Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTrying to avoid the madness of Diouf - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Trying to avoid the madness of Diouf - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Trying to avoid the madness of Diouf

As the bustle of transfer deadline day passed in a wave of sporadic, underwhelming business, one piece of news seemed to go unnoticed, sneaking through the backdoor whilst everybody’s interest was hooked to the main transfer attractions. That news was not a signing, but the information that Blackburn had come to an agreement on the mutual termination of El Hadji Diouf’s contract, Steve Kean had lost patience and the striker was free to find another club.

Diouf had another ten months remaining on his contract but Kean had seen enough to decide that those ten months would be far too long in the company of the controversial Senegalese attacker and the Scot cut his losses without hesitation. An ensuing fall-out from Diouf’s failure to turn up to pre-season training on time was seen as the last straw by the Blackburn hierarchy, the latest in a long line of misdemeanours that will make finding a new club a very difficult task for the player.

So where does he go from here? Unfortunately for Diouf, his reputation as a hate figure will inevitably proceed him when seeking a contract and so it should. Diouf came to England on a crest of hype and plaudit but not only has he catastrophically failed to live up to his potential, he has gone about ruining any potential opportunity to forge the career he promised, almost purposefully, the football has long become a mere side show to the incomprehensible madness of Diouf.

Diouf joined Liverpool in 2002 named the African player of the year after an impressive World Cup with Senegal but he seemingly set about destroying his image almost immediately. In March of 2003 he initiated a run of spitting incidents with an altercation with Celtic supporters in a UEFA cup tie at Celtic Park, followed by spitting at an eleven year old Middlesbrough fan in November 2004 and later in the same month, he was hit with a three match ban for doing the same to Portsmouth’s Arjen De Zueew whilst on loan at Bolton. These were not examples of “heat of the moment” that absolves so many of the modern footballer from accusations of obscenity, but calculated acts of contemptible conduct that were becoming synonymous with Diouf.

Sam Allardyce stuck by him and signed him for Bolton after Liverpool fans made clear there was no way back for the Senegalese after his loan spell at the Reebok, yet Diouf repaid him with stupidity which Allardyce called “earning more notoriety” after seeing his striker blatantly dive for a penalty to earn a win over rivals Blackburn, two years later he admitted to deliberately getting sent off to avoid domestic competition to allow him to represent Senegal ahead of his club. As well as on the pitch, he courted trouble off it; a driving ban was handed for drink-driving in December 2005 and the following month saw him alleged to have punched the wife of Senegal teammate Khalilou Fadiga in a Dakar Night Club. This was quintessential Diouf, but the number of those who saw the funny side were rapidly decreasing.

However, his temperamental demeanour was often a huge disservice to the spell Diouf had with Bolton and the relationship he struck with the fans at the Reebok. The Senegal forward made 135 appearances, scoring 24 goals and it was him who rose to the occasion when Gary Megson sought a replacement for Nicolas Anelka’s move to Chelsea in 2008. After announcing he wanted to leave in the summer of that year, he joined Sunderland after Roy Keane was impressed with his ability to be a figure of hate to opposition fans and players but this inevitably failed to be an unequivocal part of the move and he failed to last past the first January transfer window after allegedly threatening Anton Ferdinand in the dressing room. Sam Allardyce then rescued him once more by taking him to Blackburn but the following September saw another instalment of the lunacy, Diouf was involved in accusations of firing racial abuse at a ball boy in a match with Everton at Goodison Park.

He was seemingly beyond restraint, Allardyce was happy to accept the imprudent side of Diouf’s erraticism as long as the industry and passion was manifesting on the pitch in tandem. Nevertheless, the goals had begun to dry up, he only hit four in sixty appearances at Blackburn and once Sam Allardyce was shown the door by new ownership at Ewood Park, Diouf found himself surplus to requirements and he took his own brand of senseless professionalism north of the border with a loan spell with Rangers. The Scottish champions saw his behaviour in March’s troublesome old firm derby, in which he argued with Celtic manager Neil Lennon, clashed with midfielder Scott Brown at half-time and then saw a red card after the final whistle for an altercation with the referee, as enough to pass on suggestions from Diouf that he wanted to re-join the Glasgow club in the summer, and so leads to his situation now, out of contract with many clubs reluctant to touch his idiocy.

It can be said that he has never replicated the goal-scoring form he showed at Lens, where he hit 18 goals in 54 games and it is his gradual transition into a hard-working winger that has caused his strike rate to lower into a disappointing 33 goals the total tally from his eight year spell in Britain. However, such industry and energy that Diouf threatens in spurts has failed to compensate for his lack of goals when his controversies are considered; the luxury of such a player is unworthy when it is tagged with such baggage and even Blackburn, a club needing a contribution from every experienced Premier League in their possession as they fight a relegation battle have seen his troubles as a commodity they could do without and have so cast him into the footballing wilderness. Perhaps he can find solace with Allardyce at West Ham and this remains his best bet as the rest of British football turn their faces away from the Diouf absurdity.

Adam Gray @MonkeyLunch21

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