The Against Modern Football crowd get a tough press sometimes, but this week their numbers will have been swelled by the Raheem Sterling melodrama.
At the time of writing the Liverpool winger’s representative, Aidy Ward, is still claiming to have been misquoted by the Evening Standard. In time, his threats of legal action will presumably prove to be little more than a smokescreen for his own poor judgement, but for the moment they remain in dispute.
Regardless, isn’t it telling that the public’s default response is to dismiss Ward’s counter-claims and to assume that those quotes have been reported accurately? In another context, it would be scarcely believe that a professional working at the top of an industry could behave with such amateurism, yet in football it’s become the expected norm.
Avaricious attention-seekers eager to see their names in the paper at any cost; that has justly become the agent cliche and the profession is now seen less as an occupation and more as blood-sucking opportunism, an army of over-ego’d parasites taking whatever they can from the game.
Oh…whatever, this is just tedious, really. All of our clubs have been victims of this at one point or another, so much so that it’s more boring than anger-inducing. Does anybody have the energy left to rage against this anymore?
That’s a real statement about modern football; what a terrible commentary it is on the game’s failure to regulate itself properly.
There are no solutions here and this article isn’t going to suggest any fanciful reforms - ultimately, what would be the point? Instead, this is just articulated regret: how sad that this has just become an accepted part of football and that, rather than to entertain supporters, the game really just exists to serve the financial interests of a tiny, tiny minority.
If he is shown to have made the comments that are being attributed to him, Aidy Ward’s defence will be that he’s simply acting in his client’s best interest. He’s not, though - or, that’s not all that he’s doing. One suspects that he’s rather enjoyed this week and has probably reveled in the attention that he’s drawn from it. His split from Impact Sports Management left him with a healthy client list, but without the weight of reputation that came with working for a well-endowed agency.
That, you suspect, has been the animating issue. Raheem Sterling wants to move to a different club, yes, but there are ways and means of achieving that without an accompanying circus. Arguably, Sterling’s reputation would be healthier had this not been so public and, given that his agent has shown himself to be such a continuous problem, his chances of securing a move to a truly elite club would probably be better.
But Ward has probably engineered it to be this way. He wants to see his name trending on Twitter and he presumably thrives on the characterisation that he’s created around himself. It’s been a shortcut to a big reputation; not content to be known solely within his own industry, he’s made a very public, very deliberate attention-grab.
He wants us to know his name. Not just club chairmen, not just industry peers, and not just those within the literal confines of the sport. No, he wants us to know his name - the supporters. He’s a ball-breaking legend, a hardman negotiator, the big man on campus.
Or just a standard issue berk with clumsy PR skils, all Blackberries and bullshit, taking his turn to whore the game and cheapen something we love.
For uMAXit: Steven Gerrard & the cost of overstatement