A spectacular own goal

02 September 2019 | Lloyd Hughes

A news story that came to light over the last few days has been around a young Liverpool player looking to make a move to a new club thanks to a lack of playing time.

The player in question, Bobby Duncan, is 18-years-old and signed from Man City in 2018.

Now, read that again…

Yes, he’s 18.

And he expects to start getting into the first team of the current European champions.

An attacking player, he’d be looking to get in ahead of the likes of Salah, Mane, Firmino, three of the best in Europe, and established internationals such as Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and, the returning from injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Not at that level

Quite simply, whilst talented, he isn’t at that level yet.

If he was 20/21 and had been toiling hard in the junior teams for several years then you could understand his frustration. However, at 18? It’s an attitude that’s far too premature.

It turns out, that Duncan has pretty much thrown his toys out the pram and demanded to leave due to a lack of playing time.

There’d been rumours of discontent, but the whole scenario eventually came to light when his agent, Saif Rubie, posted an inflammatory ‘statement’ on Twitter about how Liverpool were threatening Duncan’s mental health by preventing him leaving the club and that he’d been confined to his bedroom for four days in apparent despair.

Now, mental health is a serious issue and people shouldn’t dismiss the claim out of hand. However, should his agent really be shouting about this on social media and exposing him to a wider audience if he had his best interests at heart?

Throughout the statement, Rubie made several references to Duncan’s low salary (a junior player’s salary), whilst mentioning the fact that Duncan was Steven Gerrard’s cousin (he is) as if that gave him more of a right to Liverpool playing time.

In the wake of its publication, Rubie also mocked club legend, Jamie Carragher, for his thoughts on the matter, bringing up Carragher’s infamous 2018 spitting incident in retort.

Liverpool Twitter

Given his incendiary approach, Liverpool Twitter – as the club’s online fan base is known – absolutely tore him to shreds.

In the past, they’ve gone as far as ringing airports to query who’s arriving/what the flight purpose is of private jets in the hope of getting insight on new signings, whilst also, pretty much, getting Daniel Sturridge’s dog returned to him following a home robbery in LA.

It’s a huge group of fans that leaves no stone unturned in its investigatory endeavours.

Predictably, Liverpool Twitter dug deep on Rubie’s timeline and subsequently unearthed old tweets that revealed homophobic sentiment as well as criticisms of those with mental health issues. Others posted private videos/recordings he’d sent to supposed ‘models’ offering to fly them out to Dubai (his usual residence) in a pretty seedy manner.

In the face of the onslaught Rubie deleted his Twitter account, while Duncan also deleted his brief endorsement of the statement before blacking out his profile and cover photos.

Rubie’s confrontational, explosive decision to ‘out’ Liverpool backfired spectacularly. Somewhat hilariously (in my book anyway), his pinned Tweet focused on an interview he conducted with GQ Middle East, in which he said, “Your reputation is your biggest currency” and emphasised the need to present the right attitude to keep all parties happy.

He couldn’t have strayed further from his own advice.

Calamitous Decision

I can’t remember who, but someone high profile also commented that surely, it’s the first time a PR adviser has had to delete their own Twitter profile off the back of their own ‘advice’ to someone else? Certainly, in football terms anyway.

It’s been an absolutely calamitous decision.

Today, Duncan’s since been rumoured to be off to Fiorentina in a permanent deal and the word is it’s being brokered by Duncan’s old agent Rob Segal, as Liverpool are refusing to engage with Rubie, cutting him out of proceedings (despite Duncan being pictured heading to Italy alongside him – no doubt in a face saving exercise).

PR Own Goal

The whole thing has been a monumental own goal for both Rubie and Duncan. Prospective players looking for an agent will no doubt think twice before working with Rubie, whilst clubs will avoid interacting with him. Duncan is now tarred with the bad attitude brush, which has been the undoing of so many promising young players. He’s also likely to be seen off with some venom from Liverpool fans, a notoriously unforgiving bunch. As a supposed boyhood Liverpool fan, you’d think that might sting a little – but given his apparent sense of self-worth, perhaps not.

If his mental wellbeing is genuinely being affected, he’d be well advised to get new advisers who don’t expose him to the lens of such public opprobrium.

Saif to say, it was a bad decision all round by the looks of things.

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