Back in the times before footballers were crashing extravagant sports cars, stealing toilet seats from B&Q, soliciting underage prostitutes and shagging grannies the very thought of a player demanding a transfer was just as outrageous.
Managers and players shared a mutual respect; one that was completely cut and dry, the manager giving the orders and the players carrying them out on the pitch.
Players were tied to contacts and seen them out before seeking a transfer of their own accord and preference. Traditional transfers from club to club were discussed by the respective clubs, should there be an objection that was the end of the negotiations. No arguments.
Contracts were in place for a reason; to ensure a player was committed to a club for the duration of the contact and would fulfil the conditions of that contact. Thus a player was tied to a club and expected to perform until the club decided otherwise and decided to sell.
Just as a player should respect their contact the club should also, as has been agreed by both parties. Should a club want to sell and the player wants to stay and prove himself then he should be allowed to do so.
The flip side is the more common predicament, a players wants to leave when the club would rather hold on to his services.
This situation has become increasingly common over the past decade with the media playing a huge part in fuelling speculation.
Last summer’s big want-away was Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso. Understandably annoyed at then manager Rafael Benitez’s public pursuit of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry the season before seen Alonso seek a move away when the move never materialised.
In season leading up to Benitez’s courting of Barry, Alonso had endured what many Liverpool fans deemed two poor seasons on the trot. Still, the following season seen a rejuvenated Alonso and led to him being one of the standout performers of the 08/09 season helping come within touching distance of winning the Premiership.
The summer saw some grumbling from the Alonso camp and after a protracted summer-long saga he finally secured a move to Real Madrid. After so many fans pleading for him to stay he had turned his back and returned to his native Spain.
The question remained however was would he ever have got the chance to move to such and illustrious club had he not been playing for Liverpool. Chances are probably not, Juventus and Atletico Madrid were mooted at potential suitors the season before.
What Alonso should have realised he had two poor seasons and the manager was looking to replace him in turn doing what he thought was best for the club. If a player isn’t performing he has to go, no time for sentiments.
Therefore when he had a stormer season he should have stayed and seen out the remainder of his contact and put in a repeat performance the following season. He of course didn’t and Liverpool were left with a giant hole to fill in midfield and with very little time in the transfer window left to find an adequate replacement.
This poses the question, ‘Do players have too much power over their clubs?’ As mentioned earlier, had the Alonso situation happened in Shankly’s era he would have been told to forget about Madrid and to bring his boots to Melwood on August 1.
This summer Javier Mascherano has been the individual seemingly yearning for pastures new, despite of the club’s desire to keep him on the books, with Internazionale more than likely to be his new home at the start of the season.
Is it time to get back to the old ways for just saying ‘no’ to players wanting to move against the wishes of the club or should the clubs respect the decision that they no longer want to play for the club?
Lets be honest here too, it’s not like a player is making a life or death decision. Its about picking getting paid thousands of pounds a week to play for one team or the other.
Players often make out like it is, take Ronaldo’s ‘I’m a slave’ comments during his time at Manchester United, there’s not many slaves I’ve heard of make upwards of £100,000 a week Christiano.
It’s something that should be looked at but then again it may be foolish to expect the modern day footballers, agents and the like to adhere to such discipline. Or maybe there’s too much money involved for it to be a reasonable expectation.
Bill Shankly (the man of seemingly infinite appropriate quotes) once summed up how the modern day footballer should probably be treated now, he said: “Take that poof bandage off. And what do you mean about ‘Your’ knee? It’s Liverpool’s knee!”