QPR youth boss Steve Gallen says agents are making it tougher for clubs to keep their young players’ feet on the ground.
More than a decade ago the then Rangers manager Ian Holloway bemoaned the unrealistic wage demands of the club’s youngsters.
And Gallen believes the relentless involvement of agents even at youth level means the problem has continued.
He said: “Most of my lads here do not have agents, but they sniff around all the time. It hurts me because it is hard to keep them away.
“It’s difficult. Last season we had the agent of a first-team player getting in his ear to have a word with one of the youth-team players.
“He [the agent] would be saying to him ‘Get me his number’. So the first-team player approaches my player and he is telling him to go with his agent. ‘He will sort you out like he has with me’ – that sort of thing.
“So my player, who is a lovely kid – the most humble, head down, focused, hardworking, respectful lad you could meet – his agent then comes to us with a ridiculous proposal.
“The problem is you get people representing these players who are not humble, hardworking people. But they are in their ears telling them ‘I can get you a move, I can do this, I can do that.’
“Some players believe them and have their heads turned by them.”
He certainly believes that was the case when Raheem Sterling left QPR to join Liverpool in 2010 – a move which still irks Gallen.
He battled in vain to keep Sterling at Loftus Road amid interest from a number of top clubs.
“Raheem’s mother is a nice lady. I got to know the family well,” he recalled.
“We were trying so hard to keep him at QPR. It was like me and his mum vs Raheem and his agent.
“I would be saying ‘You need to stay at QPR, you can stay and we will develop you’ and I had his mum at my side trying to get him to stay with us as well. On the other side you had his agent.
“To be fair, it hasn’t exactly worked out too badly for him at Liverpool.
“He is a great talent but, speaking as a QPR fan, it would have been brilliant if we could have kept him.”
Sterling aside, there has been a distinct lack of youngsters progressing through the ranks at Rangers in the last 15 years or so.
It is hoped that the proposed improvements to the club’s academy will put that right in the coming years.
It the meantime, it is hoped that the likes of Michael Doughty, Jordan Gibbons, Frankie Sutherland and Michael Harriman can establish themselves at senior level.
Doughty and Gibbons enjoyed loan spells at St Johnstone and Inverness respectively last season, while midfelder Sutherland came back early from Portsmouth after not playing enough to satisfy Gallen that it was worth him staying at Fratton Park to sit on the bench.
Sutherland has since gone on to establish himself in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 side.
So too is Harriman – despite Gallen initially being unaware that the defender qualified to represent the Republic.
Gallen explained: “Before one game I tell them in the dressing room that the scout from the FAI will be watching and, just so I’m clear, I ask who the Irish lads are.
“I’m looking at Frankie and then Harriman sticks his hand up. I was shocked, I’ve known him for years and didn’t know his granddad is from Limerick.
“He has really embraced it, but he’s still a Northolt lad!”
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