By Mark James
It wasn’t that long ago that Fifa were permanently beating the drum for a much needed injection of R-E-S-P-E-C-T into the beautiful game and, when you step back and compare the English Premier League of today to that of 10 years ago, there certainly seems to be a more controlled and disciplined approach to on-field behaviour and respect for the games’ officials (barring the odd Joey Barton meltdown.)
However, while managing to achieve a new level of respect on the pitch, it seems that more and more players (and on a more worrying note, young players) are increasingly fascinated by the lure of big money contracts above the honour of building a legacy at a single club.
Lionel Messi may be the magnificent exception to the rule, but clubs are becoming increasingly wary of being held to ransom and understand that their star players are up for grabs the moment they decide that it is time to move on.
Sir Alex Ferguson felt that Manchester United had been shown a distinct lack of respect by Paul Pogba and his agent, and as the young Frenchman was paving his way for a move to Juventus, the United manager philosophised that ‘to be honest, if they carry on that way, I’m quite happy that he’s away from me anyway.’
It seems that the master of mind games may have managed to ruffle some feathers as well, as Paul Pogba recently declared former Arsenal star, Manchester City Football Development Executive and long-time Manchester United nemesis Patrick Vieira, as his chief inspiration on the pitch:
“”Andrea Pirlo is a great player and I can guarantee I can play in front of the defenders like he does,” Pogba told Sky Sport Italia. “I would say that my style of play is inspired in that of Patrick Vieira, but I want to make my mark.”
Clearly confident in his own ability, Pogba is unlikely to win any favour with United fans after this revelation and with Ezekiel Fryers becoming the latest contract rebel to leave for pastures new, a worrying pattern is beginning to form.
While some will be keen to point out that Fryers was likely surplus to requirements, there is no doubt that there is a complete lack of respect for contracts within the game and United’s long standing approach to youth development is at threat if this continues.
Fortunately, recent changes in transfer legislation mean that home-grown youngsters should be easier to come by. Whilst the entire Pogba saga has left a sour taste in my mouth, I can’t help but imagine the knowing grin plastered across the faces of those in charge at Le Havre (who were ironically accused of ‘tapping yup’ Pogba when they signed him from previous club, Torcy.)
If we needed respect on the field ten years ago, today we are in desperate need of it after the final whistle has blown. Pogba is no doubt looking forward to getting some playing time amongst an increasingly overcrowded Italian midfield and his agent is almost certain to be enjoying a summer break with his hard earned cut of the deal.
Sadly, United fans will be missing out on a prospect we had seen grown for the last 3 years and all because of a lack of something as simple as respect.
About the Author
Mark James attended his first Manchester United game in the mid 80s. He has been a regular visitor to Old Trafford for more than two decades and has developed a passion for sports writing since leaving University with an Honours Degree in Media Studies. As a dedicated writer, Mark has been published in UN sponsored business magazines on behalf of International Tourist Boards, dramatically boosted the online present of e-commerce companies around the world and continues to share his love of Manchester United with blogging communities across the internet. Available via a number of freelancer hire sites, Mark can be contacted through his leading online profile available here..