Integrity. It’s a word that has come to the surface a lot over the last few months, mainly from Doncaster once they located the one dictionary in the town.
But others have had a moan too, Darragh MacAnthony gave us a mention last night. “How is it fair that a team who fielded youth team players for the first five games can now have a few more players and are allowed to win games?” they bleat.
While there’s no argument we significantly strengthened post takeover – we only simply signed players on the same rules and terms as everyone else, the transfer window was still just about open, and we signed free agents after that, as you’re allowed to. Any other club could have been allowed to sign any of the players we signed. Nobody had given us £500 million and we weren’t exactly cherrypicking from Europe’s elite.
Every club in this division would have signed players after the season started, many of them would have done business on deadline day. Granted, not as many players as us, but they would have brought players in, which sort of kills the argument that we should have to play the kids all season for the sake of integrity. If you want to ensure teams have the same players all season, shut the transfer window before the first game and don’t have one in January. That, by the way, isn’t going to happen.
And, for what it’s worth, yesterday’s 18 man squad had 10 players who were on our books on the opening weekend of the season – admittedly, only four of those were in the starting lineup, but again, with other clubs signing players and getting injuries, maybe the squads they named this weekend were a lot different to the ones they would have fielded on August 3rd.
It’s not to say I’m right in all of the above, but a lot of the opposition towards us seems to be borne out of simple self-interest rather than ‘integrity’. You’re talking about a football environment where clubs voted to not have Bury reinstated into League Two, probably partly because two teams would have gone down from League Two again, while Cardiff and Hull are in legal arguments not wanting to pay for players because they died and are seriously ill respectively.
Integrity. No, it’s self-interest and deep down they know it.