Pearce versus Cole
Whilst not quite going to the extremes that Chelsea decided upon when putting forward their version of events over the transfer of William Gallas, Stuart Pearce hit out in the media today at Andrew Cole over his recent transfer to Portsmouth - and specifically how it was engineered.
"My initial reaction was ‘no definitely not, you’re not going anywhere’, but one or two things developed and we tried to find some form of middle ground.
He had an extremely good offer from Portsmouth, an offer of two years as well from them, and I tried to offer him not just this year but next year as long as he fulfilled x-amount of appearances".
It was at this stage that Pearce suggests the threat of retirement was mentioned:
"Well that’s always an option to do that but there were suggestions that the player might retire if I didn’t let him go. After that was suggested to me what choice did I have?
In the terms of negotiations it was mentioned that this deal [from Portsmouth] was too good to turn down and it might be a case of the player retiring if we did not agree to the transfer.
That came from the agent. It was a bit disappointing and as soon as you hear that then you just move on and say ‘right ok’. We decided, myself, the Chairman and the Chief Executive to take the money on the player and move on.
He wanted to go and play somewhere else, I tried my best to offer the player another contract that wouldn’t just leave the club wide open to be paying a player. We had to bear in mind that the player has not played for seven months."
Whilst Pearce's comments are more measured and less inflamatory than Chelsea's, it is nevertheless still strongly worded and to infer that there was in effect a threat to never play for the club again is bold indeed.
Cole has not commented on the alledged incident, but his agents denied Pearce's claim:
"It never was the case that either Andy or us on his behalf threatened that he would retire, Manchester City had no offer on the table until very late in the 11th hour. When they did produce an offer it came nowhere near to matching that made by Portsmouth"
Cole himself preferred to focus on Portsmouth, but aimed a swipe at City when he said:
"I'm coming to a club going upwards, I think you could say the tide is changing between Portsmouth and Manchester City".
I was surprised at Pearce's comments though - and whilst he is lauded as being an 'honest' character, even if he is claims are true then the club should act with some restraint and not respond with what only comes across as a petty shot at Cole. Maybe it was done to get the fans 'onside' with the club as they have come in for criticism in some quarters about being unable to hang onto players. Either way, it isn't something I am keen on but seems to be creeping in with one or two of the deals made over the summer.
I don't like the comments that Cole's agents have responded with, stating that we 'had no offer on the table until the 11th hour'. Cole was under contract to the club and had previously dragged his heels on signing a new deal for this season. Why would the club offer him a new deal, until we were in effect forced to do so to counter the approach from Portsmouth? At this stage I believe the club were flexible, offering what was really a two-year deal (matching the length offered by Portsmouth) despite his injury record last season - subject to appearances.
What this does illustrate is the lack of muscle that clubs do actually have these days. As we have seen with William Gallas and Ashley Cole - and ourselves with David James and Andrew Cole, if a player wants to leave the club are in no position to keep them. All that a contract means is that the 'selling' club is entitled to compensation in return for their departure.
Throughout all this, it does appear clear that the reasons for Cole moving are primarily financial. For all the talk of Portsmouth moving forward - it is still clearly a long term project for them and if they do establish themselves as a force in the Premiership it will clearly be well after Cole has retired.
Cole's move is all about the money.
As it has been with my club losing 'our' Cole and gaining a Gallas.
I don't really mind the players being attracted by money. After all that's why *I* go to work, personally, dunno about anyone else. And clubs are perfectly happy to drop someone on a free transfer the moment it suits the club, so lets not pretend we can have it both ways. When we talk about players being loyal to our clubs, phone me when that loyalty goes both ways.
What I do wish for, what I'd really respect a player if they did this, would be if they could actually say "Yeah, it's for the money. Look, it's my last contract before I have to quit, I just want a good 'pension' contract."
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