Just when it seemed he couldn’t become any more popular, Jack Rodwell gave a moving interview to a national newspaper.
He told the Daily Mail: “I feel great. It’s the fittest I’ve ever been.”
You have to feel sympathy. I’m being serious. If he genuinely is super fit and can’t even make the bench at Sunderland, that only leaves one possibility.
He isn’t very good at football.
Our pity is further elicited because the interview also demonstrated a pathological delusion, which can’t be a pleasant condition to live with.
We refer to: “There was a period under Sam (Allardyce) when I was playing regularly and playing well.”
He was referring to the six whole starts (none of which were in victories) he made in Allardyce’s 32 games in charge; one of which was the dead-rubber final game of 2015-16 at Watford. The playing well part you can decide for yourselves.
He also reckons: “I do believe I’m a Premier League player and I do believe I’m an England international when I’m fit and on form.
“I still think it’s well within my reach, especially at centre back. I just need a good run where I can really express myself and people say, ‘Wow, Jack’s back’.”
He might get his wish. If he plays against Birmingham City next week, “Wow, Jack’s back” is the very least he can expect as a reaction from Sunderland fans.
Some of the more unreasonably demanding even think he should have broken out of a trot at some point since 2014.
Other quotes in the article certainly caught the eye.
Such as: “Why would I just walk away and be left jobless? The transfer window has two weeks to run and I’m prepared to do anything to play.
Any decision will be based on the chance to play football, not money.”
He won’t be playing that football for Sunderland because no evidence has been offered that he is better than even fellow midfielders Honeyman, Gibson, Cattermole, Gooch, McGeady, McManaman, McNair, Williams, Ndong, Ethan Robson ... or the similarly unwanted Khazri or Lens.
Still, the Mail managed to conclude: “There is a feeling that his first-team exile is as much a financial decision as a footballing one.”
They did not elaborate upon just who harbours this “feeling” is, or whether they have actually watched him in the last four years.
Unfeeling cynics, damn their eyes, have therefore suggested that Rodders is only still at SAFC because no other club is insane enough to pay him anywhere near the £70,000 a week he currently “earns”.
Not so, says Jack. In fact the mere suggestion seems to offend him and he tacitly suggests a solution.
He said: “I want to write off this negative period and go again with some positive momentum.
“For me, it’s not about money. It’s about playing. If that means moving on to help the club in a situation that suited all parties, I would need no convincing. I’m a footballer, I want a football club.”
“Why would I just walk away and be left jobless? The transfer window has two weeks to run and I’m prepared to do anything to play. Any decision will be based on the chance to play football: not money.”
Presumably then he’s off to another club where he will be guaranteed first team football, but for a fraction of the salary.
Er, not quite. He seems to imagine that he could end up like a joinery apprentice at Carillion.
He also appears a little confused. Either he thinks he’s so bad that he could be “left jobless” if he leaves Sunderland. Or he thinks he should be “an England international”. Which one is it?
In 2014, a club chief executive agreed to his contract without, incredibly, inserting a relegation clause.
Despite Rodwell’s claims, no one blames him for signing it.
This doesn’t mean that anyone connected with SAFC wishes he would now do anything other than tear it up.
He doesn’t have to and won’t. This brings forth the inevitable: “Would you walk away from £70,000 a week?”
Only a simpleton could think the question is relevant – and Rodwell isn’t a simpleton.
The question becomes even dumber when you ask it of a skint person.
A relevant question needs considerably more qualification. Here it is.
An entirely hypothetical Sunderland footballer, let’s call him Jack, is already a multi-millionaire when he signs for Sunderland in the summer of 2014.
Since then he has raked in around £13million that he clearly doesn’t deserve, even if he is contractually and legally entitled to it. He isn’t to blame for everything.
But his “efforts” and those of his equally lion-hearted colleagues have contributed to the club’s financial and football oblivion; best exemplified by the “ordinary” members of staff who really are “left jobless”.
He can claw back some goodwill by leaving for another club where he will receive a lower salary, but his wage will remains gigantic by normal standards.
Remember, he has also publicly stated that, “It’s not about money”, and would, “do ANYTHING to play”.
Furthermore, his manager has confirmed: “Jack doesn’t want to play for Sunderland.”
Only when all this is considered can the question of whether he should sling his hook be properly addressed.
Rodwell has never addressed it; although he did give us some weepy Hollywood lines about wanting to make his son proud.
I can’t comprehend what compelled Jack Rodwell to give such an extraordinarily ill-considered, self-pitying, contradictory interview that contained no suggestion of embarrassment or accepting responsibility.