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The reason that was even a possibility was because, as of April last year, the agency rules were relaxed and that meant that anybody, agent or otherwise, could legally approach a player with an offer to represent him. Agencies employed those closest to the players on contracts that sometimes amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds and that ensured that the player was never tempted to move agencies.
The sole purpose of these new employees, friends or family of the player, was to keep the player happy and in the building. I pinned that anecdote on an Arsenal player, Calum Chambers, whose representatives, I’d heard, had employed not only his father but his best friend, too. Arsenal have been fined ?60,000 after breaching football agent regulations in the transfer of Calum Chambers from Southampton. The Football Association also warned the Gunners over their future conduct following Chambers’ move from Saints on 26 July, 2014 for an undisclosed fee in the region of ?11 million.
Agent Alan Middleton was fined ?30,000 and given a suspended three-month ban for his part in the same matter. A statement from the FA read: “Arsenal have been fined ?60,000 and warned as to their future conduct after breaching the FA’s football agent regulations.
The message will ping on to our screens from any one of the group chat members and relates to a player either past his prime or out of his depth. Or a player who one of us simply doesn’t like or maybe even a player who has secured a move that nobody believes he deserved on wages that are about twice as much as he should be worth. Distin was a great player, particularly at Portsmouth where he and Sol Campbell formed a formidable pairing.
It was a sorry sight, to be honest, but it was manna for the members of the Lucky Players game, who saw it as an opportunity to point out that Distin didn’t deserve the contract he has with Bournemouth on account of all of the above. That’s maybe a little harsh because Bournemouth don’t have the scope of players to choose from that teams like Southampton do. And with players at the age that Distin is, 37, and with his experience, he’s probably good to have around the changing-room during his new club’s inaugural year in the top flight.
He will help a squad of players who have only ever seen the stadiums that they now play in on Match Of The Day.
Tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson to be Manchester United’s greatest ever centre half, Brown suffered from terrible injuries in the years when he should have been playing regularly. Brown and former United team-mate John O’Shea were signed by Sunderland off the back of having played for United.
The Black Cats have survived in the Premier League by the skin of their nuts on more than one occasion and it is usually because, defensively, they are awful and have to be rescued by the front players, who usually turn up in late March.
After all, we have to perform, too, and I’ve yet to find a footballer who has played 500 faultless games in his career. He makes mistakes on the ball from a chronic lack of confidence and his passes out from the back are often intercepted. And just when you think somebody up at Sunderland has actually spotted all this, too, and is watching the same thing that we’re watching, they make a move to sign a replacement.
Might be a good opportunity for Jose to send the trouble makers to the bomb squad and showcase some of that youth talent to get back on track? But Pulis is a manager who goes over the top of the ball when dealing with players who don’t play ball as he likes. He wants to sell Berahino and spend the cash and isn’t interested in him staying because he knows that the player is open about wanting to play for a bigger club. Pulis was scared to death that they would talk about his management and that they’d improve as players.
It is true to say that the respect that young players once had for their peers has dwindled since my career started. The maximum an agent would make from an average youth-team player, when I started, was may be ?3,000.
If I was Ross Barkley’s agent and I secured his signature for Everton on a minimum three-year deal, I could make at least ?500,000 – probably paid in instalments over the course of those three years.
For the record, I consider myself to have been a slightly above average Premier League player over the years and yet my agent made himself nearly ?1 million from doing just one of my deals for me.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the story relating to West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison and his team-mate Saido Berahino. You don’t need me to tell you that if a team is leading with the clock ticking down and a player is running away from his own goal, then you head to the corner of the pitch in the opposition half.
After the game, Morrison, who’s generally a great lad and a very decent footballer, took issue with Berahino in the tunnel and told him exactly what he thought of the forward’s decision to cross, rather than hold, the ball. Berahino, understandably pissed off with himself, took issue with Morrison and grabbed him before pushing him around.
Berahino, who is a big lad, came at Morrison again and received another, identical, punch that floored the West Brom youngster. That is to say that he’s played a few games, done well, been written about and it’s gone to his head.
An example of this came earlier in the season when, during one of our matches, the ball was cut back to the penalty spot from the byline to a youngster who was arriving bang on cue. He wasn’t happy and neither would I be if I’d missed a great chance and had to relive it in front of my team-mates, especially when so many other little things went wrong in the game. And I guarantee you that the next time he’s in that position, he’ll concentrate that little bit harder and that will be the difference between scoring and missing. For the most part, these kids struggle to distinguish between a game of football and a professional game of football. People’s jobs are at stake and there is no point in sugar coating that and telling them not to worry about it. The fact that many of the kids in the game are now paid big money doesn’t make these pearls of wisdom any easier to impart because they also struggle to differentiate between financial success and real success.
Real success means that you don’t have to keep reminding people of who you are by pointing to the back of your shirt because they already know who you are. And if they already know who you are, then the chances are that you know what you’re supposed to be doing on the pitch, too. To claim that he is a disgrace because he earns ?30,000, ?40,000 or ?50,000 a week is completely ridiculous.

Shirt swapping is a sign of the utmost respect amongst professionals, and on a personal level I am humbled each and every time a player asks for mine. Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion): Helped out by his defiant defenders at Carrow Road, still had to make three saves and three catches. Antonio Valencia (Manchester United): Did a good job in nullifying Raheem Sterling, who barely seemed to have an appetite for the fight. Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City): Still settling into the Premier League but already looks more reliable than Eliaquim Mangala. James Tomkins (West Ham United): Always prone to the occasional error but kept it tight against ten-man Chelsea.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur): Fortune at last favoured him, thanks to dodgy Bournemouth defending and goalkeeping. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal): Many have no faith in him, including apparently Arsene Wenger, but gets the job done time and again. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal): Copped a lot of flak recently but now successive wins over Man Utd, Watford, Bayern Munich and Everton. Just as the alleged racism from some fans in Paris forced Chelsea to issue a strongly worded statement distancing themselves and offering support to anyone who fancies leading the fight, so came another statement on the issue of sexism. In fairness to Chelsea, they have employed Carneiro in the first instance and that at least counts for something. Yet I do find it interesting that these club statements only ever come about when the strongest possible evidence enters the public domain and that surrounds issues that everybody in football knows have been there for years.
The chink of light is that I’ve been at clubs that have employed women in positions that, at the time, were dominated by men – and they have thrived. For example, the youth team physio at one club I played for was a woman and she, like all youth team physios, was required to help out with the first team when the injury list was in danger of becoming an epidemic. The only time her gender ever became an issue was when she had to give a deep-tissue massage.
Releasing the glute muscles, as I recall, were sometimes a problem as it’s an area that requires a physio to lever their entire body weight through the point of their elbow until the muscle begins to relax.
She recognised that and it became part of the experience she built up in order to make sure the players always had the best possible treatment.
It is thanks to women like my friend above that things continue to head in a positive direction, even if some idiots in the crowd still don’t get it.
All 92 Premier and Football League clubs have been asked to profile inspirational female staff and fans in their matchday programmes. The verbal abuse that Eva has had to put up with has been a disgrace and I hope that the perpetrators are dealt with and that it serves to deter others from making similarly stupid, sexist remarks. After one particular game at Stamford Bridge, in which Chelsea had duly hammered us, we showered and changed and made our way back through the tunnel and up the steps towards the bus.
Standing outside the Chelsea changing-room, waiting for one of the Chelsea players to appear so that she could assess him for an injury, was Eva. As my team-mate was talking to Eva, she began rolling her eyes and shaking her head, which I took to mean that she must get this sort of thing all the time and had totally had enough of it. But when they’d finished talking, I asked my friend what he’d said to make her gesticulate like that. I suppose there are some people who do like the attention and then there are those who never asked for it in the first place. What I thought most telling was that she had sussed out the people that populate the world of football in a nanosecond, particularly the players who she recognised for the most part to be attention-grabbing hypochondriacs with too much time on their hands. I absolutely agree with Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, that the away goals rule is outdated. It was introduced by Uefa in 1965 in order to encourage the away team to play attacking football on their travels rather than parking the bus, both figuratively and literally. What I don’t like about the rule is that not only can a team qualify without actually winning but it makes the home side in the tie look like the away side.
To give that some clarity, most sides in the Premier League would be satisfied with a point away from home and set up to play on the counter-attack. Burnley, Crystal Palace and, as of late, Hull City have used the counter-attack to good effect against top opposition to pick up points. At home in the Premier League, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will pick Oscar in the advanced No.10 role, with Cesc Fabregas playing deeper alongside Nemanja Matic. Away from home, Mourinho will omit Oscar from his line-up to accommodate a more defensive-minded player like Ramires, Jon Obi Mikel or, occasionally, Kurt Zouma – and then advance Fabregas up the pitch. The first leg of Chelsea’s Round of 16 Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain was played in the French capital and, as they took the lead and had their away goal, they had no reason to do anything but defend until the 114th minute in extra time in the return leg at Stamford Bridge.
When Chelsea scored at Stamford Bridge to make it 2-1 on aggregate, with an away goal in the bag, it was obvious they’d stop attacking.
While many have said it serves him right to see his side knocked out with just six minutes remaining, PSG were not once ahead in the tie.
One could argue that Wenger got Arsenal’s tactics wrong in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg against AS Monaco, which was not helped by a hopeless defensive display. Once they took the lead, they were able to sit back and contain the Arsenal pressure until they sensed weakness and counter-attacked some more. The away goal negates the home side’s advantage of playing in front of their partisan crowd and I don’t see this positively. In an ideal world, in which football wasn’t dictated by television rights deals, the knockout stages of the Champions League should see Europe’s elite play a one-off game in a neutral stadium. The away goals rule, like the golden goal rule, has failed in it’s intention and is no longer a viable application.
With Danny Welbeck reported injured and Wayne Rooney unavailable for similar reasons, the default option up front is a three-match one-goal striker. Can you imagine the surge of hope should Carroll achieve his potential come Saturday, never mind the hyperbole from countless hacks and pundits as yet another “Great White Hope” ascends the tricky pedestal of fame?
With Chelsea’s Champions League stars yet to travel, Rooney out and Glen Johnson doubtful, England will find it difficult to pull anything out of a game against a Norway side that narrowly missed inclusion in the play-offs for a place in the full competition. Group D update: Ukraine take on Estonia in a pre-Euro friendly in Kufstein, Austria, on Monday.

I once saw him catch up with our fastest player and dispossess him, having given him a five-yard head start. He is a shadow of his former self and Graziano Pelle took advantage of that fact all game, compounding Distin’s dying swan of a season with a header that left the Frenchman facing his own goal, under the ball and then flat out on the floor. O’Shea does not move from his deep line and that makes Brown insecure, so he goes for balls on the floor that he can’t get to. My anonymity lets me tell you how it is, from inside the game without the shackles of pre-conception or fan bias. The value of a decent homegrown youngster was greatly increased once the floodgates opened to our continental colleagues. Years ago, agents largely left youth-team players alone; there was simply no money to be had in doing a deal for a youth player, even if it was for his first professional contract.
The minimum for a below-average Premier League player who didn’t even play every week was about ?30,000. And if I couldn’t get my fee at Everton, I’d simply move him on and I’d probably get more, anyway.
Occasionally, one of these young players thinks they’ve arrived and when that happens there is no alternative but to put them in their place before it gets out of hand. As the senior player, Morrison needed to do something and he chose to punch Berahino in the eye.
I’m not an advocate of violence but, now that it’s happened, I’m looking at the result and, as a footballer who has seen this sort of thing before, I can tell you that it will stand Berahino in good stead. You can perform well and you may make only one mistake in the season but that one mistake will always be thrown in your face to make absolutely sure that you never do it again.
They really are in danger of losing their Premier League status and costly mistakes like Berahino’s wayward pass will naturally be met with a heightened sense of anguish and anger by all concerned. Unfortunately, with just the goalkeeper to beat, he rushed the shot and skied the ball over the crossbar. My anonymity let’s me tell you how it is, from inside the game without the shackles of pre-conception or fan bias. Made 70 passes in defeat of Palace – 16 more than any other player at King Power Stadium. Hardly looks as though he’s trying but possesses inch-perfect passing and set-pieces. He’s scored in seven successive Premier League games and Leicester sit fifth in the table. Got all the T-shirts - TV, radio, PR, papers weekly and daily, glossy mags and now the worldwide web.
My first reaction, as was likely the reaction of 100 per cent of the Premier league playing staff, was that she was a very attractive woman. From the evidence about, it is clear to see that the issue of sexism, certainly among some fans still living in the stone age, remains a serious issue. Some of the lads quietly made it known to the head physio that she didn’t have the power or the strength to reach and unknot certain muscle groups.
I don’t know what she’s paid but she is worth as much if not more than any other doctor in the Premier League for sure. A player in our team who I was talking too about the match, and who spoke Portuguese, stopped to talk to her. Even though PSG equalised in that first leg, Chelsea would still go through with a 0-0 in West London. Instead of attacking, they are more interested in just stopping the opposition from scoring. Yet they were able to recklessly counter-attack at the Emirates Stadium as their first goal, that precious away goal, gave them the licence to do so. The rule’s introduction in previous times was also partly to do with the varying state of pitches and stadia throughout Europe, I think. Don’t worry about the altitude, Andy, there are plenty of previous incumbents who have found the descent to be surprisingly short.
Since when, Carroll’s career path at Liverpool has matched another ex-hero – although Kenny Dalglish’s contract made his services easier to dispense with. Roy Hodgson hasn’t had a great deal of time to prepare for tomorrow’s match in Oslo although he isn’t given to making excuses, being old school in the mould of Alf Ramsey. No team fears England today, anyway, and a good litmus test of their current standing will be the lack of crowing over any humiliation.
After Saturday, Roy and the boys have a week to prepare for the big time and, by then, barring injuries, he will have a wealth of options. France face Iceland in Valenciennes on Sunday; Sweden also meet Iceland, in Gothenburg on Wednesday. Some episodes become public and some don’t but it is always better to make them aware of the error instead of believing that they already know it.
What she needed, like any other physio starting with the youth team and working their way up, was a chance to prove herself and thus gain experience. If they’re concerned about TV revenue, why not hold two games at neutral locations and have aggregate scores, extra time etc as normal… just without the away goals?
There will be plenty, after all – a man who never made a mistake never made bugger all. Clubs competing in European competition by-and-large have more-or-less the same standard of pitch. Ticket revenue would be unaffected because they could just use the stadia of other teams at the same stage (you know, the stadia that would have been used otherwise anyway). The only advantages to playing at home are the home support assumedly being better than that of the away side (arguable in many cases) and the lack of a need to travel.
The only possible argument I can see against this is the impact on the fans wanting to attend the games… though that could easily be mitigated by capping ticket prices, which is something that probably should have happened already anyway.

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