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Old 19th October 2015, 11:57   #1
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Default The Secret Footballer's Diary: Fathers favour sons?

The Secret Footballer's Diary: Fathers favour sons? Debate the cases of Pulis, Rodgers, Clough, Redknapp and Ince

19 Oct, 2015

What are your thoughts on managers who employ their sons?

I can see why they do it.

After all, there is no “test”, as such, for sons, at least when it comes to commanding a position in a professional squad.

It is a matter of opinion, the manager’s opinion, and therefore that makes it very difficult to dispute in any realm other than the confines of the people who run professional football clubs.

Even then, those people may not choose to make anything of it if the manager is doing a good job.

Players who have benefited from this would arguably be Anthony Pulis, the son of the former Stoke City manager, Tony Pulis.

Anthony played for Portsmouth and Stoke at the same time as his father managed the clubs.

And yet, while his father was in charge, he made only two league appearances in that time, both for Stoke.

When at Stoke, Tony loaned Anthony to four clubs. In total, he made only 18 league appearances for them.

Ten years after signing his first professional contract in England, Anthony left for Orlando City – a third-tier side in the United States – where he played for two years.

In a 12-year career, ten of them in England, Anthony played just 90 league games – 46 in England, 44 in the US.

Looking at those stats, you may be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that having a father as a manager provides a huge step up the ladder.

Other managers, it could be argued, who are or were benefiting their offspring might include Brendan Rodgers – the former Liverpool boss – with his son, Anton.

Anton is not the world’s most gifted midfielder, which explains why he is at League One Swindon Town.

Don’t get me wrong, Swindon play some decent stuff from time to time, but they are renowned for signing players from managers who can do them favours.

They had a big relationship with Tottenham Hotspur, when they loaned about half the Spurs youth team.

And thanks to their employment of Anton, I suspect, they were able to sign from Liverpool defender/midfielder Jordan Williams, right back/midfielder Kevin Stewart and winger Ryan Kent on season-long loans.

Another Liverpool youngster, goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux, was sent back from a loan spell at the County Ground after turning up late for training and then paying his £50 fine in 1p pieces.

Good banter for a 21-year-old, it has to be said. But it was taken entirely out of context by Swindon, who rather surprisingly took offence. Vigouroux has since returned to the Wiltshire club.

And Swindon manager Mark Cooper was sacked on Saturday after the 2-0 defeat at Millwall, which left the team in 20th place in the table.

But I digress …

There are talented sons who have benefited their fathers directly.

Nigel Clough was a decent player for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest before becoming one of Liverpool’s most expensive signings when he joined the Merseysiders for £2.75 million in 1993-94.

That was a lot of dough back then, kids.

And Jamie Redknapp became a teenage revelation for father Harry’s Bournemouth side when he broke into the south-coast side’s starting XI.

His promise very quickly persuaded Liverpool – yes, again – to part with £350,000 for his services in 1991.

Looking back, you’d have to say that was pretty good business.

The truth is: yes, it helps if your father is, or was, in the game. If he’s a manager, then so much the better for all concerned.

I am sure that there are plenty of fathers who have played the game who act as agents for their sons to keep the cash in the family, as it were.

Any amount of players who I know whose fathers played football are now in academies up and down the country.

It’s the easiest phone call a father who has any kind of standing in the game can make.

Even if the son doesn’t “make it”, he is now in the game and has met the movers and shakers.

Then the agency world opens up – scouting, coaching, the possibilities are almost endless.

The best example that I can think of where a father has perhaps called in favours that, to the rest of us, look obvious was the protracted transfer of Tom Ince, the son of former Manchester United player Paul Ince.

I sat at home last year watching a host of Championship clubs lining up to sign Tom, when out of the blue I read that he was flying to Italy to talk to his father’s former club, Inter Milan.

At the time, I allowed myself a wry smile and a roll of the eyes.

OK, he eventually signed for Derby County this year, but I guess that if you can open doors like that of Inter for your own flesh and blood, why wouldn’t you?
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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