The final days of the transfer window are always a little surreal. We have Jim White screaming his head off for hours upon end on Sky Sports News, Harry Redknapp giving interviews hanging out of his car window (I wonder how he’ll cope this year) and people getting themselves in varied states of mad frenzy based upon rumours started by a spotty teenager in their bedroom on Twitter. Depending on your perspective it may be the most exciting time of the season or, alternatively, drive you to hibernation.
Whilst it is unfashionable to concern yourself with footballer’s feelings, it must be a fairly traumatic period for those players who find themselves in an uncertain position. This excellent piece by Clarke Carlisle highlights the anxiety that free agents find themselves in, waiting to hear nervously if they still have a future in the game. Meanwhile, Joey Barton took to Twitter earlier in the week to express his disappointment, as his proposed move to Marseille seemed to fall through. My first response was to conjure the entertaining image of him starting fights with inanimate objects in his living room, before quoting Freud and claiming to be a misunderstood and reformed character. And while I accept that feeling any sympathy for Mr Barton is an almost impossible task, it does showcase the type of emotion and even despair that some will be going through.
Although he is not in the same scenario as those previously mentioned, I imagine Scott Sinclair will be frustrated and quite possibly upset that his proposed move to Manchester City appears to have collapsed. However, on the contrary, he should be concluding that he’s had a lucky escape. Of course there are worse things in life than being paid millions of pounds a year to be a bit-part player for the champions of England, but for his career it would have been a mistake.
Whilst I am a firm advocate of the school of thinking which suggests training with better players every day will improve an individual, it must be combined with sufficient game time to reap developmental rewards. Sinclair’s role within the Manchester City squad would have been to replace Adam Johnson, whose involvement was restricted to warming the bench with the occasional cameo breaking it up. Thus his game time would have been restricted, and any potential benefits of being at a club like City would have been lost.
I am not even convinced Roberto Mancini particularly wants him. He strikes me as being like a spoiled child in a toy store, stamping his feet until getting something regardless of whether he actually wanted it in the first place. There is an obvious on-going dispute with Brian Marwood over the direction the club should be taking in improving the squad, and I would be shocked if Sinclair featured highly on the manager’s wish list. Indeed, while Mancini has shaken off the stereotypical Italian reputation of being defensive with City’s style last year, he still distrusts out-and-out wingers. Preferring to use inverted types such as David Silva and Samir Nasri, it is hard to see where Sinclair would fit in. And if he persists with his change to a back three, there will be even less room in the team for the natural wide man.
The Swansea winger is at the stage in his career where the decisions he makes could have a significant impact on the remainder of his playing days. If disappointed, he should take a step back and realise why the last 12 months have been the most fruitful of his career. Although he showed early promise, he was continually farmed out on loan whilst at Chelsea and it was only under Brendan Rodgers at Swansea that he really found his feet.
Rodgers’ evolution of the possession based stylings introduced by Roberto Martínez and continued by Paulo Sousa made Swansea the perfect fit for Sinclair. Now under the stewardship of Michael Laudrup, who looks to be focusing on increasing the attacking penetration of the Swans approach, he would be in the perfect place to improve even further. The Dane is encouraging the wingers to take up more central positions to help influence the game, and the positive starts to the season by Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge are a result of this ploy. And who better to learn from than Laudrup, undoubtedly one of the finest players of his generation and all-time.
I do wonder about outside influences when it comes to players making decisions like this. I suspect, although would like to be proven wrong, that agents hold far too much sway over their clients’ actions. And while agents will argue they offer only good advice, since a successful career increases the potential of future earnings, their motivation is skewed towards financial gain. Knowing they are entitled to a cut of the transfer/signing fee, they will push the move through as best they can. And if it doesn’t work out, well then they will earn another few bucks when that player is transferred again within a couple of years. I suspect the Theo Walcott situation is similar.
Moving to City would stutter Sinclair’s career. Spending a significant proportion of his time watching from the sidelines, it is only natural that confidence and sharpness will ebb away from his mind and body. He has the opportunity to sign a new contract with Swansea and he should take it, using the platform he has around him to continue to improve as a player and further his career.