I often see and hear young kids talking about how they have a player manager or how one of their teammates has one. They speak like they are on their way to the NRL now because of signing with someone. It is understandable. They are young and just excited but you have to keep things in perspective and realize that having a manager isn’t the answer to you progressing through the ranks.
If you want to get selected in teams or have options of clubs to play for, then the solution is simple. Be the best. If you are the best player in your comp then you will have contract offers. You don’t need a player manager for this. This is the most effective way.
If you do have a manager then it is still the best way. Your manager can then do the negotiations for you and get the best deal possible. It is also good if you or your family aren’t confident to ask for more money, or don’t even know what to ask for.
Player managers don’t make money on young kids. So it is a numbers game for most of them. Get a lot of kids signed up, hope their natural abilities get them through to some higher grades, and just see who rises to the top. That is then where they can make some money. It is just the nature of that industry. I think it could be different but it can’t be your full-time gig if you are being selective with who you have on your books or if you don’t already have a top liner or two making some really good money.
I am not saying managers are bad people or that you shouldn’t have one. What I am saying is that if you are a young bloke you should be focusing on increasing your performance and not thinking that just because you have a manager you will achieve all your desired goals. Managers can only do so much. They may be able to get you a trial at a club they have a connection with or something like that but all they can do is get you an opportunity. The rest is up to you. Also help them out by being that good so that they can “sell” you out there. I hear disgruntled players saying their manager wasn’t good or something along those lines, basically blaming them for where they are in their career. Think of it like this. If you were really that great do you think someone wouldn’t have just come and asked you to sign with them? Even if your manager sucked and you were killing it, you would more than likely be at a club playing the grade you wanted to.
In saying that, some managers do suck. It’s like everything. You have good ones, average ones, and bad ones. To me, the worst is when you are just a number and a name on an email list they send around to clubs when you are off contract. If you walk past your manager and he doesn’t even recognize you to say hello, then I think it’s time to find a new one and probably someone without as many players.
If a manager has a heap of top liners it is unlikely he will have much time to put into a young 15 year old. If some of their players are making $500,000 a year he may get $30,000 out of each of them. That is his priority. It pays his bills. So if you are a really highly rated 15 year old you may get the support you need because they need a new wave of players coming through. But if you are just ok, you may not hear a lot from him or you will get an off-sider. So know who you are signing with.
Your future is in your hands, not theirs. At the end of the day they can guide you a little bit but ultimately decisions made still come back to you. They may even get you a gig at a club but when you dig into it further you may not feel it is the best place for you to be at or go to. It is ok to speak with your manager about this and sit down and decide the best path for YOU.
To sum up, if you have a manager that is good, if not, it doesn’t matter. Be the best player in your position, your team, your comp, and things will take care of themselves.