Secret agents: most people think of glamour and gadgets, cars and women, and martinis. Most people think of James Bond. Most people love Mr Bond. Chances are that the only Bond that Harry Redknapp likes is his assistant manager at Tottenham: Kevin Bond.
Redknapp has come out this week to vent his fury at another kind of secret agents; those agents that represent his players and go behind his back in secret to the money men. Whilst stopping short of naming names, he described certain members of his squad as “weak” and their agents as “idiots” for going above his head to chairman Daniel Levy rather than speak to him directly about selection and contract matters.
At an event to celebrate managers, the League Managers’ Association Hall of Fame dinner, Redknapp found himself talking about anything but football bosses. Fed up of having agents call Levy up to complain about their clients not playing, the Spurs boss left people in no uncertain terms what he felt about such characters. He fumed: “What I found amazing is that agents will ring the chairman and complain about their player not playing. You know, ‘What is your manager doing, why is he picking this player?’” Redknapp was quick to point out that they are wasting their time in going to Levy instead of speaking to him. He said: “I’m lucky that the chairman doesn’t take any notice and he tells me about these idiots who ring him.”
Agents are probably the most unpopular people in football, with the exception of whichever referee has just made a dodgy decision against your team. No one begrudges a player having a representative: someone to look out for their interests. Considering that a lot of players end up without the kind of education that they could otherwise have had if they had not devoted their childhood to football, legal and contractual matters are areas where the player could be at a disadvantage. What has got out of control is just how demanding a lot of these agents have persuaded their players to be and how much money agents themselves take out of the game. The Lilywhites gaffer hit the nail on the head, ranting: “The agent is only there because the player is a money-making machine. He’s got no interest in the player when he finishes his career probably.”
Without wanting to slander specific members of the Spurs squad, it does not take too much imagination to imagine who Redknapp might be talking about. The same names keep appearing in the papers, sounding disgruntled and angling for moves. On one hand it can be strangely pleasing to hear that players are unhappy at not playing, because it suggests that they are not prepared to sit around just earning their millions. At the same time, you know that they are hardly angling to take a pay cut at a new club, and you wish they would stop being selfish, disruptive influences and show a bit more patience and willingness to fight their way back in to the first team.
What makes you lose even more respect for certain players is hearing that they do not even have the guts to talk to Redknapp themselves. Having them have their agents do their complaining for them about footballing matters is rather pathetic. Redknapp said this is a new phenomenon to him and opined: “I find it strange and very difficult to deal with – if a player hasn’t got the courage to come and see you himself and ask why he’s not playing and get his agent, who would know nothing about football anyway, to ring. I’m amazed that the player is weak enough to let his agent ring.”
One player Redknapp had less cutting words for recently was goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini who was injured in a motorbike accident, even if Harry did not know Cudicini even owned a bike. He said: “He’s lucky to be alive. It could easily have been much worse. I didn’t know he had a motorbike. Clubs certainly don’t encourage players to have them. But now isn’t the time for that. We just wish him a quick recovery.” Like everyone involved at the club, Redknapp is just glad his player is still alive after a collision that could have ended Cudicini’s life, let alone his career. Medical staff are optimistic that Cudicini will play again but it is thought unlikely that he will appear again before next season. In the mean time, Spurs have been linked with various English goalkeepers. As well as the constant rumours of David James joining from Portsmouth, his fellow England senior international Ben Foster has been linked with a move from Manchester United, as has Watford’s Under-21 keeper Scott Loach.
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