It was supposed to be an Albion-free weekend to look forward to, no PMT (pre-match tension) or (post-match trauma), writes West Brom blogger Warren Stephens.
No potential grumpiness around loved ones, avoidance of Match of the Day or refusal to look at the league table for days after the game. As it turned out, hopes for a weekend of serenity vanished quicker than a Villa Wembley flag after the emergence of Odem-gate.
Peter Odemwingie’s transfer request, personal plea to be sold and subsequent Twitter meltdown left fans feeling blue and Albion with a potential dilemma ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.
It’s fairly clear that Odemwingie wants to leave the club. QPR have evidently been in some sort of dialogue with him and his agent and it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to predict that with Tony Fernandes’ disproportionate financial backing, their wage offer will trounce anything Albion can offer.
In some respects I don’t particularly begrudge Odemwingie being tempted by this. He’s 31, he’s just become a father and in a year or two he’ll be left without a career and with many years to support his family. He may well earn more in a week than the majority of us will in a year but if we’re all honest with ourselves, many of us would have our head turned in the same situation.
However there are multiple aspects to this saga that will leave many Albion supporters disappointed and many others angry.
In the aftermath of a rejected transfer request, Odemwingie released a statement claiming he was ‘offended by the lack of reciprocal common respect from the management of West Bromwich Albion’. Less than 18 months ago Odemwingie signed a new contract with the club, arguably the offer of long-term security on an improved contract is Albion giving reciprocal respect for his standing as a player.
To my mind the concept of a player dictating when he does and doesn’t honour a contract is a plague on the modern game that only serves to further detach it as a commodity from the very people who make it what it is - the supporters.
Perhaps more controversially, Odemwingie later took to Twitter to further justify his discontent, seemingly pointing the finger at the attitudes of some supporters towards him.
I’ve seen myself some of the abuse Odemwingie has received on Twitter after games and do believe that in broad terms- the booing of Chris Brunt and Markus Rosenberg, the general apathy and distorted expectation at recent games- that some of our supporters have done a good job of alienating our players recently.
However for Odemwingie to cite this as a reason for wanting to leave is bad form. The small number of dissenting voices Odemwingie hears are a gross misrepresentation of Albion’s overall support. There are many, myself included, who have defended and supported him throughout his time here.
He’s a well-paid footballer, a profession where minor criticism is inevitable from time-to-time and suitably compensated. While Odemwingie often comes across as a sensitive character - something that questions the wisdom of him using Twitter to begin with- I personally believe he’s intelligent enough not to generalise an entire set of supporters and find it difficult to believe this - and not money - is the overriding reason for his intended departure.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Odemwingie’s Twitter rant was his admission that he drinks Guinness. Now who would have predicted that?
So where now? He clearly doesn’t want to be here and keeping him here may upset what otherwise seems to be a united dressing room. It appears to be a case of over to you Jeremy Peace as Albion try and extract the maximum amount of money out of QPR.
Unfortunately that’s probably not going to be a huge amount of money for a 31-year-old, the suggestion seems to be around £4m.
Whatever we now think of Odemwingie as a person, as a player he was an asset, or certainly when he wanted to be. Over the last two years I’ve heard a few supporters talk of ‘driving him there’ whenever he was speculatively linked with other clubs, perhaps more comically I remember a few suggesting we ‘swap him for Zamora’ a few months ago, presumably without consulting Zamora’s goal record beforehand!
Albion’s conundrum will be to replace a once £11m player, who has 55 international caps, Champions League experience and has scored 30 goals and offered countless assists in two-and-half seasons with the club, with somewhere in the region of £4m. Answers on a postcard, or good luck Richard Garlick and his team.
Whatever happens going forward, the whole episode has been a sorry affair for Peter Odemwingie and a sorry affair for West Bromwich Albion.
Thanks for the goals Peter, they will be remembered. Unfortunately your legacy has been stained.