Time and time again we see that professional soccer players and their contracts aren't really bound by anything. Contracts might as well not even have time lengths as players will more or less move on regardless of manager and club power. Sir Alex recently bucked the trend by tying Rooney down to a new contract by offering more money. There is a direct correlation between money and loyalty. More money means more loyalty. Such is the case with Rooney, who only pledged his future and loyalty to Manchester United after his wages had been increased.
Rooney was persuaded not only by the promise of more marquee recruitment's, but the added bonus of a £200,000 a week contract once incentives are worked in, was probably the bigger persuader. In the case of Darren Bent, a player with a hugely influential role when it comes to Sunderland's position in the table, sixth to be precise, he decided to jump ship to a team sitting just three points above the relegation zone in 16th.
The claims Bent made calling Villa a "massive" club are merely laughable; all the more laughable is the fact that he left a team with the potential to challenge for a spot in Europe, to join a team in a relegation battle. Bent confessed his love for Sunderland when he stated, “I can't believe how well it's gone. If the offer of an extension came up I'd be more than happy to sign it. It's all about the football up here. It's all passion, passion, passion.”
The Mackems took him into their heart and believed the affection was reciprocated when, three months ago, Bent hinted he had found his spiritual home: “I like Sunderland. I like the people. It’s a really nice part of the world.” All this really confessed was that despite true happiness, a player will always seek a move once wage increases are promised
What Darren Bent has shown us is the unfortunate reality that loyalty is more and more a common theme shared only by fans to their respected club, and a concept that is not demonstrated by the players. Steve Bruce, the manager of Sunderland, has shown us that managers can easily stoop to the same level as their players.
Darren Bent had over two more years at Sunderland. If Bruce really wanted to, he could have laid down the law and simply told Bent no and proved that contracts actually hold some meaning. Bruce could have then soothed Bents temptation to relocate to a "massive" club by offering Bent a pay raise. Bruce willing to take the money and run isn't all that different than Bent following the money.
Bruce wanted the money for his transfer disposal, and the fact that he is now crying foul in an attempt to unite with the Mackems, is disrespectful to the fans. Bruce knew what he was doing when he agreed to sell, and besides, Bruce is more than capable of making some moves in the remaining transfer window, and shuffling his team with the money generated from the sale of Darren Bent. Fact of the matter is, as soon as a pay raise and promise of new ambitions and challenges emerge, players, despite their previous claims of happiness and loyalty to the club, will typically leave.
The ongoing debate of happiness over money crosses all professions, whether on a field, office or otherwise. To some, money guides the way through their working careers; others, follow what makes them happy. I'd like to believe that more people care about true happiness than they do about big paychecks, the commitment to happiness is often enough of an incentive for people, but in the current case of soccer, as Darren Bent proves, happiness is an emotion that comes and goes depending on the amount of money being offered. Loyalty in the beautiful game is becoming loyalty to the highest bidder.