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Blog: The beauty of the Bosman


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By John Baines - Football Correspondent

Monday 24 January 2011

The new years fireworks celebrations act as a starters gun for a frenzy of hurried transfers to begin. But the transfer window can also be the dawn for greater consideration towards more astute future signings.


Theoretically at least, January marks the point at which those players who’s contract runs out in the summer can be tempted to move for free on a Bosman signing.


The list of players who potentially could be acquired for free runs long and deep, with a great deal of quality to be had for clubs of all sizes. The talent pool contains individuals across all spectrums and, from talented youngsters and experienced campaigners to proven international and European thoroughbreds.


If you look abroad the likes of Jerzy Dudek, Philippe Mexes, Mohamadou Diarra, Urby Emanuelson, Andrea Pirlo, Piotr Trochowski and Ivan Rakitic amongst others could all be tangibly and realistically tempted to our shores.


Of course there are wage demands and structures to contend with, but given these players can be acquired minus the sizeable sum they could command, surely the Bosman represents good business practice.


Perhaps the most successful exponents of this formula were Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce who recorded four consecutive top ten finishes and European qualification with a host of Bosman’s including Kevin Davies, Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo.


There still appears some consternation - especially from club management - towards the ruling, which, after all is simply a basic civil and employment right. However, even for the purported hard done by employers there is ample opportunity to refurnish their own playing stocks at the expense of others.


The law of the jungle prevails in football, and those that work sharply and shrewdly can get great reward. To illustrate the point, here are a few suggestions of domestic players that could be snapped up in the summer.


Potentially risking all credibility and denouncing my own theory immediately, I’m going to start off with Robert Green. Ignoring his howler against the USA and a string of other misdemeanours, Green is still vying for the England number one slot with Joe Hart.


Now that either says something about the state of English goalkeeping - which it probably does - or that Green isn’t that bad a keeper. Arsenal could do worse. So could Liverpool if Pepe Reina left, whilst both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Tottenham will be after top quality back-up should he accept playing second fiddle.


In the same boat as Green is Matthew Upson, who might decide a change of scenery from Upton Park is the best idea whether the Hammers stay up or not.


Perhaps Manchester United apart all of the other ‘big five’ have had issues in central defence and even with a lack of European pedigree, Upson could plug a gap at any of those sides, as well as any other upwardly mobile Premier League side.


The beauty of the Bosman is that without a fee there is no initial large drain of the coffers, which lends itself to the possibility of ‘no risk’ signings.


The notion of pay as you play deals is growing, and players with the injury records of Jonathan Woodgate and Owen Hargreaves may not be overly optimistic of landing a guaranteed weekly wage given the condition of goods.


The likelihood is that neither will return to their pomp but if, and it is a large if, the injuries rescind, these players could be great assets in one capacity or another to most sides in the league and certainly would be worth a punt if any of the promoted sides could get them on board.


If the plan comes off you have a proven performer on reasonable wages, if it doesn’t, they don’t play and you don’t pay. Not a problem.


Another intriguing scenario is that of Michael Owen. Unless between now and the end of the season he can persuade Sir Alex Ferguson otherwise, Owen will not be offered a new deal with the Reds and will be out of the door of another top football club.


Owen has previously hinted that he doesn’t much fancy dropping very far down the league ladder but given the strength of the top sides attacking capabilities he might not have much choice.


He has also muted the possibility of retiring from the game and given his wealth and ever increasing interests in horse racing combined with the resignation that his international career is over, Owen may decide to turn his back on the game knowing his time at the top is over.


But what Owen should bear in mind, is that at the end of next season, 2011/12, following the European Championships, Capello will not be England manager and even without forcing his way back in in the meantime, with a clean bill of health and a decent season notching goals, at 32 years old a return to the England set-up is not inconceivable.


The Bosman ruling in many ways bears the brunt of criticism for spiralling wages and greater player power but those who blame the Bosman are simply in denial that such an economic swing of liberties towards the players would have been inevitable anyway.


The Bosman is as fair as it is equal. Of course, like most things within the game, the larger the club the more they stand to gain at the expense of the rest, but that does not mean that any club independent of size can not utilise the Bosman rule for their own self-gain.


The players, deals and opportunities are out there as long as there is enough foresight and acumen to pull them off.


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