Date:Tuesday September 19 2006
In a time when player power seems to be taking over the modern game with the help of agents` influence it is refreshing to see two players keeping quiet about their futures and continuing to work for their club despite being unsettled.
This certainly is the case for Lucas Neill who put in a sterling display at the weekend in his new position at left-back. Andy Todd also continues to work hard despite not being in the team and at no point has either player refused to play or publicly disgraced the club.
It has emerged this week in the wake of the BBC`s panorama programme, which will be aired tonight on BBC One at nine o`clock, that Andy Todd was linked with a move to Portsmouth through his agent.
Many Rovers fans were concerned with the situation surrounding Andy Todd`s future after he reportedly complained about being dropped from the side against Chelsea. Many predicted a move before the end of the transfer window, with Sunderland and Bolton keen suitors.
Todd has not commented on his status or position with regards to newspaper claims but after I spoke to his agent, Peter Harrison, today, it would appear there is no intent to force Todd out of the club or use any under-hand tactics to complete a transfer. Additionally it would appear Todd isn`t looking to leave in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Harrison would tell me that he spoke to Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, in a friendly conversation where Redknapp would merely claim he was looking for a centre back and Mr. Harrison would retort that the only 'star` centre-back he had was Andy Todd. Mr. Harrison then claimed,
"Harry said he liked Andy Todd but nothing happened. He probably liked Ronaldinho too but nothing happened there either."
Todd will obviously be looking to get back into the first team as soon as possible as he is at an age where he needs to be playing regular football. This doesn`t mean he has demanded talks with Mark Hughes regarding his future. When asked whether or not Todd has spoken to Hughes about his future, Mr. Harrison would say,
"I don`t think Andy has yet. However, if he continues to be out for the next ten games, I`m sure Andy will look for a conversation with Mark. After all, he has done well for Blackburn."
Additionally, Mr. Harrison would go on to defend himself and his profession amid mounting claims of wrong-doing and corruption by stating,
"As well as being an agent I`m a salesman. During a transfer window clubs are looking for players and players are looking for clubs."
Mr. Harrison has been particularly vociferous over the summer about the situation regarding his other client at Blackburn, Lucas Neill.
It is widely reported that Neill rejected Rovers` offer of a contract extension over the summer in a bid to leave the club for pastures new. He was heavily linked with a number of teams and looked poised to leave when Liverpool made an offer for his services on transfer deadline day.
However, this failed to materialise but Mr. Harrison claims that Neill is far from unhappy at Ewood Park and when asked about how Lucas feels about being captain he responded,
"You`ll have to ask Lucas. He is, though, very proud to be the Blackburn captain. He has had five wonderful years with the club; he just felt he needed a change. When a club the size of Liverpool come in, you`re bound to take notice."
At this juncture I interrupted with a question that has been irritating many Rovers fans: is Lucas Neill really a Liverpool fan? Mr. Harrison was quick to respond after a brief chuckle,
"You`ll have to ask Lucas. No comment there."
It would appear Rovers are continuing to do everything in their power to keep Lucas with Mr. Harrison claiming,
"John Williams is still preparing a new contract offer, but we are yet to see anything. We are just taking things as they come, there is no set plan. We will look at things at a later date. Lucas has no problem with the club and intends to honour the final year of his contract. He was happy to sign that contract so he is happy to honour it."
It is refreshing to see that in the current world of football, players can still act with decency towards their employers even if they are slightly unsettled. Agents often have a heavy hand in beginning and completing transfers but this ultimately shows that it comes down to what the players want.
Despite what media billing might suggest both players seem happy enough at Blackburn Rovers and happy to continue working for the cause. Who`s to say that Neill won`t accept Rovers` new improved contract offer or that there could be a return to the first team for Todd?
There is no indication from their joint agent that either player is seeking to force a way out of the club or that anyone is trying to engineer a transfer for either player. Surely there is encouragement here for the fans.
Both Neill and Todd continue to work hard for the club and we will wait to see what developments occur with their respective situations.
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Date:Tuesday September 19 2006
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