Graham Cummins: A new signing is a rival, not ‘healthy competition’

Jack Grealish's arrival at Man City won't have been welcomed by many in the squad
Graham Cummins: A new signing is a rival, not ‘healthy competition’

Manchester City's Jack Grealish takes on the Tottenham Hotspur defence. 

WITH just 11 days remaining in the transfer window, some players will be excited about a new challenge if they can get away from a club they don’t want to be at, but other players will fear that their club is about to bring in a new face who is going to take their place in the team.

The transfer window provides players with the opportunity to leave a club where they feel they are not getting a chance, or if they think the club can no longer match their ambitions. The window can also cause unrest for a player who was settled at a club, but the manager has bought someone new and the player will become surplus to requirements.

I can never understand a player who is happy to see his club recruit someone who plays in his position unless he has no motivation to play matches.

Players will say it’s healthy competition and good for the team to have so many players fighting for a shirt, but, from a selfish perspective, a player has to be disappointed when a new signing, who is competing for his position, walks into the dressing room.

Manchester City star Phil Foden recently expressed his delight at Jack Grealish joining the club, but the former Aston Villa man is competition for Foden and after waiting patiently to become a regular in Pep Guardiola’s team, the 21-year-old Foden must be worried that he could be spending most of his Saturday’s watching matches, rather than playing in them.

Foden is talented and the best players will always back their own ability, no matter who they are competing against, but it’s a lot easier for a player to play his best knowing that he can have an off day without having someone waiting to capitalise.

I always dreaded reading reports that my club were looking for a new striker. I wanted to play every game and wasn’t happy that someone else might come in and jeopardise that.

I don’t agree that a new signing can ‘ease the burden’ on a player in his position. It doesn’t ease the burden: It does the opposite and increases the pressure on the player.

I always found it presumptuous, patronising, and hypocritical of managers when they signed a new player and then told me, ‘I’m signing him to help you’. I always saw a manager signing a striker as an indication that the manager believed I wasn’t good enough.

If the shoe was on the other foot, the manager wouldn’t be happy. How many times have we seen managers fall out with owners because the club has recruited a director of football?

Some managers see a director of football as a person who is going to question every decision they make and someone that could potentially take their job.

Having too big a squad creates awkwardness and tension in a team. That awkwardness happens from the first handshake because you know that the new signing is coming to take your place. 

As a player, you don’t know if you should be friendly with him or not, because the new player is someone who, potentially, could finish your career at the club.

You might then have to move location to find a new club and be on a lower wage because you’re not going to find a club to match your previous wages when you haven’t been playing every week.

The tense environment is created from players talking to one another about why they should be playing ahead of someone else, but because the club had to fork out a lot of money for the new player, they are going to play him in most games.

Maybe football has changed since I first started playing, in terms of players no longer wanting to play every week. Players spend more time now complaining about the number of games they have to play in, and perhaps they are happy playing every other week.

Numerous players didn’t start last weekend, because of their involvement in Euro 2020, but it’s the first game of the season, and if they had really wanted, they could have got into the right condition and demanded of their managers that they start the opening-day game of the season.

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