The Beautiful Game, or is it?

Adnan Khurshid

Little more than two seasons ago, in the red of Manchester United, Carlos Tevez celebrated a brilliant team goal in rather peculiar fashion; by sucking on a dummy. It seems that this dummy was well and truly spat out when he refused to come off the bench; with his team, this time the blue of Manchester City, trailing to Bayern Munich. This action raises a serious question over whether players have too much power in modern football.

Over the last few months his disagreements with the club have been well documented, demanding a transfer away from the club and City refusing to budge on their valuation, is a sign that clubs do still have a great deal of power. However what Tevez did, or rather didn’t do, in midweek indicates that even a club, like Manchester City, with unlimited riches can have problems with players. Theoretically when a club is as rich as Manchester City, it should hold all the cards, a player refusing to take to the pitch would suggest otherwise. That said Manchester City could show the world of football that they still have all the power by either releasing him or placing him in the reserves.

The game of 2011 have may have changed since the days of Pele and Maradona in that it players are generally more tricky and nimble, but it has not necessarily all developed for the better. Sir Matt Busby famously said that the game of football was about grass, boots and beauty, the 1950’s now seem an age ago. In those days managers spoke directly with players and had much more contact with parents. In the modern game however agents have almost more say than the players themselves. One of the most infamous football agents is Kia Joorabchian, who’s chief client is none other than Carlos Tevez.

One argument is that Tevez is listening more to his agent than his manager Roberto Mancini, if so his refusal to take to the pitch in midweek can only be seen as an attempt to call City’s bluff. A desperate attempt to engineer a move away from the club with Mr Joorabchian pocketing more than a few pounds in the process. Such is the influence of agents in the modern game, that not only can they effectively decide where a footballer plays, but now can they tell players when to play? On the evidence of midweek then there is a case to be had for such arguments.

For many viewers, Carlos Tevez epitomises everything that is wrong with the modern game and the facts seem to support this. Whilst his record on the pitch is exceptional, his reasons of wanting to move and of moving from club to club have all been marred in controversy. From family reasons to falling out of favor with management, whatever the reason he has always got his desired move. In the days of Bob Paisley contracts were seen through to the end, in the modern day however they are not worth the paper on which they are printed and that is a rather sad reality.

The only thing that is certain from Carlos Tevez refusing to play is how far removed modern footballers are from the general public and not just because of the difference in wage packets. In most walks of life, point blank refusal to do the job for which you are paid would result in one thing. You would be shown the exit door and quickly. Whether or not the modern footballer will ever suffer such a fate, only time will tell.

Photograph: Phil Simpson


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