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?