My hero is Ian Holloway. Ex-Bristol Rovers player/manager who is now enjoying Premiership manager success up at Blackpool. It couldn't happen to a nicer club (Blackpool fans are awesome), or a nicer man.
I used to live down the road from 'Ollie' as a teenager, and whenever I saw him walking his dog he always said hello. These were the days when I was ever-so-slightly obsessed with football, in particular Bristol Rovers. At the time, Holloway was our player/manager. There aren't enough player/managers these days. I always think that a manager bringing himself on as a sub must be a bit of a blow for the player being replaced.
Anyway, I was reminded of my respect for the man this week because of this video in which he rants about the ridiculous Wayne Rooney situation:
Everything about this video I adore: the passion behind his words, his increasing rage, his turns of phrase ("SORT YER LIFE OUT!"), his self-deprecation, how he appears to scratch his arse at the 3 minute point, his fabulous Bristolian accent (which hasn't softened at all over the years), his cheesy joke at the end of the BBC video linked to above, and his cheeky grin. What. A. Fella.
However, the one thing I don't necessarily agree with is what he's actually saying. Now I'm not going to pretend to be some kind of expert on the Bosman ruling and football transfers, and I completely agree that the fact a footballer can threaten to leave a club, then be rewarded with a massive salary hike in order to get him to stay is ludicrous and shameful. But the way Holloway describes Rooney as an entity - like a car or a house - is pretty depressing.
*cue over-simplified argument*
If anyone else wants to change jobs and join another company, then they are perfectly within their rights to do so. But footballers are bought and sold like commodities, and are treated like possessions, not individuals. Holloway's rant is perfectly valid within the system that currently exists, but basically I believe the entire football transfer system is wrong (I told you this was going to be an over-simplified argument).
Do I have any sensible solutions for how this system can change? No, of-course I bloody don't. Do I think that Rooney honestly wanted to leave Manchester United? No, of-course I bloody don't; he (or, more likely, his agent) wanted more money, and it's worked out very nicely indeed for both of them. You could also argue that this entire situation hasn't done any harm to Ferguson's reputation either, but I'm going to leave that particular conspiracy theory dangling mid-air...(though check out the labels I've tagged this post with).
But, yes. Ian Holloway. True legend, and a top bloke.