Mercenary? Moi?

January 25, 2011

If there’s one word that’s used with gay abandon in the footballing world, it’s “Mercenary”, Mike uses it himself in his return to blogging.

In the footballing parlance, a mercenary is a player who “sells out” their current club, in order to join another; usually the new club will offer the player in question far more money than he is currently earning.  More than most other sports, football has a rich tradition of mercenaries from Winston Bogarde to Sol Campbell, Sven Goran Eriksson and Darren Bent. All held as traitors by the fans, all of them considered mercenaries.

Why though? Where a football fan sees a mercenary, why do I see a normal urge to maximise your earning potential? Do we not live in a society where one is entitled to take their skills and sell them to the highest bidder? Why should Darren Bent be forced to trudge along at The Stadium Of Light when he could be earning far more money at Villa Park? Darren Bent never professed a great love of Sunderland, he isn’t a Mackem, he comes from Tooting for God’s sakes. 

Basically, what happened to Darren Bent happens in companies and in the general working sphere all the time, he got head hunted. The money involved is astronomical, but Bent was essentially head hunted by Aston Villa and Sunderland couldn’t have done a thing about it. This is the way of the world; if you have a talent that people are prepared to pay for why shouldn’t you sell it?

Castigating a player for being a mercenary is childish at best and regressive at worst. It also reveals the strange doublethink that some people have about this subject. Money isn’t always a pleasant thing to discuss, but until we get over these outdated notions of loyalty that infect the beautiful game, I’m afraid that “Mercenary” will be a word we’ll see time and time again.