I Wouldn’t Want A Distracted Coutinho In My Team

The new football season is upon us but transfers seem to be taking centre stage and it’s about time the window was closed before the season started.

When I moved to West Brom the transfer was in the offing for six months before it went through and many of the players playing this weekend will have transfers on their mind even when they’re out on the pitch.

Shut That Window
There’s been plenty of chat about Philippe Coutinho going to Barcelona and there’s no doubt that if he was to be picked to play this weekend, his mind would be elsewhere.

Players will have been talking constantly to their agents even in the build up to this weekend’s games…

…and we see the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson being left out of Swansea’s squad as a move to Everton seems to be in the offing.

I’ve heard of agents telling their player to request being left out of the matchday squad and then there’s the odd ‘groin injury’ being thrown in so they can be left out of the squad in case of picking up a real injury. It’s happened in dressing rooms that I’ve been in.

As a teammate I would actually prefer them not to play. If you feel that there’s one lad out of eleven that’s not pulling his weight then you can’t get away with it in the Premier League, you’ll get found out quickly.

These issues can cloud the start of the campaign and the answer is to close the window 24 hours before the first game of the season. That way everyone can get their business done and everyone is in the right mind-set going forward.

If there’s one positive of having it open until the end of August it means a club can rectify a bad start by bringing in an extra signing, but I’d rather know where I stood at the start of the season.

The Medical
There’ll be a few more big moves completed before deadline day and one of the final aspects of a transfer is of course the medical.

I had a minor hernia operation in the run up to my transfer to West Brom but when I had my medical at the Hawthorns it was such a simple process. The doctor simply checked my knees, ankles and joints, got me to touch my toes and took my weight and height and that was it. It lasted less than 10 minutes.

Going to Wigan later in my career there were scans, blood tests, X-Rays and all sorts of checks.

The clubs nowadays are a lot more careful especially with the money involved and even if a player doesn’t have an injury but has an issue with their body that the club think could flare up, they can’t take the risk.

Bitter Twitter
Even when you finally get playing at your new club, the transfer can still be on your mind and it was for me when I started at West Brom.

Neymar’s transfer fee is a million miles from the fee West Brom paid for me when I became their first £1m player. But even then I felt the pressure because I had the tag of being their most expensive signing. Eventually my coach at the time Ray Harford took me aside after three or four games of the season and he advised me to relax and told me that the transfer fee had nothing to with me.

It’s a different level nowadays but look at Paul Pogba’s record transfer to Manchester United last summer.

I don’t think Pogba’s Twitter presence helps when he has commanded such a big transfer fee.

Social Media is part of the glamour surrounding Pogba and maybe there is also an obligation nowadays to use it, but he will be reading plenty of negative feedback on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and it won’t be doing him any favours.

Supporters will be saying things like “he’s not worth the money” and that sort of thing can get into your head. It would be better if they could use it more sparingly and try to focus on the job in hand, especially when things are not going so well for the player.