Interesting Connolly Article

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Found this article written about connolly by a west ham fan....

by Nick Homer
Thursday, 22nd July 2004

Somewhere at a service station on the M6 last August, a long figure stood waiting, football boots in hand and a slight air of expectancy around him. The figure was nervous.

He’d been called a lot of things. Most people in his position were – it went with the territory. Being likened to a world famous individual is hard to do. Hell, it’s hard to emulate anyone when you’re so young. Still, at least the stage could be bigger although the expectancy would be just as high.

Further south, a coach continued its journey. At the front, a shaven-headed, slightly wizened looking face surveyed the road in front of him. The road seemed long and laborious, but it provided a welcome break from the bleak, bleached hospital walls that he’d been used to. Towards the back of the coach, a young, rather scruffy individual ran through his mind. He’d already left a dying, dirty, diseased club behind him, and had relished the move to a classier, historical establishment. He’d already done a lot though. A stream of decent, middle-of-the-road English clubs peppered his CV, along with a brief stint on the continent and a host of coveted international caps to be proud of. The previous season he’d managed a higher goals per game ratio than any other player in the professional English leagues. Things felt good.

The shaven-headed man moved down the coach aisle. Nodding at the players, most of which he knew as faces that had adorned the reserve team the season before, some of which he knew little about. He smiled, and moved on, before stopping at the straggly haired Irishman who had joined just a few weeks before. “David,” he began, “can I have a word?”

We all know what happened next – the story of Neil Mellor being picked up at an M6 service station will remain in West Ham folklore for some time, and Connolly’s instant reaction has earnt him the ‘angry ant’ tag which will no doubt follow him around long after his football boots have been packed, but a quick look through the history books turns up some interesting information.

Let’s go back a little way, about 12 months to be precise. A certain Alan Pardew has been in negotiations with a Wimbledon striker over a possible move to Reading. The following speaks volumes:

"As far as we are concerned, the move for David Connolly is over," Pardew said.
"I felt there wasn't enough commitment coming back from him to convince me that he should be a Reading player," Pardew told the club's official website.
(Source: BBC Sport)

I’ve always had the impression that Pardew’s dressing room regime is based on respect, hard work, and commitment to the cause, and this would suggest that he felt that David would not fit into this kind of atmosphere. Having rejected him at Reading though, he was then faced with having to face an old adversary, who just happened to be a key player in the team he was taking over. I think we can all see the problem, but you can never expect everyone to get on, you won’t have to go far to find the last player to fall out with his employer.

Connolly’s ferocious personality prompted me to delve deeper, and it seems that his move to Wimbledon from Holland caused more than a few ripples:

“But the Dons must now await the verdict of the Dutch Football Association on AZ Alkmaar's claim that the Irishman had already signed for them.

He said: "Alkmaar are just upset they've lost out on a good player. David hasn't signed anything for any Dutch club and so he is therefore free to join us.

Alkmaar director Jan Kasper was furious on Tuesday when told of Connolly's move to Wimbledon.

He claims the 24-year-old made a verbal agreement to sign a three-year deal with Alkmaar last week and believed Connolly was set to join the club for pre-season training on Monday.

The matter is now in the hands of the Dutch FA but Kasper has threatened to take the case to Fifa and will demand a ban on the player until it is resolved.”
(Source: Ananova)

The case worsens. Verbal agreements admittedly are almost worthless, but the carnage and anger left behind is there for all to see. You can pull out the language barrier argument on this one if you want, but you’ll have trouble fielding that against the following excerpt from a rather unhappy Watford fan:

“Just as players have the right to look elsewhere when their contracts have expired, so clubs have the right to expect their players to fulfil contractual obligations with a certain amount of commitment. You signed the bloody thing, mate. David Connolly's last season of whining, foot-stamping and constant arrogance makes it difficult to feel disappointed about his departure. He became a right royal pain in the ass, albeit a very talented one.

The "nothing to prove" quote summed the whole situation up. Clearly taken out of context, if made by most players that comment would've slipped by unnoticed - yet with Connolly it seemed to encapsulate his superior attitude in a nutshell. Ultimately, no matter how good the player, there's a lot to be said for team spirit above individual brilliance.”
(Source: Blind, Stupid and Desperate – Watford fanzine)

Sure, Conners left Watford on a free Bosman transfer, but certainly not quietly by the sounds of it. Sure, Neil Mellor may well have been picked up at a service station and taken the place of the Irish star for the first game, but who was catching a coach back to Liverpool later on in the season? How many times did we see the West Ham version bawling at other players when they didn’t pass, or didn’t shoot, or made the wrong decision? Encouraging his teammates, or chucking the toys out? Let me make this easier for you. Read the quotes above, and tell me if that’s the kind of player you’d like to see playing for your team? Tell me he sounds like a hard-working player who puts his club first? Tell me you would have liked him to be the embodiment of your club’s dressing room?

Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly rated him for his performances on the pitch, but did we ever really get to know him? Did we even get close to the bottom of the psyche of the man? We all liked him, but where we wrong?

Only time will tell, but the next time someone suggests that “if Conners had stayed we’d have won/gone up/got a point/ended up as champions (delete as applicable)”, remember the rest of the story that goes with it. West Ham loved you more than you knew David, but don’t count on that place in heaven.
Makes interesting reading, looks like we've got ourselves a talented boy, hopefully he can concentrate on just playing football now.
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