Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Paid Mercenaries: Footballers forcing the hand that feeds them

I watched Rambo 4, I read the latest words from Carlos Tevez... the reasoning and inspiration behind this blog is not hard to figure out.

Sympathy for footballers is something that is often hard to come by. They are getting paid obscenely large wages to do something that many of us would declare to be 'our dream jobs' and thus their moans and groans usually fall on deaf ears, no more so than when it is concerning their private lives. I for one have little interest in the seedy details of what they do off the pitch, indeed I believe that they deserve – as we all do both legally and ethically – the right to have their privacy respected.

Where the line must be drawn, however, and where my sympathy does indeed run dry, is with a lack of professionalism. Who a footballer may or may not have had an affair with is of no particular interest to me and as such I am not going to lambaste them for it but they should, of course, be judged in a professional capacity – as footballers and as representatives of the clubs who pay their wages. Thus, their performances on the field ought to be subject to scrutiny as too should their conduct, in a professional sense, off it. This does not mean whose bed they may choose to sleep in, whose clothes they want to wear or whose nightclub they wish to frequent (as long as it does not contradict the rules laid out by their club - i.e. not the night before a game).

'Paid mercenary' is a popular term to describe the modern footballer. A mercenary being someone 'working or acting merely for money or other reward', a player with no affiliation or particular connection to any club but who is free for hire, free in the sense of their availability, their services are obviously far from it.

Carlos Tevez is one man who seemingly epitomises this concept. On the pitch he is undoubtedly one of the hardest working players in the game. His effort levels are almost unparalleled and this, when coupled with his footballing ability, has made him one of the most sought after mercenaries around. Yet while his talents make him such a valuable asset, he is also a player who exploits this current trend of nomadic footballers who will ply their trade to the highest bidder.

Now, it is worth saying that footballers cannot and should not necessarily be criticised for this. There are very few people in the working world who do not offer their services to those willing to pay the most money for them, it would be illogical not to. But again, to reiterate, the emphasis here must remain on professionalism. Not even loyalty, just professionalism, although there is certainly an overlap between the two.

As long as you are contracted to a particular organisation or company, in this case a football club, you are then obliged to act in a professional manner. In other words, to show full commitment to those to whom you are contracted. Carlos Tevez may do this on the pitch but his behaviour off it could not be more polarised which raises a key problem, a problem which becomes all too evident at this time of year when the gossip columns and transfer prattle dominates the spaces on the back pages left behind in the off season. He is an example of the how the increase in player power has directly correlated with a decrease in professionalism by footballers in recent years.

Clubs spend huge amounts of money to acquire top players from another team and then hand over similarly vast wages every week to that player. As such, like many companies, their personnel are their primary investment. This may not mean that they should have total control over said player but it should mean that they remain in control of their assets. Too often now, however, it is the player who is able to dictate the terms of his future at a club.

If a player wishes to leave a club then now more then ever they have the power to force the hand of their club. By not signing new contracts, by speaking out in the press about their desire to leave for pastures greener or expressing a general lack of motivation to stay and play for their current team the player can determine his own transfer policy.

A player who has expressed a desire to leave the club and said that he wants to move to a different country and therefore will not be signing a new contract with his current employers not only puts himself prominently in the shop window but also affects the value of any potential transfer. The current line of thinking appears to be that you can't keep a player at a club against his will. That should not be the case. If fees have been for them, and wages paid to them, then they are the club's to use as, when and how they see fit until the end of the contract they signed.

For a footballer to try and force a move away from the club to whom they are contracted shows a distinct lack of professionalism and undermines the time, money and effort that the club has invested in them. One would not speak out openly and publicly against their current employers and state they wanted to move to a rival company in other professions and although it is always dangerous to even attempt to compare footballer to any other strand of life there still remains a need for professionalism.

Moaning about a dislike of all things Manchester in the press, saying you want to go to a new country, wanting a new challenge at a higher level or demanding a move for larger wages may be understandable yet the way modern footballers go about expressing and dealing with such desires is certainly not professional. It is more akin to divas with shin pads or overgrown and overpaid spoiled children. Moreover, it underlines a lack of respect and a lack of appreciation to their employers.

With two months before the start of the new season, much of this time will be dominated by endless rumours of who is going where and for how much. Tedious though it quickly becomes, we all accept it as being as much a part of summer as the depressingly inconsistent weather. It seems now though, that player power has become an even more integral factor in the transfer market. Perhaps it was always this way but it is just more apparent now as players express themselves more.

Nevertheless, by stating his intentions to stay or his desire to leave, a player can and will directly influence whether or not other clubs bid for him and if indeed they do, then how much they will pay. This means that a player can have a direct impact upon his own future which can, and often does, contradict the plans of the club that now must prepare to lose one of the key assets and investments.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...


  1. To quote Van Morrison (in response to a heckler)

    "It's just a fucking job"

  2. This is more Polly put the kettle on than Polly and anything to do with sport. Jog on Polly. Mines white with two sugars, love.

  3. "He is an example of the how the increase in player power has directly correlated with a decrease in professionalism by footballers in recent years."

    You have the official stats to back this assertion up do you?????

  4. Amateur is the only word I can think of right now when analysing this article, it smacks of someone believing every single word the media has said about Tevez, despite his club and Teveez himself dismissing it all. The media have twisted and stretched every snippit of the slightest bit of sotry on Tevez, so much so that you would believe the media if they told you Tevez was the born again messiah himself aka Jesus Christ.

  5. First anon comment - Your comment barely warrants a response. If you don't feel this has anything to do with sport then I am not sure what you have read. The post is about the attitude and professionalism of the modern footballer, or 'paid mercenary' if you like, and how this lack of professionalism towards their club impacts on the transfer market by securing them moves away if or when they want one.

    Second Anon comment - Perhaps 'directly correlated' was a foolish term to use. Obviously there can be no 'official stats' to back up this trend. Nevertheless, it is a trend that can be easily witnessed in each and every transfer window. A player saying they want out or publicly declaring they will not sign a new contract which, in turn, increases the likelihood of them completing a transfer. That is the essence of player power and it is becoming a very prevelant factor in the transfer market.

    As for the third anon comment, clearly a Manchester City fan. 'The media is against us' theory is often spouted from City fans to cover the facts. He has stated his desire to leave Manchester, and indeed England on many occasions - whether it be to return to Argentina, move somewhere else in Europe or to retire. However much you may like to claim that is the media distorting the truth, his unprofessional behaviour regarding his future at the club is undeniable and as that is the crux of this piece then that is what matters.

  6. You are right. Contemporary football have a lot of features. This features are different (mostly worth. During 12-10 years football has changed so much.
    P.S. for Cole +1

  7. Great post on journaling, Carrie. I have only tried this after completing my book, usually for character blog posts. Most times my books evolve from an idea or story question, and the characters evolve from that...except with Renner. He was Trey's partner in Journey's End, and I knew as soon as he hit the page that he'd star in his own book.
    Thanks for sharing your method, Carrie. I shall try this. :-)
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  8. People are moved by money and you always wanted more even though you earn a hell lot of it. It is a pity that they can't see it front that kind of point of view.

  9. Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.

  11. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.


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