A few reports came out last week about a supposed interest from Norwich City in Robert Snodgrass, who might be available after failing to make an impact for West Ham. I decided to dismiss this rumour right away, but I thought it might be worthwile to talk a bit about it.
First of all, I have always rated Snoddy highly. He was one of the bright spots on our previous relegation campaign and has had a couple of bright years with Hull. Sometimes a bit too left footed, he does have a good understanding of the game and is a fairly talented player. He lacks pace, but can be an excellent operator at Championship level.
There is a concept in economics called the “Peter Principle”. It basically states that an individual is promoted due to his achievements in his previous post, rather than his abilities relevant to the intended role. In harsh words, an individual is promoted to his highest degree of incompetence.
Let`s put this into two fine real life examples.
I have always been good with machines so I am the best machine operator in the whole factory of my home town. I am so good that the factory manager believes I am underperforming, and I might get bored or leave the factory. He is sure that I should definitively get promoted as “head of mechanics”, to lead the team of machine operators because I am a great machine operator.
But I am awful at leading teams. I am afraid to tell because there is a big wage increase that comes with the promotion, so I decide to accept the job. Well, a couple months later the company decides to part ways with me because I was doing a terrible job leading the team. I was an excellent technician but a terrible leader.
Another example in the same line. I am still the shrewd machine operator from the small town factory. Word comes out that a big city factory manager is interested in my services as an operator. He contacts me and offers me a huge wage increase and a move to a bigger city with all relocation expenses paid for.
I am happy because I know that I have a lot of experience with the machines at the previous factory. Well, a couple of months later the company decides to part ways with me because I could never adapt to the new machines. Technology caught up with me, even though I was the best machine operator at my home town.
That is exactly what has happened to Robert Snodgrass. He was a star performer at Hull, a formidable operator in the Championship, and a decent operator in a team that got relegated.
But at West Ham, he is no longer top dog with the likes of Kamil Grosicki, David Meyler and our dear Dieumerci Mbokani – whom I must say gave me quite a laugh the other day with a video of him getting trapped in the safety bar of a rollercoaster. Now Snoddy has to compete with Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and new boy Marco Arnautovic.
Snodgrass was an excellent factory operator in the Championship, and maybe even the lower reaches of the Premier League. But he hasn`t been able to cope with the move to a bigger team. He got promoted to a bigger factory and has failed to make an impact.
Don`t get me wrong, I would be immensely happy if he succeeds this season at West Ham. But I just think it will be difficult as he is quite a way down the pecking order with players that would be the best at many Premier League teams.
There`s an old Indian proverb that states: Would you rather be the head of mouse or a lion`s tail? In the life of a professional football player that is a decision that has to be made quite often. Jacob Murphy had to make a similar decision when he decided to sign for Newcastle and fight his way into the Premier League. He could have been a star player for Norwich City this year in the Championship – let`s call it a canary head instead of mouse head – but instead he decided to risk being a part time contributor at a higher level. Hopefully he won`t become a magpie`s tail.
Who would be able to reject a job promotion and higher wages? Players are probably the least to blame. The employer – the club – and agents should rather be blamed for conducting a bad deal. Clubs often tend to overpay and mistake players` achievements with players` abilities. The agent will always push for the deal to go through. And sometimes, more often than not, there is a great deal of happenstance and luck in football and player`s careers.
Back to Snodgrass. He will not be coming back to Norwich for several reasons. He is on high wages, and that`s probably the most evident. But also, he is only 29 years old and I am sure he still strongly believes that he has something to prove at West Ham.