United have built up a world renowned tradition of bringing through world class stars from their youth academy setup.
This tradition stretches back as far as the Bobby Charlton, Dennis Viollet and Nobby Styles years and more recently the class of 1992 which included United legends David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers. All they wanted to do in those days was to become the best player they could, live the best lifestyle and to one day lift the Premier League title for Manchester United. In their youth days, football and schooling took up most of their time, and if that wasn’t enough work, then boot cleaning for the senior players would be. No one had really heard of so called ‘agents’ back then as they were bought up to want to play for their boyhood club. But now, times have changed.
Youth team players are been snapped up by agents as early as 14 years of age and from there they are taught to play wherever the money is. The passion to play for their boyhood club is slowly slipping away due to the ridiculous amounts of money been invested in young players, ranging from image rights to transfer fees. This may be the reason why young players are so attracting to agents. The agents see the youth players as a project and an investment. This investment isn’t necessarily to make them into the best footballer in the world, it’s to make them into the most expensive footballer in the world. Gary Neville was famously quoted as saying “why would I want an agent? I’m never going to leave Manchester United”. It’s quite disturbing to think about just how many modern day players have the same attitude and respect towards their club as the likes of Neville, Giggs and Scholes had to United.
A recent example of agents taking control is the sale of Ravel Morrison to West Ham United. Morrison signed as a first year scholar in 2009 then turned professional on 2nd February 2010. He had been a boyhood United fan but was then cherry picked by his current agents, Key Sports Managements. This led to Morrison reportedly turning down a contract offer from United, valuing himself at a lot more than United had offered. Although, Morrison is as well known for his off the pitch antics and as much as his on the pitch antics. He has appeared numerous times in court for a range. All this mounted up to United giving up on Morrison and letting him go for an undisclosed fee to West Ham United. Fergie told Morrison he had to be patient if he wanted to establish himself in the senior squad, but Morrison and his agency obviously did what they thought was financially for the player and left for West Ham where he is supposedly on £15,000 a week which could rise to £40,000 depending on appearances.
This then leads me on to the situation United currently have with Paul Pogba.Pogba was signed from French side Le Havrein 2009, which was investigated as a so called ‘tapping up’ deal but was later thrown out of court. Pogba continues to be linked to bothMilansides and French money men Paris St Germain even though United have offered him a solid contract, thought to be worth around £20,000 a week which would make him the highest paid player outside of the first team squad by a long way. Pogba is clearly settled in Manchester as his brother plays for Wrexham, but his controversial agent Mino Railoa insists that Pogba can get more money elsewhere whilst living a so called ‘better lifestyle’. This once again begs the question, is football now a business more than it is a game?
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