The Jimmy Kebe Contract SagaBy: Ben | November 18th, 2011
Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming. You there, at the back, leave now. I could have told you this would happen back in May. See after the jump for the lowdown.
Jimmy, oh Jimmy. What can we say about your apparently soon to be ending time here in Berkshire.
Has it been successful? Relatively.
Have you been shown faith? Unquestionably.
Are you likely to repay that faith? Unlikely.
Am I that fussed? Honestly, no.
Things began to look fishy immediately after the playoff final loss. Mills and Long, both of whom were approaching their final year of their contracts were offered new ones, along with Kebe. For whatever reasons, Long and Mills decided to move on to pastures new with our blessings (well, Long did at least). However, word on Kebe went quiet for several months. The transfer window came and there was still nothing, apart from a fleeting moment on August 31st where high-spending Leicester City were rumoured to have made an offer around the £3m mark. The club swiftly rejected it, and we moved on. Fast forward to this month, and we’ve had Nick Hammond speaking about how good an offer the club have made to Jimmy and his reps, but how it was equally greeted with an unwillingness to sign. Again, things were a bit murky.
Cue the big man himself. There’s no better way to write it, so here it is from the horse’s mouth:
“I read the newspaper (getreading) and Nick Hammond was saying they offered me an extremely good contract, but I don’t think so. I’ve talked to them since the beginning of the season and said I really wanted to stay. They keep saying they really want me to stay, but they don’t show me in terms of the contract.
“Now I’m afraid I will leave in January or the summer. A good contract for them is not obviously a good contract for me, so we will see in the next transfer window what will happen.
“I really want to stay and have talked to the manager (Brian McDermott) since pre-season, but we can’t agree on the terms of the contract. They wanted me to sign just one more year, which is far from being an extremely good contract. There is no point for me to sign for one more year. We have talked for three or four months now and they offered me a ‘top end’ contract and I’ve refused it.
“I’m still a Reading player and every time I play I do my best.”
I’m afraid what we have here Jimbo, is a classic case of bigheadeditis. You want Premiership wages, we (a club with one of the smallest wage bills in the league) are in no position whatsoever to pay those kind of figures, not least to a player who has a very similar form to that of Marmite.
You’d like to assume the club believed that Kebe was happy to sign at their offered wages back in August, for otherwise, rejecting that very respectable offer from Leicester was just pedantic. In fact, it may work both ways, in that Kebe’s advisors saw the interest from Leicester, smelt that there could be big money involved in a transfer but when it didn’t come to fruition, told Kebe to up his demands in accordance with those being touted from the Foxes.
On his day, Jimmy is unplayable. He carries the team, gives us a different outlet, and seems to genuinely scare opposition defenders. He can score, dribble, and even offload. The problem there lies in the fact that Jimmy Kebe is more unreliable and inconsistent than Shevchenko and Bendtner’s love child. When he’s not tormenting defenders, he’s slipping over, hitting the first man with his crosses, shooting from ridiculous angles, running to the flag before passing back to the halfway line, and generally being a passenger in an otherwise hardworking team. Sadly, this is the side of Jimmy that we’ve seen for the best part of his 3 year tenure at the Mad Stad, not the guy who ran 83 metres in 11 seconds with the ball at his feet and sealed the points in a 3-1 win over Leicester last season.
So where does that leave the club? Do we hold Kebe to ransom for this season and lose him for free, or do we cash in (for a significant loss) in January and cut all ties with a greedy player?
All credit must go to Brian McDermott, his man management skills have come to the forefront again as he looks to stay away from the contract affairs:
“If Jimmy wants to leave he has to play well between now and January or the end of the season, it will be in the best interests of ourselves and Jimmy that he does well. If he performs to his best, he can make his own mind up where he wants to go. At the moment he is leaving next summer but if an offer comes in during January and it is acceptable then we will consider that too.”
“I know for a fact that the offer we made Jimmy was a good one, especially in relation to where we are as a football club right now. If Jimmy disagrees and would be happier signing a contract somewhere else that’s up to him. Jimmy has gone public with what he said. He hasn’t told me personally he wants to leave, he did it through the press, but that’s up to him.”
“If he wants to go, there’s not much I can do.”
So it seems inevitable that Kebe’s off. I’m apathetic about the whole thing to be frank. The lack of loyalty displayed in the sport has shot up ridiculously recently, and Jimmy’s just another sheep. As Brian said, if he thinks he could find a better club suited to him then good luck. Often those dreams don’t reach their expected heights anyway (Torres, Matt Mills, Lita…).
The main struggle now is for McDermott and the rest of the team not to get bogged down by this contract wrangle. It seems apparently that it won’t be solved until January at the very earliest, and we’ve got some crucial matches before that time. Brian can’t be afraid to drop Kebe in the wake of bad form, and I’m sure he won’t. It’s also been promising to see that he’s already been scouting out potential replacements from both outside and inside the club’s own quarters:
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t look at bringing in new players when others leave. In terms of Jimmy, we have to plan ahead as we do with every player. We’ve lost some very big players over the last three or four years like Shane Long, Matt Mills, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kevin Doyle. We have always been ready to replace when they go.
“Someone will replace Jimmy too, whether that’s from within the club or from outside.”
For me, someone like Michael Jacobs at Northampton would do perfectly. Brian’s admitted our interest in the winger before, and suits our nature of buying from lower leagues and developing the potential.
So tra Jimmy, all the best in wherever you turn out, but if you could replicate this before you left, I’d be very appreciative.