Friday, 5 June 2015

Tate and Britton - Ending An Era

The summer is the season of change when it comes to football.

And watching two players leave Swansea City after over a decade of uninterrupted service is certainly change in its rawest form.

First, Alan Tate. Last week we saw the departure of the Swansea stalwart, who left the club in a move that seemed to be in the pipeline for quite some time.

Disappointing as it was, it came as no shock - Tate never really made the step up to the Premier League, not helped by his broken leg in the first season, and had spent more time out on loan than at Swansea in the past four years. (For more on Alan Tate, check out my tribute to him from October 2014.)

Things were different back in 2011 (Image: Action Images)

The biggest shock of the week came from a brutally honest interview with Leon Britton, in which the talismanic midfielder admitted he too was considering a move elsewhere if Swansea couldn't offer him first team football next season.

Of course, the reason why this grates more on fans is because, unlike Tate, Britton not only made the giant step up to the Premier League, he excelled in it. Remember January 2012, when statistics suggested that he was the best passer in Europe? But you don't even need statistics to see that he was one of the key men for Swansea.

Yes, Britton truly owned the centre of the pitch and was rightly one of the first names on the team sheet for so long.

However the recent 2014/15 season was hugely frustrating for the stalwart, who was forced to watch his talented team mates - Ki Sung Yueng, Jack Cork and Jonjo Shelvey - consistently picked before him, even when he was fully fit.

A few months ago Swans fans had a feeling that something wasn't right. And they were correct. No matter how much he loves the club, you could sense that Britton had probably had enough.

But we have to applaud his decision if he does decide to go. In his own words:

'I am not someone who will be happy to play every couple of months or whatever and then pick up my money.' 

Many players would be content to fester away on the bench; enjoying a large payday come the end of the month for doing absolutely nothing.

The right kind of footballer, Britton wants to play on a regular basis and if that means ending nearly 13 years at the club he loves, then we have to accept that.

If he does go - possibly to another Premier League side, the Championship or even America - we can always hope he'll return to Swansea as a coach later down the line. The other option, which hasn't been discussed much (at least not in public) is to loan him out. That way he technically never has to leave!

But whatever happens, even if this is the end of his playing career with Swansea, I'm sure that we haven't seen the last of Leon Britton.


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