CARDIFF MODEL PRO IS DUE A BREAK...
CARDIFF fans knew it was coming, but the news that Aron Gunnarsson will leave the club next summer is still a blow.
The Iceland midfielder – and reigning player of the year – has told manager Neil Warnock his body can no longer withstand the rigours of the Championship.
Unless the Bluebirds win promotion, he will decamp to warmer, gentler climes.
A cursory glance at the stats makes Gunnarsson’s reasoning look shaky.
His career tally of 407 games is about average for a man of 28.
In fact, he has played fewer matches than Michael Owen or Sergio Aguero at the same age – and those are players hardly renowned for their hardiness.
The difference, of course, is the division. Few jobs in football are as physically demanding as that of a Championship midfielder. Going box-to-box isn’t so much an asset as a necessity. Getting stuck in is the first bullet point on the personal spec.
Only twice in the nine seasons since he joined Coventry has Gunnarsson played fewer than 40 games.
No lay-offs, no time to recuperate. Pure, non-stop, mileage. This season’s nagging ankle issues are, perhaps, a symptom of that slog.
Could there be an ulterior motive? Of course. Gunnarsson will be 29 in April. The World Cup thus represents his final shot at attracting a big club, at winning the bumper contract that will set him up for life. As a free agent, those prospects are vastly improved.
Whatever the case, you can’t help but wish him well. The guy is a model pro who has done Championship dirty work for the best part of a decade.
He has earned the right to give his body a break – and his bank balance a bost.