by Stephen Bradley
There are many things in football that seem like they’re designed to do one thing yet in fact do something quite different.
For example, orange balls are designed to stand out in poor light and bad weather so that a game can be played in snow or fog, yet in practise they act as another way for Nike to squeeze a few extra pounds out of fans by getting the FA to use an orange ball for a cup final in May.
Wednesday provided another one of these examples. You’ll no doubt have seen this list of players being designated as being ‘released’ by Premier League clubs this summer.
But the purpose of this list isn’t to tell us who clubs are definitely going to release, instead it’s an idea of who might be available if their contracts aren’t renewed.
It’s a slight difference, but a key one for two reasons:
- There are going to be a lot of players on this list that nobody will realise were out of contract in the summer until their name appeared here. ‘Football Manager’ players love this list for this precise reason. The biggest name that fills this criteria this year is Micah Richards. Is he going to be a top-calibre right-back in the future? Probably not. But would he be good as a back-up? It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be. Add in his home-grown status, plus the fact that the next best defender on this list is Glen Johnson, and suddenly there will be a lot more missed calls on Richards’ phone today than there were on Tuesday.
- The opposite of point 1. There are tons of players on this list that everyone knows will be out of contract in the summer. But with a month to go before those contracts expire, it’s no harm to refresh everyone’s memory, just in case a club is looking to wait until the last minute to sign a player in the hopes of getting a bargain. This isn’t done on behalf of the clubs, but on behalf on the players’ union. After all, it’s their job to ensure that as many of their members retain employment as possible. This list will help.
With this in mind, I can’t help but feel that the league is going about this the wrong way.
Yes, having a list of players that will soon be available is a good way of raising awareness of said players, but the vast majority of said players are ones that the clubs who currently employ them have no intention of retaining.
Think about it: If you had some items that you didn’t want, but weren’t keen on just throwing them away, what would you do? Would you simply type up a inventory of what you had and post it online? Of course not.
You’d list each item individually, give a brief synopsis of their qualities, describe the condition they’re in and name a price you’d be willing to let them go for. You could put this up anywhere; shop window, local newspaper, eBay, etc etc. In essence, it’s just like trying to sell your car.
So how would this look if clubs took the same approach with players they no longer needed? I wonder…
1992. Right-hand drive, Japanese import. Rental car, but never crashed. Superb engine, immaculate gearbox. 0-60 in 6.2 secs. Slight issue with brakes, also small steering problem when operating at speed. All instruments are written in katakana, as is the instruction manual. Perfect for Dutch person looking to try something new. £0 ono.
1985. Left-hand drive, German saloon. Extremely powerful machine, with twin-turbos located on left-side of the engine. Whilst turning left, brute force will take your breath away. Runs occasionally, ideal for short trips around town as opposed to long distance journeys. Highly photogenic. 124,000 miles on clock, needs gentle maintaining due to lack of usage over last couple of years. £2m ono. Will deliver personally.
1990. Right-hand drive Polish estate. One owner. Supreme handling ability. No visible damage on exterior of car. Small electrical glitch may lead to occasional misfires. Slight issue with smoke from the back which may lead to future problems if not fixed immediately. Being sold as new Czech purchase imminent and need cash asap. £7m ono.
1986. Right-hand drive French luxury vehicle. One careful owner. Perfect as reclamation project. Slight dent to left-rear and right-rear quarter-panels. Minor scrape to both driver’s side and passenger’s side’s door mirrors. Temporary imperfections to front and rear suspension. Small scuffs noticeable on front and rear spoilers. Meagre damage to rear left alloy. Modest rust deposits on chassis. Limited use of hydraulics available. Trifling issue with tracking. Tyre alignment slightly awry. Trivial issue with engine. Gearbox missing 5th gear. Steering wheel broken by over-enthusiastic call centre operator from the North-East of England. Warranty void. No insurance or MOT. £0 ono. Full tank of petrol included in price.
Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all………
Editor: Actually, this is a great idea. I’m going to do it for writers who don’t shape up on Daily Cannon. I’ve already got the first ad written.
1983. Classic British/Irish hybrid. Converted to run on ethanol or any liquid containing alcohol. Reliable motor, consistent performance, although slightly worrying noises can occasionally surface from exhaust due to lack of attention paid. Not built for rugged terrain or carrying huge loads, more suitable to cruising around town in the sun whilst watching everyone do some actual work. £0. Comes with a lifetime’s supply of awful puns. Don’t all rush at once.