Supporters and player agents occupy different worlds

epsilon

First Team
I decided to start this thread because, for a long time, I've felt that fans of football clubs, including my own club are being very badly treated by players' agents.

We need to be clear about one thing : the objectives of each of those two groups of people are diametrically opposed to each other. However, it scarcely gets mentioned.

Whereas in the past, players would bring there own common sense in to play when listening to the recommendations of agents, it's possible that this can no longer be relied upon. At the suggestion of agents, players may decide they do not need to be professional all of the time.

Earlier in the year we had game after game where the players performed below par. I challenged the forum to check the player ratings for January.

I make the case that, with a few exceptions, it is the players' performances that should be used as the yardstick. This is particularly the case when the team player like a roller-coaster team. You already know what they are capable of.

I maintain that the roller-coaster factor was a big part of what caused Alex Neil to end his reign at North End. That was a dark day for me. He was good enough to get us promoted.

I will be saying more about this, which is why I started a thread. It's a forum and people will add their own views. They may not agree. The next post is about events from fairly recent history, at another club. It's a cautionary tale.

I will just add, I really got a lot from this article and I thank the author :
https://www.lancs.live/sport/football/football-news/preston-north-end-peter-ridsdale-22098153

It discusses fatigue in some players at the Forest game and I think that's where an exception comes fairly in to play. Wing-back, for example, is a demanding role. The article also hints at the roller-coaster factor but it doesn't make the suggestion that I'm making. Thanks Adam for as far as you went.
 

justinr73

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I decided to start this thread because, for a long time, I've felt that fans of football clubs, including my own club are being very badly treated by players' agents.

We need to be clear about one thing : the objectives of each of those two groups of people are diametrically opposed to each other. However, it scarcely gets mentioned.

Whereas in the past, players would bring there own common sense in to play when listening to the recommendations of agents, it's possible that this can no longer be relied upon. At the suggestion of agents, players may decide they do not need to be professional all of the time.

Earlier in the year we had game after game where the players performed below par. I challenged the forum to check the player ratings for January.

I make the case that, with a few exceptions, it is the players' performances that should be used as the yardstick. This is particularly the case when the team player like a roller-coaster team. You already know what they are capable of.

I maintain that the roller-coaster factor was a big part of what caused Alex Neil to end his reign at North End. That was a dark day for me. He was good enough to get us promoted.

I will be saying more about this, which is why I started a thread. It's a forum and people will add their own views. They may not agree. The next post is about events from fairly recent history, at another club. It's a cautionary tale.

I will just add, I really got a lot from this article and I thank the author :
https://www.lancs.live/sport/football/football-news/preston-north-end-peter-ridsdale-22098153

It discusses fatigue in some players at the Forest game and I think that's where an exception comes fairly in to play. Wing-back, for example, is a demanding role. The article also hints at the roller-coaster factor but it doesn't make the suggestion that I'm making. Thanks Adam for as far as you went.

Wasn’t at the game but how long as Adam been watching?

Was it worse than the infighting under Beck and Westley?

No doubt the morons who smashed up the concourse were involved….
 
OP
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epsilon

First Team
Let's examine the case of Chelsea Football Club. The team played under manager Mourinho from 2004 to 2007. They had significant success under him and he left in September 2007.

The next two managers, Grant and Scolari, lasted 8 months and 7 months respectively, and they won nothing even with very capable players. Replacing the manager Grant had made no difference.

Hiddinck was brought in to steady the ship until the end of the 05-06 season.

At that point (or perhaps on the departure of Scolari) the club decided that it needed a different approach. It wanted a manager who would be in place and, to the evidence of all parties, guaranteed to be in place. Ancelloti served exactly two full seasons, winning the Champions League. Success had returned. It's as though the players knew that the manager would not be sacked.

Boas arrived in July 2011 and lasted 8 months. Following him was former player Di Matteo who also lasted 8 months (no mercy there), then Benitez who lasted 7 months.

What had caused all of these capable managers to fail ?

It looks like the players were performing below capacity in two identifiable phases : Sep 2007-Feb 2009 and Jul 2011-May 2013.

Why would professional players do that ?

The answer deserves a thread. It illustrates that poor performance on the pitch are not necessarily the fault of the manager. Sacking managers can also be an expensive business.

It may also prove another point - that the owner may have been at fault by sacking managers based purely on the results (albeit coupled with extreme fan displeasure). Perhaps he should have directed his attention towards some of the players coasting around the pitch in their bathchairs.

In fact, it looks as though he worked this out for himself after Scolari left. At that point owner Abramovic started getting results again from this group of continuously-very-well-paid players.

Being nice does not always bear results. Humans have failings. Some of them also have a devil on their shoulder - an agent of a certain persuasion.


Chelsea provides us all with a benchmark of what happens when players feel that if they drop their performances they can sack the manager.

Doing so can be completely against the interests of the fans but it DOES happen.

Let's not be coy about it. This issue remains a challenge for all professional football clubs today.

I argue that it happened to Alex Neil in 2021.

That's my opinion. And we now have a new manager working with largely the same group of players (and their 'advisors'). A battle of wills has just commenced. I know who needs to win it.

Agent objectives do not coincide with the desires of fans. Agents desire to extract as much $ from the club (and from fans) as possible. This point needs to be well understood.

Once it has then things then become a lot clearer.

Fans should try not to forget the brilliant history lesson that Chelsea Football Club has delivered to us.

Thank you Mr Abramovich.
 

simo

Advisor to the Owner
Its hardly news that, when a club wants change, its easier to sack a manager and his small coaching team than it is to get rid of a squad of underperforming players. It was ever thus. Agents no doubt have an undue influence on a lot of players and clubs but, beyond acknowledging that, not really sure what further discussion is possible?
 

bobbydavro

Advisor to the Owner
interesting view point, i'm completely on board with you on alex neil and think we made a big mistake in sacking him, he will go on to bigger things I'm sure.

totally throwing this out there (and havent checked the dates) but could alan brownes drop in form also align with his taking on board an agent.
 

Tino

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Agents work both ways, if the club wants a player out then the agent does a lot of the work for them. However they should be paid by the player and not either club.
 

simo

Advisor to the Owner
Agents work both ways, if the club wants a player out then the agent does a lot of the work for them. However they should be paid by the player and not either club.
Not necessarily. In the real world recruitment consultants can be paid by the company with the vacancy, no reason football should be any different. Sometimes a players wants a club, sometimes a club wants a player. How the agent is paid depends on the context.

The issue with agents is that good players and their agents know they are in demand so can ask for a fee of various interested parties to get a deal done. The real BIG issue is that bad agents advise their clients based on what is best for the agent and not what is best for the player or clubs involved.
 

bobbydavro

Advisor to the Owner
no idea if the comparison is valid but as an employer i am plagued by recruiters. I refuse to use them as I find if I hire staff thru them not only do I pay more but also that staff member inevitably is tapped by the same recruiter in a few years. By hiring staff directly I dont get those issues.

recruitment agents much like estate agents are parasites imo and happy I can get by without using them. obviously it is not usually the case in football...at least at the level PNE operate at
 

justinr73

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no idea if the comparison is valid but as an employer i am plagued by recruiters. I refuse to use them as I find if I hire staff thru them not only do I pay more but also that staff member inevitably is tapped by the same recruiter in a few years. By hiring staff directly I dont get those issues.

recruitment agents much like estate agents are parasites imo and happy I can get by without using them. obviously it is not usually the case in football...at least at the level PNE operate at

I couldn’t possibly comment as I may need to use one in the event Mrs justinr73 tells me I have to go back to work!

Equally, in my previous role, I found it hard to reconcile how sending me random CVs could warrant 10% of salary (or whatever) as a fee!

A footballer’s agent could and should have a deeper relationship, in terms of investment advice/image rights/sponsorship deals etc.
 
OP
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epsilon

First Team
Its hardly news that, when a club wants change, its easier to sack a manager and his small coaching team than it is to get rid of a squad of underperforming players. It was ever thus. Agents no doubt have an undue influence on a lot of players and clubs but, beyond acknowledging that, not really sure what further discussion is possible?
Fair point. I would really know what to expect without putting the idea up for discussion.

This is not my final response to the posts made so far. Thanks to those who commented.

I also have a few further thoughts. I may need to be a bit cagey but sometimes a comment or two slips out that makes you think : geez if that player had to do my job, I think they'd reconsider what they just said.

You've probably had this thought too. I bet.
 
OP
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epsilon

First Team
Before going any further with this, I should just clarify in this thread (and restate) my view on the departure of Alex Neil. The damaging roller-coaster performances occurred over several months - an insidious process. It left the manager with nowhere to go. He as much as said so (scooby doo comment).

At that point, in my view, the club had no option but to agree an exit strategy with the manager. I don't think it was fixable.

I attach no blame to the club for the decision.

The club has more recently sent forth a message that players will be moved on if they 'lose their desire' to wear the North End shirt.

I find that very, very encouraging.
 
OP
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epsilon

First Team
interesting view point, i'm completely on board with you on alex neil and think we made a big mistake in sacking him, he will go on to bigger things I'm sure.

totally throwing this out there (and havent checked the dates) but could alan brownes drop in form also align with his taking on board an agent.

bobby, it's an interesting case and possibly dangerous to comment in detail but it's clear that Alan Browne's life changed completely in a short space of time. He's now a family man.

Whether that was a factor in him deciding to seek an agent : I'd say yeah, maybe.

Does having an agent always cause a player's professionalism to be undermined ? If there's money to be made by the agent and if there's also nothing at all to persuade the agent not to operate that way (such as having scruples) then : good chance it will happen.

Notably, there are no regulations that I'm aware of in this industry.

It then comes down to the player, through his own sense, to say "Stop" to the agent. "We are professionals."

Maybe that's happened with Browne.
 
OP
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epsilon

First Team
It's worth emphasising a particular point in all of this. The experience of Chelsea shows that there was probably a repeated attempt by players/agents, lasting years, to obtain concessions from the club or simply obtain more pay. And without these requests being adequately met, the players' performances on the pitch dropped.

Very talented and highly-rewarded players could seemingly and suddenly no longer deliver. Dropping one player or another did not bring respite for the managers. Yet, the fans were asked to accept that this outcome was not in any way co-ordinated.

And the key point : those performances, and inevitably the results as well, obviously upset the fanbase. This can (understatement) cause the fanbase to complain vehemently to the club about its failure to deliver results on the pitch. Clearly the fans have very little control over player performances and can only guess at the underlying causes. Of course their complaints must go somewhere ! Someone is to blame for this, but who ? Nobody is saying.

Players and agents control the narrative. Only the information that they are willing to release to the fans will be released.

In this matter, the club is in a very tight spot and, if only for professional reasons, it cannot reveal any dialogue that is taking place with any particular agent.

The agents are, of course, all able to speak with each other. Players can act together.

I have to wonder what the difference between this scenario is and strike action. And if that's happening in a high-reward industry like football, well I'd like to introduce those players to something a bit tougher : the real world. Trying working a hard 9-5 job for a few months whilst getting paid a fraction of a footballers wage.

What I find to be the most distasteful part of this scheme is that it aims to use the fans as a weapon against their own club. Fans and agents are worlds apart and remain that way. There is apparently no remorse by the perpetrators and no empathy with the extensive hurt and anger that this causes in fans.

As mentioned, there is nothing at all (at present) to regulate this kind of behaviour.
 

California_PNE

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Might be over thinking things epsilon and I don't really understand what the title of the thread means against the discussion. Anyway on Alex Neil, Neil managed a team that was systematically striped off its best players, which is ok, but then replaced with really shit players.

This happened throughout his entire reign. Losing good players is part of being a pne boss and to be expected. It's the recruitment that was insulting to him and us.

Another point is that the unrest around the contract extensions of the 'big four'; I personally don't ever recall being a nobber and the main agenda being who will sign etc. It was really weird.

In addition he managed the team through coivd, as we entered coivd football break with a chance of a playoff spot and then through the horrendous covid season. The stress this must have caused cannot be underestimated and it bore out in the results - a team losing its first five home games of a season? Winning away at Huddersfield, high-flying reading, spanking Bournemouth and QPR, although we've always been capable of beating anybody them results were particularly strange in light of the home form.

No doubt the tension was rising throughout that season, Neil wasn't happy, I don't really blame him, I personally was gutted to see him leave.

Players can get managers the sack but in pnes case its made us shitter.

I dunno what agents have to do with it.
 

Thracia

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I dunno what agents have to do with it.
And I dunno what this specifically has to do with PNE - the subject of this thread is clearly something every club in the league has to deal with.

And as with all areas of player management, recruitment and retention - footballing operations handled here by Peter Ridsdale - some clubs are simply more competent than others.
 

pbc373

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It's all well and good using Chelsea as a yardstick to use agents as the the instigators of all that's wrong in football and at those higher levels the point is valid. On the flip side of this, from personal experience I can tell you that some agents can do a fantastic job for players at the bottom end of the football pyramid. The agent often can keep them in the professional game for longer than they would have had they not employed an agent and often help them earn additional revenue through sponsorship and advertisement. Players at the bottom rung of professional football may earn similar wages to the average tradesman and in many cases substantially less, not great for a short career.

Not all professional footballers are blessed with high levels of intelligence and may struggle to deal with such matters on their own, to them the agent is invaluable.

Just adding some balance.

I would add this applies to many sports not just football.
 

justinr73

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It's all well and good using Chelsea as a yardstick to use agents as the the instigators of all that's wrong in football and at those higher levels the point is valid. On the flip side of this, from personal experience I can tell you that some agents can do a fantastic job for players at the bottom end of the football pyramid. The agent often can keep them in the professional game for longer than they would have had they not employed an agent and often help them earn additional revenue through sponsorship and advertisement. Players at the bottom rung of professional football may earn similar wages to the average tradesman and in many cases substantially less, not great for a short career.

Not all professional footballers are blessed with high levels of intelligence and may struggle to deal with such matters on their own, to them the agent is invaluable.

Just adding some balance.

I would add this applies to many sports not just football.

That’s possibly the understatement of the season so far!

Am still struggling with this thread.

Agent co-ordinated strike action? Is that really how an agent interested in feathering his own nest would go about it?

Or would they simply engineer a transfer to get their cut….?
 
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