The media can be played. They also serve a purpose. It can be used to many, many peoples' advantages. Here I shall name them and try and give a story to give it some context.
MANAGERS USING THE MEDIA
Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is the absolute master of this. He hates journalists (apart from possibly one or two) but knows they serve a purpose. A perfect example of how he has used the media to get his message across would be the Wayne Rooney contract saga.
If you remember, before the Champions League match with Bursaspor (or after, I forget..but that's not the point) Ferguson held a press conference and it was an Oscar winning performance. He looked a genuinely broken man. He accused Rooney of disrespecting the club that gave everything to him and that the grass wasn't always greener on the other side etc. Ferguson looked defeated and this transpired to Rooney.
As it turned out, Rooney had released a piss poor statement before that CL game saying he wanted to go. Rooney, obviously, did not write this statement - his agent Paul Stretford did. Paul wrote it, showed Rooney the content and they both agreed that they woud circulate it to the world's media.
Ferguson used this statement to his advantage and turned the tables on Rooney, immediately making him feel that he had made the wrong move. In a game of chess, Rooney was now the pawn.
He later signed that contract.
MANAGERS USING THE MEDIA PT 2 (TRANSFER RELATED)
Sometimes, I am granted an interview with a manager (exclusively, although this is becoming more rare) and in it, they will tell me they want a player. Why do they do this? For many reasons. Firstly, fans will read quotes from the manager and it looks as if the manager is doing everything he can to sign someone. This happened once with a manager of a League Two side who told me he wanted [insert player here]. He told me, off the record, that he didn't actually want the player but on the record, he gave me quotes saying things like 'yeah, he's one we're looking at, so we're hopeful' etc etc.
He lied. He didn't want the player at ALL but he wanted the fans to think that he's doing everything in his power to improve the side. What a bastard eh?
I did not run the story in the end because he had told me off the record that he didn't want the player. Had he not said that, I would have ran the story genuinely believing that he did want him. See - this reporting malarkey is an absolute minefield.
PLAYERS USING THE MEDIA
Luka Modric has been mouthing off to the Croatian newspapers saying how badly he wants to leave Tottenham. The effect this has is it puts the pressure on Spurs. They are forced into reacting to this, as we have with Levy's public interviews saying 'not for sale'. Levy, I am told, will absolutely NOT sell Modric this summer because he has been so strong in his statements saying Modric stays. I understand that Levy will not go back on his word as he will be seen as 'weak' in the Spurs boardroom and among the fans.
MANAGERS DENYING INTEREST.
This has been one of the most frustrating parts of journalism in recent days and probably why I started this blog.
Managers sometimes deny interest in a player. Many people, wrongly, take this as absolute gospel truth and that the player is definitely not wanted by the manager. Bollocks. They are lying. And they are lying because they are using the media to seek an advantage... Here is why:
Managers claim they are not interested in a player for many reasons. Firstly, if they openly declared an interest, this could alert potential rivals to a players' signature and a bidding war could ensue. No club wants that - they want a free run at a player.
Secondly, publicly declaring an interest and then seeing the player snub the club = embarrassing. If you say you really want someone and they end up rejecting you, how does that make you look and feel? Rejected, obviously. And it's not a good look.
Thirdly, opening an interest through the media before approaching a club or while in negotiations with a club is often seen as disrespectful on the potential sellers' part. I'll give you an example - Manchester United completed the signing of Javier Hernandez and it was a complete shock - nobody knew as there were no leaks. No interest was put through the media. Had there been interest, who knows - a rival club (Valencia were keen at the time) could have come in and made a bid? It was all done through secrecy.
I've written a fair bit tonight and agents is a bit of a murky topic, so I'll come back to this later.
Please comment at @Darren_Can