The modern day player’s power over his employers is becoming a massive issue within the world of professional football.
It’s an all too common occurrence to see players submitting transfer requests, feeding stories to the media or even plainly refusing to play in a bid to get their own way, whether that be a move to another club or a pay rise.
Sir Alex Ferguson spoke out about this trend, claiming that a player no longer being tied to their club is damaging the game:
“When I first started out in management 37 years ago there were no agents. Imagine that!
“There was no freedom of contract either, so players were totally tied to their clubs.
“A change in that sense was inevitable, though I think that now the scales tipped completely in the other direction and I’m not sure it’s good for the game.”
Love or loathe him, its fair to say that the Scot has a point, with a player’s influence and power at a particular club becoming a dangerous problem.
Sir Alex knows this all too well thanks to the Wayne Rooney episode of 2010. Rooney declared that he was going to leave the Manchester club due to serious differences with his manager and a lack of ambition on the part of the Red Devils. But, what do you know, a matter of weeks later the striker has signed a new deal on wages of around £200,000-per-week. All of this came with great influence from his agent, Paul Stretford.
Fergie would not have let this happen in the past, as we saw with David Beckham’s departure from the club, but Rooney’s influence and the threat of other clubs, namely local rivals Manchester City, meant that United could not allow their man to move on.
Whether or not Rooney wanted to leave isn’t clear, but the whole episode worked out well for the ex-Everton man, who increased his pay packet, and increased his level of authority around the club. Coincidence or carefully planned between agent and player?
It’s a similar case with Carlos Tevez at City. The Argentine forward wanted to move for personal reasons, so he refused Roberto Mancini’s request for him to come on a substitute against Bayern Munich. This sparked an almighty bust-up between the two, resulting in the Italian claiming he would never pick the striker again. Tevez could not find a club anywhere willing to meet his inflated wage demands, so as a result apologised in a bid to re-enter the Manchester City first-team squad. It remains unclear whether Tevez actually wants to be playing in the sky blue shirt, or whether he is simply looking to showcase his undoubted talents in a bid to manufacture a move elsewhere to secure another big pay day for himself and his representative, Kia Joorabchian.
Whether we like it or not, players’ influence within clubs is a massive factor. They know their importance, both on and off the field of play, and some cynical individuals will always seek to use this to their advantage. Sir Alex may well have a point.