Vedran Janjetovic’s transfer to Western Sydney Wanderers was a tale of two press releases.
One, from Wanderers, was effusive in its praise for the goalkeeper. Janjetovic himself was equally complimentary about his new club.
The other, from Sydney FC, described how his contract had been terminated. Not much else. Not a word of thanks, or acknowledgement of his 100 A-League appearances in Sky Blue.
In moving from Moore Park to Rooty Hill, Janjetovic has broken new ground – the first player to move from Sydney to Wanderers during the season. Many in red and black once wore sky blue, but none went from one to the other. None of them had the choice.
Janjetovic’s move is a fan to the flames of the Sydney derby – and how delightful it is that his second match for his new club will be the derby at Allianz Stadium early in the new year.
Not many players swap from one side of the derby to the other in football, but those that do aren’t forgotten.
Ask any Tottenham fan how they feel about Sol Campbell’s move to Arsenal, or a United fan about Carlos Tevez’s move to City.
West Ham fans never forgave Frank Lampard for moving to Chelsea, despite his father’s iconic status at the Hammers, while some Chelsea fans booed the club legend when he returned to Stamford Bridge in Manchester City colours.
Sydney FC fans now have their own traitor in Janjetovic.
The circumstances of the move are curious. Janjetovic was thrust into the first team by Frank Farina and played just about every game thereafter.
His veteran understudy Ivan Necevski couldn’t get a look in, even in the deadest of dead rubbers – he even left and came back without getting on the park.
And then Sydney decided that after Janjetovic dropped one high ball too many that perhaps he was due for some competition.
Goalkeeping coach John Crawley plumped for one of his previous proteges, Danny Vukovic, who was desperate to move back to Sydney to be a nearer his family, and the rest is history.
Vukovic went straight into the team and showed a high level of class and composure that eluded Janjetovic in the big moments and the Sky Blues are unbeaten in 11 rounds.
Janjetovic shirked the idea of competition, instead citing “personal issues” – he hasn’t been spotted since Round 5, but was quick to appear holding a Wanderers jersey on Tuesday, even though his transfer won’t be officially ratified until the first week of January.
Sydney fans have every right to feel like they’ve been slapped in the face.
For all Janjetovic’s talk of having sky blue blood and his interviews about how important the Sydney support was to him and the team, he jumped ship. And at the first sight of any competition for his place.
He could have taken a leaf out of Necevski’s book – he could have stuck around, driven on his fellow goalkeeper and try to be part of something special.
Petr Cech did that at Chelsea when Thibaut Courtois took his place. Cech played a few games and made some hugely important saves, Chelsea won another Premier League title.
Even later on, when Cech ended up moving to Arsenal, he has never been booed at the Bridge, because the fans know and appreciate the move wasn’t of his own volition. He had to go in order to play football to continue to represent his country.
The fact he stuck around and helped the club to another trophy far outweighed his move to a bitter rival.
It could have been that way for Janjetovic.
He could have supported Vukovic, perhaps even stepped in should the number one come across an injury, suspension, or dramatic loss of form.
He could have moved on at the season’s end, even to Wanderers, perhaps as an A-League champion. All would have been forgiven, because football fans are generally an understanding bunch.
But instead he shunned the club who gave him his national league opportunity, and the fans who backed him to the hilt.
It’s at that point where all understanding ends.
And won’t Janjetovic know about when he’s standing in front of the Cove in a few weeks, in the colour of the fiercest enemy.