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Analysis: Alan Cawley on the scourge of player power

Updated: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 13:45 | Comments

Robin van Persie reckons David Moyes is a sound enough fellow
Robin van Persie reckons David Moyes is a sound enough fellow

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By Alan Cawley

A phrase that has become commonly used in modern day football is 'player power'.

I'm pleased to say it hasn't reared its ugly head in our domestic game, thankfully. It's a lot more prevalent in the top European leagues.

I would say the main reason for this is money and the extortionate wage fees being paid to players all over the globe.

Signing long-term contracts which aren't worth the paper they are written on and as soon as they get a little itch which doesn't quite tickle them the way they like they are off.

Our players don't have that luxury as they are living for nine months of the year but the only thing that's positive about that is they remain honest and they care.

Could you imagine a situation like the one we saw at Sunderland earlier in the season where the players basically got together, went to the chairman and got Paolo Di Canio sacked?

It turns out it may have been the right call, based on stories we have heard, but it just wouldn't happen here nor would you want it to.

During my time at Shelbourne we had Ollie Byrne as chairman, one of the most colourful and enigmatic characters to ever grace our league.

I could just see it now – a group of us marching up to his office to complain about a manager.

I know exactly what the outcome would have been. We would have been told in no uncertain terms where to go and if we didn't like it we'd be the ones shown the door.

Last week I was reading about Tim Sherwood having a go at his players and he was getting slaughtered for it.

Why? Professionals earning over £100,000 a week and they can't take a bit of criticism. It's absolute nonsense.

Whether he was right to do it in public is another debate but it's refreshing to see a manager call it as it is. It will probably cost him his job but at least he is staying true to his principles.

Sherwood played in an era when honesty was the way it was, you'd get stick off your manager, you'd dust yourself down and get on with it.

Nowadays, you can't say boo to a player because as soon as training is finished he'd be on the phone to his agent whinging, saying 'I want out'. More often than not he will get his way too - player power.

Another one which made me chuckle was Robin van Persie coming out with his vote of confidence for manger David Moyes. That was nice of Van Persie.

Another one who gets £150,000 a week playing for the biggest club in the world and he decides after six months that Moyes is not a bad fella and he's happy.

He should be thanking his lucky stars for all he has and doing everything he can to help his team and his manager.

Of course there are situations when a player will have a grievance with a manager but they still have to remain as professional as possible and take some pride in their personal performance.

You see it far too often in the modern game for my liking that just because a player isn't happy with a manager they down tools. I think that's really bad form and not acceptable.

I played under a couple of brilliant managers and a few average ones also. One thing is for sure, playing under Paul Doolin or Pat Fenlon you wouldn't carry on like some of the players I've referred to above.

"You can't say boo to a player because as soon as training is finished he'd be on the phone to his agent whinging"

They were as honest and as straight as Sherwood but we respected that. They'd support you when you needed support and they'd kick you up the backside when that was needed too.

That's why they were the best.

I remember playing a game in Longford and we lost 2-1.I actually played quite well in my mind but as soon as I showed up for training the following day I was soon to find out I hadn't played as well as I thought. 

Paul went around every single player giving his honest appraisal as he did after every game but he missed me out.

There I was thinking 'yeah, I knew I played well' and Paul did too when bang, the finger pointed in my direction and he gave me the biggest dressing down I've ever received.

It was either take it on the chin or run away whinging. Of course, I took it on the chin because I respected him and it's said for the better and you move on.

Would it stop me working hard for him or on the phone trying to manufacture a move, or worse still going to the chairman complaining like so many I hear about nowadays?

Of course not. Roll up the sleeves and get on with it.

We are still great friends to this day.

Pat Fenlon was the exact same, he was the manager and that was it. He was in total control and nobody would dare question him.

I hear stories nowadays of mangers being questioned by players every day of the week.

Not over here, thankfully, because, as I said, the group of players turning out every Friday for clubs all around the country are honest.

They give their all as employees of their respective clubs and you can't really ask for much more than that.

Of course you will hear about disagreements and fall outs but nothing like the nonsense we read about from across the water.

Players having team meetings to discuss the manager. This is what’s going on, it's crazy really but that is the modern day game for you and all because of that phrase 'player power'.

Can I ever see a day when it does become a problem in our domestic game?

I would have to say no, sadly because I can never see a day when a player in this country will be earning €10,000 a week, again that's pittance to some of the wages paid to players across Europe but would be astronomical here.

Although I'd love to see a day when we have packed-out stadiums and players earning big there is comfort to be taken from the fact that the lads you go to watch on a Friday night are doing something they love, trying to earn a living and doing it with lots of honesty and integrity.

That's certainly good enough for me and long may it continue.

Until next week.

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