Friday, 10 December 2010


Simon Grayson believes bad advice from agents has been a factor in the current stalemate in contract talks between Leeds United and several of their players.

In-form striker Luciano Becchio, Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny lead a list of nine squad members who are in the
final 12 months of existing deals at Elland Road.

Discussions began in the summer over possible extensions but, so far, only striker Davide Somma has committed his future to the Championship club.

Ken Bates revealed earlier this week that United remain hopeful of reaching agreement with Becchio, the chairman citing language problems and the player's agent being based overseas as the reason for the hold-up.

With regards the others, however, agreement seems some way off with Grayson telling Johnson in the wake of the midfielder being booed during Saturday's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace that Leeds will not be increasing their offer.

Asked yesterday by the Yorkshire Post whether players were guilty of not being realistic in terms of their own value, the United manager said: "Only the agents and the players will know where they are going in terms of whether they hang fire and play a bit of a gambling game.

"I think a lot of players, and I don't just mean at this club, are too easily influenced by their agents. What I mean by that is agents don't get paid as much money when their player is re-signing for a club as opposed to joining another club.

"The agent sees more money from a free transfer to another club. I think players are advised badly and they should go with their own instinct and make up their own mind instead of being influenced by agents, who I think have got different criteria."

The on-going saga over whether the soon-to-be out-of-contract players at Elland Road will sign new deals has stark similarities with what happened last season with Jermaine Beckford, who refused to sign and subsequently left on a free transfer.

United will be keen for that not to be repeated, especially as the likes of Johnson, Kilkenny and Becchio are highly regarded by other managers.

Hull City have already had a swap deal for Johnson turned down, while Becchio has been linked with a possible £1m move to Nottingham Forest.

Whether Leeds choose to cash in when the transfer window re-opens next month remains to be seen but Grayson insists the saga will not be allowed to disrupt his side's impressive recent form.

He said: "The contract situation does not affect my work. I have made my stance clear from day one. Bradley Johnson, for example, made a decision to turn down his contract and I always said that if he plays well then he will stay in the team.

"That is no different following the reaction of the crowd. It will remain that way right up until the moment he leaves the club – whether that be January, in the summer or in two to three years' time.

"I did it with Jermaine last season. That decision was taken by myself and the chairman. Ultimately, Jermaine lost his form and came out of the team but that was based on football reasons. That will be the same with the players who don't sign contracts.

"This sort of thing is just part and parcel of the job. I am not the only manager who has to deal with players coming out of contract. We have one eye on similar situations at other clubs where players coming out of contract may be available, whether in the summer or January.

"It comes with the territory. Some people may say we are suffering but we are also trying to take advantage of it at other clubs."

As for Johnson being booed by the United fans last weekend, Grayson added: "It was the first time we had played at home since the contract situation had come up. There had been a few boos at Norwich but Bradley stayed in the team because he played well.

"If we had been winning (against Palace) when Bradley came off, I am not sure he would have got the same level of boos. But he has to understand that when you make the decision he has then you run the risk of upsetting the fans.

"Jermaine got booed last season but, ultimately, won them round by his goals and helped us get promoted. The future will take care of itself but players should look into decisions deeply and realise the problems they can cause with the fans."

Among the other players due to fall out of contract at Elland Road next summer are Patrick Kisnorbo, Shane Higgs, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes, Lubomir Michalik and Jason Crowe.

Several of those names seem destined to leave United with Grayson confirming that Crowe has been told he is not part of the club's plans.

The Leeds manager, who was a target for Saturday's opponents Burnley earlier this year, said: "Jason has had opportunities to go out on loan but declined them. He is not in my squad of 25 and that tells you he won't be playing.

"It is disappointing but that is his decision. I can't force players out. I can't drive them to a club myself. But I feel players who turn down loan moves run the risk of being left under the radar."

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