The uncertainty of the transfer window
Hi hope you are all well.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and successful new year and once again thank you for taking the time to read this blog.
The start of the 2009 also heralds the opening of the transfer window. There is no doubt that is a very exciting time in the modern football calendar for fans. It is also exciting from a player's perspective, although our excitement is tempered somewhat by that all too familiar feeling that a footballer has - uncertainty.
This uncertainty can be apparent on two fronts. One is the thought that you could soon be moving clubs (again)! You tend to notice an increase in players making a bee line for their mobile phones after training during the transfer window, just to check if their agent has been in touch (agents - a subject we will touch on later). The other is the fear that whoever the club brings in will take your place.
I have been in this situation on a number of occasions and I am sure I will be in it again. The surprising thing is that no matter how many times you experience it, the experience still hurts like hell. Then comes the test of whether you rise to the challenge of someone coming in to try and take your place or just sulk and accept it.
The transfer window for clubs in the lower divisions varies markedly from that of the bigger clubs. Obviously the size of the transfer fees involved is a major difference but there is also the difficulty that small clubs have in shipping players out. Players who are not getting a game for a League Two club will find it difficult to get another club in league football. It is a horrible reality for those in that situation.
Put yourself in the shoes of one of these players. You are out of contract in the summer, your current club wants you out so they can bring in different players, your only offers are from clubs outside of the Football League and for considerably less money, what do you do? In such circumstances, I would find it very difficult to criticise a player for seeing out his contract.
You could argue that Premier League teams also get stuck with players they don't want but the fundamental difference is that somebody will gladly take these players off their hands for the right price.
The transfer window is open season for agents. They have been gearing up for 1 January for months, building foundations, sowing seeds of doubt in players' minds.
Generally, I am not the biggest fan of agents. I am sure there are good agents out there who have their client's best interest at heart, but from those I have come across, I could count the ones I would trust on one hand.
During my career I have signed with two agents. My involvement with both came in the early stages of my career when I thought having an agent was the done thing, sort of an unwritten rule that if you were a professional footballer you had to have an agent. That is not the case!
Although I am sceptical about agents, I do acknowledge that they have a place in the modern day game, especially for the top players whose contract negotiations and everything connected with these deals are such complex issues. However, I do worry about just how relevant they are to players in the lower leagues.
Some players - especially the foreign players - have more than one agent; this is when deals can get particularly complicated. I remember when I was at Coventry and a Norwegian striker arrived to sign.
I had never heard of the striker before but he brought with him an entourage of about eight people. Problems started to arise when three separate guys claimed to be his agent. They were given half-an-hour to decide who represented the player but with no solution in sight, the whole delegation was sent packing! The real loser in the whole fiasco was the player who although naïve in having so many people around him (that said I would not be surprised if the player did not actually know all of the men) suffered as a result of other peoples' greed.
Looking back on my own career, agents have not played a big part in any of the moves I have made (and there have been quite a few). The only use I can see for agents in the cases of players such as myself is that they can put your name about to other clubs but as I found out there are other ways to do this.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I simply got a list of all the managers and phoned them. That way you bypass all the false promises that agents make and at least find out what a manager thinks of you as a player, even if it is not what you want to hear.
Seeing as I am on my high horse, I may as well carry on!
Over the years I have overheard younger players talking about what agency they have signed up to and the high-profile players that they have on their books. My advice to these players, for what it's worth, is to be careful. Agents have a tendency to sign up any young player who shows even the slightest bit of promise in the hope that one day, one of the big clubs will come in for him and ultimately line the pockets of the agent .
Ultimately it is the ability of the player that will facilitate his transfer to a bigger and better club, not the agent who represents him.