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phil thomas

Transfer deadline day sums up mad world of modern football but not all hangers-on are agents

Deals used to involve a couple of blokes and a fax machine - but in our greedy age they need an army of representatives, family members and complicated contracts

IT used to involve just a couple of blokes, a phone and, if they were really up with the times, a fax machine.

Nowadays it needs an army of agents and representatives, a few family members and a contract with more clauses than a Santa convention.

 Former Everton and Man Utd frontman Wayne Rooney and his long-time agent Paul Stretford show that it can still be about trust rather than money
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Former Everton and Man Utd frontman Wayne Rooney and his long-time agent Paul Stretford show that it can still be about trust rather than money

Is it any wonder so many transfers fail to get a signature on the bottom line in the modern era?

Another deadline day has come and gone and another wave of protests from managers moaning they have not signed enough players.

Another wave of disgruntled and unsettled stars frustrated at not getting the move they had set their hearts on.

It is a surprise any get done at all, the number of people trying to muscle in on a slice of the action.

 It was all so different in the days when right-back Lee Dixon - seen with Arsene Wenger - first joined Arsenal under George Graham
Getty Images - Getty
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It was all so different in the days when right-back Lee Dixon - seen with Arsene Wenger - first joined Arsenal under George Graham
With the Premier League transfer window closed how well did Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool do?

And the whiff of easy cash only brings out more and more with every window. When it comes to signing a player from overseas, that number doubles. At least.

Often with murky figures the target has not even met.

The days when Lee Dixon was being driven by one manager, Mick Mills, to meet another, George Graham, in a service station to seal a move have long gone.

 French legend Eric Cantona made his pivotal switch from Leeds to Man Utd after the Elland Road club inquired about Ireland defender Denis Irwin
Getty Images - Getty
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French legend Eric Cantona made his pivotal switch from Leeds to Man Utd after the Elland Road club inquired about Ireland defender Denis Irwin

The days when Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby rang Martin Edwards to ask about Denis Irwin and ended up selling Eric Cantona and transforming Manchester United’s history.

The nights when managers would sneak into the back of the stand with upturned collars and then be sitting outside a player’s house when he got home from the game.

Times move on, football evolves and figures spiral. Out of control in most cases but that is the nature of the beast now.

Man United boss, José Mourinho praises players after beating Leicester City 2-1 in opening game

The problem is that while it used to be a pretty straightforward business, these days you need a conference hall just to get all the interested parties inside.

Managers will continue to insist it is all down to those dastardly agents who are only concerned with lining their pockets — but that is rubbish.

Yes, there are plenty of dodgy ones but also plenty more decent ones.

Do you honestly think, for example, Wayne Rooney would have stuck with Paul Stretford throughout everything if their relationship did not go beyond business?

 Former England skipper Wayne Rooney is now with DC United after only playing for Everton and Man Utd previously
Getty - Contributor
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Former England skipper Wayne Rooney is now with DC United after only playing for Everton and Man Utd previously

And Stretford has taken as many boots to the you-know-whats as Roo over the years.

Like lots of others he has always done what is best for his man.

Yet for every Stretford you have a host of dodgy characters blowing deals by demanding unworkable add-ons, huge bonuses — for them, not the player — and often all up front.

There was one high-profile deal recently which fell apart because someone supposedly acting for the player demanded his entire five years of percentages in one hit.

Hilarious moment Crystal Palace star Patrick van Aanholt splashes Sky Sports News reporter outside training ground on deadline day

Then there is the family. The fathers, mothers, brothers or uncles who “only want what’s best for their lad”.
“Their lad” often meaning themselves, of course.

Although how two years watching your kid tear it up in, say, Warrington’s Junior Hilden League turns you into the new Alan Sugar is genuinely staggering.

For a young player, picking who represents them is as big a decision as choosing which club to join in the first place.

For an older one, if you do not grow a pair and cut the representatives to a minimum, you will not be lining your pockets — just snipping a big hole in them instead.

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Stan Un deliver

ARSENAL supporters were predictably furious this week at the prospect of Stan Kroenke taking sole control of their club.

Time may prove that all those fans up in arms over Silent Stan were right. He may well be in it for himself, rather than what is good for the club.

It is not too long ago Manchester United were dealing with similar protests when the Glazers took over at Old Trafford.
Admirably they went so far as to spawn FC United.

But the bottom line is this . . . if the team is winning, all in the garden will be rosy. If it is not, all hell will break loose.

Stan had better pray that Unai Emery is the managerial genius everyone at the Emirates hopes he is, or this will be a very rocky relationship.

 Time will tell if Arsenal fans are right to be suspicious over Stan Kroenke
EPA
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Time will tell if Arsenal fans are right to be suspicious over Stan Kroenke

Time to back up changes

RUGBY LEAGUE fans call it the most exciting sport in the world.

We got a glimpse of that in last week’s Challenge Cup semi- final, when supposed no-hopers Catalans Dragons thumped top dogs St Helens.

No rolling around clutching imaginary broken legs here. Just two teams going at it hell for leather.

But while the product ON the field has never been in question, OFF it there have been plenty asked about the suits at the Rugby Football League.

Now the RFL finds itself in the spotlight once again ahead of the final in a fortnight.

 Ben Garcia bursts over for his second try as the Dragons KO the Saints
Alamy Live News
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Ben Garcia bursts over for his second try as the Dragons KO the Saints

Warrington Wolves, with one of the most vocal and largest fan bases around, will have no problem shifting their allocation.

It may be different for Catalans, however, given their official travelling party of fans for the semi did not even break three figures.

Seeing the final played out in front of a half-empty Wembley would be a massive disservice to the sport.

The players have kept their side of the bargain — now it is over to the RFL’s marketing gurus to do likewise.

Usain Bolt will be given time to prove himself, says Central Coast Mariners boss

Oz adds Bolt on

SO eight-time Olympic gold medal winner Usain Bolt has “an indefinite” deal to train with Central Coast Mariners to realise his dream of becoming a pro footballer.

Both the Aussie club and the Jamaican star himself insist it is no stunt, and nothing to do with publicity seeking or profile raising.

No . . . of course it’s not. Just like it is nothing at all to do with the fact that last season the Mariners’ average home gate of 7,194 was the second lowest of the ten A-League teams.