Is the Tin Man heartless?

Last updated : 03 May 2002 By Christian Kelly
While I thought it was a really stupid thing to do in buying an injured player, I was quite willing to believe the club knew what they were doing concerning Agustin Delgado.

When you consider the colossal number of football management mistakes in the world, it just shows you how loyalty clouds your perspective.

I was quite looking forward to seeing Delgado make an impression on the pitch rather than the treatment room, I was sympathetic with his language difficulties that the club seemed oblivious to. I also sympathised when the injury recurred and had a typically colonial, partronising response to comments form the Ecuadorian press and national manager.

But now, like so many football players, their family seem to want their say too. Delgado's brother, Marcos, has added to the Tin Man's want away speech. Marcos said: "Agustin has had problems - big problems - in Southampton because he doesn't speak English.

"I was over there visiting him a month ago and it obviously affecting him psychologically.

"In Latin America, the players share a lot of things together after matches. They go out for a meal, have a drink together or just have a good chat. But how can he mix socially with the Saints team when he doesn't speak English and none of them speaks Spanish?

"There are a lot of factors as to why he is not happy, but the chief one is the language. Without speaking English, he can't enjoy himself."

"Agustin wants to stay in Europe, but somewhere like Spain where they speak his language.

"If no team comes in for him, he would have to return to Saints because of his contract - but he doesn't want to go back there.

"He is concentrating on playing for Ecuador now and we will have to discuss this thing after the World Cup."

Of course the obvious thing would be for the entire Saints squad to learn Spanish to make Delgado's life a lot easier. Or better yet, he could spend some of the huge amount of free time he has at his disposal to learn English. The club should have ensured this when they released him to join up with the Ecuadorian squad. Did they? Well, reread the opening lines on my opinion of football management. While the club may have been slow of the mark here, I get the feeling that Delgado could be putting in a little effort too.

In the end, Saints still have Delgado under contract, and I hope to see him in the side next year, assuming the club don't flog him off after the world cup. I think that over time, Chala & Delgado would be good assets for the club as it tries to spread out its merchandising claws, I mean talent spotting, across the world.