It was announced this morning that Aidan White has rejected a proposal to extend his deal at Elland Road beyond the end of the season. This news will add further worry to the club who are already sweating over the future of club captain Jonny Howson, who is also out of contract in the summer. Losing key players on free transfers at the end of the season is something that has been happening too frequently over the last couple of years. Jermaine Beckford is a prime example of this, as he was the clubs top scorer for three seasons in a row, yet he was allowed to leave for nothing due to the club being unable to negotiate a new deal with the player and his agent.
Another couple of examples of this are Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny, who were both allowed to leave the club even though they were instrumental in the clubs return to English football's second tier. Some people believe this is happening due to the club chairman Ken Bates not willing to offer his players competitive salaries, so they then choose to leave the club for a bigger wage packet. The other side of this is that players agents are now demanding inflated wages for their players, which due to the financial state of the game the club, cannot afford to pay. This throws up the question, is football just about money now? Has the passion of playing for the club and supporters gone out of the game?
With inflated transfer fees dominated European and World football then people could say that the game is just about money now, with some players being paid up to £200,000 a week. However if you look at some of United's recent performances they have been ones filled with passion, determination and a will to win. This has been key to the clubs rise to fifth in the Championship table and on course to be challenging for promotion at the end of the season, which would be a massive achievement for Simon Grayson, who is managing the club on a shoestring budget.
Grayson was set one clear target at the start of the season after narrowly missing out on the play offs last year, it was to get the club promoted back to the top flight after an eight year exodus. But to do that, he needs the club to keep hold of their key players, by tying them down to longer contracts . Players like Robert Snodgrass and Adam Clayton, the two stand out players of this season only have a year to run after this and bigger clubs will come sniffing round at the end of the season to try and get them on the cheap. So if the club aim to progress this season they must keep hold of their star assets, which may mean having to give in to the demands of agents.
The chairman is the one person who holds the key to all this happening, hopefully he will make the right decision and come May, the club will be celebrating promotion to the top flight.