Walter White would understand it at least. He knows all about the the curse of wanting more, that however much you have, it’s just never enough. Yes, Spurs’ player of the year for 2010-11 Luka Modric, now reminds me of the meth cooking protagonist of AMC’s Breaking Bad (returning on Sunday for season 4).
In the first episode of the second season of Breaking Bad, Walter White works out exactly how much money ($737,000) he would need to make, in order to provide for his family if he is unable to beat lung cancer. However, by midway through season
3, he has abandoned all plans to limit his expedition into the world of narcotics production and is working full time for a drug-king-pin-slash-chicken-frier in Albuquerque. Why? Because, whether or not Walt had convinced himself that he was only in it to ensure his family would be taken care of in the event of his death, the money and the power that came with being the best meth cook around was a feeling he wanted to chase.
Luka Modric has recently put in a transfer request in order to try and force through a move to Chelsea, a deal that has currently not been agreed upon as the Stamford Bridge club has not matched Tottenham’s valuation for their star midfielder. Last year, Modric signed a contract with Spurs until 2016, a commitment he no longer wishes to honour. Despite still having 5 years left to run on the deal, it is highly unlikely Modric will still be a Tottenham player by the time the new season begins in August. So why does he want to move? In his words, he wants to play for a “big club like Chelsea, compete in the Champions’ League and have the chance to win trophies”. Or to put it in simpler terms, because they will pay him more money and, the more exposure he has on the biggest stage, the bigger star he can become. Luka Modric, Croatia’s answer to Walter White.
The only part of Modric’s reasoning I can understand or accept, is that he wants the opportunities to win trophies. This is part of what has been ruining modern football, people no longer value winning things over all other measures of success. Nowadays, all that is talked about is finishing in the top 4 of the Premier League in order to qualify for the Champions League. Why is this important? So you can attract the best players to come to your team which will mean you can stay in the top 4 and continually play in Europe’s top competition. I understand why this is important to a club’s Chairman, or shareholders, but why are players simply interested in taking part? Merely playing in the Champions’ League is irrelevant if you do not actually win the trophy. I say this having fully enjoyed Spurs’ exploits in Europe last year, taking on the top clubs, but if this becomes an annual event and goes no further, I do not see how this is a measure of success. What goes in the trophy cabinet, a framed
copy of the end of season “League Ladders” showing the top 4 finish? Yet season after season, this is all that is talked about. Honestly, I am excited for Tottenham to be in the Europa League next year, as I believe we have a fantastic opportunity to win it – the same would not have been true in the Champions’ League.
Or at least, we would have had a great chance to win the Europa League, if one of our star players did not want to jump ship and try and win things the easy way. It’s similar to LeBron James, who could have stayed in Cleveland and tried to win a Championship the right way, show loyalty to his team and help them build something with him as the lynch pin. Instead, James went to join his buddies in South Beach and Modric wants to go to a “bigger club” like Chelsea. When I break it down, that’s the part that really bothers me – to think that people now consider Chelsea a big club. In the late 1980s, when Chelsea were struggling in the top flight and were relegated to the old Division Two, they were struggling to pull in an average crowd of 8,000 a week. Now they have some success and the place is full of “life-long Cheslea fans” – Spurs fans, of course, are always happy to remind them of their bandwagon jumping singing “Where were you when you were shit?” at them. But for a lot of football fans now, who think that the league started in 1993 with the advent of the Premiership, Chelsea are one of only 4 teams to win the title. For those with even shorter term memories, Chelsea have indeed been in the Champions League every single year (since 2003/4). When they are reflecting back on this era of Chelsea’s history (wanted to put that in quotation marks but even I will avoid being that snarky!), they should put a statue outside of Stamford Bridge not of money man Roman Abramovich, or the man who built their first title Jose Mourinho, or Assistant Referee John Terry, but of Jesper Gronkjaer.
On the last day of the 2002/3 season, Chelsea and Liverpool faced each other in a battle for 4th place, the Scousers needing a win to snatch that place from their London rivals. The game was won for Chelsea by Jesper Gronkjaer, who put in the cross for Desailly to score the first goal, and then scored the winner in the final 10 minutes, the match ending 2-1. That match was the catalyst for all of Chelsea’s success – and that is not an imagination. A few months later, Chelsea were within 5 days of going into administration, having overspent in the pursuit of glory. Roman Abramovich, Russian billionaire, was looking for an English Premier League club to invest in, because of their location in London and their status as having qualified for the Champions League, he stepped in and saved Chelsea and the rest, unfortunately, is a very successful history – 3 league titles, 3 FA Cups, a League Cup and a Champions League Final they would have won, if John Terry could take a penalty. (Things I love about that clip – the way the commentators are going on about “Mr Chelsea” and what a great leader Terry is, as the man himself is adjusting his Captain’s Armband to ensure the Big “C” is visible; and the shot of all the Chelsea players arm-in-arm united to the death…until he misses and then it’s every man for himself and the hugging is gone – brilliant).
I get it, Chelsea are now probably what everyone would define as a bigger club than Tottenham, because money talks. But just money is not why I watch the game, it’s not what gets me excited. Manchester City did fantastically well to qualify for next year’s Champions League – and will probably do very well in it as they can buy all the players they want – but who will enjoy watching their matches. City play really boring, negative, effective football – last year Tottenham were widely lauded for their gung-ho approach to these games. At times it may have been to the detriment of the result (the 4-3 loss against Inter, the away leg in the Madrid tie), but there was never a time when you would want to turn over if Spurs were playing in the Champions League. If success is finishing in the top 4 and grinding out results, well other people can have their success. My favourite Spurs players have never been the most effective ones – for example, Ginola would go missing in away games, but when he had the ball, the crowd rose in anticipation as they knew he could produce magic at any time. Negative tactics of any form, time-wasting, play acting, sitting back and not attacking, all frustrate me and make me lose interest in a game. I wish players wanted to stay at a club and fight for their shirt and show loyalty to a team that has invested time and money into them – instead of looking to leave as soon as a more attractive offer came in for them
But, Modric wants to Break Bad – to go to the dark side and move for money and to one of our rivals despite having signed a contract with Tottenham just 12 months ago. Well I just hope he does not have the same influence on our younger, impressionable players and encourage Bale to do the same, in the way the Walt lead Jesse down a dark path.