By Chris Wright
“Think it’s broken, boss. Somebody better call 999…or Real Madrid”
As if it was in any doubt beforehand, Robbie Savage has been wibbling to the BBC this morning, compiling his very own Haynes manual on how uppity footballers can force through transfers.
Savage has divvied up his favourite dark arts into ten easily-digestible categories: Sulking, Stopping communicating, Faking injury, Media manipulation, Undermining the Manager, In-fighting, Moaning, Generally being a bad influence, Not putting in any effort and Tapping-up; methods he gleefully recounts using throughout his career to angle for lucrative moves to other clubs.
Here are the best/worst excerpts…
Sulk: Sulking is horrible and can have a real negative impact on your team-mates and the club as a whole. When you sulk, your whole demeanour changes and you bring people down with you.
I came across it all the time when I was a player and at times I could be one of the worst offenders because I couldn’t hide my emotions. When I was unhappy, it was obvious. My mood would change completely.
Stop communicating: Clamming up and staying silent is a very effective tool. It was a tactic I adopted on occasion…I wouldn’t speak to anybody. I’d train as normal but would leave as soon as it was over. I wouldn’t stay for lunch and eat with my team-mates, I would simply disappear off home.
Faking injury: It used to be so easy to fake an injury, but that has changed now. You can’t kid people as easily, but you can still fake a niggle – and they can last for ages. When you feign an injury, there is no need to limp or play act. Just say you’re not right.
Make up newspaper stories: I’ve called newspaper reporters I was close to and asked them to link me with this team or that team, even when I knew it wasn’t true. It helped get my name out there and flush out possible interest. You have to be realistic, of course. There was no point linking myself with Real Madrid because everybody would know that would be a lie!
Use the media: When I wanted to put pressure on one manager, I arranged for a camera crew to meet me at the training ground when I knew everyone was enjoying a day-off. I wanted to give the impression I was being forced to train on my own.
That night, the TV report went out and I thought I had accomplished my mission. Unfortunately for me, the manager saw straight through my gimmick. It was then that I knew I had made myself look a fool.
Undermine the manager: It was something I did. On one occasion, I was out of favour, so I went to the chairman and told him I wanted to leave. I had two years left on my contract and told him I would settle for one year’s pay if he would let me go. The news got back to the manager, who was waiting for me in reception the following morning. He wasn’t happy.
At another club, I phoned the chairman at home. It was forbidden to do that, but I felt I had no other choice. The chairman was very understanding, but the manager called me into his office the next day and told me I was out of order.
Fight with team-mates: At one club, the players knew I wanted to leave but some started to get a little upset at my antics. There was some unrest in the changing room.
One day, I had a big argument with the goalkeeper. He came over to me, had a right go and grabbed me by the throat. I got up, we scuffled and he ended up with a cut lip after my head came into contact with his face.
Moan to backroom staff: At one club, I was sitting in the physio room and let it drop that I wanted to join another club. I added that I was so confident of a deal happening that I insisted I would be playing for that club the following week.
Low and behold, the manager called me in the following day and asked me to explain myself.
Be a bad influence: Any player can cause havoc in the changing room or out on the training pitch. You just need a bad attitude.
Don’t give 100% during matches: I only did it once and I’m not proud of my actions, but it felt like it was the only avenue left open to me. That was the point at which the manager knew he had lost me and there was nothing he could do to keep me.
Let other clubs know you want to move: Tapping up is illegal but it goes on. Players do it and managers do it. I had two managers call me at home while I was still under contract at a club. And I’ve tried to engineer a move myself by speaking to players at clubs I was interested in joining.
A discreet chat with a player from another club – maybe while we were both on international duty – was an obvious way of letting another club know I was interested in signing for them.
Robbie Savage was an intolerable, obnoxious arsehole during his playing days, eh? Who’d have thunk it? The most infuriating aspect is you can just tell he sat down and regaled all this disgraceful nonsense with the broadest, proudest, smuggest grin across his creosote-slathered face. The devious, underhanded, selfish little git.
Still, it makes for some #epic #bantz.