Saturday, January 23, 2021

Is player power out of control – or better workers rights?

Following the news that Marko Arnautovic has signed a contract extension (rumoured to be one year) with West Ham United, after the recent riffraff with his brother and agent, Danijel, claiming he wanted to move to China after a £35m bid from two Chinese clubs – was this an attempt to just get a pay rise and another example of player power?

It’s not like the Hammers haven’t had this ordeal before. Dmitri Payet’s spontaneous departure is the most recent to come to mind and it can be seen elsewhere in the Premier League. Jermaine Defoe’s shocking season after relegation before getting his move to Tottenham. Or remember the ex-iron that refused to play for Man City and spent months teeing off in Argentina?

Player Power

The emergence of player power has dominated media headlines in recent years. Agents with a financial interest have increased the number of player-forced transfers, higher transfer fees and higher wages – let alone the ludicrous rumours stirred up for whatever gain that might be.

Carlos Tevez on the green back in 2011

What some would give to know what Jose Mourinho is thinking right now?

Paul Pogba who could just about manage twenty minutes of lumbering around the middle third of the pitch is now powering his way up and down the pitch for fun; Marcus Rashford is banging them in for fun now and Alexis Sanchez has finally decided to remember how to play football – leaving Mourinho scratching himself as to why they couldn’t do this for him.

Many will argue this was just mismanagement from Mourinho, but you don’t win over 30 trophies in your career through mismanagement. The game’s changed and personally – Mourinho’s style of managing just didn’t work with the big, sensitive ego’s that exist throughout the United squad. Another example of players getting there way.

Is it really player power?

For centuries and still to this day people have fought for better working conditions, better management and better pay so that the worse off in society can make ends meet. In no way are there comparisons that can be drawn between professional footballers and the working class activist – except that they can still be subject to the same exploitation – albeit on a much more lucrative scale.

15/20 years ago, there wasn’t too many jobs in the world in which you could turn up to work and be told you’re being transferred 500 miles up the country and it’s not difficult to agree this is pretty unjust. But that was the life of a footballer for a long time. If the club received an offer for a player that they deemed suitable they would accept it and before they knew it they’re gone.

It may seem like a claim that footballers have it tough which is certainly not the case, but there is always worker exploitation and sometimes if you don’t act then things can get out of control.

The Netflix series, Sunderland ’till I die, exemplifies the discord between owner and club that is so apparent in the modern game. Although good television, it may have been more of a hinderance than a positive.

“From my point of view and I’d say 99% of the players, we didn’t want it to happen”  – John O’Shea

It can’t be pleasant to have such a difficult moment for a club being filmed, plus the players and staff presumably had very little input in the discussion of accepting the opportunity.

But this is also part of the game’s evolution and if player’s want to have more influence over their careers then change must be accepted in all fronts, from all parties.

With only a few days left of the transfer window, one youngster in the midst of the debate of player power is Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea, who has handed in a transfer request after Chelsea’s disregard of Bayern Munich’s fourth bid of £35mil.

Despite this transfer request, Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri, decided to start the young star in his side’s 4th round FA cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday – where Hudson-Odoi could scored in what could be his final swan-song for the blues as he tries to force an exit.

Is the youngster within his rights to seek more game time? Will he even get it in Germany?

Let us know you’re thoughts!

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