WE’RE increasingly becoming used to ‘Clegg-isms’ at Portman Road, but this must have rattled a few cages in the dressing room, in a week when all the focus should have been on stopping foes Norwich City (this article written ahead of last night’s derby).
“Paul is very clear he’s not going to be held to ransom by any player,” said chief executive Simon Clegg.
He may have been one of the key men responsible for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Olympics on home soil, but these comments only lit a flame of anger amongst the players we are battling to keep. And it’s hard to make a case why it’s not actually his fault.
I have nothing against our chief executive, those who have saying he is not from a football background (how many chief execs are?) but the future stability of the club is all that motivates my opinions. And I cannot fathom why ITFC let their expensive assets (McAuley, Delaney and Norris) run to within weeks of being able to walk away for nothing.
As I’ve said in this weekly column before, it makes no business sense. Even if we wish to sell them, nothing but extending their contracts and then putting them on the market at the value we bought them for seems a sound financial idea. Instead, we seem to have embarked on a game of Russian Roulette which threatened to destabilise the first-team squad. We gave the power to the players, who are free to negotiate with rival clubs behind our backs, or negotiate a higher wage with them knowing the club fears losing them for free.
And for the final kick in the teeth, Clegg phrases his comments in such a way, the players feel they are being blamed for the whole situation. Delaney has gone on record saying he waited and waited for a contract and seemed upset not to be offered one until the last minute, while Carlos Edwards describes the situation as “a slap in the face”.
And Paul Jewell is strangely mentioned in the middle of it. But he was as baffled as Roy Keane as to how this sorry mess unfolded.
Jewell’s own comments, with 21 contracts running out when he arrived, were sensible and telling: “We shouldn’t be in this situation, but we are. I think as a club we’ve all got to learn from it. If we let our players run out of contract there’s going to be speculation.”
The battle with captain David Norris, our top scorer, continues, but at least it looks as if the war is won with our central defensive pairing.
But did we really need a war?
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