Player Power: What is all the Fuss About?

Ricky O'NealAnalyst IAugust 28, 2008

Many are aware of the highly publicized football news items this summer, about want-away professionals turning down contracts, not training hard enough, and even threatening to strike in a bid to move to their desired clubs.

This situation has been labelled player power.

But in actual fact it's a vicious cycle, one that has finally come round to kick clubs in the backside—the same clubs that thought it was okay to pay wages worth thousands of pounds a week in the first place.

In effect it was the clubs who gave power to the players and their agents, so why are we blaming the players, and why do clubs all of the sudden want the power back?

Such behaviour has become a reality of the transfer market, yet people are just not ready to accept that the foremost interest of a player and their agent is the well being of their careers and nothing else.

Forget about so called loyalty to the badge on their shirt, the faithful supporters in the terraces, or the club they have been at since they were 14 years old. Players are the most important asset to any club, and for that reason alone they rightfully should have the kind of control that has seen the likes of Gareth Barry, Dimitar Berbatov, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robinho engineer transfer sagas that have run for weeks on end.

The opposition in this player power row is obviously provided by the clubs. Somehow, individuals within the higher echelons of such institutions feel it is okay to interfere with a player's will, only to uphold the image of club remaining in control of the player.

A perfect example of this would be the unprofessional comment that came out of White Hart Lane recently, suggesting Tottenham would rather sell Berbatov at a lower price to another club—simply to stop him going to Manchester United.

Or, for another example, Spartak Moscow's willingness to hang onto their prolific striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, even when the Russian club are clearly in no position to keep the player, or deny the sort of funds being offered. 

If a player doesn't want to play for you anymore, or clearly doesn't show commitment, sell him.

It's that simple.

Take a leaf out of West Ham's book, who recently sold Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland when his bid to hold out for a £50,000 a week contract backfired. A bold reminder that clubs are just as powerful as the players in some cases.

James Milner also recently handed in a transfer request at Newcastle. Yet to my dismay, some criticize him because they believe he's trying to engineer a move to Aston Villa. Surely this is the most respectable way of going about such affairs, rather than talking to the press or getting "tapped up".

Is there really a problem with that, and will Newcastle hold him against his will?

Fans are just as guilty as the clubs of demanding loyalty from their players while they offer no such acknowledgement in return. Who can forget the hypocritical actions of Liverpool fans, burning Steven Gerrard's No. 8 shirt outside Anfield when they thought he was on his way to Chelsea?

This after all he had given to the club up to that point.

The hard truth is that there is an increasing decline in loyalty in football, and player power is nothing new. As long as players get excessive amounts of money and their contracts are engineered by agents, clubs, and fans will continuously be reminded who the bosses really are.