Yet another bright star in the football firmament feels it right to want to shine in another, better galaxy. Saido Berahino came out with his desire to move on ‘to bigger and better things’, during a television interview recently. His current employers, West Bromwich Albion, decided that did not reflect the attitude they want from one of their players. So, not only did they put a hold on planned contract talks they decided the young man could leave at the end of the season. A season which sees the Baggies involved in a fight to avoid relegation.
Apart from the obvious consequences of his comments the other major problem in choosing that course of action is that no one reminded him who his new manager is.
Tony Pulis will take no truck from any player under his charge who falls anywhere short of what he requires, ask players at Stoke City. Just one club where his no nonsense, pragmatic approach to winning football matches earned him quite a few admirers, and a few not so enamoured of his approach. It also earned him a record of never having been relegated as a manager. That was a record he put on the line at Crystal Palace last season and not only did the Eagles survive they finished 11th in the table.
Make no mistake, Saido Berahino is not only a very talented young player but he is crucial to West Brom’s survival. He is basically their only source of goals and with nine goals has scored nearly 50% of the Baggies meagre league total of 20.
It is said that the former Burundi refugee was miffed at missing out on a lucrative move during last month’s transfer window. But despite being linked with Spurs and Liverpool there was not a single club prepared to match Albion’s £20 million price tag.
There is obviously much about this matter that is not in the public domain. Maybe there is too much extraneous influence on Saido who is still a youngster, not 22 until August. Maybe he has just got too big for his boots, who knows.
The situation reminds me of a story I heard some years ago, and it is by no means the only example of a young footballer’s head being turned by a sensational start to his career.
A certain young striker at one of the Merseyside clubs broke into the first team at 16. But as well as the goals that flowed there was a much publicised row with his manager over a pay rise. Eventually he was offered a new contract, reportedly the biggest in that club’s history. He turned it down and was eventually sold for a considerable sum. Local legend has it that after his initial demands at the club and with barely 20 league games to his name, one of the wise old stagers, a seasoned pro, had a ‘quiet word’ with him, behind the bike shed so to speak. The gist of the conversation was, and I précis here, “come back for more money when you’ve won half a dozen ******* caps for your country”. He went on to win only one and after an injury blighted career he had a trial for non-league Chester City in 2014.
It may be that Berahino is being misjudged or just erroneously reported but if he said what he is reported to have said he has almost certainly called time on his career at the Hawthorns. UNLESS he sees sense, or is advised to by someone he listens to, and not everyone listens to Tony Pulis, and apologises and, even if only in public, commits himself 100% to the cause at the Albion. Then Baggies fans may just afford him the sentiment he expressed that, and I paraphrase here, “I’m sure the fans here won’t mind if I move on to better things if we stay up”.
It may be prudent for the England striker to keep his club up, then he may just get chance to see if the future really is brighter in another galaxy. There may be other clubs who will rush to sign Saido but the attitude that seems to have clouded his judgement will not encourage some potential employers.