In the wake of Dimitri Payet’s refusal to play for West Ham, it was virtually impossible not to feel a little sympathetic for manager Slaven Bilic. But perhaps we were all a little quick in getting the violins out; the Croat is essentially learning that what goes around comes around.
Payet’s stance made a mockery of the £1m loyalty bonus picked up in September, and the stroppy Frenchman (who’d have thought it) has since found out how quickly the Hammers fans can turn.
The former fan favourite instantly became enemy number one, with the fans coining new lyrics for the “we’ve got Payet” chant during Saturday’s home win over Crystal Palace. Frankly, there is no way back for the 29-year-old at the London Stadium, and he will return to France before the month is over.
— SPORF (@Sporf) January 14, 2017
Fans of other clubs will hardly lose any sleep over the misfortunes of the Hammers, particularly after the way they landed the London Stadium. Nevertheless, most will have felt for Bilic as he delivered his pre-Palace press conference looking more tired than Raheem Sterling on international duty. But you shouldn’t – and not only because his Croatia team are the reason all England fans had to spend the summer of 2008 spending time with the family rather than watching Euro 2008.
It has emerged that Bilic pulled a similar trick whilst playing at Upton Park. According to then-manager Harry Redknapp, the Croat forced his 1997 move from West Ham to Everton by showing a similar lack of loyalty.
— Oddschecker (@Oddschecker) January 15, 2017
Whilst Redknapp has a track of exaggerating his football stories like your mate Danny exaggerates his tales of romantic exploits after a Friday night session on the town, it’s not the first time ‘Arry has told this story. And now it feels more relevant than ever, not least because Bilic’s frustration and bemusement have been so public.
In Bilic’s defence, which is at least stronger than his team’s has been at times this season, he never refused to play for the club. Nonetheless, given his own antics, Payet’s sudden U-turn on playing for the club should come as no surprise. Because it certainly doesn’t shock any football fan in 2017; the only thing that will surprise anyone is that the Frenchman has chosen Marseille over China.
Ahh, the loyalty of a modern footballer. You’ve gotta love it…