Jake: ‘true colours? If only’

Josh Maja seems more or less blameless in the series of events that led to today’s astonishing development.

If Sunderland AFC is telling the truth, Maja told Jack Ross yesterday he wanted to stay and would today sign a generous new contract (did someone say at seven times his current salary, precisely as demanded by his agent?). Instead his agent told not SAFC, but Sky, he would not be signing.

We must avoid getting on high horses about the player himself. He is paid to play football, not to be a supporter of the club he plays for.

His career will be short. He has as much right to look for the best deal he can get as any IT technician, plumber, accountant or member of any other trade or profession.

There is virtually no tradition of loyalty in football, except that given by supporters to their clubs. A player should not be expected to show what is not shown to players, to or by managers, to or by boards of directors.

But if it comes down to normal, decent human conduct, we are entitled to ask whether the agents – who list Maja’s value at 225K, somewhat less than if he had a longer present contract – accept the owner, Stewart Donald, was accurate with this tweet:

‘I would have kept Josh news in-house but once his agent informed Sky & they report it that he doesn’t want to sign we have to repsond.He wants to sign it this agent that has said don’t!!! Stay behind him and don’t get up his back – we will try & change his mind.’

And this:

‘Josh Maja update. Yesterday Josh asked to see Jack to say he will sign. Today I got a call from Sky TV saying he won’t sign.

Josh advised his agent has said don’t sign but no courtesy to tell the club – Also we offered what the agent indicated!!! Busy January ahead.’

Even by the low standards of football agents, this suggests conduct of an appalling nature. Off the cuff, we can think of three signs of poor behaviour: discourtesy, arrogance and manipulation.

But there must surely be another side to the story. Josh changed his mind without the least encouragement. The agents tried for hours to contact the Stadium of Light to make sure the owner knew before Sky viewers, but couldn’t get through. Celtic or Huddersfield have offered Josh a guaranteed starting place for the rest of the season. Someone just forgot something. Think of your own explanation – Salut! Sunderland simply repeats what has been said elsewhere and its pages are open to the agent for any clarification considered necessary.

A media friend tells me the idea that all agents are sharks is silly. The club set the deadline, not Maja or his agent. I await with interest what the agents have to say – and have searched the usual sources online without success –  given that the club’s view is so damning.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

19 Responses to “Josh Maja cannot be blamed, but doesn’t someone in this tale owe an explanation?” Subscribe

  1. Neil January 4, 2019 at 6:10 pm #

    They have been trying to get Maja to sign for some time now. They had to set a deadline. After the nonsense of the last few years the club won’t/can’t be held hostage. Get as much for him as we can.

    We’ve seen it all before…Gabban, Gyan, Bent etc.

    We’ll be alright. Wait til Bali Mumba gets a run in the team. Wyke and Watmore will score goals.

    Onwards and upwards

  2. Eric012 January 4, 2019 at 6:12 pm #

    I doubt I’ll be watching him tomorrow. The club will use the old chestnut “his head is not in the right place”.

    • Eric012 January 5, 2019 at 9:10 pm #

      Played and played well.

  3. malcolm January 4, 2019 at 6:36 pm #

    Let’s not forget how young Josh Maja is. He may well wish to stay but I used to think estate agents, mortgage advisors, solicitors and insurance brokers would work in my best interests until experience led me to believe otherwise.

    Maj has put his trust in his agent who he will be expecting to work in his best interests. The cynic in me distrusts anyone whose level of income is commission based.

    He is in a good place and learning his trade at present. A look at Connor Wickham, Joel Asoro and Jack Colback might make him stop and think as might a quiet word from Jermain Defoe.

    • Brian January 5, 2019 at 12:50 am #

      You seriously believe defoe dropped money going to Bournemouth?
      You believe colback, asoro, wickham regret moving…their bank accounts attest otherwise.
      Grabban was a loanee.
      If it goes wrong for maja i am sure the minimum 20k pw he will get will placate him compared with the 5k a week he would get with us.
      Besides messrs methven and donald have got some nerve inferring the motives of greedy agents.
      2 wide boys who got a massive club on the smell of an oily rag and using parachute payments to pay back the owner.
      Short was a proper owner who put his money where his mouth his as opposed to pithy patronising platitudes that these 2 fly by noghts specialise in.

      • Neil January 5, 2019 at 11:23 am #

        Brian, you need to get your gall bladder checked….you’re producing too much bile

      • David Miller January 6, 2019 at 4:38 pm #

        Brian, the point being made was none of those players have improved their careers, particularly the “promising” young ones – who are minor players in the history of our club – and whose appearances since leaving reveal their talents to be even less than minor.

        Defoe was trying to extend the twilight of his international career, and failed.

        And what have Gyan and Bent achieved?

  4. vince January 4, 2019 at 11:28 pm #

    No surprise really, the dye was cast when we were relegated, any half decent payer is now going to leap at going to a club in the higher division given the chance,we just have to get back up there.

    Even then it’s hard hanging on to quality players, new year but same old …..

  5. Paul Summerside January 5, 2019 at 12:07 am #

    What if the whole situation is being engineered to sell Maja?

    Going public with this is surely causing more unrest, and alerting the entire world to Majas availability.

    I get the impression that 5 mil would be hard for the current regime to turn down.

    They may see an academy product they did not fund, as an instant cash in.

    Another addition to the ever increasing pot of money NOT BEING SPENT at SAFC.

    They have already secured a 300k pot from Boxing day ticket sales, around 4 million fees for Ndong and Djillibodgi, so could comfortably stretch to 15k a week for 3 years to secure Maja’s services.

    Something just doesn’t fit here.

    To lose Maja, 5 goals in last 7 games, would cast serious doubts on automatic promotion.

    Surely this was the goal set by Donald and Methven early doors.

    Sometimes you just have to pay the going price. Maja’s would seem to be 12-15k over 3 years. Peanuts if it secures promotion.

    It’s really not a p***take. Gibson Rodwell etc were that. This is a young kid full of promise and we should do our utmost to retain his services.

    The consequences of another year in this league would be dire.

    • salutsunderland January 5, 2019 at 12:13 am #

      To go along with that, Paul, wouldn’t I need to be one of those who believe Princess Diana was murdered?

      It’s a jolly conspiracy story but needs the agent to agree to be pilloried, the footballer to be a willing participant in a strange plot and our owners to be daft

  6. Andy January 5, 2019 at 12:11 am #

    Maja can’t be blamed? Surely he’s in charge of his own destiny, his choice of agent, how he’s advised and whether to act or not on that advice.

    Yes, he’s just a very young man and has to do the best for himself, so maybe ‘blame’ is not the correct term to use.

    But he must have some input into his own future and therefore be responsible for his own decision-making.

    And therefore changing from cult hero to despised figure among fans who are loyal to the club without reservation, as recent support has once again proven.

    • Neil January 5, 2019 at 1:42 pm #

      Blame is an odd word. But he has to take responsibility for his own life. He has avoided the contract extension for some time. This was his decision. With the January window Safc had to do something.

      It will be interesting to see if the Safc supporting contractarians are happy if Maja goes to Newcastle for £5 million….and we fail to win promotion.

      • malcolm January 7, 2019 at 12:24 am #

        Maja is still a young man and presumably has appointed an agent to advise him, they advised him not to sign and he’s simply following their advice. I don’t pretend to have any inside info on this but is it not possible his agents don’t want him to sign before they have checked out the deal on the table? They must also have other clients demanding their time who are probably worth more to them. Then of course with the window having just opened, they may well be keeping their options open for a bit longer.

        At the moment it all seems a bit like the club wanting to stand firm and to be seen to be doing so, and the agents posturing to show they won’t be pushed around.

        Maja is stuck in the middle and perhaps it would be better to wait and see what happens, rather than speculate.

  7. Drummer January 5, 2019 at 7:28 am #

    By making the deadline public in the first place the owners have backed themselves and Maja into a corner . This all could’ve been sorted out one way and another in house . We’re not taking about an NDong or Pappy here , the lad is playing for us and banging them in . By creating ‘red lines ‘ and making them public someone now has to back down ,virtually guaranteeing Maja will be sold . Brilliant, another goal scorer gone ! I trust some of the moaners in the SOL who constantly rubbish him will be happy when the goals dry up .

    • William C January 6, 2019 at 3:45 pm #

      ” Creating ‘ red lines ‘ and making them public someone now has to back down ”

      Are our owners studying the Theresa May negotiating manual?.

  8. CSB January 5, 2019 at 10:12 am #

    No player is bigger than the Club. Maja has to make decisions based upon money and decisions based upon football, cash or career, the two can be mutually exclusive or if planned right can go hand in hand. It’s not an easy balance for Club or player.

    If he goes then we will get over it, its not the end of the world and others will step up to the plate. Unseemly, yes it is and it would have been better if it all could have been handled internally but there you go.

    If he wants to go the farewell and lets get the cash and reinvest. Jack Ross has been very vocal about the type of professional he wants at the Club, players who want to be here and are up for the fight, maybe Maja just isn’t one of those player, so we move on.

  9. Roddy January 5, 2019 at 4:01 pm #

    Maja will do what’s best for Maja (and his agent).

    Nowadays, the old ‘team loyalty’ principle lives only in the minds of supporters. But in reality, it’s a dusty old relic gathering dust in a museum. Today it’s all about money, prestige and the spotlight. And there’s little of that to be found in League 1.

    He will move on to ‘greener’ pastures. Whether it works out for him is another matter.

  10. Paul January 5, 2019 at 9:21 pm #

    Jack Ross is the voice of reason here. As he says, Maja is doing a great job scoring goals and has not asked to leave. Encourage him to stay. Surely promotion must be worth more than a few million to us.
    I support Donald and his efforts to restore our community club, but once again his actions on player contracts have been naive. No need to publicise the deadline and conduct negotiations in public, (unless it’s to solicit bids this month). It runs the risk of fans turning against Maja needlessly. Same as at the beginning of the season when Honeyman, Gooch, Cattermole and McGeady faced vile abuse on social media when Donald told us nobody wanted to stay! Jack Ross simply said the lads are on holiday and I’ve not spoken to them yet.
    Some common sense please lads.

    • Drummer January 6, 2019 at 9:02 am #

      Agreed , Maja and the other lads you mentioned aren’t N’Dong or Pappi who deserved the public shaming. They’re good players doing the best for the club and themselves. The owners have done a fantastic job but we the fans don’t need to hear every twist and turn of ongoing contract negotiations. After the fact fine , during , it causes friction.

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