Gary Al-Smith is a respected commentator on African football.
At supersport.com, he has given a detailed and quite depressing account of the events leading to yesterday’s bombshell announcement that a player signed as a world-class striker for £13m little more than a year ago was on his way to play his football in the fabulously rich but, in terms of football quality, lowly environment of the UAE.
I have lived in Abu Dhabi and twice visited Al Ain, where Gyan will play.
Much of what has been done in that emirate and its fellow members of the UAE is to be admired. A great nation has risen from the sand in under 40 years.
I defended the Abu Dhabi takeover of Man City on the grounds that it was hypocritical to complain about such ownership originating in the Gulf and not bat an eyelid when rich Americans buy English clubs, Sunderland included.
A saviour is a saviour. Money is hardly a warm and elevating presence in football, but it is there and we have to get on with its consequences (or stop bothering with the game at all).
The Gyan move has a lot to do with money – Gary gives his Al Ain deal as being worth $200,000 a week whereas Niall Quinn had rightly sent him packing when he put in a demand for a pay rise at Sunderland – though disenchantment and disillusion play their part, too. It reflects poorly on several of those concerned.
Follow the link above to Gary’s article in full but here is a flavour:
… it was a culmination of Gyan’s feelings since the start of the year.
The player had moved from Rennes to Sunderland on a club record 13 million pounds on transfer deadline day last summer … There was a buzz around the Stadium of Light.
At the time, Gyan had the reliable Darren Bent as a strike partner and they were expected to fire the Wearside team into the top eight of the Premier League, at least.
And then in January Bent left for Aston Villa, insisting it was for “footballing reasons” and not money. Gyan started feeling lonely upfront, netting just twice between Bent’s departure and Ghana’s game with England.
According to Bruce, who spoke to the media after today’s defeat to Chelsea, this game was crucial in Gyan’s attitudinal calendar. “Since that game at Wembley, all the parasites, as I call them, hover around. People are in his ear constantly trying to engineer a deal for him. Certainly since the England game, when he played at Wembley so well on the night, something has been troubling him.”
… even more poignant were the sentiments the player expressed while in Ghana in May. “Sunderland’s team spirit that I know is not the same. Things are not organised. I’m not too happy there. ”
The club had been in a mini-crisis. Between February 12 and the end of the season, the Cats had won only three out of 12 games, a situation that that had seen morale drop to dangerous levels.
Steve Bruce. He was completely in the dark about it all. It’s the reason he said today that sometimes football leaves a sour taste in the mouth. He had taken a personal liking to Gyan and was worried about his poor showing in the opening games of the season thus far. “I had a conversation with him 48 hours ago and he shook my hand and assured me he wanted to stay at Sunderland,” the coach said today.
“Within a few hours things changed. It’s disappointing and the whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth.”
The conclusion is simple: he was not happy; he felt Sunderland’s motivations had waned and he wanted a good deal.