Jan Molby

Odemwingie row shows ridiculous player power

Jan Molby

View photo


The situation unfolding between Peter Odemwingie, West Bromwich Albion and Queens Park Rangers is absolutely crazy.

It shows you just how little players' contracts mean - if they want to move, they can force it through.

West Brom rejected a bid for Odemwingie this morning, but I would be amazed if he is not a QPR player by Thursday night.

All West Brom can do now is play hardball and try to get as much money for him as they possibly can.

Odemwingie might have been able to stay if he had put in a transfer request and stayed quiet - but his comments on Twitter over the weekend have burned his bridges with the club's fans.

If he stays, he will be a distraction, and the fans will make their displeasure plain. There's just no upside.

Far better to extract the biggest fee you can - the last thing you want is for it to end up like Pierre van Hooijdonk at Nottingham Forest or Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, where the player effectively goes on strike.

I'm not saying players shouldn't show ambition. They are perfectly entitled to move to bigger, better and, yes, higher-paying clubs.

For example, there's no problem with Wilfried Zaha wanting to join Manchester United from Crystal Palace.

That situation was dealt with professionally by all sides - Zaha got his move, while Palace received a big fee and have him on loan for the rest of the season.

But Odemwingie's situation is verging on the ridiculous, leaving a team established in the top half to join the bottom side in the Premier League.

It must be so frustrating for Albion, who are looking to build on the progress of recent years and find their players lured to clubs battling relegation.

He hasn't mentioned money as a reason for leaving - instead focusing on the 'compliment' of being wanted by Harry Redknapp, and mentioning behind-the-scenes problems at West Brom - but I'm sure he'll be well-rewarded for his work by QPR.

I'll admit, it is flattering when other clubs want you. But this could easily backfire. Odemwingie didn't have a brilliant career prior to joining West Brom, and he could find himself playing for a Championship side in four months' time.

And I don't imagine clubs will be falling over themselves to sign a player who has conducted himself very poorly in this episode. The thought of making 'only' £40,000-a-week at the Hawthorns might sound pretty attractive by then.

I was lucky not to see this sort of thing when I was playing, as I spent most of my career at Liverpool, which at that time was a team nobody wanted to leave.

As a manager, I did have to deal with players looking to move on. Normally, if it's a bigger club that wants them, you can find a solution that suits everyone, and you just have to look for a replacement. It's part of the game.

It is sad to see what has happened to player power - in the early days of the game, they fought very hard to get protection against exploitation, and it took until the 60s before the PFA managed to get the maximum wage abolished under Jimmy Hill.

But now players and their agents hold all the cards in negotiations, and I'm afraid it's a part of the modern game that many of us find unacceptable.

View comments (233)