When Premier League Footballers From Rival Clubs Are Friends Not Enemies

After yesterday’s impressive result but lackluster performance by Manchester City, the race at the top of the Premier League is still on and it looks more and more likely that the Monday, April 30 match between City and United at Etihad Stadium will go a long way to deciding the title.

With so much on the line, you can already imagine that the two sets of supporters on April 30 will literally be at each other’s throats, cheering their teams on and shouting abuse at their opponents — both the players and supporters. The police and stewards will be on extra alert to prevent any skirmishes from getting out of control, and will do their best to minimize interaction between both sets of supporters.

On the pitch, it’s a different matter entirely. On the pitch, many of the Manchester United and Manchester City players are best mates. There is very little to no resentment or hostility between the players to their opponents. In fact, some of them — such as Joe Hart, Ashley Young, James Milner and Chris Smalling — even get paid to appear in the same video together (see above video).

It’s the norm these days that professional footballers, even from rival clubs, are known to party with each other at nightclubs. During the season, these footballers are often in contact with each other via social media. Or playing pre-arranged online video games against each other.

Keep an eye on the players after a match ends, and you’ll often see them giving each other a knowing smile, or patting each other on the back as if they’re mates — which many of them are.

I could never imagine someone like Roy Keane or Tony Adams being best mates with the players from the club’s most hated rivals. While football supporters hurl abuse and banter against their opposition fans, it’s completely at odds with the footballers on the pitch. The players are still giving their 100% to win the match for their club, but it seems more about collecting a paycheck than playing for the passion and loyalty of the club and the club supporters.

However, it’s no coincidence that Hart, Young, Smalling and Milner all play together on the England squad, so they’re used to spending time together outside of club football.

While each footballer is free to do what they want, I’m not a fan of footballers from rival clubs being best mates. I wasn’t brought up that way, and I don’t think most football supporters would appreciate knowing that many of the players from different clubs are best pals outside of their football club. In some ways, it seems like a facade. A very competitive league with competitive games, with supporters spending a lot of time and energy building up their dislike for a rival club, only for the footballers themselves to be best of mates. It seems wrong.

What do you think? Is it a good sign that footballers from rival clubs are best mates, or should there be a divide between these players? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

17 Comments

  1. averagejoe March 22, 2012
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