Wednesday 29 March 2017

Wright couldn't be more wrong about his son's worth

Contract talks are conducted in many different ways. All manner of advice can be sought by the player in question and negotiations can involve a variety of people.

This was never more evident than Ian Wright's recent outburst in what I assume was an effort to help his son get the deal he believes he deserves at Manchester City.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, in the eyes of his father, is apparently being treated "like a youth team player". Speaking on Talksport radio last week, he expressed his disgust at the behaviour of club CEO Garry Cook and football administrator Brian Marwood, dismissing them as "a bit full of themselves".

Ignoring for a moment Wright's considerable credentials in recognising such a trait, it seems his rant was designed to create a feeling of sympathy and support towards the player who he says wants to see out his career at the club. In his view, neither the length nor the value of the contract offer is sufficient.

The problem is that Wright-Phillips currently earns £60,000 a week and has two years left on his current deal, so it's difficult to feel too sorry for him as things stand. But for a player who is not guaranteed a starting place at his club and only on the fringes of the England squad, demanding parity with team-mates who earn £100,000 is simply ludicrous.

Of course, he is not alone. Used sparingly at his club this season and no longer in the England squad as a result, Joe Cole seems unprepared to remain at Chelsea for anything near what the club have reportedly offered him. His deal expires this summer, and with the club and his agent quite a way apart in their valuations, a move away from Stamford Bridge now looks likely.

Bucking the trend of increasing wages year-on-year, Chelsea have sensibly offered Cole less than he is currently earning, a move which has probably hurt his ego as much as anything else. Although it is widely recognised that Chelsea players are all paid more than they are worth, due to the transfer policy adopted by the club when Roman Abramovich first took over, neither Cole nor his advisors are happy.

Even given that Manchester City, and to a lesser extent Chelsea, operate on different levels to most others, it appears players have yet to grasp the knock-on effect of clubs over-spending on their wages. In a week when 85 members of staff were let go at Portsmouth, there was little evidence that either they or their advisors understand that the majority of clubs are in a more precarious financial position than ever before. All too aware of the brevity of their careers and the salaries of others, maximising earnings is the only concern for most.

That an annual increase of over £500,000 and a one-year extension to his current deal is seen as derisory is a measure of how ludicrous events at Manchester City have become. It is understandable for any player to look enviously at team-mates with greater salaries, but Wright-Phillips signed his current deal in good faith, so claims from his father that he is too unsettled to give his all these days ring a little hollow.

It does appear from the outside that City, for once, are being prudent in some way at last. Wright-Phillips won't get offered what he wants from anyone else in the Premier League, and does not have the technical ability required to ply his trade in Spain

or Italy. Even if there was interest from abroad, his wage expectations would quickly put an end to any such discussions.

No other club would be in a position to offer £100,000 a week, so in financial terms Manchester City will always be his best bet. A longer contract would mean him earning considerable amounts beyond 32, which would be daft for a player so reliant on pace.

Of course, it may well be the case that Wright-Phillips sees all this and is resigned to scraping by on £70,000 a week and is bracing himself for a tough three years as a result. It's probably more likely the case though, that he sees his father's comments as unwelcome, unhelpful and more than a little embarrassing.

He isn't the first player to hold out for a better deal, and his father isn't the first to fail to see the bigger picture when it comes to his son.

If we do not want to hear the views of Ian Wright, we simply turn off the radio or switch channels, an option unavailable to Wright-Phillips. Come to think of it, maybe he does warrant a little sympathy after all.

rsadlier@independent.ie

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