In all my years watching Wigan Athletic, and they’re not insubstantial, I’ve never been so cross, I’ve never been so frustrated and I’ve never been so close to chucking it all in and starting all over again. This business with Charles N’Zogbia has just gone too far, it’s pushed me over the edge, I’m sick of all the lies, all the chaos and having to put up with people who just simply don’t deserve to be anywhere near my club. That’s it, I’ve decided…
…I’m keeping away from Latics messageboards until they’ve bloody well sorted it out.
There always has to be one doesn’t there? As much I try to keep out of the yearly summer merry-go-round, there’s generally one rumour, deal or otherwise significant story that gets me sufficiently riled and forces me into commenting before I get to the end of window round up. I’ve done really well this season as well, but with four days to go on the Sky Sports New countdown, I’ve got just about as far as I can with the Charles N’Zogbia to-ing and fro-ing and with an offer finally being accepted, it seems as good a time as any to open my gob. There doesn’t seem much point waiting for the round up anyway, this one would only take up all the words.
Charley boy was quite a coup when signed for Newcastle as a 17 year old. The young French starlet with his mixture if pace and ability was tipped for the very top and yet now, some six years later, you’d be totally justified in wondering where it all went wrong. I’m sure that’s what he was thinking when some cockney geezer he’d never heard of chased him out of the toon and he trolled up at Latics as prince and heir to Louis Antonio Valencia.
And yet he looked like the penny had dropped, that he would knuckle down, show the right attitude and within twelve months his career would be back on track and he’d be dribbling right back into the Champions League.
And so he might have done had he not caught a glimpse of the bright lights, just around about the same time he thought it was a good idea to get a mate to sit his driving theory test for him (“zeze inglish pipple theenk that all uzz Frenchmen look ze same”). Except it wasn’t the bright lights of old Trafford that were calling him, nor the rumoured interest from Arsenal. Birmingham were knocking and maybe even Sunderland. Thus began a transfer saga that highlighted the worst of the modern game.
Sulking fits, agents trying to move people around to make a quick buck, clubs talking out of turn about other clubs’ players, strategically placed press briefings, clubs forced to sell to survive the mess of the Premier League, rumours, lies and the odd grain of truth; you could see it all in this one if you looked hard enough and you were enough of a conspiracy theorist.
All or none of it could have been lies, but the saddest thing is that it’s all too easy to see the story of an agent wanting a move for his player tapping up an old manager who used his contacts in the press to put pressure on the player and his club only to find he didn’t have the cash and couldn’t have made the move anyway because everyone had sussed what was going on, all with a backdrop of another club trying to negotiate the players price down whilst keeping onside with their fans incase it didn’t come off.
As I said it’s probably 90% nonsense, but there’s so much of it about these days anyway. Like the idea that this was somehow an avoidable transfer for Wigan Athletic.
Let’s get things straight from the start. Accounts don’t lie, Latics don’t turn a profit and are currently going on for £50m in debt. Yes most of this is owed to the chairman but it’s debt all the same, it’s not come about because we’ve been throwing money about, it’s because since, oooh, lets say 1995 we’ve been paying significantly more out in wages than we can afford. In fact, let’s not say 1995, you might be tempted to blame that on Roberto Martinez, the truth is that, from at least the mid-eighties Latics have had to sell players to survive.
N’Zogbia leaving the DW is no different than when Joe Parkinson departed the sunny shores of Springfield to travel to a dull dismal Bournemouth only to turf up at Goodison a matter of weeks later as Harry Redknapp showed his early flair for wheeling and dealing. It’s no different from when Peter Atherton was shipped out to Coventry, Paul Cook to Norwich and so on and so forth. Scan the history of the club and you’ll see players sold for a little less than you suspect they were worth to clubs a little lower down the ladder than you think they deserved and all for the sake of keeping the club ticking over.
But there is a difference this time. Because, even without further signings, the fee we receive for N’Zogbia has been invested elsewhere. We’ve a striker, a right back and a central midfielder all of whom cost money and none of whom have joined because they couldn’t get in Everton’s reserves (I’m looking at you Gary Powell).
So the worse case here is we lose one player and gain three. In reality I suppose we’ve lost two and funded a whole summer’s shopping. With other targets allegedly lined up to come in it was fairly inevitable that one of our saleable players would go if we could get value for them. Without knowing how those transfers pan out (and as much as you might like to believe you’re Jose Mourinho you can’t judge a player after 2 or 3 games) it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t strengthened the squad.
In fact, the biggest loser out of this situation might turn out to be the player himself. He came in under a cloud, he’s spent the last six months under one and he’s just about had to made it chuck it down to get what he wants (or so the Daily Sky would have you believe). I’ll stand here and tell anyone that I believe he’s got the ability to play in the Champions’ League, but which English top four manager would touch him based on his perceived attitude?
You want to debate whether Charles is worth the same as Valencia, well consider whether how much Antonio’s value was enhanced because Real and United were considering signing him. N’Zogbia now seems to have backed himself in a corner, and with no big club waiting around the corner it seems his only option is to step up one rung at a time and try to grab as much money whilst he does, which hardly enhances his reputation when you think about it.
But then he wouldn’t be the first player to regret jumping the good ship Wigan Athletic.
As I’ve gone to publish the above, I’ve just found out that (reportedly) Charles has knocked back Birmingham’s offer, and to think I could have been writing a Spurs Preview Whilst that contains no amount of hilarity, it does very little to suggest that he won’t be out the door to somewhere come Tuesday. Hopefully in time for Latics to reinvest what can be reinvested of his fee.