If rumours are to be believed then even by the time you read this both Ezekiel Fryers and Paul Pogba could well have been told they are no longer welcome at Manchester United. There have been several reports that both players have been offered ultimatums of the ‘sign now or never’ variety.
I may be wrong of course and both players could well have signed long-term deals keeping them at Old Trafford until the time it takes Fernando Torres to reach 100 goals for Chelsea.
The point is over the last few months its become abundantly clear that the lure of playing for United is no longer enough for today’s youngsters in the ‘Bentley driving’ era when even an average Premier League player can expect to earn around a million pounds a season. We can all remember the furore when years ago Roy Keane demanded wages that were believe to be around the 50k a week mark and the debate raged amongst Reds over whether he was being greedy- although most thought he was entitled to whatever he demanded such was the effort he put in and his importance to the team.
Now though players with not even one fiftieth of Keano’s playing time for United are demanding similar figures and lets’ not forget that inflation hasn’t gone up THAT much to make these expectations seem somewhat realistic. Paul Pogba has reportedly asked for 45k a week or he’s leaving, a joke considering someone like Danny Welbeck who’s a United regular, England international and proven Premier League player currently earns a third of that amount.
What’s more worrying for me, even more than Pogba’s greediness – and I’m sorry but that’s all it is for a lad who’s had hardly any first-team experience- is the fact that someone like Fryers who early on in the season dazzled us at Elland Road and some were tipping to actually give Patrice Evra a run for his money in the first team next year, seems unwilling to stay unless he’s paid an above realistic amount.
United face the prospect of losing two of out most gifted youngsters- to go with the other one who despite his problems obviously had talent, who decided he’d rather play for West Ham than fight for his Old Trafford future.
Part of the problem seems to be the clubs attitude towards these youngsters and the somewhat naivety it shows when dealing with their agents. Every Red- myself included has lamented the fact that Pogba, Fryers or whoever aren’t more like Paul Scholes and Ryan GIggs when it comes to signing new deals who just put pen to paper on whatever is offered to them.
The club itself still seems to expect the youngsters to have this approach and that is simply an unrealistic way of dealing with modern young footballers. According to whats been suggested, the club gave -or offered – the likes of Morrison and Pogba an agent to deal with their contracts etc, just as they gave one to Scholes and Giggs all those years ago. Yet the youngsters have ignored the clubs offerings and gone with their own men, who’ve quickly gone against the clubs wishes and looked elsewhere for more money.
United need to realise that the likes of Scholes and Giggs are an extremely rare breed of footballer in that money isn’t as important to them as playing for the club they love. There probably won’t ever be players like those two when it comes to contract negotiations anymore. Yet despite this obvious fact, the club still seem to be held to ransom, feel the need to get Rio Ferdinand involved and even make ultimatums when the youngsters don’t just sit down and sign.
United need to start working more closely with the agents the players choose, instead of acting incredulous when they make demands, there needs to be some sort of common ground. Working out a pay structure that means should Pogba become a first team regular he’ll earn more money for us than he would at Juventus or whoever and sitting down with the agent and explaining and negotiating this could well have kept him at United. Taking the moral high ground and repeating ‘this is Manchester United’ just isn’t working anymore.
The attitude of the likes of Scholes and Giggs is a thing of the past and the sooner United realise this the better, before we let one too many of the youngsters we’ve developed leave and even come back to haunt us.