After watching Ian Holloway’s passionate interview on Thursday, it was clear that managers are having their hands tied in player deals. Within Ian Holloway’s interview, he accused ‘Wayne Rooney and his agents ‘of bullying Sir Alex Ferguson.’Whether this was an over dramatised statement (as I am sure Sir Alex Ferguson can handle himself) it brings to the forefront the argument of the influence that agents are having on footballers today – either their client gets what they want or they leave for better money elsewhere. In an age where some of our 1966 World Cup winners are having to sell their achievements to make ends meet – why are we accepting that this is a ‘part of ‘the game.’
Paul Stretford’s dealings with Wayne Rooney started with his ‘dream’ move to Old Trafford back in 2004. The majority of football followers knew Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney would be a perfect fit. Ferguson with his proven track record with youngsters, would bring out the full potential of the rising England star. For Rooney, he was going to the biggest club in the world, playing with some of the greatest footballers and would test himself on the highest platforms.
However, this was not enough for Paul Stetford. He reportedly brought Newcastle into the deal, knowing full well Wayne Rooney had no intention of signing for the club. Sir Freddy Shepherd launched a £20million bid for the youngster, and Bobby Robson was very keen to work with Rooney at Newcastle. With two clubs now fighting for the signature, Stretford could get the best possible deal for both Wayne Rooney and himself. He was paid close to £1.5 million in the process.
The ironic thing about Rooney’s desired move from Old Trafford was that Freddy Shepherd’s son Kenny, was working alongside Stretford to get Rooney out of Old Trafford.
These are not football men. They are in football to make as much money for themselves as they can. The spirit of the game is being dismantled by these people. Holloway is right when he says that Uefa, Fifa and the Premier League need to act before we move into a sort of wild west scenario.
Wayne Rooney is by no means a saint in this situation. He knows full well what Paul Stretford can do for his career in financial terms.Stretford has been through plenty of hoops and still hung onto Rooney. He was banned by the FA and fined £300,000 for signing the players when he was under contract to another agent,. They have stuck together for todays ultimate cause. To make as much money as possible for brand Rooney and Stretford.
Even agents of so called lesser players try to make a fast buck for themselves and their clients. In 2007, Steven Taylor was negotiating a new contract with Newcastle. He had two years left to go on his current deal, and as pursuant with Newcastle’s initiative to sign key players on long-term contracts (Milner and N’Zogbia already had their new 5-year deals), they offered Taylor a contract presumably at par with what Milner was offered. Taylor was represented by his father Alf, who rejected the contract out of hand at went straight to the press. I am not saying that Taylor hasn’t the right to refuse a contract offer but for his agent to run to the press after the break down of negotiations is shameful. It had all the trappings of a rookie agent getting power-drunk on his star’s abilities and aiming to milk the club for all that the kid was worth.
When we speak of agents ruining the game, we normally think of the seasoned professionals. However the smaller, less well known agents are just as bad. They are trying to make a name for themselves – to make as much money out of football as they can.
Will we ever live in a time where agents are professional and free of corruption. For as long as money is in the game, the chances are we never will. What is the motivation for the governing bodies to rid football of these leaches. Of course, not every agents charachter should be called into question – some do a very important job for their clinets and should be applauded for their work.
Have the agents and the players become to powerful to stop now. It seems that nobody wants to rock the boat and rid football of these parasites and expose them for what they are. Footballers need good advice, but are they really getting it? This week showed the greed and the power of agents. Wayne Rooney is staying at Old Trafford, but how long until the next high profile player decides his club lack ‘ambition.’ One thing is for sure. United fans across the globe thought better of Rooney. This tactic to undermine Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson has not gone down well with the fans or his team mates. Rooney may now be better off in terms of cash but will his dressing room ever trust him again?