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:
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,
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.