Newly acquired Sunderland striker Darren Bent was in a snit over a stalled transfer from Tottenham, and chose to take his gripes public with the pithy tweet, “seriously getting pissed off now. why can’t anything be simple. It’s so frustrating hanging round doing jack shit. Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go stoke NO do I wanna go sunderland YES so stop fucking around, levy.” “I suppose if (Spurs chairman) Daniel Levy were a little less sensitive,” mused the Guardian’s Marina Hyde, “he might declare Twitter fines a useful revenue-gathering scheme, seeing as he’s relieved Bent of 80 grand. Perhaps he’d claim it’s about respect (surely the most elastic concept in football).”
Most player’s tweets will be dross, naturally, but as Paul Calf once commented: “Inside every sack of shite, there’s a spark of gold. Now it might just be the wrapper off a Caramac, but it’s there.” As a Manchester City fan, Paul would have appreciated the salutation on Stephen Ireland’s Bebo page around the time of the multiple dead grandmothers saga. “Football is shit,” this ran, “why did I get stuck doin it!!!!!!!!!!!”
In the end, clubs micromanaging microblogging is little more than contempt for the supporters. If a player wishes to exhibit contempt for the same supporters with some brattish tweet or other, then that is a matter for him, and he will reap his reward in chants at the fans’ earliest convenience. But it shouldn’t be the club’s job to keep fans in the dark as to the true nature of their heroes/villains/underperforming strikers.
Nor is it particularly pointful to thunder that at any other workplace, the cheeky player would be sacked. Let’s move past this idea of top-flight football being analogous to anything else. You know the sort of thing “ “if Bent were in the army, he’d be court-martialled for insubordination”. Look, if Bent were in the army, we might have done even worse in Iraq.