Gutho delay exposes Eels’ lack of respect for skipper
If Parramatta aren't careful they will lose Clint Gutherson, and have only themselves to blame.
Eels chief executive Bernie Gurr came out last week and had a crack, I think at me among others, saying people who are bagging the club now are the same people criticising them last year.
Gurr can twist the story anyway he wants but what he failed to mention is that no one ever bagged Gutherson.
In actual fact, all I ever did was praise his commitment, using Gutherson as the example other players needed to follow.
Which brings us back to this current stalemate.
If Gurr and his general manager of football Mark O'Neill think rival clubs are not already putting together offers to make a play for Gutherson they are delusional.
It seems they think because Gutherson has stated he wants to play fullback - and that his preference is to continue playing for Parramatta under Brad Arthur - it puts them in a safe place.
But that is not the case.
Gutherson can also play centre and five-eighth equally well and that is where I am hearing other clubs are planning to make him part of their long term future.
This is not about Gutherson's management being greedy either, but simply a result of the lack respect displayed throughout this whole sorry saga.
Phil Gould spoke recently about how these contract negotiations can drag on, revealing he once went through a three-month negotiation before ultimately missing the player.
But that was not with a current captain who wanted to stay, and this has dragged on for five months now without resolution.
Initially the Eels made a two-year offer of $450,000 and $500,000 that was then bumped up to $500,000 a season.
Apparently the Eels' concern about offering a longer deal related to the fact Gutherson had been through two knee operations.
But strangely Gutherson is no longer seen as a long term risk because the club has bumped the offer up to about $600,000 a season for three years.
What this tells me is that they totally undervalued Gutherson in the first place, and their naivety has been exposed.
In respect to Arthur's future, he did need to prove himself after last year's wooden spoon finish.
But surely he has done that, and all the club is doing now is embarrassing him by the further delay.
There is speculation this may be an attempt to make Arthur cop a pay cut.
If that is the case, I'd hope Gurr and O'Neill will do the same given the way the club has handled Gutherson's negotiations.