Monday, 20 June 2011

The Judas Factor

With Aston Villa's managerial position now filled controversially (to say the least) by one Alex Mcleish the question of loyalty and rivalry between football clubs has once again raised it's ugly head. Every football supporter knows about rivalry, local or nationwide we have our teams which historically are seen as "The Enemy" and the golden rule is you can never sell to or sign a player or manager from that team. But club chairman it would seem have their own rulebook and it's happened time and time again. We can talk till we're blue (sorry Villa fans) in the face about "loyalty in the modern game", but I for one don't think it's a new thing, it's just more widespread and the simple reason is money. We can address the argument of loyalty another time. Let's instead have a look at some previous cases where players or managers have gone over to the dark side.

 Luis Figo - From Barcelona to Real Madrid
Maybe they should have seen the signs - after being banned for two years from any transfer dealings with Italian clubs after "signing" for both Parma and Juventus, Luis Figo finally decided on a move to Spain with Barcelona paying £2.25 million for him in 1995. He became Bara's driving force, winning La Liga & the Copa del Rey twice, the Cup Winner's Cup plus the Super Cup during his time. But after 172 league games and scoring 30 goals for the Spanish giants he was to go from hero to zero in the eyes of the Barca faithful.
With Presidential elections taking place at Real Madrid, the incoming candidate's major promise was the have Figo playing in Madrid's all white kit the following season. There were reports that Figo would face a massive fine if he backed out of any deal, so on 24th July 2000 he was unveiled as a Real Madrid player costing a then World record fee of £37.2 million pounds.
When Figo returned as a Madrid player against Barca he was subjected to the obvious booing and jeering but was also a moving target for objects thrown at him including bottles, coins, golf balls and even a pig's head .

Mo Johnston signs for Rangers
Mo Johnston - Nantes to Rangers via Celtic (briefly)
If Alex Mcleish has angered anyone, it pales in comparison to effect the signing of Mo Johnston had on Scottish Football.
Johnston had enjoyed spells with Partick Thistle and Watford before signing for Celtic in 1985, he was an instant hit becoming a hero to the Parkhead crowd, in over 97 league appearances he scored 52 goals and was a Scottish International. In 1987 in the prime of his career Johnston was one of the many players who fancied trying their luck abroad, he signed for the French side Nantes and was fairly successful playing two seasons in France.
But it was his next move that would cause a storm of controversy, at a press conference at Celtic's ground Johnston declared he was returning to Scottish football and "the only British club he could play for was Celtic" a £1.2 million pound deal had been agreed. This wasn't the end of the matter though and things were thrown confusion after it emerged that Celtic had allegedly not made the tax payments on the deal. Johnston's agent added to chaos by adding that he "owned" the player and Celtic had agreed a deal with the French club and not with him as they should have.
With all this going on rival boss Greame Souness who was plotting a revolution at Ibrox pounced, spoke to Johnston's agent and agreed a deal. He was unveiled at Rangers to shocked journalists who were expecting a different player to appear!
Souness's policy of  "if they're good enough we'll sign them" had ignored previous religious policies at Ibrox and Mo Johnston became only the second Catholic to play for Rangers. It seemed that this one signing had managed to unite the Glasgow fans, with both sets angered by the move, Celtic fans betrayed by their one time idol and Rangers fans furious at a Catholic and ex-Celtic player joining their club.

The Ultimate Judas?
 Crossing the North/South divide
One of the most heated rivalries in English football is that between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Ever since The Gunners upped sticks from Woolwich in South London to take up residency across the Thames in Tottenham's manor there has been no love lost, this of course wasn't helped either by Arsenal gaining promotion to the top tier ahead of Spurs although the Lillywhites were higher in the league. It's not only geography but history that create rivalries and the bitterness began before most of us were even born.
Of course a player or manager moving between these two clubs is bound to create a stir (to say the least) but it has happened on several occasions.
It's a little known fact that Herbert Chapman, legendary Arsenal manager who started them on the road to success, once played for Tottenham. While Pat Jennings is possibly the only player to play for both teams and to be considered a legend by Spurs & Gunners fans.
Two of the most controversial moves were also two of the more recent. George Graham had had a successful career at Arsenal as both player and even more so as manager, winning the league twice, the FA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup, while Spurs had an indifferent few seasons punctuated by an FA Cup triumph in 1991 which saw them beat their North London rival in the first FA Cup Semi Final ever to be player at Wembley.
Graham's managerial career hit the skids when he was sacked from Arsenal and banned from football for a year after being caught up in a bung scandal.
On his return he took over at Leeds, Spurs meanwhile had a new owner in Alan Sugar and had been going through managers like a dose of salts! Not being much of a footballing man, Sugar took advice from those around him and although the name Martin O'Neil was murmured, George Graham's name was put forward as the best possible option when once again Sugar had wielded his axe.
The appointment caused obvious outcry, the usual threats of burning season tickets and non attendance of games were banded about by fans, but  even though Graham did bring Spurs their first trophy in eight season with victory over Leciester City in the League Cup Final the Tottenham faithful never took him to their heart and even refused to chant his name, instead calling him "the man in the mac"
But worse was to come for Spurs, this time with a player going in the other direction. Sol Campbell had been one of Spurs future starlets, coming through the ranks initially as a striker he made his debut under manager Glenn Hoddle coming on as a sub and scoring against Chelsea. Eventually he moved to central defence and became not only a first team regular but also captain and an England International.
With Campbell's contract coming to an end after nearly nine years and the advent of the Bosman Ruling, Spurs were keen for him to pledge his future to the club. The negotiations were long winded, but Campbell assured fans that he intended to stay and had previously stated in the club magazine that he "could never play for Arsenal", however the then England Manager Sven Goran Erikson had urged Campbell to seek Champions League football in a bid to improve him as a player.
With several top European clubs interested, Campbell instead signed for Arsenal for the start of the 2001 season.
Spurs supporters have never forgiven him for the way in which he left after so many assurances that he was going nowhere, this was bad enough but to then sign for their bitterest rivals really was the final nail in the coffin. For years to come the hatred remained even after Campbell left Arsenal to play for Portsmouth.

Well that's my round up! I could have picked a few more, maybe Harry Redknapp for his trip to Southampton? Or Carlos Tevez going from Red to Blue?
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