• Premier League

Modern players 'lucky' says PFA chief

ESPN staff
July 30, 2013
Gordon Taylor believes football may lose its soul © PA Photos

Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor insists most modern day players do not understand "how lucky they are", which may be a cause for so many unsavoury disputes in the game.

This summer has seen ongoing transfer rows involving the likes of Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale, as more players flex their muscle against their respective employers.

Taylor believes players must start to recognise their fortunes off the pitch and become "a bit more professional" in their attitude.

"The players don't know how lucky they are nowadays," Taylor told the Daily Telegraph. "I went the other day to see one of our former players, Gary Parkinson, who played for Bolton, Preston, Burnley, Blackpool, Middlesbrough. He was working with youngsters at Blackpool all hours and had a stroke [in 2010]. Terrible.

"He has locked-in syndrome. A speech therapist, who's really good, has been working with him, using ice lollies to work his mouth open.

"Gary can now move his tongue. The difference in him is brilliant. I went to see him the other day and drove away, thinking of some of the cases I've got [with awkward players].

"It would just be good if I could say, 'Just come with me this morning and you'd really appreciate what you've got. You owe the game a bit. You don't need all this, prospective moves, refusal to wear a shirt, different problems with lads twittering because they are not in the team. Try to be a bit more professional'.

"Football hasn't completely lost its soul when you see football helping Gary Parkinson. The support from all his clubs has been fantastic.

"The way the sport rallied around Fabrice Muamba showed the soul is still there. But we need a few more fairytales like Kevin Phillips, a lad still going strong at 40, scoring in the [Championship] play-off final.

"It's a time of trying to remember that football is a sport, an entertainment. Football has a real social responsibility for bringing people together in a world where there are a lot of tensions, whether economic, racist, religious, political.

"We have to show the best possible example as the Olympics did and a lot of other sports do. Football has to work really hard to put a smile on people's faces and not just be so focused on money.''

Taylor also expressed his hope that the affluent clubs and owners within the Premier League will begin to exercise more patience and economic wisdom to preserve the soul of the sport.

"Everything is in danger of losing its soul if you're always going to sell out to the highest bidder," Taylor explained.

"Football has got its biggest job to keep the soul of the game. To have the highest aggregate attendances in the world for a small island is phenomenal but we don't have a divine right to be that major spectator sport.

"When you see the turnover in managers and owners wanting success yesterday, wanting ready-made players, with no time and no patience to develop youngsters, I'm quite fearful for the future.

"Sunderland have suddenly got a whole new squad, with a network of agents. Not too many youngsters are given a chance.

"You see Germany with the way they've looked at their balance sheets and the way they've developed youngsters. Financial Fair Play is a move in the right direction.

"I hope we can evolve. I don't see why the Premier League can't do some tweaking and making sure clubs play a certain number of those who have been in a youth-development programme, irrespective of nationality, 16 to 21. Not just in the squad - that's not the cutting edge - but actually starting a game.

"We need managers to stay and youth-team coaches to stay. You see the benefits of security of tenure. Alex Ferguson was a shining example. I've lost count of how many managers and chief execs Blackburn have had.

"How anybody can expect to achieve success with constant instability is beyond me.''

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