Football is not such a beautiful game for those players, like West Ham and New Zealand central defender Winston Reid, who have had their prime years wrecked by knee injuries.
Since signing for the Hammers from Danish club Midtjylland over the summer of 2010, he has watched five different managers come and go. In the case of David Moyes, Reid has even seen one return to East London for a second spell in the dugout.
Much has changed at West Ham over the last 11 years. During what surely amounts to a testimonial-worthy career for the 2013 Hammer of the Year, Reid endured the bitter taste of relegation from the Premier League at the end of his first season before Sam Allardyce then masterminded an immediate return to the top-flight via the Championship play-offs in 2012.
The Kiwi has also seen West Ham move from its much missed, raucous and intimate Boleyn Ground at Upton Park to the spacious confines of the London (nee Olympic) Stadium. That said, Reid hasn’t played a Premier League game or even pulled on a Hammers jersey for three years now.
Almost nine years since he last graced the Championship, he’s dropped down a division and crossed the capital, joining West London outfit Brentford on loan for the rest of this season. Like West Ham, the Bees have left a grand old ground in Griffin Park behind for a new home.
The dream at Brentford is to finally reach the heights of the Premier League. Realising that ambition was almost within their grasp last season, only for neighbours Fulham to snatch promotion at their expense in extra time of the 2020 play-off final across town at Wembley.
Those denied this way have a good recent record of bouncing back from disappointment and making things right the following campaign. Brentford won’t be winning the Championship outright, though, with runaway leaders Norwich City 15 points clear of them with eight games of the regular season left.
Reid has come into a Bees team that remains the most prolific attacking force in the division, despite cashing in on Ollie Watkins, recently capped by England off the back of his move to Aston Villa, last summer. His replacement, Ivan Toney, has seamlessly stepped into his shoes.
Brentford have a brilliant track record of sourcing and selling on forward talent including Algeria attacker Said Benrahma, who has still yet to score in the league for West Ham, so it’s in defence where there are issues. Only high-flying Barnsley and Reading have conceded more goals in the current top 10.
This is where a player of Reid’s experience and stature can help the Bees. It’s no accident that since signing for them, their Championship betting odds for promotion into the Premier League next season have shortened into 5/6 with bet365.
The gap to the second automatic place, standing at seven points with Watford occupying it having played a game more than Brentford, may be too large to bridge but Reid can help them cement a nine-point cushion on a play-off place. A successful rest of the campaign on the other side of London might just convince Moyes that Reid still has something to offer the Hammers, especially with two more years left on his deal.