Yet the fact he will probably never play for Saints again was one of relief among many, with some even going as far as proclaiming how happy they were he had gone.
Throw in the reactions to the – surprising – decision that Lloyd James would not have his contract renewed last summer, or that of Simon Gillett leaving or Joseph Mills being perpetually shipped out on loan.
Loyalty is only good when it suits us.
Footballers must be loyal to the badge, but the fans only need to loyal to the most talented players.
Matt Le Tissier is alongside Ryan Giggs when it comes to the dwindling legacy of one-club players at the highest level.
No Saints fan will ever dispute the impact Matt had on our club. Without his goals and vision in the 90s, we could have ended up being a Luton or a Notts County, having missed out on the money that enabled us to build St Mary’s.
So some of the vitriol being thrown his way by some fans is astounding.
Rather than “Le God”, this week I have heard a number of people refer to him as the ‘fat lazy Guernseyman’. Others have demanded he ‘leave the club alone’ and that his contributions to the club were all in the past, and we owe him nothing as he was paid handsomely.
It is no secret Matt doesn’t see eye-to-eye with some people at the club. That is something none of us can influence other than the people involved.
But anyone who has insinuated that either the club or we, the fans, owe Matthew Le Tissier nothing, has no right to demand any sort of loyalty from anyone in football.
Regardless of Matt’s reasons for staying at Saints when Spurs and Chelsea came calling, stay here he did. Save us, he did. Talk to him about football and there is no question where his loyalty lies.
So if even Matt Le Tiss can’t command loyalty from all Southampton fans, is there really any such thing as loyalty at all?