Pedro to Chelsea.
Pause for a moment, and let that sink in. Pedro to Chelsea. When the word broke late yesterday from Sergi Dominguez I Tweeted, “No way in hell Pedro goes to Chelsea.” That wasn’t because of any doubt I had of the source, but because of my culer heart and how I thought that it beat for two, me and Pedro. I was wrong, but I also learned something that is worth noting here.
It really is just a job.
During the discussion about exactly why I believed Pedro wouldn’t go to Chelsea, it was more complex than him not being able to manage dealing with the smell of brimstone, day after day, or asking “Is it really hot in here to anyone else?” It was me, transposing my views onto a player. I have immense respect for Jose Mourinho as a coach, but I don’t like him, his teams or the way that he plays. I know he gets results. I just don’t like it. The Vilanova eye gouge, the way his Madrid teams went about trying to beat Barça, the rifts that caused in the Spanish NT, everything. Ick.
The foolish supporter believes that players share their views, that X player would never go to Y team because of some reason that we have in our hearts. That makes us scoff at transfer rumors, and put pig heads in our match day rucksacks when impossible transfers transpire. To us, football is life. To the players, it’s a job. “How could he?!” Because Chelsea paid the money, and convinced Pedro to come. Done. All of the rancor, anti-football talk and other stuff is just for fans on Twitter and in various chat rooms. Players want a job, and the best job that they can get.
Sort of puts all the talk about him not wanting United because of how Van Gaal treated Valdes into perspective. I’d wager it was nonsense, yet another transfer season rumor that someone came up with in an effort to explain the inexplicable: why a transfer hasn’t happened yet.
The “no way in hell Pedro goes to Chelsea” was counterbalanced with Fabregas and of course Fabregas would, because I never trusted him. Never trust a presentation badge kisser. When Fabregas kissed the badge at his presentation, so many culers cringed. Kissing the badge is something you earn. When Puyol kissed it after his monster header against Real Madrid, that was raw, a spontaneous gesture from the heart of a lion. When a new transfer kisses the badge at his presentation, he can’t mean it. It’s just pandering. So no, when Fabregas went to Chelsea, no surprise.
But Pedro? That got folks to thinking and now, for some, it’s all clear. Do the players care like supporters do? Do they care in a different way, or do they not care at all? It was rumored that Eric Abidal shunned Monaco because of how that club treated his friend Victor Valdes. Abidal came out later and said no, that wasn’t the case. Players are employees, just like us. Would you go to work for a rival firm after the owner of that firm talked crap about your current employer? Depends on the salary you were offered. Real world talk.
Yet somehow, we like to imagine that football is above all of that stuff, that the love we have for the game and the teams that we support, that romance carries over into the day-to-day dealings, even as evidence, piece by piece, slaps us in the face and reminds us that for the players, it’s a job. It is, or should be, entertainment for us. It’s millionaires in short pants having a kickabout on someone’s lawn. It isn’t really worth as much as we put into it. Logically we know this, even as we scream, throw stuff, weep and argue with supporters of other clubs.
When a player such as Pedro goes to a club such as Chelsea to play for a coach such as Mourinho … that is what a supporter would type. A denizen of the world would just type, Pedro goes to Chelsea because that’s all it is. They came up with the money, came up with the deal the player liked, and that’s that. He’s off to a new job.
As with all other Barça players who leave the club, he will essentially leave my radar once he stops being blaugrana, but he will be missed. Even as it was time for him to leave, even as the team and the way the team plays changed right before his eyes to a style that made him functionally irrelevant except as a defensive sub, he will still be missed. The kind of selflessness that his play embodies doesn’t come along every day. Pedro will be as fully committed to Chelsea as he was to Barça, because it’s the only way that he knows how to play.
The style that allowed him to find space in the areas between the chaos sown by the likes of Messi and Iniesta will have to adapt to taking through balls from Fabregas and Hazard. Will he be fine with that? Who knows? But man, will that first sight of Pedro in a Chelsea shirt be weird.