Saido Berahino did some serious numbers with his hissy tweet (and that’s the real quiz), but how great would it be if he went through with it. We all love a grown-up tantrum…
It’s all about numbers in the social media game. On Twitter, favourites are an affirmation, retweets are a way of measuring self-worth, and followers are currency. The bigger the numbers, the better a person is. It’s better than the love of your family. Or something like that.
That’s presumably what Saido Berahino was thinking when he took out his phone, tablet or laptop device on Tuesday and told the world exactly what he thought of West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace. ‘Sad how i cant say exactly how the club has treated me but i can officially say i will never play Jeremy Peace,’ Berahino tweeted. As you’ll probably already know, Peace flat-out refused to sell Berahino to Tottenham. Who knew someone would be that desperate to share a dressing room with Ryan Mason?
At the time of writing, the tweet is not only still there, rather than deleted in a moment of regret and clarity, but has gathered 43,447 retweets and 21,998 favourites. What a day for the young man! This surely tops the goals, the international recognition and the money. 43,447 retweets! There’s a social media editor at the Lad Bible losing his mind right now, scouring the internet for someone else’s quip or Vine to ni…erm, share with appropriate attribution, in reaction. Jermain Defoe will be demanding those sort of numbers from his new personal assistant/social media manager/fridge stocker, if he’s found a lucky punter for that gig just yet.
Of course this is not the first time a footballer has, to use the accepted parlance of the day, ‘taken to social media’ (which makes it sound a bit like a mourning Victorian wife taking to her bed in grief after her husband dies from scurvy or a cold or something) to express their unhappiness. The gold standard of that particular niche genre is still Darren Bent, who while trying to hurry through his departure from Tottenham in 2009 famously tweeted: ‘Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go stoke NO do I wanna go sunderland YES so stop f******* around, Levy. Sunderland are not the problem in the slightest.’
Even so, Berahino made his point quite clearly. Assuming it was a typo and there isn’t an emotional biopic of the West Brom chairman in development (the dramatic scene in which he fought to keep technical director Dan Ashworth when the FA tried to recruit him will no doubt be one for the ages) in which Berahino refuses to portray the protagonist, this would appear to be at the very least a threat to go on strike.
Of course, we can’t be sure exactly how West Brom treated Berahino so abominably, but a reasonable guess is that they said they’d let him join Spurs if they came up with a sensible offer, which they clearly did not. If that’s the case, it’s a perfectly sensible position from West Brom and Berahino should probably be more irked with the chairman he wants to play for, rather than the one he now doesn’t.
Daniel Levy even now retains a reputation as an arch negotiator, and as the man who turned a profit on Mido, in some respects it’s easy to see why. However, for every sound deal he has struck, there is at least one he’s made a complete cock of, and this is certainly one of them.
Levy clearly thought that Peace was playing the game when he said Berahino was not for sale, his opposite number simply trying to drive the price up as any sensible negotiator would. And perhaps he was, the trouble being that for the game to work out Levy also had to play, and play well. As it was he made a couple of inadequate bids (according to the BBC in the West Midlands, one offered only £5million up front) with two hours of the transfer window left, something that was a) unlikely to succeed when they’d annoyed the potential selling club quite so much and b) gave them absolutely no time to switch focus to Plan B. Assuming they had a Plan B, of course. It was bungled sensationally.
The other great non-transfer of the last few days was of course David de Gea’s non-move to Real Madrid being scuppered in a flurry of questionable admin and recriminations, but in that one there were at least some positives. United keep arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Real save a bit of money since they’ll sign him in January or next summer anyway, and while De Gea is understandably said to be less than pleased, he’ll be home eventually.
For this one, there seem to be few winners. West Brom have a disgruntled player (with serious Twitter clout, it would seem) on their hands, Tony Pulis has to deal with the possible fall-out in the dressing room, Levy looks like a buffoon, Mauricio Pochettino has one centre-forward to work with until January and Harry Kane’s legs will be worn down to the knees by mid-November. Berahino himself, with the European Championships coming up, will have to turn out for a club he very publicly does not want to play for.
Or will he? No doubt in the coming days there will be ‘clear-the-air’ talks, which will involve Pulis putting an arm around Berahino and telling him to stop playing silly buggers/nude headbutting him in the showers, Peace reiterating that he won’t be sold for a penny under the asking price and his mum clipping him round the ear and telling him to get on with it.
But wouldn’t it be great if he genuinely did stick to his guns? If he refused to play, like a child sitting down in the middle of a supermarket and declaring that he wouldn’t be moving until he got the sweets he is entitled to. A genuine temper tantrum on a terrific scale, which will probably be completely counter-productive in terms of Berahino’s short/medium-term career given there’s no obvious end-game if West Brom still refuse to sell and Spurs continue being incompetent, but would be enormously entertaining for the rest of us. Particularly if he continues documenting the whole affair in 140 characters.
Come on Saido, let’s see you put on the big trousers. Follow up the internet hissy fit with a real life, tangible one, and go on strike. A proper strike, like those Commie tube drivers who want fripperies such as reasonable working hours and conditions. Do it man! Don’t back down! Do not be moved! You’ll have our respect, and more importantly your own. We’ll all come down to the Hawthorns and stand on the picket line and huddle around a small fire in a metal bin with you, shouting rude things at Peace as he sweeps into the car park and singing ‘The Internationale’. All hail Comrade Berahino! It makes perfect sense.
And after all, you’ve got the numbers to back it up. It’s all about the numbers in this game.