The visit of Reading to The Emirates looms and ahead of that Arsene has confirmed that Denilson is the only definite returnee. A strange case of hamstring injury for the young Brazilian for there has been little mention of him on the official site in his absence. The other walking wounded are not to be found on the bench although Manuel Almunia is a possible. In this instance, were I in Arsene’s shoes I would put Fabianski on the pitch ahead of Lehmann. There is little to lose in doing so and much to gain, particularly if Mannone were to be on the bench. It is invaluable experience for them both and given that Lehmann seems to be on his way out this summer – Arsene reportedly snorted at the suggestion of offering the German a new contract but with Press Conferences, you have to be careful about interpretations with the Frenchman’s penchant for jokes at the media’s expense.
Off the field activity is where the action is in these empty fixtureless weeks. I had the notion that it might be an idea for a page of transfer speculation with links, etc, but there is so much about that I even though I started on it, I cannot keep up. Whereas before it has been a pain in the Arsenal, I have to say that I find it all vaguely amusing to see how many sources close to the club/Arsene/player/agents there are with denials, counterclaims, flattered fluttering of the eyelashes all part and parcel of the close season. Except nobody seems to have registered that the season has not ended, fixtures still have to be fulfilled.
Keith Edelman gave a picture of the club in good health, sitting comfortably above the global turmoil in the money world that is driving us all to rack and ruin. Surprisingly, no-one has yet blamed Arsene’s lack of investment in the January transfer window as the root cause for all of this but I am sure some hack is trying to do just that as I write. Edelman talks sensibly about how the ‘benefactor model’,
The trouble with the benefactor model is that it only works as long as the benefactor continues to be interested and invests his money. If that finishes, the whole thing falls away. That is not a long-term robust strategy. With the business model – and this is the one that works – everything must be run from within the club’s own resources
Now that is all well and good from the Arsenal perspective but few clubs have ever been run sensibly. Most run at a loss and rely on the expensive largesse of the banks. I am not suggesting that any club is about to sink faster than the titanic but noticeably in recent seasons, the number of clubs in administration in the lower leagues is picking up pace again. The Premier League might rail against the suggestion but madcap schemes such as the ’39th game’ might have a bit more chance of succeeding if they were to pass a substantial pot of money to the roots of the professional game rather than lining the pockets of shareholders.
A final thought on that particular article is I wonder if the ‘journalist’ in question actually knows anything about football. Certainly it seems he does not for otherwise the cheap and nasty jibe aimed at Wenger in the final paragraph would certainly not have appeared. I am not sure who the ‘football illiterate’ he refers to is but as a solution to Arsenal’s problems, a new goalkeeper is something that I would not have thought was high on Arsene’s priorities at any time during the last seven or so months, nor in the coming seven months either for that matter. Tom Watt does a considerable better job at articulating what is to be an Arsenal supporter at the moment.
The Arsenal Supporters Trust has, according to The Guardian, analysed the last interim Accounts from the club with regard to players registrations and amortisation. They have calculated that Thierry Henry received a £5m payment in respect of signing on fees last season. The paper estimates that means he picked up £10m overall in salaries which curiously enough ties out with the reported amount he ‘coughed’ in his divorce settlement which squares the circle nicely in a media way. Personally I do not begrudge the man a penny of his money for his service to the club but the research seems interesting. A pity it is not on their website. If anyone has a copy of the analysis they would like to share, feel free to send it to me at the usual mail address.