Apparently the favourite topic of conversation in Britain is the weather…but we all know that it is really football. More seems to happen in football on a weekly basis than in episodes of Eastenders, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks combined. If we’re not discussing the latest results, we will be talking about managers players or referee’s involved in the latest bit of brilliance or more than likely a bit of controversy. Us football fans seem to enjoy a break from reality as gossip ranks increasingly higher on our agenda’s as it seems a bit of fiction can be a fun. As football fans we have the luxury of saying and speaking about whatever we want, but it should be different for players and managers.
The Premier League has a set of rules that us fans do not have to follow, but contracted players and managers do. But it seems these rules are not really followed and it is starting to get right up fans and even managers noses.
Newspapers and the media are always crying out for gossip content and there is nothing better than a manager talking about another clubs player, especially when it is a high-profile player. This type of story sells papers and gets website hits which maximizes profit, which in turn creates a buzz, creating even more news content. This season managers seem to be talking a lot more than usual about other clubs players, whilst everyone seems to be happy to talk about Harry Redknapp and his suitability for the England manager’s role despite being contracted to Tottenham.
Roberto Mancini seems to be becoming the master of talking about other clubs players. Mancini isn’t backwards in coming forwards about players that interest him and increasing amounts of people are less and less happy with such comments. Mancini has infuriated both Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger after very publically stating he wanted Samir Nasri when he was still an Arsenal player and has since declared he is interested in Arsenal’s star striker Robin van Persie.
At the time of the Nasri speculation, Arsene Wenger reacted angrily to Mancini’s comments calling Mancini “out of order” whilst saying his comments are “disrespectful” and are “breaking the rules of football”, which to a certain extent they are. The Premier League has rules on managers commenting on players contracted to other clubs in order to provoke a transfer – we call it ‘having your head turned’, but Mancini has already got away with it after signing Nasri, which could happen again with van Persie.
Only recently Mancini has been commenting on Tottenham’s midfield maestro Luka Modric much to the fury of Spurs fans and Harry Redknapp. Mancini made his comments on Modric during a recent ‘pilgrimage’ to Bosnia and sparked headlines like ‘Roberto Mancini target’s Tottenham’s Luka Modric’ and ‘Mancini admits Modric interest’. Harry Redknapp was less than pleased as he admitted it could ‘turn’ Modric’s head, but it seems to be happening time and time again this season with a lot of managers.
Managers commenting on the players of other clubs should be no different to players and managers commenting on manger speculation like we have seen with Harry Redknapp and his links to the England job. Most managers and players have had a say and backed Redknapp for England, but it was refreshing to hear Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, who himself has been linked with the Chelsea and Spurs jobs, saying it is ‘disrespectful’ to talk about such topics and condemned the media for just wanting to ‘fill pages in papers’.
We seem to love such speculation, but from players and managers it has to stop and it is up to the Premier League to enforce this. During the season such public comment can effect performance – was Spurs’ recent blip at the height of the Redknapp speculation natural or due to the uncertainty surrounding ‘Arry’s future at the club? Does talk about rival clubs players put the team and player being commented on at a disadvantage? It is hard to answer these questions, but there is a case that it does.
We may have seen the first signs of a clamp down after the Premier League issued a statement on the back of the Redknapp comments reminding managers they should not be commenting on such matters. Then again, as Mancini and others seem to continue talk about other clubs players as they like with reprimand, the unsettling of teams and players looks set to continue.
It was refreshing to see fans from all clubs opposing Mancini’s latest comments on Luka Modric, even Arsenal fans who had empathy for the fans of their fiercest rivals. In a football world that seems to be increasingly lacking class and respect it is up to the governing bodies to be harsher over comments that oppose their own rules. We all like a bit of gossip, but it is unfair when it can affect mentality and performance when the stakes are so high. As football becomes further commercialised it seems fans are growing tired of the cliché that money talks, proving that when it comes to talking in football, it should always be done on the pitch.