At the climax of the previous season, our manager Gus Poyet told the post-match hacks that our extremely popular Basque heart-throb and sometime full-back , Inigo Calderon, had turned down our offer of a contract and was to sign for Southampton.
We were distraught, we thought he loved the club that had rescued him from a trial at Gillingham and turned him into a local hero – he was to be the focal point of flair on which we’d build a new team around for the next campaign, but suddenly he was off, chasing the peseta at St. Marys.
In a twist of fate, the Saints thing fell through, and tale between his heart-melting Iberian legs, he was back and much to our delight we stormed the league.
Fast forward a year and the impending departure of our leading goalscorer, Glenn Murray, has provoked an equally emotive response from fans, though this time it’s spiked with anger and resentment. By all means Glenn, get lost, but come on, not to Palace.
Allow me to introduce you to our number 17. Firstly, he’s a wonderful striker, netting 53 times in 118 injury-hit appearances for us since January 2008. Adept at both leading the line by himself or playing with a partner, his perceived lethargy is off set by a sweet touch, strength on the ball and positional play certainly suited for a higher standard than the English Third Division. Murray can glide with ease between scrappy 6-yard box scrambles and our trademark tippy-tappy possession play we’ve built a reputation for. He can score from corners, he can score from 25 yards, he can score with his head, hell, he’s one of the best defenders at the club and proved himself invaluable at the other end of the pitch when required.
So what’s the problem, right? This guy has it all.
Well, to put it diplomatically, ‘Super’ Glenn has not exactly endeared himself to the fans. In the 3 and a bit years we’ve had him he’s put in two transfer requests, with some perhaps questioning his attitude on the pitch during darker times. Under the wrong manager he’s a little troublesome (Only Gus has really got the best out of him and even now he doesn’t want to stay) and he’s struggled with injury a lot until this last Championship winning season.
His disinterested, vague and monotone interviews with the press coupled with his hermit-like existence within the team have ensured a steady flow of unflattering rumours surrounding his personal life. Many fans speak of his desire to move back up north and let’s face it, if he doesn’t like Sussex, what’s he going to make of Crodyon!
The guy is also high-maintenance; Occasionally petulant on the pitch when things don’t go his way, he is apparently introverted to a level that doesn’t sit easy with the stronger personalities in the dressing room. His shyness was perhaps his downfall at a club where we expect passionate performances on the pitch plus a strong engagement with fans of it.
What really rubs us up the wrong way with Murray though is his miscalculated decision making on advice from his evidently vindictive agent. To go to press with his desire to leave the club midway through a contract has always left a bitter taste in the mouth, but for him to leak the Palace story to the media the day after we’ve won the league is an incitement to riot. Talk about raining on our parade, Murray squatted down and had a red and blue shit on it!
There was always a good chance that Murray would opt to follow the money at the end of his contract. Whilst happy if he stayed, he’s certainly not irreplaceable. Unproven at Championship level, his lack of pace may raise a few eyebrows come August, and our faith in Poyet means that if he’s not worth 10 grand a week, he’s really not worth 10 grand a week.
What really sticks is the P word though. Millwall? Ok. Southampton? Whatever. Derby? Meh. Palace? You’re effing kidding me? Losing our top scorer on the back of a Championship to a struggling club in the same division is tough enough, for the motives to be driven by money, disappointing, to our bitterest of rivals, rage inducing.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Murray is anything less than a mercenary, and if you don’t work that out for yourselves now, we’ll certainly remind you from the Arthur Waite stand in a few months time.
Oh well, good luck to the lad … Now where did I put that pigs head?