Dimitri Payet has disrespected the manager, his team-mates, the club and the fans.
I can understand players wanting to go and better themselves, but I don’t accept the way that some players act when they manipulate a club or a manager. Payet could have made his feelings clear to Slaven Bilic in private. He could have continued to play to the top of his game for the good of the team, with the understanding that if the opportunity arose he would be allowed to look into leaving.
As a manager when you have one of your best players threatening to leave it puts you in a terrible position. You want to keep him, but at the same time where is the benefit of putting him in with the under-23s and letting him rot? The longer he sits in the stands the club are paying his wages and his transfer value is decreasing. In reality he has to go. That’s the best solution for West Ham.
Player power is massive nowadays. When I was at Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson was the gaffer and whatever he said, it happened. There was no discussion. He had complete control. These days it’s not the same, and particularly with foreign players. A lot of them expect to be at a club for two years and then move on, and if they don’t get that move a lot of them will sulk until they can engineer a transfer.
West Ham’s 3-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace showed they don’t need Payet. When you have a dynamic like with Payet at West Ham you have a player that the other lads rely on. They look to him for a piece of magic that wins the game. They might shirk a little bit of responsibility. But dropping him from the squad galvanises the whole squad. Suddenly other players are stepping up and taking the game by the scruff of the neck. This is a team game and you can’t rely on just one individual.
That result was massive for the club and the fans, but particularly for the players. They now believe they can go out and win convincingly without Payet in the team.
You also have Diego Costa at Chelsea. He’s scoring goals and enjoying his football, yet he’s still open to leaving for China. Why? £2m a month tax free is an obvious attraction, but that doesn’t substitute for winning medals and performing with the very elite in your game. That’s just pure greed.
Whether it’s now or at of the season that isn’t the point. Costa is 28 years old. He could play at Chelsea for the next two years, earn good money, and still go to China when he’s 30. Carlos Tevez has just made the switch and he’s 32.
I was brought up with the belief that I wanted to play for the biggest clubs in the world and playing in the most competitive competitions. That’s the Premier League and the Champions League. China doesn’t even compare.
If you’re a top player why would you go when you can still have a successful career in the Premier League?
There’s no chance I would have left Liverpool or Manchester United to go and play in China. Not even for £500k a week. If they had come calling when I was 31 and or 32 and my career was winding down, then absolutely I would have taken it. But as a footballer at your peak you should want to play with the best players and win trophies.