Friday, May 14, 2010

Stewart stews

The list of the types of people that annoy me is quite long. But people who are needlessly aggressive, the kind of person that always seems a step away from unfathomable anger, is near the top.

You'll see them all the time. They walk around town aggressively, looking for something to get annoyed with, a statue to have an argument with. They're in pubs and you probably sit next to them at the cinema.

And you meet them at the football. For some reason football grounds attract them, it's like a weekly convention of the needlessly pissed off.

I find myself wanting to say "calm down, get over it, smile."

Psychologists would no doubt explain the underlying reasons for the unhappiness that manifests itself as this anger at the whole world. I tend to just think: "Grow up, twat." Which, on reflection, might make me as bad as them.

Anyway the reason I relate this meandering internal monologue is that it immediately sprang to mind when I heard the news that Michael Stewart was set to leave Hearts.

I don't know the exact details of what forced Stewart to walk away from his boyhood club for a second time. But for some reason he was stripped of the club captaincy and Jim Jefferies felt the need to freeze out his top scorer for the last few games of the season.

All the stranger when you consider that it was Stewart's crucial goals that won Hearts enough points to make the top six and the semi final of the League Cup.

But all this is just following the pattern of his career. From the fisticuffs in the dressing room at Nottingham Forest through the run-ins with John Collins at Easter Road to the latest departure from Hearts. Find a good thing then self destruct seems to be the Stewart way.

And that's before we look at his disciplinary record.

He's the angry young man stomping about town let loose on the training pitch, the inexplicably irate supporter transferred from the terrace to the field.

You get the impression that left alone in an empty room he would find a way of sparking World War 3.

And that temperament has undoubtedly damaged his career. Since 1998 he has played only 179 senior games for five different clubs.

He was perhaps never going to live up the potential that saw him sign for Manchester United as a teenager but he has shown, albeit far too briefly, that he could be an influential and admired player in the SPL.

Maybe the experience of coming so close to superstardom at Old Trafford soured him. I don't know and that's all getting a bit too close to amateur psychology for my liking. Whatever the reasons he too often gives the impression of being unable to control a temper that has done real damage to his career.

By all accounts he is an intelligent guy who can speak knowledgeably and with real passion about the game. Refreshingly he doesn't have an agent and deals with that side of things himself (we can but guess how that went down with Mr Romanov).

Yet for some reason there is something that causes him to seek out trouble. On the pitch, with his own players, his managers, his chairmen. He is capable of displaying a snarling hatred of them all.

It now looks like he is going to continue his career with Turkish side Genclerbirligi. It will be interesting to see how he fares in some of Turkey's more tempestuous stadiums.

I wish him good luck but I fear a career is being wasted. Sadly that's robbed us of a player who could rise above the mediocre average of the SPL.

But it's most damaging for Michael Stewart himself. A footballer is a long time retired. And when it's all over there is nobody to get angry with but yourself.

Don't rate Stewart? You need technique and skill to score a goal like this: