Cole slams Stretford over Rooney saga

Former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole has slammed his former agent, Paul Stretford, for his handling of Old Trafford and England star Wayne Rooney.

The 39-year-old, who now works part-time coaching the strikers at Huddersfield Town in League One, was represented by Stretford when he joined the Red Devils from Newcastle United in July 1995 for a British transfer record worth £7 million at the time.

And Cole reckons his former agent is only motivated by money and that he is only using Rooney as a cash cow to feather his own nest until the 24-year-old is no longer marketable, an experience Cole went through himself towards the end of his career.

“Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Stretford is a key factor in what's going on with Manchester United's best player at the moment," Cole told Abu Dhabi based newspaper The National.

“When Sir Alex Ferguson made reference to players who have agents living in their pockets, it was aimed at Stretford.

 And I know better than anyone what Stretford is like because he was my agent. I was his biggest name player for a long time, the person who made him real money.

“I'd just joined Newcastle and told Scott [Sellars] that I wasn't interested in an agent. He persisted and sang the praises of Stretford, insisting that no harm was to be done by meeting him.

 So I met him and he seemed OK. In that first meeting, Stretford told me that if I signed with him then I would never have to work again after football.

"He told me to sign for a year and that if I didn't like it then I could walk away. He told me that he was absolutely dedicated to his players. I signed."

Despite Stretford's comments, Cole believed his new agent "wasn't motivated by friendships, but money" during his six-year spell at Old Trafford and that it was not long before the former vacuum cleaner salesman showed his true colours.

He said: “Stretford got to work, lining up Manchester United. He became a big part of my life. He got me a British record transfer to United in 1995.

“I moved to Manchester and stayed at Stretford's house as he made me part of the family. I thought it was a generous gesture. I later found out that he had been deducting rent from my earnings.

 My agent was influential in every area of my life. He invited me to family functions and controlled what I said to the media.

“He hated the idea of anyone getting close to me, just as he does with Wayne. He was very domineering, but I let him be like that because I thought he had my best interest at heart.

“He told journalists that they couldn't ask certain things and lined up commercial deals. He gave me advice about everything I did. I made him so much money that he became a wealthy man, but I didn't mind because I considered him to be a decent agent and a friend.”

In a fascinating insight into the world of a football agent, Cole claimed it soon became clear that Stretford was purely driven by greed and financial gain, as opposed to building relationships with his clients.

“Stretford wasn't motivated by friendships, but money. I wasn't the only player who stopped hearing from him when I'd served my purpose.

“I expected much better. He was a small-time agent when he took me on and used my name to attract other players.

 People don't speak well of him. I've seen him a few times since and he's had nothing more than a grunt from me.

“There's a lot of second guessing going on with Rooney at the moment, but Stretford will be very close to the decision making.

 He'll have a plan for Wayne on and off the field.

 I'd be surprised if he hadn't sounded options out. He gets his buzz doing big deals. And his financial cut.

“I gave him plenty of deals and he loved all that. And it would give him great satisfaction if he could make his client Wayne Rooney the best paid player in football.”