- Premier League
Enjoy the money, 'Judas' Lampard, you've earned it
"Frank Lampard, you Judas! I'm not even a Chelsea fan but I feel let down by him."
So writes one man on Twitter about New York City FC's veteran midfielder going on loan to Manchester City.
Any major transfer news at this quiet time of the year is seized upon by football's noisiest and stupidest fans as an opportunity to give their brain cell a pre-season run-out, but even by the standards of summer season silliness, that is some world-class, weapons-grade, honking idiocy. And it's not a lone voice or an unfamiliar refrain: some of us who love football and our clubs just cannot grasp that footballers see the game differently to how we fans do.
So, Judas Lampard, then. Having been released by Chelsea, you'd think that he would reasonably be allowed to seek employment elsewhere, no? He's been told he's not wanted, so what is he supposed to do? Beg to be allowed to carry on playing for Chelsea for free? Get himself a Petr Cech face guard and try to sneak into training sessions in disguise? Or just loiter outside Stamford Bridge, asking if they need any windows cleaning, grass cutting or other bob-a-job offers?
He's opted to play in, and experience, one of the world's great cities (not you, Manchester), but at the age of 36, he feels that half a year without competitive football before New York City FC begin their MLS campaign is neither a way to keep himself in the England frame, nor keep himself in shape. Perhaps figuring that more than half a year of eating American portions might finally justify the unfair Fat Frank label, he has chosen instead to challenge for a place at Manchester City.
It would have been easy for Lampard to loaf about at Queens Park Rangers, picking up a huge cheque, or to join Jamie Redknapp on Sky for a top-top-top-top cousin-pundit duo, but he instead wanted to broaden his horizons. There are worse places to do that than New York, even if, for the time being at least, Frank's horizon will be more Arndale Centre than Fifth Avenue.
Some people, though, smell a rat. No less a personage than Arsene Wenger used his post-match interview after Arsenal's friendly with Monaco on Sunday to speculate as to Manchester City's motives for their loan policy:
"I heard they want to buy five clubs all around the world," said Shocked of Islington, 64.
"The players will register in the clubs where they will put them and they can get out on loan. Is it a way to get around the fair play? I don't know."
Certainly having another Englishman on the books will help City with match-day squad quotas. After failing the Financial Fair Play test, Man City have a restricted 21-man Champions League squad, of whom five must be home-grown. In their Premier League squad, they'll need eight. For some Chelsea fans, the thought of one of these being Lampard, in general, let alone specifically when Chelsea travel to the Etihad next month, is beyond the pale.
But why? There can't be many jobs where you'd work for a company for 13 years, get told you were no longer required and then stand accused of being a traitor.
The modern footballer is a difficult beast with whom to sympathise, but even when you take into account your Ashley Coles being insulted by five-grand-a-week raises or some 19-year-old div refusing to train unless he gets a load more dough just because he's fluked one in off his backside the previous Saturday, the fact remains that footballers are still bought and sold like horseflesh. Admittedly, well pampered horseflesh, horseflesh that may be helping police with their inquires after an unsavoury incident involving a lapdancer in a Travel Lodge off the A1, but horseflesh nevertheless.
After 13 years service, Lampard got the old tap on the shoulder and was told "thanks for everything, but …" Why should he be "loyal"? There's no such thing: you work in one place, you go to work in another, or you hang on too long and they chuck you on the scrapheap.
We fans hold our beloved players dear in our hearts and make unreasonable, emotional demands. Just because we would love to have their job, it doesn't mean that it's anything other than a job to them. Enjoy your pieces of silver, "Judas" Lampard, you've earned them, and anyone else would do the same.
Alan Tyers writes for the Daily Telegraph, ESPNcricinfo and is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects.