QPR & West Brom must accept their share of blame in Odemwingie drama
Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion must take their share of blame for Peter Odemwingie drama, writes James Pozzi
During the last 36 hours, West Bromwich Albion’s Peter Odemwingie has been vilified and held up as the epitome of immoral, modern-footballing greed. Alternatively, he is an ageing player simply wanting the best for himself and his family.
In the biannual circus that is transfer deadline day, you can guarantee a narrative of melodrama matched by only the greatest of Shakespearian plays. Five years ago, it was Manchester City’s attempted hijacking at the eleventh hour of their cross-city rival’s bid for Dimitar Berbatov.
Undoubtedly this year’s overriding drama came from the Premier League’s basement club Queens Park Rangers. Manager Harry Redknapp, a purveyor of the last-minute deal, bought Chris Samba back to England from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for £12.5m and a reported contract worth a eye-watering £100,000-a-week.
Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas joined the cavalry from Tottenham, while South Korean international Yoon Suk-Young arrived from Chunnam Dragons.
There was a hope of completing the line-up for the upcoming relegation scrap with the arrival of Odemwingie from West Brom, but what followed was both farcical and comical, even bordering on the tragic.
Having been linked with the club for most of January, it looked a certainty that the Nigerian forward would become a Hoops player. This idea was further cemented when Odemwingie turned up at Loftus Road, apparently read to sign the deal, only to find himself turned away.
Despite telling reporters on camera that he had left with the blessing of West Brom officials – even going as far as shaking the hand of the club’s technical director Dan Ashcroft – the deal was thrown into limbo.
What is perhaps the result of a farcical communication breakdown, will surely now blight the rest of Odemwingie’s season, and result in him becoming a pariah at the club who pays his wages.
While Baggies fans are rightfully angry at how the situation – unprofessionally played out in front of the media – has served up another glaring example of player disloyalty in football, it is also not infeasible to suggest Odemwingie himself is a victim in this.
Having been talked up by Redknapp for most of last month, the 31-year-old Odemwingie, having come to the Premier League two years ago, saw what has been on offer financially at QPR since the arrival of Malaysian millionaire owner Tony Fernandes.
With the player clearly mindful of his career entering the twilight phase, his attentions would naturally be to think of his family and take what would undoubtedly have been a substantial pay rise to join QPR, a club intent on spending its way out of trouble.
But it’s also not difficult to see why the player is gaining little sympathy from football fans. Earlier this week, he used his Twitter account to criticise a club whose supporters he’d grown an affinity with.
When going back to training at the club on Friday morning, manager Steve Clarke described his actions as “total lunacy” and suggested a fine of two weeks wages is to be imposed on the player.
While it is an idealistic and honest notion to see the game as a fan, in cases like this, it is perhaps wiser to think practically. Odemwingie may have been badly advised, had his head turned or simply been a victim of a communication breakdown.
Perhaps we’ll never know the full truth and it is unwise to throw accusations around. But given the ever increasing power of money, media and spin in football, it is difficult to fully implement Odemwingie as the true villain of the piece.
This strange tale is certainly one even The Bard at his most inspired would struggle to conjure up.