Striking A Chord: On Spurs, Modric and the line

I wrestled with my conscience on June 30th. Despite my writing pretensions, my profession is that of an educator and I took the decision to not join my colleagues in taking industrial action against an unfair policy by a government determined to destroy any last vestiges of communal brotherhood left in this country. As a member of an unashamedly left-wing family, I made the heavy choice to walk through the school-gate and become something I never imagined I’d be labelled; a ‘scab’.

As a younger man, I took part in numerous marches and rallies, proudly walked down the street in a Che Guevara t-shirt, listened earnestly to Billy Bragg’s lyrics. In many respects, I was Rik from The Young Ones, without the flaring nostrils or propensity for spontaneous acts of violence.

But just as Bob Dylan so cuttingly eviscerated his youthful call-to-arms by telling us all in his latter years that “I used to care but things have changed”, the harsh reality of life’s responsibilities and priorities made it manifest to me that I had no choice. I am one of those culpable for the sorry economic mess the country is in today. Maybe you are too?

I borrowed voraciously in the early part of this century and filled my gullet with all manner of material insignificancies. I maxed credit card after credit card. And now, I have a two-month old daughter and a wife to support and a roof to keep over their heads. In that sense, my decision was made for me. You can pontificate all you want about the unity of unions and the red flag, but however harsh it may sound, the NUT will not change any nappies for me. In the end, you need to look after your own.

So why shouldn’t that also be the case for Luka Modric and other want-away stars? I wrote a piece for this very website in December lambasting the craven attempts of Messrs Tevez and Rooney to hold their employers to ransom with threats of departure. It was clear that both players had manipulated the means at their disposal to engineer a wage increase to fill their already bulging bank accounts. I stand by my condemnation of them then. Their actions were underhand and it was with some consternation on my part that they were so willingly and eagerly welcomed back into their respective folds.

Modric’s case is slightly different though. He has consistently shone in a midfield at Spurs which unfortunately does not come close to being comparable to his unique flair and talent. It took him a while to adjust to the cultural and physical differences to the game in England but throughout his time at White Hart Lane it can never be said that he was not one hundred per cent committed to the club. It came as no surprise therefore, that Modric’s star began to rise even more so during Spurs’ intoxicatingly thrilling adventure in last season’s Champions League. The initial flush of Gareth Bale’s heroics have cooled slightly now and it is evident that the true jewel in Harry Redknapp’s crown is the Croatian playmaker.

Consequently, having squandered the chances given to them that would have clinched a second consecutive season amongst Europe’s elite, it cannot have come as any kind of surprise to Daniel Levy and Redknapp that Modric would crave another chance at testing himself against the very best rather than slumming it around Europe for a season in cities that do not have the illustrious allure of cities like Milan and Madrid.

A player’s career is short. As fans we make a big noise about the concept of loyalty but footballers, be they Modric, Ashley Young or Samir Nasri are employees. Some people are happy to work in the same places, to live in the same towns, to drive the same cars for an entire lifetime. Tony Adams, Trevor Brooking and Matthew Le Tissier were happy to stay put. Most people, however, want to better themselves.

Modric wants to play for a ‘bigger’ club and however depressing a reality that might seem to Spurs fans, his aspirations for success cannot be obstructed or resented. Because during his time at the club, he has given his best. That cannot ever be denied. This is what separates him from the likes of Rooney, of Tevez and of Sol Campbell who really did do a dastardly act when he turned his back on Spurs.

The transfer window is now open and the Modric saga will no doubt rumble on throughout its duration. Levy will continue to flex his muscles and release soundbites of bullish bluster but when a player has stated his desire to move on there really isn’t very much a club can do to keep him. What purpose would keeping a disgruntled employee on the payroll really serve? Team unity would inevitably be jeopardised and that cannot be productive if the challenges of the coming season are to be successfully negotiated. Levy’s duties are to the shareholders, Modric’s are to himself and his family. And that is understandable.

It can be viewed that my decision to not down tools was letting down a worthy cause. But in the final analysis, like Modric, I give my all in the classroom on a daily basis. The only team that truly deserves my full and undivided attention though, is the team I have at home; my wife and my daughter. Other people can fight the bigger battles. My conscience is clear. As should Modric’s be if indeed he finds a new home in West London or Manchester in the coming weeks.

(photo credit: frederic jon on Flickr)

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20 Responses to “Striking A Chord: On Spurs, Modric and the line”

  1. Blackrat1299
    July 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Greg well done for showing your colours. I am a pensioner, not a very well paid one at that. What all those public sector workers need toask themselves is – who pays our pensions? The answer is – we do the public, including us pensioners, I pay a small amount of tax. So why when we are all tightening our belts, because labour and brown blew our pensions to a tune of 5bn on the day they took power, should we keep you in luxury, I have trouble paying my electricty. Will all those public sector workers help me?

    • TommyHarmer
      July 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      So, fine bit of self-justifying writing …….. but it STILL makes you a f***ing scab.

    • Gnome
      July 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      It is quite apparent that you do not teach English Grammar.

      May I also ask, how you can accept that under the umbrella of “we are all in this together” MPs final salary pensions will not be affected and their contributions will not increase but yours will?

  2. oldun
    July 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Whilst agreeing that a footballers life is a short one in comparison with other occupations, I feel that there is another side. Modric is in his mid twenties and probably not yet at his peak. Tottenham provide him with an opportunity that SAF,Wengerand Chelsea were not prepared to take a chnce at that stage. Modric has had the platform to develop whgith the opportunity being there because Tottenham wer prepared to take a risk on him. Surely, it is reasonable for him to give the club ONE season to develop and make the the Champions League again. If the club fails, by all means move on but you would have reapid the debt you owe the club.

  3. davspurs
    July 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Black rat dont blame brown for blowing your pension blame the tories who stitched the country up and made the City run the country with Murdocs press. And has for yoy electricity don’t piss me of who gave you money for your winter fuel New Labour. The day i see a poor pensioner with no money the condems will be running the country remember this in rip pf Britain in my sixty years the harder times where under the blue flag of conservationism and they always make the broadest back pay the least burden and the smallest the most we are paying not for credit cards but massive building projects the two trade towers towers wars and the shares crash thatis where Black rats pension went in black fridays Black day. Ye not a scab but a selfish person who thinks he can protect ishis family without any ones help you never hear a rich man sayiing he is not paying all his taxes and he has is money in a tax haven . The reason is they all stick together just like your fellow teachers did shame on you you are wrong also about Modric he stated he is embarrassed about his wages being shown in public because of his fellow countrymen so why would Chelsea say they will double his money next year Chelsea will be no diffrent than Spurs and can only generate money they earn so Spurs will be just has good if not better because Chelsea Man Utd and City will be booted out of the champs cup . How can you say we spnt money we never had yet City arand Chelsea are using OIL money from other country’s to pay 220 thousand pound a week for running round a pitch for 90 plus mins and they use energy drugs to do it. Yes Brown may have spent our money but just look at our brand new Hospitals and schools and Olympic venue even the O2 has come good and its better than spending millions on Footballers who show our kids its okay to take drugs its okay to cheat on your partner and its okay to shout down a camera have fucking some of this yes your not a scab but like my fellow Spurs fans just miss informed when it comes to Modric and Unions. We won more scored more when 6ft3 Huddlestone played the second bit of your statement you got wrong Credit cards from you where a tiny drop in a massive rich share gamble that went badly wrong and Banks where lending our money allover the World to places like Malaysia and Black rats pension where used to fuel it.

    • frontwheel 2
      July 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      Davspurs you have really gone UP in my estimation,fair play to you

    • Blackrat1299
      July 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

      davspurs you are a moron, it wasn’t the city that took the money it was brown, if he had left it alone my pension would be ok and i wouldn’t have needed that winter allowance

    • frontwheel 2
      July 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

      Modric’s on a long contract so why should we sell? What signal would this send to the rest of the players and why on earth would we sell to a team we are hoping to be challenging in the near future? Its about time teams stood up to these pampered shits even if it means letting him rot in the reserves as we should have done with Berbatov

  4. YIDARMY
    July 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    MODRIC AND BALE WILL BE LEAVING SPURS FOR £70 MILLION

  5. Sean
    July 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    An interesting article:
    Problem 1: Modric hasn’t just acted as an ‘employee’. H e issued one statement after another where he consisted used terms like loyalty, and phrasaes like ‘happy to stay at Spurs’, right up until just before he went on his honeymoon. I’m not being too hard on him, because we are yet to see exactly how his words have been twisted, or not, in the articles claiming he wants to leave. But he (and by extension, you), can’t have it both ways. You can’t use this type of language, gaining kudos and emotional content form the supporters, and then drop it at a moments notice, without being castigated for it.

    Problem 2: The main focus of your article is concerning his abilityto earn, adn yet in the articles were he (allegedly) says he wants to leave, he insisted that this was not about money – it was because he wants to win things. Well, he has five years left on his contract. he could easily see out one, or even two years, of that, and still only be entering what are considered to be the best years of his footballing career. By which time (say it quietly) Spurs really could be challenging.

    When he joined, recognising his exceptional ability, I said to a friend that if we kept hold of him for 3 years and then made a massive profit I would be happy. Now, though, our team is far better than it was then. With the emergence of Sandro,we could have possibly the best midfield in the country. Only lack of a striker capable of playing in a 4-5-1 prevented us from challenging for 2nd (at least) last season (hence the disappointment felt by many in what, really, was a pretty good season). The points we dropped were, by-and-large, against teams in the final third of the table where we could reasonably have expected far, far more (a general estimate would be at least 16 points). We have been laying hoodoos to rest left, right and centre, (Arsenal at the Emirates, Liverpool at Anfield), or coming close (Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, really should have sewn that game up, and United, anywhere, really should have done better at WHL agianst them). Surely, it is obvious to everyone, including Modric, that all we really need is an improvement in the striking department, which will surely come. And, in general, the young squad will be improving.

    When all of this is taken into account, is it too much to expect a player who talks the talk to at least give it one more year to see if we really can come anywhere near close to matching his aspirations. Let’s not forget, even after the season ended, Modric has, again, repeated in interview that he believes he can fulfill his footballing ambitionsat WHL. And, through his mouthpiece (Vedran Corluka) he had already said that he was happy to stay, but would be watching this Summer to see that our transfer activities showed we had ambition to match his own. Why say that and (vistually) days later declare that you were desperate to leave – before any transfers had actually happened – Brad Friedlel doesn’t count :-D

    I’m with Levy. He has five years left on his contract. I feel he owes us another years, to see if we can go any further. And I am sure once the football starts rolling again, he will get back into his stride, and enjoy the game – he’s hardly going to be Methuselah at the end of the next season, if it doesn’t work out. And, most importantly, Spurs will have shown that they will no longer be bullied out of their best players.

  6. Marco
    July 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Greg,

    I have no problem with Modric wanting to play for a bigger club. Personally, I want a better-looking girlfriend and a generous employer who will double my salary.

    Unlike Modric, I am free to pursue both.

    Why? Obviously, you don’t teach contract law.

    If Modric had turned out to be too small or too slowor repeatedly injured and and couldn’t make the team, Spurs would still be contractually obliged to pay his salary. If this befuddles you then repeat the words “Robbie Keane” over and over. If Luka fancied his chances of playing for Chelsea (trading up) when he signed his contract then he should have inserted a buy-out clause. If he fancied his chances and didn’t then either he or his advisors are fools. I (and Daniel Levy apparently) expect him to play to his contract. Personally, I don’t care if he thinks of Roman while he sets up chances for Pav and Crouch, it’s not going to keep me awake at night while I bang my missus and think of Irina Shayk….

  7. Andrew
    July 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    If the government’s pension reforms do go through, you’ll lose more money each month than one day of strike action would have cost you, as well as more at the end.

  8. Chris Woolfrey
    July 4, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    When it comes to a sense of community, and your statement that ‘You can pontificate all you want about the unity of unions and the red flag, but however harsh it may sound, the NUT will not change any nappies for me. In the end, you need to look after your own’, wouldn’t an equally valid question be this:

    Would you change nappies for the NUT?

    Of course the NUT aren’t going to change any nappies for you, but they may perform a volume of valuable tasks on your behalf for which you don’t have the power, time, or inclanation.

    The whole point of welfare systems, gift economies, and so on, is that people take on work on behalf of others in exhange for other’s being done on their behalf. I could quote that famous Marx line but that could end up being a bit cliched and I’ve probably misinterpreted…

  9. TC
    July 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Some really interesting points, Greg. I admire your bravery for mixing a bit of social, economic and political colour into the post. It seems to have generated quite a response!

    For the record I’m not a Spurs fan, but I’ve found it extremely hard to empathise with Modric.

    I see it like this: Tottenham picked Modric out of relative obscurity and gave him an amazing 6-year deal, quite the show of loyalty. In my opinion he owes Spurs another season.

    For me the argument about a player’s career being short carries little weight these days; admittedly from a purely financial aspect. There aren’t many professions where, after a year on the job, you could financially set for life. One year on his reported £50k per week deal equals roughly £2.6m (before tax).

    Modric is a hugely talented player. However, he weighed in with just three goals and three assists in the league last season. Tottenham missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification by six points, could he have contributed more?

    Having said all of that, I’m certain he’ll go. Player power rules.

    I recently posted a piece on Modric, if you’re interested? http://thisannoyedme.tumblr.com/post/6841727644/premier-league-players-show-some-accountability-for

  10. JohnnyB
    July 5, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Rest assured, when you are in your dotage your wife and child will still depend on you…who will you depend upon? You were asked for one day, ONE DAY of your working life in order to protect your future but (and here is the only similarity with any footballer) you declined in favor of the money here and now. I say only similarity, one can only assume that a few months prior to the strike you didn’t renew your membership with the NUT for 6 years with a bold claim of being happy and a willingness to stick by those who have stuck by you.

  11. tricky
    July 5, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    A brave man for linking two great taboos, football’s ever increasing rediculousness and politics.

    First off, the politics. Some cold hard facts mean that we have to face reality. Unfortunately, the pensions are unsustainable, mathamatically, socially and morally.

    Yes, it is easy to point to MP’s and wag fingers, but as my mum (an NHS nurse until she retired to go and work in the Private sector aged 60 because of the politics and waste) used to say:

    ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’.

    And frankly if you have to use poiticians as your benchmark for ‘fairness’ when finger pointing just because you don’tlike something, I can pretty much state that the ‘moral arguement’ has already ben lost.

    All this ‘scab’ nonsense is childish and does nothing to help with the real issues that unfortuately we have to face yes we are all in this together (some less so than the majority) but I am a proud brit and have seen the majority (private sector non-unionised workers who make up 4/5 of those employed today) doing what we do best, getting on with it and making the most of (once again) being shat upon from a great height by the minority of self serving arsehoes. Our history is littered with facing adversity, and coming through the other side.

    Now the more difficult part, Football, I am starting to return to the point in my thinking that I wish it wuld all just implode and get back to basics and sensible levels of ideology, and take sky along with it solving one of the above political issues.

    Mr Modric, is the sublime player that we hoped he would turn out to be. the question now for the board is what they value more, financial stability or footballing excellence. I fear that the former is more prevalent, and more important in the short term.

    Would I blame him for moving, well it would upset me, as I love the little fella, and had hoped that his heart was in some way attach to the club, even if jsut a little bit. But on the other hand, we look like ditching one of his best mates because he can’t break the starting XI and wants to play football. We can condone Niko moving because we have players who are (on their day) ahead of him, and easily justify it with ‘he wants to play football and who can blme him’ and then desire the player starting who wants more than just to play. Can we morally justify one and argue against the other when they are two sides of the same coin?

    Of course we can, I would never underestimate the power of blokes to rationalise the irrational.

    But is it right to justify both arguements. Well it probably isn’t ‘fair’ if you are objective, but with football being in part emotional being ‘objective’ when something affects you personally is always going to be difficult no matter who you are.

    Much like bringing pay and pensions into line (or at least closer to parity) with the other 80% of the country I suppose….

  12. tricky
    July 5, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    * desire the other player (Modric) to stay because he is starting already, but he wants more than ‘just to play regularly’.

    sorry, interupted mid-thread a few times by work.

  13. Nick
    July 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Greg,

    You state the need to support your family as the reason for not striking, yet this contradicts a) the fact that striking has no detrimental affect on your ability to do this, in fact it might actually help improve things for them. And b) the fact thr many others in the same position as you did go on strike.

    Best,

    Nick

  14. Luke
    July 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    First of all a very interesting read. Being a life long Spurs fan I have a mixed opinion on the Modric saga! Purely from the point of view of the footballer; their career is short and Modric is justified in wanting a move away from Tottenham. Redknapp, Levy and Co have not fufilled his ambitions in helping the club back into the Champions League which is where a player of his talent should be playing. The main reason Spurs even got 5th place was due to his excellence week in week out.

    The bottom line is Modric has been let down by Levy and Redknapp not adequately spending last summer to strengthen the defence and strikeforce which is mid table class and no where near top 4 standard. The main reason Spurs got so far in the Champions League was down to the excellent midfield and tactics of Redknapp. The defence is quite simply not good enough and Defoe and Crouch are way below par.

    Again in this transfer window Spurs are doing nothing to convince Modric they have the ambition to match his of playing in the Champions League. They are not being linked to any star names and therefore I understand Modric frustration and I believe that from a players point of view he should be allowed to leave.

    From the point of view of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club he should be made to honour his contract. Letting someone of his calibre leave just simply sends out the wrong signal to players like Bale and Van Der Vaart and just reconfirms what every one else thinks…Spurs are a selling club. If Spurs should decide to let him go then get his valuation which is definately £45m and that is especially because Carroll cost £35m and Bent over £20m. If unproven Henderson and Jones cost almost £20m then Modric is double that.

    Levy should sell Modric for £45m and cash in whilst his valuation is extremely high but not be sold too short. Quite simply he should tell Chelsea come back only when you can offer £45m and if you can’t Modric stays to honour his contract.

    I do not agree with your comment that you can’t keep an unhappy player. Absolutely you can, especially a player like Modirc who is 26 years old and would be 31 by the time he would be allowed to leave. Therefore losing him for free is made up by the fact we get 5 of his best years. Yes he may sulk in the meantime and sit on the bench but once the reality sets in a few months down the line that he has to honour his 5 years he will soon get used to it and pull on a Spurs shirt again and try to get them in the Champions League because bottom line is he loves Football and no player wants to sit on the bench especially when they have their international career to think of.

    In summary, Spurs have to match Modric ambition and start acting like a big club and bring in some big names otherwise his decision to want to leave is justified.

    At the same time they should not take anything less than £45 million.

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