Honesty: the best policy?
For the most part this site is resolutely non-partisan, shying away from inflammatory articles and the bilious, monosyllabic responses they attract from spittle-flecked, talkSPORT-listening meatheads in favour of carefully considered argument and reasonable, civil debate. In fact, the only thing that seems to get the eminently agreeable Lanterne Rouge hot under the collar is a certain mob from Milton Keynes, worthy winners of this year’s TTU Award for Crimes against Football. So, Lanterne Rouge, I beg forgiveness in advance for what follows, in which I speak relatively kindly about one of the MK Dons’ number, Sam Baldock…
The story began with a succession of bids for the striker from Peterborough, who’ve just yo-yoed back into the Championship. Not only did Posh beat Franchise FC in the play-offs en route to promotion, but they appeared determined to rub their noses in it by stealing away one of their prize assets. The first two approaches were rebuffed but it was third time lucky for Darragh MacAnthony’s side when their persistence was rewarded with acceptance – or so it seemed.
As it turned out, Baldock was rather less receptive to Posh’s advances. He’d had plenty of time to mull over the prospect of a move before meeting Darren Ferguson, and has confessed: “As soon as I got there it confirmed my suspicions that it wasn’t right for me“. The problem, he claims, lay largely with what was on offer: “The best piece of advice I have been given is that to move somewhere on a four-year deal it has to excite you, and it just didn’t do that for me“.
Ferguson has since retorted that the feeling was mutual: “It was apparent to me that I wasn’t going to sign the lad after a very short period of time. There was no enthusiasm to come and sign for Peterborough“. Both parties, meanwhile, have been trying to save face by claiming it was they who pulled the plug on the deal.
Now it’s understandable why Fergie Jr would be nettled – Baldock’s declaration is a definite slight on Posh, all the more significant for the fact that they’ll be playing at a higher level than Franchise FC next season and so should, you’d assume, automatically be a more attractive proposition. But perhaps when the dust settles, he’ll realise that Baldock’s honesty has done Posh a favour.
How many times do players genuinely feel the delight about a move that they profess to in a stream of tedious platitudes while waving a scarf or shirt when unveiled in front of the cameras? How many times do those inane smiles mask an expression of grim resignation at having been forced out of a previous club, the horrified realisation of having made a huge mistake or nothing but a smirk at the thought of the accompanying salary? Any of us can look into our own club’s recent history and reel off a list of players who, after loudly proclaiming to be excited about a move, then went on to give sterling impressions of not giving even the remotest toss.
Baldock could have sized up the opportunity to play Championship football (and no doubt also thicken his wage packet) and made a hard-headed decision to take it. As it is, Posh have been spared being saddled with a player whose heart would never have been in it. Of course, Baldock may yet be angling for a move to another club at that level or, as Fergie has intimated, simply trying to screw an improved contract out of his current employers – but my point is that in this instance his honesty should be applauded. And there can’t be many people who, offered an escape route from Milton Keynes, wouldn’t snap your arm off…