Ian Holloway: Unforgivable how system continues to fail clubs that produce future stars

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I'm no expert on major transfer deals – I've never been at a big enough club to do any – but how unfair is a system where an agent can end up with more cash than a club which has looked after and developed a player for years?

Joey Barton's "free" move from Newcastle United to QPR allegedlyended with Rangers paying £2.5 million to agents. Now I don't know the ins and outs of this particular deal but what I do know is that it sums up what is wrong with football.

For a start, let's forget the term free transfer. There is no such thing. When a player, a commodity, is moving from one place to another, someone, somewhere will benefit.

I'm not having a pop at agents here though. It isn't their fault if they are getting lots of money. They are just doing their job. The fault lies with the system, which has been disastrous ever since the Bosman ruling.

Not long after that came into play in England, Steve McManaman went from Liverpool to Real Madrid. He was worth £11m at the time, yet he went for nothing on a Bosman,

How on earth was that fair to Liverpool, whose coaching staff played a huge part in making McManaman the player he was? They worked with him, improved him as a player,gave him a chance in the team... and then, because of the rules, were powerless to stop him toddling off to Spain.

I think every football fan would agree that the majority of money involved in any transfer should stay in the game. It shouldn't go to the player or agent – it should go to the club that has helped produce them.

There are many examples of that not happening. Rio Ferdinand went from Leeds United to Manchester United for £30m. Fair enough. Leeds lost a great player but were compensated financially. But, around the same time, Sol Campbell left Spurs on a free for Arsenal. I wouldn't say those two players, at that time, were too far apart in terms of their quality as centre-halves. But Campbell and his agent no doubt made a killing, while Tottenham – who had given him his debut at the age of 18 and worked hard to make him a better player for a decade – got nothing. I would love someone to tell me how that is fair.

In my opinion, it is diabolical that a club cannot get any money for a player who comes to the end of his contract. That is how the agents have power. They'll say to another club: "My fella is over 24, his contract is up, do you want him for nowt? How much are you going to pay him and how much am I going to get?", and then they'll give their player to the club that offers the most. In Barton's case that was obviously QPR.

I don't blame the buying club at all. We all want to sign good players. But it is depressing that it has come to this. In my day it was a privilege and an honour to play for the badge. Now all too often it is about the bank balance.

Don't blame players though, nor the agents. This was bound to happen as soon as our game gave footballers the power to walk out for free.

I experienced it in the summer at Blackpool with two midfielders, Charlie Adam and David Vaughan. We had Charlie on a long-term contract so we could make a half-decent profit on him. We sold him to Liverpool for £7m. David's contract had run out. We tried to convince him to sign a new deal but we couldn't and he left for nothing. Yet the difference on the pitch between those two players in terms of talent was hardly anything, so how can it be right that for one we receive millions and for the other we get sod all?

The people at the head of the game should have realised the ramifications of the Bosman ruling. It has been earth-shattering and it is the clubs that suffer. We have some marvellous football clubs in England, with wonderful traditions and superb fans. But if we want them to be around for the foreseeable future, we have to change the system to help them.



Signing Phillips was genius

My highlight of the season so far is getting the chance to work with Kevin Phillips on a daily basis. He is a striker I used to watch on Match of the Day, and for years I've been thinking "God he's a fantastic talent".

I never got to play with Kev and I thought I'd missed out on managing him too, until I finally managed to get my hands on him during the summer when I persuaded him to come to Blackpool. I don't think anyone will make a better signing in the Championship, because he is absolutely top notch and an example to any young striker wanting to better their game.

I just wish people weren't so obsessed by his age. Every journalist interviewing me bangs on about Kev being 38. They raise their eyes as they say it, as if they're discussing a bloke who is about to turn 70.

Believe it or not, Kev is one of the fittest in our squad. His body fat is 8.6 per cent. A lot of the lads half his age are worse than that. He scored four goals in his first couple of matches and I can guarantee you he is just as sharp as he always has been.

Everyone knows his shooting is first class, both right and left foot, but even his heading is spot on – when he puts his forehead through the ball it is like a hammer going through a nail. Wallop.

All I can say is Kev is a pleasure to work with and I can't wait to see what he does this season.

Chelsea right not to punish Torres – but controlling players is tough

The coverage of football in the media is superb these days. But the downside is that it can make life a nightmare for football managers, because we never know who our players have been talking to.

I don't believe for one moment that Fernando Torres called the old players at Chelsea slow. He doesn't strike me as that type of lad but it sums up how controlling players is an increasingly difficult problem. You can only look after them a certain amount of time.

You do your best to instil good values into them but the only thing to do is deal with them swiftly and effectively if they do step out of line.

At Blackpool last year, I discovered three of my players had been dancing until the early hours in a local nightclub after we'd lost a game.

When I was naughty, my dad's form of punishment would be to stop me from going out. I loved playing football at the local park, so keeping me in really hurt and taught me to behave.

That is exactly what I did with the Blackpool players. I didn't fine them – they've all got enough money. But I left them out of my team for a few games, because that is the biggest punishment you can give a player.

Chelsea have decided not to punish Torres and quite rightly so in my opinion. It means they can concentrate on the football and that might be bad news for everyone else, because I think they are a team to keep an eye on. The Manchester clubs might be hogging the headlines at the moment but Chelsea, from what I've seen, can mount a title challenge.

They have one of the best players I've seen in a long time in Juan Mata. He has made a huge difference.

A successful team is nothing to do with age, it is about the balance of the side and Andre Villas-Boas' biggest problem is up front deciding which strikers to go with. My tip for this season is Daniel Sturridge. I think he is quality, will soon become a regular and may just be Chelsea's main goalscoring threat.



Emotional return

My favourite memory of school is leaving. Education and I didn't really mix, though it did have one big upside – I met my wife. I was reminded of this on Thursday when I returned to my old high school, the Sir Bernard Lovell School in Bristol, to open a new sports centre. I left there 32 years ago and it felt like prison because I was rubbish at every subject. I got the cane for being generally uninterested.

But it was there I first laid eyes on Kim. She was 14, I was a year older. Three decades on we're still together and happily married with four kids.

It was quite emotional going back but the new headteacher, a fella called David Turrell, has overseen a brand new state-of-the-art £5 million sports complex. It's been 15 years in the planning. The man is a credit to his profession and I wish I was a pupil there now, because it is brilliant.

Mind you, I'd still hate maths.

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