He didn’t play today due to some sort of miscellaneous injury, and now the word is spreading quite rapidly that Leon Clarke wants out. At time of writing the latest news from a Sky Sports journo is that he has handed in a transfer request, while the Telegraph suggest that he may be off, but hasn’t handed anything in just yet. If there was a request, this presumably comes with a view to forcing through a move which we’ve shown signs of rejecting. The other interpretation is that he’s been told to do so by the powers that be in order to help them create some convenient mitigation or appeasement of any fans’ backlash.
Leon Clarke has handed in a transfer request at Coventry. #skyblues
— Pete O'Rourke (@SkySportsPeteO) January 12, 2014
Taking the first issue, I’ve never fully accepted how player power manifests itself. Indulge my wanton naivety for a moment, but is it really too much to expect a rejection of any offer even if he does want to go? We’re often told that “the player wanted to go, so there wasn’t much we could do”, but ignoring all the givens and clichés – can Coventry City not just say no?
The supposed risk is that the player becomes deeply unhappy and his performances drop. But again let’s imagine this isn’t Football Manager, will this level of resentment genuinely result in him playing uselessly? Either through a subconscious desire to do so, or heaven forbid in a despicable display of defiance?
Even with the widely accepted idea that Leon Clarke can be a bit of a bastard, is he really going to risk sabotaging a potential future move by playing like a moron for the rest of the season? Or will he realise that the club simply can’t afford to let him go and just get on with it?
Or is the issue more with the fans? Are boards and managers worried that a transfer request renders his relationship with us untenable?
Or, is it an ethical one. Can we really stand in his way of one final payday? You’d rarely get it in the real world, but let’s face it, contracts in Football are quite, quite different to somebody wishing to leave their job in admin at the council.
At Coventry we rarely get an opportunity to find out the answers in a situation like this as the club appears to always step aside and sell, regardless of what’s best for the playing squad. But I do wonder if he has handed in a request, for once, couldn’t we just say no?
And if we did, how forgiving would we be of his open desire to leave?
Just some questions.