Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Koumas Tug-of-War

I've got a soft spot for Bryan Robson - Hackney Marshes. Boom boom!

No, seriously, I don't like him. He wasn't the first manager to mistrust Robert Earnshaw, but I think that he resented the Zambian imp more than most. There were times when his treatment of Earnshaw went beyond perverse. When West Brom couldn't score, which was quite often, Earnie would stay on the bench as erm... Geoff Horsfield took the field. That says a lot about Robson's mentality - Horsfield over Earnshaw.

And now we have the Jason Koumas affair. It goes like this.

Koumas is a very talented player, but he has some issues. He's great at Championship level, but hasn't quite cut it in the Premiership. It seems that our Jase is happier standing out amongst journeymen, than he is testing himself against the best. This was signposted earlier on in his career when he turned down Everton to stay with Tranmere.

Robson dropped him. He would have dropped him at some point anyway because he didn't suit Albion's tactics which were to pack everyone behind the ball and hope that one of those fancy dan forwards people would do their stuff. On their own.

So Koumas went to Cardiff on loan. Unfortunately, the Welsh club were already 30 million pounds in debt and were in the middle of stringent cutbacks on the playing staff. A year or two earlier and they might have paid 5 million for him.

Koumas enjoyed his time at Cardiff. He was given the freedom of the pitch and was probably worth 10-15 points to the team over the course of the season. Any club in the Championship would have wanted him, and plenty tried to buy him. But he liked Cardiff and it seemed that a permanent deal was on the cards. West Brom quoted a fee £1.5 million with an extra £500k in add-ons.

But Cardiff no longer had £2 million to spend. Their plans for a new stadium still haven't been approved. They are at the end of a long financial process and need to demonstrate to the auditors that they will not overspend on players, because there's a shopping mall to be built.

It seems that they have offered West Brom a million up front with another £500k based on appearances (the number of appearances remains suspiciously secret). The remaining £500k is triggered by Cardiff reaching the playoffs.

West Brom unsurprisingly rejected this offer. I suppose that when you set a price of £1.5 million and then someone offers you less, it's up to you if you want to reject it. It seems that they have no faith that Cardiff will reach the playoffs, and who can blame them ?. And remember, this is the club that immediately dropped midfield regular Gareth Whalley when he was one game away from triggering his bonus payment.

But Koumas threw his teddy down and skipped training in a major sulk. West Brom fined him. And will keep fining him for every day he turns up. They called Koumas "unprofessional" which is unarguable.

Cardiff sulked as well, and released one of their famously bizarre statements on their official website, which included the following sentence.

"Cardif City have done the impossible to get Jason"

They went on to criticise Albions's stance:

'So WBA have no real offer from anyone. They turn down a lot of money to sell
for what they asked for but on different payment terms. They turn down a lot of
money to loan. A player's livelihood and career may be ruined. Where is the
logic in that?'
Hmmm. £30 million in debt. Peter Ridsdale in charge, and they are questioning the financial acument of other clubs ? A club who sold Earnshaw, Kavanagh, Collins and Gabbidon for peanuts, whose Chairman once predicted that West Brom would become their feeder club?
I suspect that the Baggies can live without their advice.

West Brom countered with this statement on
'We quite properly expect Jason to meet the obligations of his contract, for
which he is handsomely paid."
Too right. Wales expect him to turn up regularly too, but he doesn't. Not if his cat is feeling under the weather, or he has some ironing to do.

Whisper it, but there are a few Cardiff fans who wouldn't be too disappointed if the deal falls through. Would they get another season out of him were he not on loan ? How long before he starts abusing his Cardiff contract like he is doing at West Brom ? How long can his pets stay illness free ?

I suspect that a deal will be struck before the deadline. But for now, the name-calling and strop-throwing is a mild entertainment to fill the columns before the season begins.

Meanwhile, South Wales Echo's Chief Sports Reporter Terry Phillips is in North America, writing a tour diary.

"The Bluebirds media officer was in the pool early this morning. I went to
the gym. Jamal Easter missed the bus and we all a laughed. I met a bloke who
knew Robin Friday. "
Poor old Terry. What wouldn't he give to be covering the Koumas affair ?"

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