As I write this, I’m on my way to a job interview. I’m happy with my current job but that’s often the best time to have a look round. This is a similar role but in a national private corporation as opposed to the voluntary sector. I’ll have greater responsibilities, a bigger budget, more people to manage and a higher profile, which at this stage of my career is a real opportunity. The biggest difference is the salary, a 50% rise in one fell swoop. That’s nothing. A colleague in another private organisation earns twice as much as I do.
Even if I’m offered it, and frankly I have a decent chance because I’ve been in the business all my working life, I’ll probably not take it. I work for a charity because in my business, social care, I don’t really want to help other people make a profit out of the needy. It’s no big thing: many private companies do an impeccable job. It’s just not right for me, so chances are by the time you read this, I’ll be sitting in my draughty little office, reasonably content but still working on ways of paying off the credit cards.
The accepted wisdom these days is that footballers can’t resist the lure of the fattest wage packet dangled in front of them. It’s hard to blame them: it’s a short life that could be over in the fraction of a second that it takes for a high boot to shatter a shin pad or, more likely these days, for a cartilage weakened by too many games to succumb to the strain or a weary ligament to become distorted out of shape on the turn. Most of us would do the same: a job with a rival at twice the salary. Be honest.
But life’s not all about money. Sure it’s not only a vital component, it’s also the passport to other elements of our standard of living. However, there are other things. Research shows there’s no direct link between wealth and your level of happiness. Also right up there on the indices of happiness are job satisfaction, friendships/social life and the work-life balance.
At the moment at Spurs, everything revolves around Luka Modric, in much the same way as it does on the pitch where on his day he masters not just the midfield art but dictates the the pace and shape of the entire game. I understand why he wants to go but I won’t accept the inevitability of his departure just because a top four team is making a serious attempt to sign him.
Searching for a reason why he could wait a while, he could do worse than consider other factors when making this key life decision, as we all do. Modric is a star at Spurs. He runs the midfield, the team plays around him. What a feeling that must be. I would gladly sign away my soul to the devil for 5 minutes of being able to stroke the ball around the way he does, to drop a shoulder and ease away from straining, desperate defenders, to ping a ball 40 yards into a stride, just the sensation of feeling the ball leave my boot, the swelling adulation and amazement of the crowd in awe.
That won’t happen at Chelsea. He’ll one of many, a newcomer in a dressing room of cynical pros more concerned about the pursuit of mammon and skirt. He won’t necessarily be first choice. The fans are highly critical and demanding. It’s not the same as here.
This evening Luka’s possible future captain, John Terry, has judged the recent agitations to get away as ‘disrespectful’, having gone about his business in the incorrect manner, according to Sky Sports’ website. Such an assessment by a man with the morals of a stoat is hardly a ringing endorsement. It’s possibly the most damning indictment of anyone’s conduct since, well, about 2 minutes ago actually in the Murdoch committee. Indulging in conduct that’s worthy of John Terry’s contempt is a remarkable achievement.
Terry’s comments are ridiculous but Luka, this is what you are walking into. His next sentence has received less attention but is significant: ‘We’ve a good squad of players. If he comes he could certainly add to that.’ Doesn’t think much of you, does he Luka? Part of the squad. At the Lane we know how good you truly are. You will be valued and revered.
And what’s wrong with asking for a little loyalty? He had the ability but we’ve nurtured that, brought him along at the right pace and patiently waited for his return after injury. All of which Modric himself acknowledged barely 2 months ago. How time flies.
His recent comments indicate that he’s feeling guilt to some extent. Critical of the club and of Levy in particular, he’s making the psychological break first. Having claimed he’s been very happy at the Lane, grateful for the support he’s received on and off the pitch, he’s now distancing himself from those feelings, seeking in an alleged broken promise a reason to make the move.
The psyche of the professional footballer is hard for us fans to understand. Perhaps footballers are the ultimate definition of ‘professional’ – they go where the money is and do their best regardless of the colour of their shirt as long as the colour of money suits them. Consider Emmanuel Adebayor. Whatever the accuracy of the rumours, it seems highly likely that Spurs and his representatives have had some detailed discussions about the possibility of a move to us. Now from his point of view, he’s had to take dog’s abuse from this crowd, the victim of a vile song that is out of bounds even for a football ground. He’d have every right to tell Harry to stuff it, yet he’s obviously not rejected us out of hand. If he arrives and doesn’t perform to the best of his ability, we will have played a part, yet this isn’t a major factor for him. A shed showroom full of cash wouldn’t make me consider the possibility, but then I’m not a professional footballer.
I’ll never quite work it out. Me and Luka, we have something in common. I’m not being naive: I know Spurs isn’t a charity, despite much of our defending last season, and at Chelsea Luka will earn in a week two and a half times my annual salary, and then some. However, before he takes it further, he would do well to stop and think. Job satisfaction, a small debt to repay in kind. A transfer to the top four club isn’t all that’s on the agenda and Luka, you know I love you, we have a special bond together. I’m only thinking of you, old son.