A question of loyalty

By Saad Mustafa on Feb 1, 11 01:08 PM in

Apparently Liverpool fans were supposed to be shocked by the transfer request handed in by Fernando Torres this week. I for one was not surprised in the least. In this day and age words like 'respect', 'loyalty' and 'commitment' have lost all meaning. Here was a footballer who seemed to understand the 'Liverpool way'. A Madrid boy who said that he would only leave his boyhood club for Liverpool FC because of the type of club it was: warm, welcoming and familial. Yet after three and half trophy-less years it would seem that emancipation is the way forward, at least in his eyes.

Having said that, Fernando Torres' case does illicit a certain sense of sympathy. He is not a Liverpool boy, he has not grown up in the city and he does not have deep roots here. He left his boyhood club for one reason and one reason only: to win trophies. Yet due to the inadequacies of the Hicks/Gillet reign that was never going to materialise for him. Still, he stayed on and showed great character by grinding it out with Liverpool, hoping that together they could reap the rewards of patience and perseverance.

That moment seems to have come now. With new owners, a new manager and a desire to install a new set of players, the future looks bright for Liverpool FC. But what has Torres done? On the day that we broke our transfer record (Suarez, Not Carrol!), he chose to shatter the hopes and dreams of the club by declaring his intention to leave. For three months Damien Comolli has been targeting players to play in a team that has Fernando as its spearhead. For over a month Kenny Dalglish has identified players that he would like to partner Torres. Yet all that planning is apparently for nought, because the player we were hoping to build our team around wants out.

It is perhaps the manner of his exit that most hurts Liverpool fans. He could have been honest with us. He could have told us that he wanted to leave at the start of the window. He could have given us time to find an adequate replacement. Yet he was selfish. Some would argue that was his right after being lied to and manipulated by the club for so many years, but I do not buy that. Yes he has been mistreated by the club, but these are a new set of owners. They are doing things differently. They seem to be men of their words. They have put money where their mouths are. In their first window they have broken our transfer record with Suarez. They were forced to again by paying over the odds for Carrol, but that was the situation that Fernando forced Liverpool into. According to Guillem Balague, there was an unnamed club, probably Liverpool, that tried to sign players such as Aguero and Llorente but could not because of how late they left it.

I would not have begrudged him a move if he wanted to leave at the beginning of this year. In fact I was surprised he didn't. As a world cup winner, who would have wanted to come back to an ailing club that was going to be sold to hitherto unknown owners? But he chose to stay. A real show of 'loyalty' from a player towards his club; at least that is what I believed. Naivety!

That he wants to leave for Chelsea is another rankling point. Only six months ago he said that he could never envisage himself playing for another English club, but now he seems happy enough to sign for a team that is playing against us within a week!

It all comes back to loyalty, respect and commitment. Torres may be scarred by the treatment he received under Hicks/Gillet, but didn't the fans suffer as well? The fans do not abandon clubs because they have hit a rough patch. They stick with clubs. Even when clubs are not paying us £100,000 a week.

Footballers are 'thugs for hire' these days. It is the world we live in. Every player who looks even half decent has a dozen or so clubs after him, willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money. And Liverpool are guilt of this as well as was shown by the capture of Carrol, but I think fans have to make peace with the fact that such are the times we live in.

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