A case of trial and error for players and clubs at this time of the year

A case of trial and error for players and clubs at this time of the year

Rochdale's Graham Cummins. /Pic: courtest Rochdale AFC

CLUBS need to be wary about giving trialists an opportunity this time of year. 

Of course bringing a trialist in gives a manager an opportunity without the promise of a contract, but too many trialists can be disruptive for a team.

At this time, clubs in England, particularly the lower league clubs will be inviting a vast amount of trialists to train with them. 

Sometimes managers do it as a favour to an agent so that the agent looks like he is working hard to get his client a club. 

Agents will ring up managers they have a good relationship with and ask for them to take a player in training for a few days even though they know the player isn’t good enough to play for the club.

Managers don’t see it as any harm apart from when they might have to not include the trialist in certain parts of the session because there are too many players for something like an 11 v 11. 

However, established players don’t relish seeing trialist after trialist come into the dressing room and disturb the place. 

I’ve been at clubs where as soon as one trialist is out the door another one is in to take his place. 

Sometimes there could be several trialists at the club at one particular time. 

Players would always watch a trialist in their first session and judge them immediately. 

It’s easy to tell the players that have a genuine chance of being signed from the ones that the manager clearly has never seen play. 

Rochdale's Graham Cummins. /Pic: courtest Rochdale AFC
Rochdale's Graham Cummins. /Pic: courtest Rochdale AFC

Established players can get frustrated by this because those trialists who do not have a realistic chance of being signed bring down the standard of training.

Players just come to the assumption that every trialist is just there as a favour by the manager to someone when they keep seeing a flock of players walking out the training ground door as quickly as they walk in.

Players at the club will do their research on trialists. 

After they have asked them their name, and position they play in, they will be typing that name into google to see what sort of career they have had up to that date, to see firstly if he could be a legitimate threat to someone's position on the team, and secondly; what sort of wages that player could be demanding.

It does help a trialist if they have played for some recognisable clubs no matter what level they have played at. 

The more experience a trialist has; the more respect he is going to have walking into a dressing room. 

Players will tend to invest more time in getting to know a trialist if they have played at a good level in the past.

Trialists themselves should do their due diligence before going to a club to make sure they have actual interest in the player. 

I have been a trialist at many clubs in the past. I had to go on trial for both St Johnstone and Exeter City before signing for both clubs. 

What is important for any trialist is to make sure that they agree to only be judged by a manager for a period of four or five days. 

I have seen trialists being at a club for too long, sometimes even three weeks. 

I believe that if a trialist hasn’t received an offer after five training sessions, other than extending their trial, then they should leave because the club don’t have any interest in signing them. 

Even if they do offer a player a deal after a number of weeks, the chances of that being an attractive offer are very low.

I went on trial to Carlisle United. That was a trial I did feel was a favour to my agent. 

Graham Kavanagh was manager at the time and although I did have a one on one meeting with him during my time there where he expressed the club were interested in me, I never felt he truly meant those words. 

My offer was a prolonged trial, which I declined. 

Clubs might feel they are helping a player by keeping him training with the squad but all it does is give a player false hope.

I would love if a rule did exist where there was a time limit to how long a player could remain on trial with a club and how many trialists clubs were allowed to have as it would help cut out a lot of false hope.

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