Why do players play professional football? Money, of course, they have mortgages to pay. To win cups? To be loved by fans? To leave a legacy?
This is a fans view of the game, but the truth is very different. Players are in the game for their own aggrandisement. Even if that grows to a size that is completely meaningless. That's because footballers are notoriously selfish; Ashley Cole, much as I like him as a player, is clearly a selfish scumbag. OK, so he wants to leave Arsenal, but does he have to oil the wheels by releasing a press pack for his book to coincide with his with Hello sponsored wedding? The money is an irrelevance, beyond £50,000 a week nobody can spend that quickly. Winning cups with Chelsea is completely diluted by their cynicism; the perception is that it's easy to win things when you have that much money. Will he be loved by fans? Maybe, but fans prefer players like Carragher, Gerrard, Henry, Adams, Terry, who stick with a club through thick and thin, they're the people who leave a legacy. Gerrard's one Champions League medal means more than anything Cole wins at Chelsea. When you get to this end of the footballing spectrum, size matters more than what it means.
At the other end, the Robbie Dale story is a veritable Jon Obi Mikel saga of the lower leagues. Contradictory stories suggest that despite offering him a deal, the Us missed out because it turns out Blyth had an option on his contract. The other side suggests that he turned down the contract because he didn't want to leave his lucrative job in the North East.
All of which goes against the received logic about professional footballers, who are in the game for their own aggrandisement at the expense of everything. It also questions why Non-League teams on FA Cup Match of the Day are made up of players working in the 1950s; they all have professions like postman, butcher or baker; they're never business process consultants or data integrity directors specialising in UPS solutions.
That we're even talking about a choice between playing for Oxford United and a job in the real world shows how close to the madness of part-time football we've dropped.