Earlier this week, full-back Ryan Fredericks left Fulham following the expiration of his contract and joined fellow London club West Ham United.
Now that the dust has settled on the long-rumoured transfer, it is clear the 25-year-old’s decision was ultimately motivated by a thirst for higher wages and represents a sideways move at best.
After refusing to sign a new contract with Fulham due to a failure to agree wages, according to Football.London, Fredericks moved across the capital for tens of thousands of pounds more a week.
But one question dominated the minds of many Fulham supporters and outside observers:
Why leave Fulham, a club that is undoubtedly on the rise and where Fredericks had found his best form, for the unfamiliar setting of West Ham, a club that narrowly avoided relegation last season and is perhaps the definition of dysfunction?
Sadly, the most convincing answer to the dilemma is a desire to make more money.
Clearly, there is nothing wrong with such a request from a player. Professionals deserve to be rewarded for their work and a pay rise is in order after impressive performances.
Yet Fredericks’ demands to become the highest-paid player at Craven Cottage were a step too far. No matter how well a player performs, no individual is bigger than the club.
As Fulham Vice President Tony Khan noted in the comments section of Kevin McDonald’s latest Instagram post, Fredericks should not be harassed for his decision, which Khan claimed ultimately came down to business concerns.
Khan is right; although Cottagers supporters feel disappointed that the defender jumped ship so quickly, there is no tolerance for abuse of Fredericks.
And yet, the Fulham faithful is more than entitled to feel baffled by Fredericks’ decision to leave the Premier League club for the Hammers. West Ham certainly have more resources than Fulham, but perhaps that’s the lone field where Fulham are bested.
The stark contrast in the atmospheres of the two teams is best exemplified by a comparison of pitch invasions.
Fulham fans stormed the Craven Cottage pitch in glee after securing a spot in the play-off final in May; West Ham supporters ran on to the London Stadium pitch and grappled with their own team’s players in ugly protests in March.
This juxtaposition reveals Fredericks’ ultimate mistake, as dysfunction, uncertainty, protests, and crowd troubles are constant features of life at West Ham.
New manager Manuel Pellegrini has never managed at a bottom half of the table English club before, bringing more uncertainty to an already precarious situation in east London.
Unfortunately for Fulham, Ryan Fredericks decided an uptick in salary was worth a move to a hostile and erratic work environment; in the end, his transfer to West Ham is a misguided action.