HARMONY COMES IF WE THINK AHEAD
DURING my most successful spell in football management so far, I had a very clear policy that was agreed by my club at Stevenage. I’d sit with players before they signed a contract and be very clear with them. I’d explain that my objective was to help them become much better as players, developing them on many levels, to progress further. Also, that we would never stand in their way at the end of a season. But… they would move when it suited us, not them, and that the price would be one that reflected the development opportunity and input we had given them, which would mean that the team normally had to be succeeding for them to leave. Steve Morison worked very closely with me in this way as Stevenage won at Wembley under his captaincy before he left for Millwall. Michael Bostwick may well have been sold for a substantial fee in League One’s top six, but it probably wouldn’t have happened if we were in the bottom six. People want successful players. To be fair to modern day players, I cannot recall a single one of those lads knocking my door down subsequently and demanding a move. I kept our side of the bargain and they kept theirs. Credit to them. They were honest lads. The Neymar situation is quite a good one really. The player agreed an exit price, and presumably time windows in which a deal could be exercised, when he signed his contract. So, there it is. A simple situation. Like I always had. No stand offs, no messy long-running sagas. Clear agreements about a wisely thought through future, to which everybody stuck. If, for instance, a player is happy to sign for Chelsea under Antonio Conte but wants an option to leave if the manager changes, then he should spell that out and get agreement on it around the terms of that departure, eg. how much and when. Strategic contracts, which deal with likely future scenarios, make good sense all round and, at all levels, need to become a norm. Once a deal is signed, life is then much more straightforward. And the good name of football is protected from the awfulness of some transfer situations. Players shouldn't have to ‘force’ moves. And clubs shouldn’t be portrayed as greedy for wanting their pound of flesh. After all, they pay their injured players and deserve respect around fit players. There is always an understandable aspect to every transfer. Let’s create a smoother market with a little more foresight.
LEADER: Steve Morison was Graham Westley’s Stevenage captain at Wembley YOUNG SWAN: Abraham