Three Players Who Could Be Leaving Manchester United This Summer

Manchester United have endured yet another average campaign in the Premier League despite having spent in excess of £150m on recruits in the previous summer transfer window.

Jose Mourinho would have been expecting to revive the club’s glory days after he signed the likes of Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic last year, but unfortunately, the club have just failed to live up to their expectations.

With the 2016/17 season coming to a close, the Red Devils could be busy in the transfer window once again with a few players from the existing squad likely to make way due to respective reasons.

Here are a few notable names who could part ways with the club this summer;

David de Gea: 

The Spain international has been one of the most consistent performers in the United shirt, and his showing has been rewarded this season with his selection in the PFA Player of the Year.

Despite this, the 26-year-old appears to be leaning for a switch to Real Madrid after having failed to join the European champions a couple of seasons ago.

The former Atleti man had been heavily tipped to join Los Blancos in the summer of 2015 but a faulty machine ultimately scuppered the move after the necessary paperwork failed to reach on time on transfer deadline day.

De Gea has since managed to shrug off his disappointment to perform at a similar level for United, but he could be off to Real Madrid in a £60m deal at the end of the campaign.

Marouane Fellaini:

The Belgium international arrived alongside former boss David Moyes from Everton in 2013, and many felt that he could replicate a similar showing in the red and white shirt of United.

Fellaini amassed a respective tally of 11 league goals during his final season at Goodison, but sadly he has not managed to better his scoring record in his four years at Old Trafford.

The lanky midfielder has turned out a villain on multiple occasions for the club’s faithful, and this includes a late penalty against former club Everton which cost his side a valuable win earlier in the season.

United decided to trigger the one-year extension present in Fellaini’s contract in January, and this could allow them to command a reasonable price through his sale in the summer.

Turkish club Trabzonspor are keen on recruiting the midfielder anchorman as part of their 50th-anniversary celebration later in the year.

Matteo Darmian:

The former Torino man has endured a mixed campaign in the Red Devils shirt this campaign. The Italy international was initially expected to leave the Mancunian giants last summer but the club did not receive any offers suitable for them.

Darmian followed to earn a regular run in the left-back role ahead of Luke Shaw – at the same time when United began their long unbeaten league streak which lasts to date.

Since the turn of the year, the 27-year-old has been occasionally used in the left-back spot with Shaw getting a run in with Marcos Rojo (both injured), while Ashley Young has also been a surprise starter in the position.

The versatile defender appears to have already begun house-hunting in his hometown, and it is reported that he could join one of AC Milan or Inter Milan during the next transfer window.

Can Wigan Athletic overcome the odds once again? 10 April 9, 2012 by David Bolt

In a Premier League where money talks and where only a small number of teams stand a realistic chance of success, everyone loves to root for an underdog. Premier League fans all season have marvelled at how Swansea and Norwich have taken it to the bigger clubs in the Premier League, and have done so with some success. But, fans are forgetting about an even smaller team, a team who are forgotten because they have become part of the Premier League furniture. That team is Wigan Athletic.

It cannot be understated just how much of a feat it is that Wigan has managed to stay in the Premier League for seven years. Wigan are underdogs in every sense of the word. They are without question the smallest club in the Premier League. They have the lowest revenue in the Premier League, the smallest crowds, the heaviest reliance on TV money, the highest proportion of wages to turnover in the league and virtually no money to spend on transfers.

Wigan are known (and mocked) for having small attendances, despite the fact that they are consistently amongst the cheapest teams in the Premier League to go and watch (they have the second cheapest tickets in the Premier League and their most expensive ticket is still cheaper than the cheapest ticket of 9 other Premier League teams) and cheap season tickets, last season Wigan had the 6th cheapest season ticket of all 92 English league clubs. Wigan also have probably the smallest potential fanbase out of any Premier League team, and also probably have the most competition for those potential fans from other teams than any other Premier League team.

Wigan is a town in North-West England with a population of about 80,000 people. If you’re familiar with the geography of the UK, Wigan lies roughly halfway between Liverpool and Manchester, and is less than 10 miles from Bolton, and Blackburn isn’t far away either. Apart from those six other Premier League teams that Wigan residents could (and do) support at the expense of Wigan, there is a raft of other league clubs not too far away to choose from. Many Wigan residents were originally from Manchester or Liverpool, so have passed down their love of Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United or Manchester City to their children. Also, for years there wasn’t a league team in Wigan, Wigan Athletic only became a league club in 1978, so many football fans in Wigan already supported another side, putting Wigan on the back foot immediately.

Wigan had never been in the top division of English football before their promotion to the Premier League in 2005. Indeed, when Dave Whelan bought the club in 1995, they were in the third division (what is now League Two), the bottom division in English league football, which makes their rise to the top very impressive. So, they don’t have much have a football pedigree compared any of the other clubs around them, both geographically and in terms of where they are in the Premier League pecking order.

Wigan also suffers from the fact that unlike most other towns in the UK, football isn’t the dominant sport in town. Wigan is world-renowned for Rugby League. The Wigan Warriors are one of England’s strongest and best-supported teams, and share the DW stadium with Wigan Athletic (which is why the pitch can often look like a herd of Wildebeest have stampeded through it). Surveys taken around the ground suggest that most fans don’t cross-over, so the Rugby fans don’t go to watch the football and vice-versa.

Wigan just cannot compete with the other Premier League teams financially, having one of the smallest turnovers in the league. Commercially, Wigan only generate about £1.5m per season, which is extremely low even compared to Premier League clubs of a similar size. For example, Blackburn, who are not much bigger than Wigan, made £9m commercially (according to last published figures, though it’s unknown how much that has changed since Venky’s took them over). Wigan’s last shirt sponsorship deal only made them £650k per season, which when compared to Liverpool’s £20m per season, is miniscule. So Wigan just don’t have the financial resources of other Premier League clubs and haven’t been able to cash in the Premier League’s global appeal by being able to attract fans from all over the world.

Wigan’s payroll is a relatively modest £36m (for example, Chelsea’s is five times larger), but with Wigan’s income being so small, they have a wages to turnover ratio of 91%, which is the second highest in the league after Manchester City’s ridiculous 107%. This would mean that Wigan would fall foul of UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play regulations in the unlikely event that they should ever qualify for European competition. They rely heavily on player sales to keep them active in the transfer market (they have a total net spend of only £5m in the last decade), which they’ve managed to achieve by using a large scouting network to find players they can buy cheaply, and then sell at an increased price, like they did with Luis Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios. However, this also means that any mistakes in the transfer market hit them harder that they do most other clubs. Mauro Boselli’s transfer for example, has proven to be a total disaster both on and off the pitch for Wigan.

The fact that Wigan have been unable to compete once again in the transfer market has been reflected on the pitch this season. Wigan’s squad is a bit of a rag-tag mixture of promising young players (Victor Moses and James McCarthy), players who had failed to make any impression at other Premier League clubs (Franco Di Santo, Ben Watson, Jean Beausejour and Shaun Maloney) and players recruited relatively cheaply, none of whom were on the radar of other clubs. With such a weak squad, it’s no surprise that Wigan have been in the relegation places for most of the season.

But Wigan have once again managed to make it work, and on the surface, it’s difficult to see just how. They have trouble scoring and even more trouble preventing the opposition from scoring. Before last weekend, Wigan had not won a home game since August. Yet they still stand an excellent chance of escaping relegation once more.

The main reason for Wigan managing to stay competitive is the excellent management of Roberto Martinez. Martinez has Wigan playing some of the best passing football in the Premier League, which belies many of the experts who say that it is impossible to play such football and still manage to survive. One thing that the Wigan squad does have in its favour is that there are a lot of utility players, which means that Martinez can be flexible with his tactics, to a degree other managers can’t.

Wigan’s bid for survival has taken a bit of an upturn in the past few months. Wigan have managed to hit a bit of form at just the right time. Since January, Wigan have only lost once in their last eight games, winning three of them. Wigan followed up two impressive performances against Norwich and West Brom, where they probably should have picked up six points rather than the two they did, with a surprise win at Anfield, against a terrible Liverpool team. Wigan finally broke their unenviable run of home fixtures without a win by beating Stoke 2-0, a result which means they are level on points with QPR, who are currently the 17th placed team and well and truly in with a chance of survival.

Wigan will benefit from having had experience of a relegation battle. Sometimes, when a team finds itself at the wrong end of the table, they start to suffer from a fear of failure, which makes the players tenser and often ends up making performances worse. That won’t happen to Wigan, whose players have been through relegation battles in the past and know how to overcome any nerves or tension.

Wigan have a horrendous next three games, with away trips to Chelsea and Arsenal and a home game against Manchester United meaning it is hard to see Wigan getting any points from those games, but it would be surprising if the other teams around them will have picked up enough points to increase the gap between themselves and Wigan to an insurmountable amount. After that though, the fixture list opens up a little for Wigan, with winnable home games against Newcastle and Wolves (who will probably have been relegated by then), as well as a trip to Fulham, who don’t have much to play for and a relegation six-pointer at Blackburn. Wigan will fancy their chances of picking up the eight to ten points that will probably be enough to ensure their survival.

Every season, everyone picks Wigan as favourites to be relegated saying that this will be the season where they finally go down. But once again, Wigan have belied their lowly status to turn yet another league campaign where they seemed destined for relegation to mount a serious bid to stay in the league for another season. I certainly wouldn’t bet against them managing to overcome the odds once more.

Champions League

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Arturo Vidal’s Penalty Claim against Real Madrid

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Ibra Screamer against Anderlecht

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Guardiola’s Bayern – Football from the Heavens

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Match Previews

  1. FA Cup Third Round Predictions

    January 4, 2013 by Gabriel Sutton

    Brighton v Newcastle

    I can really see an odds upset here. Brighton have had longer to prepare for this and are off the back of a 3-0 win at Ipswich, whereas Newcastle may have hard time against Everton on Wednesday and have had a lot of injuries. A brave shout to open with I know, but: 2-0 Brighton.

     

    Aldershot v Rotherham

    An all League 2 clash. With promotion far from in the bag for the Millers (that’s Rotherham by the way), they’ll have their league form at the forefront of their minds, whereas Aldershot are at home and are far enough from relegation to afford a run in the cup. 1-0 the Shots.


  2. Spain vs Italy: The Battle Royale

    July 1, 2012 by Saikat Chatterjee

    “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

     

    The mighty La Roja will be taking on the rejuvenated Azzurris at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv tonight for that ‘colored ribbon’ and will be hoping to defend their European crown and leave behind lasting legacies. Although it’s not exactly the final everyone expected to see at the start of the tournament, it’s fair to say that both the teams have deservedly earned their place in the finals of the showpiece event.


  3. Euro 2012: Germany – Italy Preview

    June 28, 2012 by Sean Charles

     

    This game will kick-off tonight at 19:45 GMT.

    Team News and Formation:

     

    There was an element of surprise in Lowe’s selection choice for the quarter-final match against Greece by benching Podolski, Muller and Gomez. For this reason it is difficult to fully know what he will do tonight but I expect Podolski to come back in to the starting line-up as Schurlle did not impress against the Greeks. Reus on the other hand had a very strong performance so there is a chance he could retain his place ahead of Muller on the right. Klose still didn’t look fully match fit so it is likely Gomez will come back and regain his place in the team.


  4. Spain vs. Portugal Match Preview

    June 27, 2012 by Kyle Brod

    In the quarterfinals, Portugal was pushed into the semis by a late header from Cristiano Ronaldo. On the other side, Spain’s Xabi Alonso was at the double to take out a dangerous French team. As the two neighbors prepare to square off, the expectations for both are slightly different. But the optimism and hopefulness of the players and fans will be through the roof.

    Possible Spain Lineup (4-6-0):

    Casillas, Ramos, Piqué, Alba, Arbeloa, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Fábregas, Silva

    Possible Portugal Lineup (4-3-3):

    Rui Patrício, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, João Pereira, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Hugo Almeida


  5. England vs Italy Match Previe

    June 24, 2012 by Saikat Chatterjee

     

    Venue – NSC Olimpiyskiy, Kiev

    Kick off – 19:45 BST

    Possible Line-ups

    England (4-4-1-1): Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young, Rooney, Carroll.

     

    Italy (4-1-3-2): Buffon, Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Balzaretti, Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi, Motta, Cassano, Balotelli.

    The three lions come face to face with the Azzurris in a thrilling quarter final clash in Kiev tonight. Roy Hodgson’s England will looking to put an end to their quarterfinal jinx as the Italians will hoping to put their poor track record in major tournaments off late behind them.


  6. Euro 2012 preview- Czech Republic vs Portugal, Warsaw, Thursday, 7:4

    June 21, 2012 by Adam Gray

    How the teams got to this stage

    Czech Republic have recovered from their opening day humiliation to Russia where they were beaten 4-1, to become one of the more impressive units in the group stages. Boss Mikael Bilek restored midfield lynchpin David Hubschmann to the starting line-up after he was left out of the first game and it was his cultured passing that earned a 2-1 win over Greece, before Petr Jiracek’s goal edged a nervy encounter with Poland that eliminated the hosts and sent a promising Czech side into the quarter finals from group A.

Goal-Line technology: What does it really mean for football?

A couple of days ago, it was announced by FIFA that goal-line technology systems Hawk-Eye and GoalRef were going to start being installed around the world. After what has felt like endless cries for its inclusion in the sport, goal-line technology is finally becoming a reality. However, I believe this will herald a new era which will ruin the game.

Imagine the following situation: It is the final minute of normal time in the world cup final between England and Germany and the score is 1-1. Desperate to get the winner, Germany have piled forward a few too many men. A shot is taken which hits the woodwork, bounces on the line and is then cleared away by a defender. German players are beginning to celebrate, arms in the air while looking at the referee then the lines-man. The ref waves play on. Meanwhile, the clearance has sparked an England counter-attack, a three-on-two situation. Suddenly, the whistle goes. The referee looks over to the 5th official and waits for a verdict on the incident. All momentum has been lost and the fast flowing and potentially dangerous attack is killed off.

Some will argue that that is the right way to approach the game, that each incident should be viewed fairly. Then what about every tackle, corner, or handball that is wrongly given? Where does it end? My favorite thing about the game is the drama, the controversy. The fact that human error can determine a game, as it is part of the sport that has developed and grown over the last hundred years.

In addition, not every stadium in the world can afford cameras and extra staff to monitor or control such systems. We live in a world where only the teams at the top possess any money whilst the rest have to feed off scraps. Should the lower leagues be left out of the ‘revolution’? The gulf in class, finances, and credibility between the top and bottom will surely widen.

Do they even want such systems in place? Or should the real sport – which has now grown to be the most popular in the world – keep going as it has done throughout its life so far?Football has already changed so much; consider the multimillion-pound sponsorship deals, the fancy boots and the debate over whether it is still a contact sport. It is drifting away from the reasons it caught our eye as youngsters and now finds itself on a collision course with the likes of the NFL and MLB. It will end up being characterized by fat-cats sitting around large conference tables, eating caviar and making decisions regarding what should be the people’s game.

I am slightly exaggerating but this is not too far away from the truth. At this rate, the game will no longer be recognizable from the sport that was played when England last won the world cup, or when the Busby Babes tragically lost their lives, or when Liverpool were the dominate force throughout the seventies and eighties. I feel that the inclusion of technology will take football away from what it truly is and what it should be.

4-2-3-1 Versus 4-3-3

Football, like most (all?) things in life, has its trends. Not that many years ago, playing anything other than a plain 4x3x3 would be sacrilegious (let’s leave England alone, for now). In fact, when 4x2x3x1 started rearing its head, with Quique Flores its main champion, it was a bit criticised (including here) for numerous reasons. On the other hand, just like the two-man midfield, a three-man defence looked all but dead, some reminiscence from the Beckenbauer times. As this text is getting to you, it seems impossible to get away from either 4x2x3x1 (or 4x4x1x1, which is basically the same thing) or some version of a three-man defence (especially in Italy), nowadays – and there is hardly any team playing a true version of a 4x3x3.

Typical 4-2-3-1

It is often said (with good reason) that games are not won on paper, since there is no one given tactical system that is inherently better than the next – it’s all about team dynamics. While this is obviously true, I keep finding some holes in the 4x2x3x1.

 

First and foremost, it is my contention that teams playing with this tactical formation tend to break up in two, namely the six “defenders” and the four “forwards”. Even though this is probably the easiest way to implement roles and instructions on a team (maybe one of the full-backs is allowed to push up), it tends to create two distinct sets of players in the team, since the forwards tend not to be too inclined to track back and perform their defensive duties, and the defenders are usually reluctant to leave their positions, afraid no one will compensate for them in the defensive stage.

4-2-3-1 in the defensive phase

In a 4x2x3x1, the defensive stage usually resembles a 4x4x1x1, since it’s supposedly up to the wingers to mark the opposing full-backs. Although last season offered enough evidence that this system could be extremely effective while playing reactive football (such as Chelsea’s victory in the Champions League final, the Europa League final, the FA Cup final, Braga playing against the top teams, among many others), it remains to be seen how well this formation can fare for a team who want to take control of the match. Whenever a coach is serious about getting his team to play pro-active football with this system, a few too many holes immediately start to appear, particularly because the four “forwards” have the task of creating danger by themselves, which means they won’t be as willing or physically capable of dropping back and form the second bank of four, as requested by this system.

TYpical 4-3-3

The European Super Cup Final match pitted Chelsea against Atlético Madrid and offered us a pretty good match-up between these two systems. Chelsea manager (at the time) Roberto Di Matteo was trying to prove to his boss not only that he was the right man for the job, but also that Chelsea could achieve the same results playing the sort of flamboyant football Roman Abramovich has been expecting since he bought the club ten years ago. Against Chelsea’s typical 4x2x3x1, Atlético manager Diego Simeone went with a clear 4x3x3 and attacked Chelsea’s wings with constant overloads down the flanks with great collaboration between the wingers, full-backs and midfielders. Aware that Hazard and Mata wouldn’t work that much defensively and that Mikel and Lampard are not exactly the most mobile players, the Atlético players soon found huge pockets of space to run into, exposing the frailties of a system in which the (six and sometimes less) “defenders” often find themselves stranded and with little to no protection in front of them.

4-3-3 in the defensive phase.

Furthermore, the 4x3x3 offers an additional line of defence. Instead of two banks of four (and two attackers up front), this system allows the holding midfielder to fulfill what’s been aptly called “the Makelele role”, ie named after the man that sat in front of the defence doing the dirty work and stopped the ball from being played in between the lines. Atlético Madrid populated the centre of the field and tried to win the midfield battle. Aware that the Chelsea wingers would offer no real threat out wide and would tend to drift inside, Simeone’s midfield triangle kept winning balls back (and launching quick counter-attacks) simply because they had a higher number of lines of defence, unlike what’s usually the case in the 4x2x3x1.

Again, this is not to say that one system is better than another. In fact, this text intends to question and stimulate a debate as for the reasons that lead most current coaches to choose the same formation, especially when many of them actually played in different systems – be it 4x3x3 or any other tactical system. While this blog is aware that many ideas we thought dead are starting to re-surface once again, it would be good to find out exactly why that happens – is it just the fashionable trend or did most coaches simultaneously started to feel the 4x2x3x1 was the (only) way to go?

Tal Ben Haim: A convenient scapegoat for Portsmouth

Eisenhower once said that “the search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions”. This seems to be what Portsmouth’s administrators had in mind as in Tal Ben Haim, they have found a public figure for the fans to direct their ire at.

On Friday, a club which has existed since 1898 may exist no more. Portsmouth are due to play their first game of the season next week, but there is a very strong chance that there may not be a Portsmouth Football Club by then.

Portsmouth’s finances have been a disaster for years now. There have been horrendous financial mismanagemenst punctuated by abortive takeovers, or worse, takeovers that promised much, but in reality left the club worse off than they originally were. There have been bouts of unsustainable and barely controlled spending, which has left players on huge contracts that the club simply cannot afford to honour.

Earlier this year, Portsmouth went into administration for the second time in three years, following a winding up order from HM Revenue and Customs (the UK’s tax authority). Portsmouth are believed to owe at least £58m to various creditors. Portsmouth were relegated from the Championship last season, and this has further exacerbated the financial crisis, as the TV money they will receive will be greatly reduced. Portsmouth’s administrator, Trevor Birch, had made the gloomy prediction that Portsmouth will fold on August 10, unless they can pull some sort of a rabbit out of the hat.

Things are about as bad as they can get, but there is hope in the form of two bids for the club, one from a supporters group and one from former owner Balram Chainrai. However, both bids are dependent on the club being able to reduce their wage bill, which has been a millstone around the club’s neck for years, to a more manageable level. That meant that Portsmouth had to sell, or at least come to an arrangement to settle the contracts of, their entire first-team squad which at the end of last season numbered a mere eight players.

Five players had either been sold or come to an agreement on the payment of their contracts before last weekend, when Dave Kitson left Portsmouth after coming to an arrangement over the payment of his contract, which meant that Portsmouth are currently left with two senior players, Liam Lawrence and Tal Ben Haim.

After Birch made his statement that Portsmouth’s liquidation was imminent, a fans group went to speak to the players outside the training pitch to plead with them to come to a settlement on their contracts to give Portsmouth a chance of staying in existence. They handed each player who was willing to speak to them a copy of the following letter.

“When you joined our football club certain promises were made to you, you signed a contract and on that basis and you have every right to demand what is justly yours.

With everything that has happened, you, like us supporters, have every right to be angry; you are as much a victim of the incompetence that has left our club teetering on the brink of as anyone.

Now though you have the chance to write your name in the history of our club, the decisions that you make will decide whether one hundred and fourteen years of history come to an end. Generations of Pompey fans are praying that you are able to reach a compromise with the administrators and while legality and indeed morality are on your side, we can only appeal to your conscience.

While those who have done this squabble over the final remains of Portsmouth Football Club, without a care for those who have been put out of work or the businesses forced to make cut backs because of non-payment, you can show the world that you care. You can save this club that so many of us care about; you can demonstrate that footballers aren’t the shallow, selfish people that are portrayed in the press.

We hope that with your help Pompey can survive and, under the ownership of the fans, can slowly but surely be turned around. We know that the potential sacrifice we are asking you to make is immense, but we will not survive without it.

Thank you”

Tal Ben Haim is an average-to-good Israeli centre back who has played in the Premier League for several seasons with varying success. Portsmouth signed him just before their first spell in administration. He is believed to be on a £36,000 per week contract with image rights and other bonuses believed to be worth an extra £1m per season. This is a remnant of Portsmouth’s Premier League days, and it’s a frankly ludicrous contract for a League One player to have.

Ben Haim is being portrayed as the villain in this situation. He’s taking flak from Birch publicly, the fans booed him during a recent pre-season friendly and he’s getting lambasted in the media. But I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him.

I’m sure he doesn’t want to be the person who puts the final nail in Portsmouth’s coffin. It’s not his fault he was given a huge contract, it’s also not his fault that apparently someone evidently didn’t insert the standard clauses into that contract that would have seen his wages substantially reduced in the event of relegation from the Premier League. Ben Haim signed that contract in good faith, and it is a perfectly reasonable stance to expect that contract to be honoured. If you were owed an amount of money that’s in the millions, would you be happy to accept less, or nothing at all?

Ben Haim responded to the criticism of him yesterday saying

“Most of the negotiations were done through the media. When they (the administrators) actually sat and talked to us through the manager, the majority of the players moved quickly to do what was best for the club and themselves.

As far as I’m concerned, an offer has been made to me only recently. I have offered to waive a further £1.5m of my current contract. They now tell me this is not good enough. The fact is that we are only about £300,000 apart in negotiations. If they want to liquidate the club for that money while they still charge their huge fees then all I can say that the blood is very much on their hands.”

Ben Haim may have a point there. If, as he says, he’s willing to waive £1.5m, and the administrators are still getting paid their large fees in full, then surely he’s entitled to be annoyed that all of the compromise seems to be coming from him and is entitled to say ‘enough’?

There is an argument that Ben Haim will have made a lot of money over his career so can afford to walk away with nothing. But, how do those people know what state Ben Haim’s finances are in? How do they know that he can afford to lose such a large amount of money? How do they know that he doesn’t have financial commitments that require him to regularly pay in a fixed amount of money? Ben Haim is 30 and it’s unlikely he’ll ever get another lucrative contract in the remainder of his career, which will be over in a few years. He has to financially sustain himself, and he may well have a family to support too, for the rest of his life. So I don’t find it unreasonable that he doesn’t want to give up more money that he already has. Why should he potentially sacrifice his own financial future to save his current employer?

Part of the problem may be that this isn’t the first time that Portsmouth have been on the verge of liquidation recently. The club has been in worse financial straits than this and survived. Portsmouth’s woes have been so prominent for so long, people have just got fed up of hearing about them. Trevor Birch admitted as much when he said that we all have “Portsmouth fatigue…they have cried wolf so many times, no one believes it [liquidation] will happen”. Maybe that’s what Ben Haim is thinking too, he feels that the club is crying wolf and rather than it being a case of they can’t pay, it’s a case of they don’t want to pay, so he’s fighting for what’s rightfully his.

This is a situation entirely of Portsmouth’s making. Portsmouth punched above their weight for several seasons, and did so thanks to unsustainable spending from a succession of owners with plenty of big words but little money to back them up. In my opinion, the fault does not lie with the managers who spent the transfer money and handed out the contracts, and it certainly doesn’t lie with the players who signed those contracts; they were offered a job, and they took it, what’s wrong with that? The blame has to lie on the person, or people, who signed off on that spending in the first place.

Loyalty is for fans. It is neither feasible nor reasonable to expect players to demonstrate the same loyalty and passion. A fan’s relationship with a club is a love affair. A player’s relationship with the club is that of employer/employee. The idea fans have that, if they were in the same position, they would walk away with nothing and save the club, is nothing more than a romantic notion that has no basis in reality. Sure it’d be nice if a player did walk away with nothing, saving the club in the process, but why should they?

There are no winners in the situation. The players have not only lost money, and stand to lose more, but have suffered from Birch wielding their contracts as a stick to beat them around the head with in public, which has turned the fans against them. The non-playing members of staff at Portsmouth have suffered by losing their jobs; the local businesses who are owed money by Portsmouth have suffered by being so far down the list of creditors that they are being given only a fraction of the money they are entitled to.

The last people to suffer could be the fans, who are faced with the prospect that their club could no longer be in existence in a matter of days.