"Just when I thought this game could not disappoint me any more.
It's Friday morning, the day after Chris Killen has left to join Hibernian and I have received an e-mail showing me his interview with an Edinburgh newspaper. In it, amongst other things, is his reference to the 'three American owners' who are money orientated as well. This from a guy who I called the day before to wish him good luck and to tell him that it was a pity that things did not go as well as they should have at Oldham, but he has the opportunity to really make a name for himself in Scotland and I hope he takes it. I ended the conversation by saying he would be welcome back at BP any time.
But, you know, maybe when it came to Killen, we were a little money orientated. You see, what the fans don't know is how much he really cost the club. Let's look at his total cost to our club for his career at Oldham Athletic and see what we got in return. Our good accountant, Mr Joy, tells me that Killen cost OAFC a total of £833,848 during his stay. Now when you take that figure and divide it by the number of starts he made, it turns out that it cost us in excess of £13,000 per game - a nice salary unless you were starting for Man United- in which case you would feel short changed. But again let us be fair and look at how many goals he scored for us, after all that's what he is - a striker- and maybe he scored hundreds of goals for us. Nah, Joy looked at that too and now we start to see the real value of young Christopher. A staggering £36,000 + per goal (not including the two flights I had to pay for so his sister could go back to New Zealand - it was in the contract, in case you were about to ask).
Now, I have never kept my admiration for Arsenal a secret and in particular that superstar Thierry Henry (pronounced 'on-re' Chris) so I thought I would make some comparisons to their 'franchise' player and ours. Henry is on a reported £80,000 per week and scores about 25 goals per season, so a quick calculation means he is actually costing Arsenal approx £150,000 per goal. The bottom line being, we had a bargain these last three years and we just never knew it.
At this stage, I would like to be serious and state that it was not Chris's fault that he got such a staggering contract. Football is a short career and you need to make as much money as possible during your good years, especially if you won't be earning much afterwards. It was not his fault that the previous regime gave him such a good deal, I mean who would not have taken it? But I don't even blame the previous regime because football is emotional and maybe they thought that Chris was going to be the next best thing. Look, we have made plenty of mistakes already and will make lots more.
This season a few fans have questioned Ronnie's selections, myself included at times, but we have never ever told him, or even suggested to him, which players should start. Brian Talbot will also confirm that we never once tried to influence his team selection during his time at Boundary Park. Do you know why we have never done this? It is not because we couldn't do a better job - of course we could, it is certainly not because we are shy about voicing our opinion. No, it is because you give them an excuse.
Any manager who has his team picked by an owner, a Chairman, a director, will always be able to turn round and say we lost because I would not have picked so and so and therefore it is not my fault. A manager lives and survives on the team he picks and the reality is no-one wants to or needs to win more than them. This is what really annoyed me about Killen's comments. To suggest 'orders were coming from above' is disgusting and shows a lack of respect for everyone at the club.
11 months ago Ronnie had just arrived and we were preparing for a Tuesday night game against Brentford. The players knew how important it was because we were scrapping for every point - for heaven's sake we only survived on the last day of the season. We received a phone call from the Greater Manchester Police. "We have arrested one of your players and have been holding him overnight in our cells. Can you please come down to the station?" This was on a Sunday less than 48 hours before a crucial game. I do not want to go into details (at this moment in time) of the serious accusations levelled at Chris, but I will tell you that we kept the whole incident under wraps so as to give him a second chance at what were potentially career-ruining allegations.
The amazing thing was that Chris was actually fit and a certain starter for the Brentford match, but what kind of preparation, mentally and physically, was that? Now you want to talk about lack of respect? It so happens that I don't believe Killen was guilty of the alleged incident, but what on earth was he doing out having an 'all nighter' when we were sliding towards relegation and had a match to play 48 hours later? This, by the way, was not so long after our Kiwi superstar had been arrested for drink driving in Newcastle whilst being out of action with an injury. Oh, did I forget to mention that he still got paid even though he was injured? This suggests a lack of respect not only for himself but also for his manager and teammates.
I could go on, but you know I don't want to allocate more time to Killen, as I have to investigate two robberies that took place at the club last week. As I said it's getting harder."