McUpson Or Is It Matty Sheffrey – By Russell Dempsey

Posted on February 5, 2007 
Filed Under Articles By Russell

I was fuming about the whole Upson (sorry – whoowhoooooooo?) affair, when it suddenly struck me that Coventry fans probably felt the same way about McSheffrey.

I actually spoke to a Coventry fan on a residential trip with school. She said she was ‘glad’ McSheff had left. I truly think – looking at how well he did for them and how well he’s played for us since – that it was a case of sour grapes.

Looking at the two situations though:

Both players were still under contract
Both managers turned down offers and said he was not for sale.
Both players were sold – seemingly by the Board – against the wishes of the manager.
Both players ‘had their heads turned’.

Which makes Karen Brady’s ‘ugly betty’ article more interesting reading:

No doubt West Ham feel they have done a clever piece of business buying Matthew Upson from Birmingham.

No doubt Blues feel they’ve also done clever business getting GMcS from Cov…

I don’t think it’s clever at all. The truth is I feel as if we have been mugged.

So do Coventry presumably. See how they’ve plummeted since he left.

Strange kind of mugging, you might think, being held up at the point of a chequebook and forced to accept £7.5million.

Yeah – only £3.5/4m here to be fair.

But anyone who has been in our position knows what it is like to see your contracted agreement with a player being insidiously undermined in a football version of a CIA operation.

McSheff wasn’t available on a Bosman, yet we didn’t even accept Micky Adams suggestion we’d be wasting fax paper.

With Upson in the team the manager believed we had a better chance of promotion to the Premier League than without him.

With McSheffrey in the team, Micky Adams believed Coventry had a better chance of promotion, and – ultimately – must have realised his loss would lose him his job.

So what are the FA doing about illegal approaches to players? Sweet FA.

Perhaps just as well, as we’d possibly be investigated for the same reasons, for the McSheffrey deal?

The Upson affair was no auction, I can tell you, even though the price went up in stages from the original £4m Upson’s agent had assured West Ham was our target. With each hike came tightening pressure by way of the Press, the hangdog player and his Mr 10 Per Cent.

I told the West Ham managing director repeatedly that Steve Bruce was determined to keep the player and so were the board.

It was too much to hope that even an intelligent lad like Upson could work out a few things himself when someone was dangling a massive contract in front of his nose.

This paragraph is the one that smacks most of hypocrisy. We bid in £1m intervals if I recall correctly, and they were the public ones. Weren’t we told repeatedly by manager and board alike that the answer was no? The only difference seems to be Upson publicly stated his desire to leave, where McSheffrey didn’t. I’m sure McSheffrey had an amazing contract dangled in front of his nose probably by Karren Brady herself, seeing how she concedes she’s in charge of the money at St Andrews.

Who should we be angry with? The Joys and Sorrows site currently has a poll running. Over 60% think it’s Upson and his agent at fault.

The problem I feel lies in football itself. A contract should be just that. A player should be ‘expected’ to honour it unless ever forced to retire. That would save ‘poaching’ and ‘backstabbing’. As players are ‘allowed’ to be bought whilst under contract, why shouldn’t they ask to leave??

Upson was foolish to talk about ‘wanting to help Birmingham achieve promotion’ though he could suggest he did his bit while still will us. His refusal to sign a new contract – in my view – sets him a level above Mr Savage who had just tied up his future with the Blues. A quote rings a bell with me, something along the lines of ‘no-one should doubt my commitment to Birmingham City’ a week before he signed for Blackburn.

Even Savage going to Blackburn was well within the realms of acceptable in the eyes of the FA, and Birmingham have benefited as well as suffered as a result.

Danns? Vine? Kelly? All players who were under contract.

The difference appears to be Danns at Colchester, Vine at Luton and Kelly at Spurs all appeared to have Boards who were willing to admit they would sell them at the right price.

At one stage, Birmingham City, on the other hand, seemed to be saying (it may actually have been Steve Bruce, but he’s the mouthpiece of the club in MOST interviews, surely?) we wouldn’t sell Upson, even for £20m.

That seemed ludicrous to me at the time. I felt Upson wasn’t worth even half of that but still feel a tad concerned about what he actually DID go for.

Especially when rumours abounded we’d turned down £8m. Alan Curbishley also seemed to suggest – at one stage – that he was giving up on the purchase due to our stubbornness.

I see – even before his premature injury – Upson wasn’t recalled to the England squad, even with Ledley King out injured.

Adrift of safety in the Premiership, some would stop and ponder would Matty Upson feel he’d made a mistake? You can only say no, he’s tripled his salary, and is no longer having to play at all. Even when he comes back, he’ll be playing in ‘glamour’ matches against Manchester United, Chelsea and, erm, Fulham (ahem).

Can anyone truly blame Upson? He never appeared to make a secret of his ambitions to play in the Premiership. If Steve Bruce is so certain we wouldn’t go up without him, there’s two causes for concern

a) We won’t go up now, cos we DON’T have him
b) Upson must have thought ‘bloody hell, he has no faith in the rest of the team’

That’s why I get miffed when Bruce labels certain players ‘best in the squad’. How is that good for morale??

Damien Johnson has held that plaudit, and seemingly holds the more talented (on his day) Seb Larsson on the bench. Upson also held that ‘honour’ yet Jaidi and N’Gotty had played more recently in the Premiership, and weren’t on their way back from lengthy injury lay off. I understand there’s a level of spin involved. Make Matty feel valued, etc, but it certainly didn’t work, did it???

For a club Ms Brady is trying to assure us ‘doesn’t sell its best players’, I would argue we only have Mikael Forssell left from that category from last year.

Dunn, Heskey, Pennant, Upson all gone. Even Marcos Painter (tee hee). Talking of whom, he was Prem quality (though admittedly lacking experience) last year, yet now seems happy at Swansea?

If Forssell wasn’t injured, I think we all know he’d have gone by now too. With Vine, McSheffrey, Campbell, Jerome and Bendtner in the squad, I don’t see Mikael fitting into Brucey’s plans again anyway. I’m not thrilled at the idea, but – to be fair to Bruce – he really didn’t impress in the first few games, when he actually played. I just hope his last meaningful contribution for Birmingham City wasn’t that missed penalty.

In a nutshell, I think we need to realise the market is about money, in football. We love to kid ourselves loyalty is everything. They make new shirts for us every year to help us staying fresh looking, it’s NOT money, oh no. Season tickets grant us ’special privileges’ not ‘money for the Board’. Players are ‘loyal’, the Board ‘loves the fans’ and the Manager ‘doesn’t want his ‘best players’ to leave, but ultimately it’s ALL about money. It’s only the fans who have passion. Sure the players can convince us for 90 minutes (and more this season than the last two put together) that they have passion, but would they have the same commitment without the money??

I think Matty Upson was great when he played with Kenny Cunningham, but their day is gone. Many more players will come and go, and you can bet money will play a HUGE deal in every single one of those comings and goings.

Let’s concentrate on the players we do have, and kid ourselves they’re with us cos they’re loyal, and would even turn down £10m from Chelsea.

Keep Right On, and see if we can’t claw our way back above Derby…..perhaps we could buy Paul Peschisolido back?


12 Responses to “McUpson Or Is It Matty Sheffrey – By Russell Dempsey”

  1. Barrington on February 5th, 2007 6:45 pm

    Are Blues a bigger club and a better prospect for a player than Coventry? If you think no, you’re on the wrong board. Are Blues a bigger club and a better Premiership prospect for next year (and beyond) than West Ham? I think yes. I’m not so annoyed that Upson left as that he plainly left for the money. He could have gone to, for example, Spurs, and been at a top club. He didn’t. He went to a club in the bottom three who are, at best, a yo-yo club, but he did it for 60K a week (that’s what Neill is on, and they paid more for Upson so…). He only left for the money; not for success, not for honours…at least McSheffrey, Vine and Kelly have furthered their careers by joining Blues. Upson has done wonders for his bank balance, but his reputation as a player and as a person is in tatters.

  2. Luintious on February 5th, 2007 6:59 pm

    Forced to agree with Barrington McSheffery knew that in order to prosper he had to go to us despite supporting Coventry. Diffrence with Upson was his chances of getting better are not that much higher. Actually I’d probably go as far as saying that his chances of getting into the England squad look slimmer at West Ham. Two relegations against your name won’t look good for any player. Will Upson EVER be in the England squad? I hardly think so.

  3. oldburyblue on February 5th, 2007 7:03 pm

    “The King is dead, long live the King”. That is what football is all about. We all have our favourite players from the past in all positions, but they have nearly all been replaced over the years by others who then become our favourites. Life goes on.

    I would agree..Upson was at his best when his mistakes were “covered” by Cunningham. I think he needs an old head by his side to play at his best.

  4. Soothsayer on February 5th, 2007 7:22 pm

    Brady is full of BS. She rang West Ham on Tuesday night after Southend to say Upson was for sale

  5. The Gaz on February 5th, 2007 7:38 pm

    Upson? who? its time to move on and try and halt this mini blip were having, not whinging about a player whos going to be in the championship next season (get out clause maybe? so much for wanting to play for west ham if he has). Keep right on bluenoses.

  6. Boohai on February 5th, 2007 8:22 pm

    I love the comment from the Muppets on Match Of The Day after Upson signed for Wet Spam: ‘He’s a great signing, someone who can lead and organise the backline’. ??? I can’t remember him ever leading or organising anything, he always relied on Cunningham to do that and this year Tiny has ‘tried’ the organise things.

    [Edited by Aff] – His name is ‘Upson’. Nothing more, nothing less.

  7. Aussie Bluenose on February 5th, 2007 9:29 pm

    I actually think we were the ones who did the mugging. They keep bleating on about how Upson was a 7 times capped England international – but they weren’t in any games of great importance, and he was crap when he did play.

    They need to get over themselves and realize they are no better (or worse) than most of the other clubs out there.

    Upson was not (and never was) the be all and end all of the Blues side, and we will do just fine without him.

    And finally, I would LOVE Wet Spam to get relegated.

  8. I.Roth on February 5th, 2007 10:13 pm

    I dont mind Upson going but why didn’t we have a plan b to get cover before the window closed. It is good business at seven and a half million. He was not going to sign again and could have left for one mill. in the summer. What could the board do?

  9. oldburyblue on February 6th, 2007 12:42 am

    Just how many centre-halves do we need? Upson was injured & Cunningham was released so we replaced them at the beginning of the Season. We already had Taylor & Tebilly who are proven & quite competent at this level, so I would think that we have more cover in that position than on previous promotion campaigns.

    My question would be what has Sam Oji got to do to get a 1st Team chance? I watch him regularly in the reserves (another fine win tonight) and he seems as good, if not better, than some 1st team regulars. He is built like the proverbial outhouse with no mean skill, which should come as no surprise as he is another former Arsenal player that we have on our books.

  10. Ted on February 6th, 2007 8:25 am

    Must agree about Oji – I saw him a couple of times and he has great potential at centre-half. I’m more concerned about Upson’s sale proving a moral dampner than the loss of an indispensible player.

  11. hch on February 6th, 2007 5:15 pm

    blues rock and i agree Oji is class!!!!

  12. Russ on February 6th, 2007 9:49 pm

    I think Upson could get away with saying West Ham was a better prospect than Blues, in that it got him immediately into the Prem.
    If West Ham go down, I’m sure he’ll have a get out clause, and that will only be relevant IF we go up. If West Ham don’t go down, I think it seems the new West Ham board are more willing to invest than ours??

    I agree Matty left for the money, but I’d suggest McSheffrey had an eye on his bank balance when he moved to us too. Would he have accepted the same as his Coventry wage??

    Doubt it mate!!

    Luintious – I don’t think Upson was in line for England again with Blues. I think the only scenario where he’s worsened his chances is where West Ham get relegated and we get promoted. The Prem would obviously increase his England credentials. He may even have wished (wrongly or not) the next four months would be instrumental in getting him more noticed??

    Oldbury – very philosophical mate. The King was Kenny though ;)

    Soothsayer – I have to agree, I imagine Bruce knew damn well what was happening too. Gets the fans onside, cos we’re all rooting for Steve now, against the ‘naughty’ Board……

    The Gaz – yeah, youre right, though I’d be surprised if any West Ham fans think Matty ‘really wants to play for them’….

    Aussie – especially in light of his injury, I’d agree we did the mugging. I think the same could be said about McSheff’s signing too. No one seems to have agreed/denied we’re hypocritical in criticising West Ham for ‘not giving up on Upson’.
    Sure, McSheff DID enhance his career, but we didn’t pay £6m for him….wonder if he’ll be worth that next season, though!

    I Roth – I think our plan was Bougherra. When that collapsed was when Brucey started saying Matty DEFINITELY wasn’t going.
    I also think it’s why Upson ‘went public’. He thought he’d be gone too, without having to say a thing about it. When we couldn’t get cover, Bruce said ‘I don’t want to lose him’ and perhaps rightly so. Ridgewell offer was also turned down at the last minute…..

    Any news on that loan offer for him btw?

    About ‘what could the Board do?’ Presumably Bruce wanted them to risk the £5m we’d have lost out on in the Summer, for the £30m we’ll surrender if we don’t go up, and – in Bruce’s eyes – it’s cos we don’t have Upson….
    Oldbury – did you say Tebs was ‘competent’

    I have nothing against him, and – yes – he CAN do a job for us, but he can also be too unpredictable…not reliable is he?? Taylor, Jaidi and N’Gotty are better though, so you’re right about centre-half cover….

    Oji won’t get a chance. I remember Bruce getting plaudits from Bertschin for ‘letting us’ sign Ollie Allen, Clive’s son. He scored a fair few, and even Bruce was quoted praising him. He’s gone……

    As for the moral dampener, Ted, I have to disagree. I think the squad will be happier knowing that a player who doesn’t want to be there won’t be picked ‘ahead of them’….

    The last word has to go to “11 hch”

    “blues rock!!!!”

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This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

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