But Cole and Downing want to play for us - so there is a difference right away.
I don't think anyone would have Downing or Cole playing for us next season, ideally. But we aren't in an ideal situation... I'd sell both if we could, but getting rid of them might be a problem and then you have to consider whether it is best to keep or loan if you can't sell a player.
Skrtel is different. Everyone would keep him if he wanted to stay. But why keep a player who wants to leave? They might not perform to their best and deep down everyone knows they want to go. I bet someone will given the Alonso example now, but again that situation is different, he only wanted to go due to Benitez touting him publically and say he was for sale for the right price. But we had Torres who wanted to go and wasawful until he got his wish to go.
I am very much of the belief have players who want to be at the club. I could understand if Skrtel had been fantastic for five years or something and then really felt he had given his all and had a few years left to win some medals. But 18 months ago he was not in the best form and we stuck with him through that. If he wants to go when he hits top form and sees it as a good chance to get more money or success, fair enough - get rid.
People say he is irreplacable but I don't agree, all players are replacable. We saw that when we sold Keegan and got Dalglish. We lost Owen and we got Torres and now have Suarez.
If Skrtel wants to go - let him go and get the best fee we can! If he wants to stay, great!
I am still not convinced he does want to go, it seems twitter speculation to me. But if it is true and he does go, I won't be gutted - we have seen plenty of players gone over the years and it is clear loyalty is a rare breed in the game now days.
We have seen plenty of players leave. Keegan and Kenny are good examples. The difference is, in recent years we haven't been able to replace the departures with equal quality. And because of that, we've fallen behind. We have taken so many players for granted and it needs to stop.
I believe that because we don't have the highest quality standards anymore, we become a club where you go to earn the big bucks and little or nothing is expected from you. As a result, our best players keep their options open. So we create this environment ourselves. We're a transition club, a stepping stone. Or a place where you fill your bank account before you retire.
When they leave for better clubs, we blame it on them being mercenaries, who lack loyalty. We shift the blame to them. What they see is a club that doesn't use its resources well, a club where it's OK to be half decent. Money sure is a factor, but if they could see we were going places (and not just talk about it), I think we could keep at least half of them. And we'd find it easier to attract the right players.
Skrtel has, at least IMO, been key to us for quite some time. Here's something I said last summer.
...disagree about Skrtel. I think, all in all, he is our first pick CB. Agger is better, but his fitness means we can't depend on him.
During this past season, I think he's just confirmed he is our first pick CB. Now that he's had a positive development, it would be good for us, and him, to build on that. That would show that we value the right things. If we were to sign players of Mascherano's and Torres' quality, it would help our chances and it would be easier for us to keep Skrtel, but also players like Pepe, Lucas and Suarez.