Squad Stability As Tough Champions League Draw Emerges

So the Champions League draw is made. We had a practice draw at home and didn’t like the outcome so we put the bits of paper back into the hat to try again. I say hat, more like carrier bag. There was some confusion when the shopping receipt came out to play Manchester United. It took about ten minutes to work out that Sangre de Toro wasn’t the latest Spanish super team although I am sure that it would have been a full-blooded affair with some United players crashing into tackles like a bull in a china shop. To be fair, the bits of paper were quite ragged before the draw worked out correctly which required Arsenal to face Malaga.

Uefa were altogether slicker in the operation of the draw and Santi Cazorla’s triumphant return to the Andaluz coastal city will have to wait as Arsenal were drawn against Bayern Munich. No doubt that this is one of the tougher ties that could have happened; that Schalke drew Galatasaray indicates the relative price for finishing second. Naysayers will no doubt cast the chances of progression to the wind but to be honest, I would not even think about any possible outcome now with the transfer window and two months before the ties take place. Some juicy ties turned up with United facing Real and Milan against Barcelona. I have a sneaking feeling that Wembley will see at least one unexpected finalist in May 2013 with three of ties containing ‘unfancied’ teams. Echoes of 2003-04.

As much as the squad needs strengthening – and I’ll repeat the mantra that every squad can be improved – there is a need to build upon a core of players who stop the permanent state of flux. The announcement of five contract renewals / extensions yesterday gave Arsenal an air of stability which has been missing in recent seasons. The ink was barely dry on the press release before ubiquitous lies emerged as the deals were described as mega or some such superfluous adjective; nobody outside of the club knows what the deals were with guesses and speculation being quickly passed off as facts.

It is a filip for the squad to see commitment from the younger players, an offering of commitment rather than a desire to leave disguised as procrastination or positional development. Arsène observed that keeping the group together is key to the club’s development in the future and you sense that this spine with Szczesny offers the chance for inflated commercial revenues to be reinvested into the squad, striking the balance between youth and experience. Of course those two are not mutually exclusive, young players in the past have played a considerable quantity of games before what might be deemed an old age. Football is rapidly becoming a young man’s game with older players cast to the lower divisions or emerging footballing nations, depending upon their ability.

That age barrier is a problem which has to be faced. A reported stumbling block with Bacary Sagna was that he wanted a longer deal than the club were prepared to agree to. If true, it is another manifestation of Arsène’s over-30s policy which appeared to have disappeared in a more pragmatic approach over recent years, particularly in the case of Tomas Rosicky. I am sure that the delays in agreeing any deal for the French full back are not as simplistic as that with other factors – perhaps more weighty – causing the apparent stalemate.

Having a player such as Sagna in the squad is important for the likes of Jenkinson. He has a great deal of potential and offered a consistent performance base earlier in the season, something upon which he can build. It would be strange though to push him into the first team every week when a more managed opportunity exists. There is enough evidence from the past five years of young players’ bodies reacting badly to the physical stress of playing every match. Sagna offers the chance to bring Jenkinson into the side over the next season or two before becoming first choice right back. You then have experienced cover for the rest of the Frenchman’s contract whilst younger players progress to join the squad. No doubt the club are aware of that option and I wonder whether, like Walcott, it is a worthwhile investment in paying perhaps more than the club want to to satisfy longer term gains.

’til Tomorrow.

415 thoughts on “Squad Stability As Tough Champions League Draw Emerges

  1. Yogi has pointed out before that tying down young players on long deals is a double edged sword. If they come good you win, if they don’t you have trouble shifting them off the wage bill.

    There are two potential problems though. One is when a club dangles a double your money offer in front if they which in a lot of cases appears to make a contract null and void or when they are allowed to run their contracts down.

  2. That’s true Lucky, Project Youth is a real gamble, especially for a club so intent on profits, and who can’t win anything.
    No money and no trophies to convince players to stay. In such a case you need the most loyal players and recent years shows that’s easier than finding a needle in a haystack. The only loyal players are the ones no one else wants, it seems.

  3. We need 5 wins on the trot.
    Then, wow, it’s Xmas time and a good new year.
    Come on Arsenal, you want this, you need it, and Theo up-top.

  4. Excellent breakthroughs made yesterday. Apparently, Arsenal is at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with the big clubs. Not only does George, Frank, Zp and others, claim that Arsenal isn’t a big club any more but they fabricate the disadvantage in their heads. Our billionaire’s reluctance to invest in the squad rather than property development, is seen as a sign of ‘excellent management’. An efficient, self sustaining model of property development and player whoring?

    Apparently, just because Stan is much more willing to milk the cow rather than make the necessary investments into the club we are at a disadvantage. The flat wage structure? Should have been in the dustbin this summers. Along with a lot of players in our squad, if we were looking to compete.

    So in fact our disadvantage is that we’ve got a billionaire who is much more willing to make money out of Arsenal, rather than making the necessary investments into the club. We can take credit for all different things, but not when required to compliment our squad. The club is being run by people who have no idea how to compliment the playing on the pitch with the financial side, in order to win something significant.

    I think a quite a number of old and new posters, are a bit slow to read the actual situation. What worries me though, is since some of you, have already established that we are at a disadvantage, not a big club, etc etc, why are you moaning all the time when other much more intelligent posters like JJ, Bill, Yogi, Bob, point out the problems with the approach of the club. I am saying this because, by your logic of ‘we can’t compete with them’, you should sit back relax and enjoy the football. The rest of the people, do want to see us compete. We don’t buy the excuse that we’re at a disadvantage. I personally, don’t like the owner, whose clearly milking the cow (if you’ve got some understanding of finance), and a manager whose been spinning things for quite some while due to his inability to compete on or off the pitch. We do need to see changes at the club, foremost, the stupid wage structure needs to go, we need to make relevant investments at the club.

    Those of you, who have already decided that we are at a disadvantage and can’t compete with the ‘big clubs’, can stop moaning and enjoy whatever product that the manager furnishes for you on the pitch.

    Fuck off Theo? You should be ashamed of yourself Frank.

  5. Try to remember Barca’s 5 year hiatus while they built anew a playing culture and the world opened up. Ours is a little longer, true, but then the degree of difficulty around constructing a new stadium and competition in EPL is higher. I’m not sure how Barca would have found it had they chelsea and man city to contend with, as well as traditional rivals; and were financially defending a new stadium at the same time. In any event they simply took the debt route anyway. Even then it took patience.

  6. I doubt your financial credentials Ateeb. Have you ever run a business? Your conversations remind of so many for whom talk is quite cheap on the fringes of real life business decisions. It’s a dead give away.

  7. George,

    ‘The “we are Arsenal” argument ,although admirable,is not really cutting it for me.’

    Ha Ha. Excellent. Why not just go support any other club then? Take Frank along with you, since both of you have decided that competing on the pitch is not too much of a priority for a club like ours. We can’t compete? Really we can’t? Double or triple the salaries?

    Hold on. We’ve been handicapped by the wage structure, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have paid Robin or Song better salaries this summers. That’s just an excuse. Secondly, when it comes to world class talent, we need 2-3 players that are world class, I mean we really are the Arsenal, I am sure competing with other clubs we can bring them in, as long as we match the finances.

    As for the finances? We’re already wasting MILLLLIOOOONNSSSS on players that contribute nothing on the pitch, some who don’t get on the pitch, etc. We could have afforded 2-3 players at good salaries, if we were to get rid of so much deadwood! Thirdly, as far as finances are concerned, all corporations in the world run on credit. Even us! We’ve financed a lot of things through credit, what susprises me though is that we aren’t willing to let’s say take credit to have better salaries for 2-3 players that we would need.

    Frankly, I’m not going to buy your and Frank’s, defeatist arguments about we can’t compete. You though, strangely, don’t even think ‘We are the Arsenal’ means anything. We are the Arsenal, always keep that in mind, and we can compete on and off the pitch, if some people on top figure their shit out.

    And apparently, we bring the negativity to the club. What a joke!

  8. ZimPaul,

    Don’t bother me. I think I addressed your various issues the other day. If not, you can continue believing whatever the hell you want to. Apparently, as I understand it now, you’re for the ‘self sustatining model’, because we’re against taking credit to pay some salaries or make player investments. You’re up for player trading profits.

    A lot of the big clubs which are combining finance and success on the pitch, have not had a flexible wage structure and don’t appear to mind borring money from the banks to pay off players salaries when need be.
    The positives are too much to account for. Winning trophies, commercial revenues, prize moneys, better sponsorship deals and much more crucially, the overall increase in the ‘value’ of the club in strictly economic terms.

    You have absolutely no idea of finance, since you’re of the line that we need to make a yearly profit. All long term businesses look at a much larger time span.

    I don’t know why I am bothering replying, since I never got a response from you the other day. But I don’t think we’ve got much to talk about any ways, given that you’re of the ‘we can’t compete’ brigade. Got nothing to do with them.

  9. Barca? You mean like keeping their best players for all these years? And buying ours as well? A very different approach dear friend. They keep their youth, we sell ours!

  10. Please can someone clarify how exacltly the owners make a profit out of arsenal…?

    Thot they were not taking money out but rather re investing? I don’t genuinely understand this milking the cow scenario?

    Howeever grat a player Theo may be and may yet further improve to be, he cannot hold the club to ransom! Like i always say its not just about the club selling players they have to also be will both to stay or else to be sold before their contract runs out.

    If its not about money, he should sign up and sort put other issues as the season unfolds. stability is needed right now but if theo is not willing to sign up, he is really free to go in the summer no matter how we feel about it.

    Since when was ot just money that makes a club a big club? Arsenal is a big club, it has reached that status, nobody can take it away from her

    We sell our youths? really? thot we just kept another batch of them

  11. Team Spirit,

    I’ll reply on this matter again in detail when I can, right now, I’ve got to leave. And YW is quite correct about the share values. And you need to think of the correlation between a winning side with talented football squad and the commercial revenue it generates from so many different streams.

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