Wayne Bridge – the new Winston Bogarde?

Both of these players share some similarities – they incidentally have the same initials and play in the same position (leftback).

I’m not going to quibble about their respective nationalities, their height differences and their previous clubs etc., though both played for Chelsea at some point in time.

More importantly, both have found themselves in the same situation – being unwanted in a rich club. Interestingly, both managers who don’t want these players are of Italian descent (Roberto Mancini and Claudio Ranieri).

Former Dutch international fullback, Bogarde signed for Chelsea in the year 2000. It turned out to be a nightmare for the much-travelled Dutchman. Although he pocketed a reported £40,000 salary per week which was not particularly astronomical even in 2000, we need to remember that he was already almost 30 years old when he joined the club. In all, he only turned out eleven times for the club over a span of four years (the tally according to Wikipedia) and didn’t leave an impact during his time there. The man responsible for the Bogarde quandary was Claudio Ranieri (who also destroyed my beloved Valencia CF team in 2004/2005 with his well-known acquisition of expensive Italian players of inconsistent quality) who replaced Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea in September 2000.

Ranieri told Bogarde that the leftback would not feature in his vision for the Blues. However, no respectable club would match his rather tidy salary either, given that he rarely impressed after leaving Ajax Amsterdam in 1997 – he played for AC Milan very briefly in 1997 before joining the Dutch contingent at FC Barcelona in 1998 and playing a rather measly 41 times over a course of two years. He was selected in Holland’s impressive World Cup 1998 roster although he was predictably overlooked for Euro 2000 on home soil with veteran Arthur Numan and then-resurgent Giovanni van Bronckhorst preferred in the leftback spot. The result – Winston Bogarde sat out his four-year contract until its expiry although he diligently trained every day with Chelsea’s youth team, having been demoted there after allegedly declaring that ‘This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions, you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunate who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership, but I don’t care’.

And which makes sense – every bit of it. He didn’t breach the club’s rules and regulations (or at least not sufficient enough to give Chelsea valid reasons to rescind his contract) – he turned up for training and is essentially ready for team selection if need be. Whether the coach decides that he is good enough to play and then pencils his name in for first-team matches is not moot here. I also can’t understand how some people decided that he was a leech. It’s the club that prepared and penned the contract, so it would be the club who should suffer the consequences. You always have to honour your contracts no matter how unfair the terms and conditions are, even in hindsight.     

Still, if it’s of any interest to you, recently, Bogarde has fallen on hard times.    

Now, a similar scenario is unraveling within Manchester City’s ranks. 

Wayne is already 31 years old. To be able to collect a reported £90,000 weekly salary is simply wonderful for a player nearing the twilight of his career. So, for Roberto Mancini to observe that ‘I don’t understand why there are some players that have a chance to go and play, maybe not in the Premier League but in the Championship, and don’t,’ reeks of disingenuousness. First of all, Wayne Bridge is probably still good enough for the Premiership, perhaps even Queens’ Park Rangers or whatever, but Bridge need not consign himself to second-tier football so soon unless he feels otherwise. For his own manager to indirectly tell him by way of media where to go is disrespectful at the very least. Imagine then, if you’re working at a multinational corporation and your boss reveals to the whole wide world that you should be better off joining a local small-time company (such is the material gap between the Premier League and the Championship) simply because you don’t feature in his long-term plans. Football is a public and skilled job, sure, but you get the drift.

Mancini continued – “I don’t know why you would want to stay at a club where you can’t play. When we are young and start to play football we don’t play for money, we play because we like football. Every player should have this target in mind – to play football.” Now that Mancini has mentioned ‘young’ he must not have realized that Bridge is not ‘young’ in terms of world football… and I’ll leave you to finish up the analogy for me.

Of course, the manager could have been instructed by his board to take whatever steps necessary to clear the player out. Yes, it’s a sad world, don’t you think.

So, money or football – it’s up to the player to decide. I just thought that the similarity (or similarities) with Bogarde’s situation rather interesting.


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