HAR­MONY COMES IF WE THINK AHEAD

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LEADER: Steve Mori­son was Gra­ham West­ley’s Steve­nage cap­tain at Wem­b­ley YOUNG SWAN: Abra­ham

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