Ugh. We’re here again. In this current moment it’s looking increasingly likely that Jose Fonte will complete his move to West Ham United, with reports stating that the two sides are close to agreeing a fee in the region of £8M; my only question surrounding this latest advancement however, is why? Just why?
On the 9th of January 2010 Jose Fonte decided to depart from Championship outfit Crystal Palace, in favour of a League one side that had recently entered into administration and faced a ten point deduction: that side was of course our beloved Southampton FC.
For the fans, there was excitement and hope that this tough tackling Portuguese centre half would finally bring solidity to our side, but Fonte himself saw far beyond the short term goals of this transfer.
“I’ve come here with a purpose, which is to help this club move to the top divisions. I want to play in the Premier League and I think I can do that quickest by moving here.”
These were the very words that Fonte spoke on his first day in red and white, and the tale that soon followed is remarkable.
There’s that beautiful day at Wembley for the JPT final, the back-to-back promotions taking Southampton to the Premier League, achieving our highest ever Premier League finish, and even returning once again to the Europa League. Since the 9th of January 2010, it’s undeniable that Fonte has been at the heart of all our success.
But it was with the reward for these achievements that has since changed Fonte into a player that we seem to no longer know.
Understandably, Fonte received his call up to the Portuguese national team ahead of the Euro’s, and to say the least, us Southampton fans were thrilled – rather emotional in fact. After years of hard work, grit, and dedication, our club captain was representing his country on one of the biggest stages that a player can ever prove himself on. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling like a proud dad as Fonte first stepped out onto the pitch to face Croatia…
However, with this start in place of the injured Ricardo Carvalho, Fonte didn’t just fill the gap, he made it his own, leaving manager Fernando Santos helpless in selecting Fonte for the quarter final against Poland, and semi final against Wales. In both games Portugal were victorious, and consequently Fonte held his place in the starting XI for the final against France – a decision that would see Portugal become Champions of Europe with a 1-0 win.
Through his ability, attitude and personality, Fonte has given so much to our club throughout his career, making it simply beautiful to witness that same man achieve his childhood dream
Every Southampton fan was supporting Portugal that night as they got behind Fonte, leaving us all optimistic for yet another season with a player capable of such fine performances. But oh how wrong we were…
Fonte returned to St Mary’s with a hero’s welcome, but shortly after it was clear for all to see that his head had been turned. Fonte had tasted success of the highest level, and now he wanted more. This lead to a summer of speculation whereby papers and online sources were filled with ideas regarding Fonte’s current situation, but in truth, only those involved with the deal know what was said over that summer.
What we do know however is that the performances that soon followed from our captain were showings of a man who was no longer stimulated. Fonte’s mind was clearly elsewhere, and on the fifth of January, that was confirmed by Les Reed:
“He’s had several opportunities to improve the situation and he’s reserved his right not to do that.
“He’s made it very clear he would like to explore the opportunities for a transfer.
“That’s where we are at the moment, Jose wants to leave the club. He’s formally asked for a transfer.”
These quotes were hard for every Southampton fan to swallow. We’ve heard it all before in regards to other stars from years gone by, but hearing such news about our club captain and a man who has been with us through every step of our journey was gutting. Just gutting.
With Fonte’s agent being Jorge Mendes – the same agent as Cristiano Ronaldo – this decision to hand in a transfer request was surely used as a means to alert the big boys. Fonte clearly wanted more silverware, and had his eyes firmly placed on a move to either one of Manchester United or Liverpool.
But it seems that Fonte didn’t take into account a particular circumstance; that neither club wants him. Which funnily enough, is exactly what’s happened.
Since realising this, Fonte has been the subject of two bids from two mid-table Premier League sides, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham, with Southampton reportedly close to accepting a bid from the latter.
Fonte has played his hand, and with brutal honesty, it seems to have backfired in the most embarrassing of ways. Not only have Fonte’s dreams of a ‘big move’ amounted to absolutely nothing, but it seems that he is now completely incapable of swallowing his pride and reconciling with the club and us Southampton fans. It appears that for this reason, Fonte harbours no ambition to make life work on the south coast. So much so that I believe if Fonte knew only West Ham and West Brom were interested from the start, his notice would have remained firmly in his pocket.
I will always love and adore Fonte for the years of service and crunching tackles as a member of our original League One side, there is no doubting that. I just hate that this against all odds fairy tale will be tarnished with the same brush of so many other departures from Southampton FC in recent years.