A lot has been said about loyalty of players towards their club. A lot has been pondered upon about the power of the agents in a player’s decision over staying at a particular club. From Wes Brown almost leaving Man Utd. in 2004 and 2008 to the Van Persie saga in 2012, player agents have been involved all the time.
Ferguson had stated that the power of transfers has shifted from the club into the players’ hands. These were the comments made by Ferguson during Wes Brown’s uncertainty of remaining at Manchester United. Twice.
February 22nd, 2008: “Players of today live in their agents’ pockets,” said Ferguson. “It’s a situation which depresses me at times, it really depresses me. Wes has been with us since he was 12, but I don’t think that matters these days. Players’ agents live their lives for them and if you are happy to go along with that, you get the situation you have got just now. But Wes knows this and the other players have told him. We wouldn’t have made the offer if we hadn’t had faith in him. It’s in his hands. It’s amazing really given that he has had such a good season and has had such a good run of games while Gary has been injured.”
It’s good to know when the club wants a player to stay and the player agrees. The hoolahoo begins when the player wants to go elsewhere. Other clubs come in for the player, he becomes a regular on the Sports Daily, agents swing player’s minds, grandmothers-grandfathers come into the picture and finally it’s upto the player what he wants. Today the club, unlike earlier times, hardly has any power over keeping the player at the club. As Ferguson said during the Tevez transfer saga, “To begin with, 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 have tipped completely in the other direction and I’m not sure it’s good for the game.”
Steve Bruce had supported the cause saying, “You are dealing with young footballers who have become millionaires at a very young age and it can be difficult to handle.”
Simply put, today’s contracts are just a formality. Gone are the days when the players were legally bound to honour the contract with their club. It’s just a useless scrap of paper now. Players can hand in a transfer request if their demands are not met and can twist the club’s arms the way they want. Players rule the roost now. A contract was considered as a legally binding piece of paper before. But now, the players can break the contract whenever they wish to. They can play and earn millions, or sit on the bench and still earn millions. Money has played its part in this.
The days when managers and owners had power over the players are gone. But it was pleasing to see Daniel Levy rejecting Luka Modric’s transfer request plea last summer to join Chelsea. It showed the world that players cannot overpower the club totally and need to think before deciding the length of the contract.
Managers can no longer plan for the future and make players sign contracts. They can’t sign a 20-year-old and expect him to stay with the club in the long haul. Maybe a maximum of three to four years. Moreover, the current trend is becoming a bad example for the next generation that is entering the footballing world. This is certain to spoil the spirit in which the footballer plays for his club and is definitely bad for the game. The careers of long-serving players like Gerrard, Lampard, Giggs, Pirlo and Buffon are nearing an end and we can only wonder if we will be able to see another Ryan Giggs-like or Steven Gerrard-like player who has been loyal to the club throughout his career.
Ofcourse players should have the right to choose the club they want, but not after signing a contract with a club. Not after the club has spent a fortune on the player and he suddenly decides to leave because he no longer likes the weather of the city or some crap reason. Not after the supporters have created a place for him in their hearts and are ready to stand behind him- come what may.
When Sir Alex Ferguson leaves the club, it will be the end of an era. An era in which he stamped his authority at the club with his motto, “No player is bigger than the club.”
Unfortunately, no more.