Mertesacker On Defence, Ivan’s Not Sitting On It

No Big Al this morning so it’s just mee. Where to begin? Well, it seems to be about communication. What’s being said and more to the point, what’s not being spoken of but has crossed someone’s mind.

On the pitch, the ability to communicate is being lost. Understandably, with so many Per-mutations (chortle) across the back four – something like 9 or ten different back four combinations have been used in the last dozen games. No surprise that chat is in short supply.

Despite not having a Per-manent (ho ho) base, new centre back Mertesacker is looking on the bright side,

We have many new players, but I feel that we have integrated very quickly. I still have communication problems, but given the circumstances this is inevitable.

There is stereotypical efficiency about his comments, were he English it would be almost phlegmatic. There is more upheavel to come with Bacary Sagna’s absence and the return of Thomas Vermaelen. Which is leaving aside the questions which are being raised about Carl Jenkinson. It is a sad state of affairs when his own supporters are not actually giving the lad a chance to prove his worth before dismissing his entire career out of hand. The constant changes leave understandings short; inevitably there will be some more uncertain times defensively. Some tolerance is required but I am not sure that is going to be forthcoming.

Where Mertesacker is per-haps (ha ha) surprising in his views is confidence. Speaking via the DFB, the German international observed,

There is no one here who is not certain that the success will return. We have a talented team with a lot of potential lying dormant within us and it’s only a matter of time before that comes to the surface

Which is just about the per-fect (You slay me, Greavsie) answer. But it boils down to time, meeting the expectation of a top four finish that both the manager and Jack Wilshere alluded to recently.

Ivan Gazidis was bullish yesterday over the club’s financial policies. As with anything, there is nothing straightforward about events at Arsenal. Several board members families were involved with the club in the post-war period when the club was in dire financial straits. Not so much the Bank of England club as the Bank of Mum and Dad. Even if those memories are not fresh enough, they will certainly remember 2004 and not being able to afford to sign Robin van Persie, the transfer completed in the summer rather than the original January window intended.

Gazidis has not said anything new, nothing which is contradictory to what has gone before. He has tried to dispel a myth along the way, outright stating that there is no salary cap at Arsenal, simply a limit that the budget will allow as a total cost. Keith Edelman noted that the budget planning necessary for obtaining the finances to build the new stadium was calculated on a break-even scenario, attendances of 40,000 at each home game.

But there was more to it than that. In a presentation to potential investors during July 2006, Arsenal provided an insight into the level of detail undertaken. Key to this aspect is on page 26:

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Essentially, the financial strain is built into the models. Whether it holds true still remains to be seen – I suspect it does in some shape but the presumptions about what The Emirates would do for Arsenal are wide of the mark in the context of ‘close rivals’. It was an interesting document to revisit, providing understanding and a painful reminder of the ‘symbiotic’ relationship that The Emirates was supposed to bring to the fore,

click to enlarge

The vicious circle of the English Premier League. It is ironic that the raison d’être was to make money. The one aspect that was supposed to bring joy to the hearts of the faithful is now gnawing at the soul of one of the prime movers which saw the breakaway from the Football League. Some of those in power then whose influence was neutered will possibly be enjoying the discomfort of Arsenal.

If I have a concern about the club’s power-brokers, it is about Financial Fair Play. Too much stall is being put in this levelling the playing fields. There will be pain for some clubs in the short-term but with players contracts signed before June 2010 excluded, many high earners will not be affecting the first period of regulation. Manchester City’s recent stadium and complex deal highlights that the clubs are being cautious around how their finances are structured, the Eastlands club took high level advice specifically on the new rules before the paperwork was completed.

There is little danger of that sponsorship deal being curtailed. Which puts Arsenal in an invidious position. Do they adhere to the rules, losing out whilst others stretch the boundaries but at least we will occupy the moral high ground? Or should they stoop down to the levels of others, ensuring that they are competing on a level playing field. It is a tougher route taking the first option and I am not sure there is any gain in doing so. The rules that so many have put faith in are unlikely to be the saviours they were initially thought to be.

’til Tomorrow.

116 thoughts on “Mertesacker On Defence, Ivan’s Not Sitting On It

  1. How is making up numbers to support your own argument supposed to be credible Ramgun? Also even more laughable is that you could pick any 8 of our players, add their wages together, then compare that with the wages of 3 random Man City players.

    Oh wait I forgot, Yaya Toure totally deserves a quarter million per week.

  2. Finally got around to reading Swiss Ramble’s posting on Arsenal finances. I think more commenters here should be reading it. He makes a number of suggestions that I agree with: 1) re-examining the wage structure and club policies to create more flexibility at the top end 2) attempting to re-negotiate the commercial deals with Nike and Emirates and 3) targeting top talent in the January window. Another suggestion that I would consider but am a little less sure on is exploring a rights issue or major shareholders making funds available against future increased commercial revenues as a temporary means of redressing the financial and competitive gap.

    My previous post to Bill pointed to opportunities in the past that were missed and that we should learn from. There is such a thing as an opportunity cost, something that doesn’t seem to figure directly in most discussions of Arsenal’s self-sustaining model.

    FFP may help some in the longer term, but there is just no substitute to having on-pitch success on occasion to boost the self-sustaining model. The vicious circle YW posted today is also a virtuous circle when it works. To increase fan numbers and support levels, the marketability of the club to commercial sponsors and tv audiences the club has to challenge and occasionally win cups, the league, or in Europe. We haven’t managed this and arguably could have given ourselves a better chance to do so with greater investment in players or getting a better mix of expensive experienced players and cheaper younger players or preserved continuity between our winning sides and younger players. Now, there are fewer opportunities or choices–to turn what could be a vicious circle around into a virtuous circle is success on the pitch. Even a domestic cup and 4th place would be a start in that direction. A cup and third is even better, plus a deeper run in the CL. If trying to do this means having to make some adjustments of our policies, renegotiating previous deals, or floating some extra resources now that can be slowly paid back, it could be worth it. If it doesn’t work, we slip down and have to fight a difficult battle back into the top 4 from a position of weakness without CL money or attraction. Gazidis says we can survive, but again there are opportunity costs. Will we attract the best players, will we get the best commercial deals, will we create large numbers of new and young fans which is important for the long term health of the club?

    We have a distinctive identity as a well run club that plays good attacking football. That’s a strong “brand” in the world of football, but it would be immeasurably enhanced by actually winning something, so it is worth stretching as far as we can within our self-sufficient model to do it–I wish we had done it more the last several years because we had a stronger chance. But the longer we delay, the more ground we will cede to our competitors.

  3. Thanks, Bill. I should have posted that earlier so that others could respond, and no doubt tell me how wrong I am and how I am sacrificing our principles in order to lead us down the spend-spend-spend heresy’s path of perdition that will lead to us collapsing into bankruptcy like Leeds.

    I just think that if we had done it earlier we wouldn’t even be close to the position we find ourselves in right now and probably would have a league title and a cup or two helping power us through, giving confidence to the young players coming through the academy and bolstering our revenues. Wenger is a great manager and judge of talent. That is an advantage the club has used to stay in contention but even more has been needed–I trust him to identify young talent between 20-24 better than anyone and think we should go back in for those players in January. We had bigger profits the last several years and the league was up for grabs. Now it is crowded at the top and our profits are down and real estate revenues are going to be coming to an end. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do what is needed. It is taking a small risk but the risk of not doing so is serious as well. Correspondingly the rewards would be great and set us up for self-sustainability at a higher level.

    Good luck against the Tigers. It is nice to see the big spenders going down once in a while!

  4. FFP was always going to be a pipe dream as MC have proved and Chelsea will confirm with ‘Roman’ on the front of their shirts (alright, it may be a little more subtle than that).

    Limestonegunner makes some salient points as well and the expression ‘speculate to accumulate’ springs to mind. Project Youth would have worked just fine I feel, had it only been blended with a little more experience and a lot more continuity. My biggest immediate fear is that we will have trouble attracting the top talent in January, because they won’t want to come to a team in 12th place.

    I’ve no doubt the club can survive without CL money, but can it prosper? Can it come back? If reality comes back to football maybe we can, but will the billionaires suffer the same reality the rest of us are about to?

  5. I do think a mistake we made was getting rid of some of the more mature players too early – Gilberto and Pires are the ones that stick out to me mostly.

    If Liverpool are not see as dead in the water, there is no reason why we should believe Arsenal will be if we are not in the CL next season. I keep telling people but no one seems to believe it, but we are the brink of a golden generation Arsenal that are way more committed than some of the players who have left. Its not about how much a player costs, lets not forget that.

  6. Limestone:

    Thanks. Always glad to see the moneybag Yankees and thier $200M payroll go down. I really believe they would be been much easier to beat then the Tigers. Yankees pitching would have come into the ALCS in total disarray and some of their key players were choking violently on big stage last night. However we do get home field and I get to go to the home games on the weekend instead of midweek. Goooooooooo Rangers.

    Regarding your post its a very slow day today. Lots of time in the interlull. Why don’t you copy and paste it again sometime next week when the topic would get the discussion it deserves. I suspect you would get some of the negative reaction your describe. However, your ideas would get a lot more acceptance on this blog compared with a year of 2 ago.

  7. Can anyone tell me what is the fuss about Gary Cahill? I know he can play football but certainly not a solution to our defensive problems. he is poor in the air and does not lead at the back. Bolton have been leaking goals left right and centre and tonight he hardly impressed . Some players are a bit like fashion trend. their names get on the news a and all of a sudden they are special. certainly not a 17 million player at all.

    Rooney is a mug

  8. Paul N.

    Golden generation?? Is this group really better and deeper then the last golden generation? Hope springs eternal I guess.

  9. Yes Bill, Golden generation, I fully believe it. All of the players have not made it to the first team as yet but I expect them to very soon. This team will be great and yes, better than the former team.
    The most important thing is that they are committed to the cause.

    This is not some blind hope, Arsenal have the best reserve team going, dont you expect these players to step us as others have? I do. I have heard it so many times, that this is how Barca achieved their current status in world football, the backbone of the team came through the ranks.

  10. Paul N.

    The players you are counting on are mostly still in their teens. Other then Messi, Barca’s backbone did not mature until their mid 20’s or later Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Pique etc. and they supplemented their backbone with a lot of big money signings. In football a few years is a lifetime to wait before this next generation is ready to become golden. Even if these players are as good as you think, history has shown that a lot can and will happen to the individual players and the team that could derail the train. All that said, I really hope you are right and you truly have the patience of a saint. Unfortunately as Limestone has pointed out, patience is not always a virtue.

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