A Frank Admission


It was a stark admission from Arsène Wenger, one which in itself can be viewed as ultimately courageous and foolhardy because it begs so many questions that are imponderable. Amy Lawrence’s piece in The Guardian surrounding the departure of Robin van Persie is an exercise in self-flagellation by the manager, one that lays Arsenal and himself open to criticism for last Summer’s activity. Crucial to this is the admission,

But what is painful is to see United so far in front of us. We knew when we sold him to United that would be the case.

The obvious question is why put yourself in that position? My own stated preference was to retain the Dutchman for the final year of his contract. Selling him to a close rival now was folly in pure footballing terms. The money swayed the decision; the transfer fee was too good to turn down but the fundamental problem with the whole situation was that the decision was not made in an instant, it dragged on for months. Arsène knew the eventuality was coming; Gilles Grimandi admitted that both Podolski and Giroud were signed as replacements for the Dutchman. His apparent softening towards the club once training had started was ignored although I have doubts over the veracity of these claims.

It begs the question of why further strengthening did not take place. If the manager knew selling van Persie would put United further ahead, he had to make the signings to change that, to address the weaknesses. He had the budget to use but failed to do so. Yet it is not always that clear cut, that simple a choice. Identifying the players has to happen, I am sure that they have those files. Making the deals happen is an altogether different matter. It is fair to say some clubs would not sell, simplying saying “No”. It’s no use pretending that scenario does not occur, making out that spending money is easy in the People’s Supermarket.

A stark contrast emerges between Manchester United and Arsenal, between the managers of the two clubs. Ferguson is more willing to pay more than his valuation if he believes a vital difference will be made. He was willing to pay a lot for a player with a limited career span remaining because he knew the difference would be worth it in that time,

It was a lot of money but you either want him or you don’t, and you have to pay the price that the club is sticking out for. We wanted him badly.

I don’t think the same applies to Arsenal, there is a different ethic in place. There are different finances as well, United’s wealth enables them to spend more freely, take more of a chance. Their adherence to the ‘traditional’ wage structure too. It’s a combination of things, both clubs sustaining themselves as they see believe is right. Arsenal are dependent upon FFP having the teeth to bring about equality in the financial sphere. Few share that optimism, with rival clubs moving to comply. Chelsea’s most recent accounts showed the lengths that they were willing to go to meet the requirements, converting investment from loans to satisfy edicts.

On its own FFP will not be enough, the combination of Arsenal mirroring their rivals in terms in wage structure will be the catalyst. They need to become more willing to take the risk but act more decisively. The perception is that Arsenal procrastinate at crucial times. Whether that is true or not is almost a moot point. Signings take time, for Arsenal longer than most. Again that is the perception. It is amusing to hear that Arsenal never do their business in public. The club might not overtly do so but their targets are leaked to the media long before a deal is completed. Look at recent seasons, how many of the signings were genuine left-field, unknown.

Going back five or six years, I struggle beyond Arteta and Mertesacker. Their surprise came in the swiftness of decision in the Summer of Love. Too many transfers seem to sit on someone’s desk for a while, a task being put off because they don’t like completing the paperwork and signings then take a long time to complete. Look at Henry’s loan last Winter; it was mooted weeks before the end of December, the decision taken and spoken of by the manager before then yet paperwork was not finalised until the second week of January. Discretion or indecision.

But the real contrast has always been there. I don’t think Arsène has ever been willing to go beyond his valuation of a player. It’s ingrained, his upbringing, education; he wants his money to be well-spent. He has his failures – Richard Wright, Francis Jeffers, spring to mind – that cost money but they are no worse than Ferguson’s, just less expensive. Wenger is more cautious since the stadium move and that is understandable but the sale of van Persie was a decision too far by the collective. The manager did not take it on his own, the board were involved as well. The obsession with money looks like one based on opportunity cost rather than cold, hard cash. What if we lose out of £24m rather than what if we miss out of the top three or four?

What if is a powerful question, one that can never be answered.

’til Tomorrow.

589 thoughts on “A Frank Admission

  1. ‘i said its uncivilised and referred to their animal instincts of letting emotion and rage get ahead of sanity and civility’

    The people from third world are uncivilized? Right. Let’s open those colonial archives and we can discuss ‘sanity and civility’. Frankly, rebellion isn’t something exclusive to folks from the third world countries. You’ll find as much rebellion in various countries of the so called ‘West’.

    ‘do you not see any bigotry when they gather outside the stadium screaming abuse towards the general direction of the club i.e owners managers players?’

    They’r exercising their right to protest. They have legitimate concerns for the way the club is being run. I really hope they succeed in what they’re trying to achieve. I would preferably want Arsene, to be out, before the fans can somehow negotiate with those crooks with the money. I like Guardiola. If we land him, that could potentially be the best signing for years! An excellent manager, a man with true vision. Revolutionized the football in one sense, with the pressing game that Barca has been on, in the last few years. Some bad buys, but at least he was quick to get rid of them, unlike Arsene, who likes to keep them on his lap.

  2. I didn’t use the word ‘Cunt’ today, did I?

    Excuse me, Yogi. But I find this whole calling phone business and selling off our players every year, something that one as analogy fitted with what a pimp does. Sell his product for money. At least culturally, in the context I know of.

  3. George,
    It’s not about using the term, its about equating it to uncivilized behaviour. How can you not see that?

    Besides, I haven’t called him racist. It’s not a word I throw around lightly.

  4. i dunno if its racism..

    stupidity maybe..

    insulting definately..

    i dont see any prejudice as such before we get all pc but theres definately a spoonfull or three of thickasfuckism and i can see why certain ppl would get upset over it because it has no place on a football blog with a world wide fanbase..

  5. Mr Bob, yes, you have changed from what I can see. However, the point I am really making is that we did not even celebrate the win, it was moaning straight after. Are you really telling me that that is ok?

    If we are not celebrating a win against the spuds then we have “lost the plot”, surely.

  6. anicoll5
    January 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    but its only one guy, the one who got annoyed by me objecting to the abuse the club manager and players receives, who makes the connection that my third world term had any racist associations….which is idiotic if not not total fantasy from his part. i called his bluff he aint got anything to say, job done.

    i dont see the need to repeat such unbased associations and distort the meaning of what i said.

  7. I’m not getting into that one,Irish. YW nailed the loss of our lost, lamented female posters a while ago.

    Negative for me is a fear of criticism or change not expressing thoughts about the club’s management. I’m not going to fight that battle anymore. You see it that way or you don’t.

    Some see only unquestioning support for Arsene as proof of positivity. I don’t.

    We’ll argue over a beer or six, one day!

  8. @ Paul.. Lol.. Actually – We do that a lot over here too. The downside?? Since everyone’s doing it – the transformer get busted. And darkness prevails once again.:)

    And right on cue – lights out.

  9. You see, a pimp does not really sell the product, it is more like renting it. A pimp would not sell the one who is bringing in the most money.

  10. Henristic
    January 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    it is highly uncivilised to hound wenger like bloody spurs fan would like some of our own are doing or even make banners with the words “thank you arsene you must go now”. thats the way i see it mate. those words and actions show a complete lack of respect to a person who did huge things for us. it is wrong. if you cant get the meaning of what i say at least dont tag me with your bs.

  11. They’r exercising their right to protest

    lol ok and im exercising my right to call them uncivilised neanderthals with a complete lack of respect towards the hand that has fed them and feeds them not to mention a basic animalistic cannibalistic cronus-like desire to eat our players.

    i advise they all go to a mental ward be put on sleeping tablets till we win trophies again cause their paranoias and schizophrenic outbursts and tantrums offer NOTHING to arsenal at this momment in time.

    hows that?

  12. Anyway, I shouldn’t be surprised you can’t why he is wrong, George. You were similarly blind to his bigotry towards the English the last time he was here.

    When you like a guy, you kinda become blind to their faults 🙂

  13. ideally we want the fans to support the players towards achieveing their goals not have the fans getting into crises and seizures and transmitting it to the players. but maybe ateeb has a better plan of supporting the red and white. swear at them!


  14. Yogi nailed nothing with regard to the girls ,He offered his opinion .Two of the girls I have spoken to since rejected that opinion.Paul.
    They left because of the gradual creeping in of negativity .As you suggested.As have I suggested it .Of course some may have left for other reason.even those put forward by Yogi,but not the ones I questioned on other boards.

  15. yes i win the word of the day

    get in..

    id like to thank baby jesus.. the mrs…arsene… tony blair..the mormons…the cunts…the pimps…the gypsies..the third world savages..franks eggs of life and george..

  16. Paul,
    How do you know so much about pimps, eh? Making me wonder what you got up to during your unbelieving days 🙂

  17. You may be right Henristic .I did like him.He went OTT at times ,but all in all .yes I liked him.

  18. Henristic
    January 12, 2013 at 10:14 pm
    and just like you can be blind to a friends faults you can equally be blind to your own culture’s faults and behaviour, unless you agree with the manner in which our french manager is getting hounded by the locals…..

    works two ways buddy…harsh but true.

  19. Fine post (& photo) YW.

    Even after victories, criticisms seem to dominate talking points……..I see this as a result of our trend of inconsistency and fan frustration. I never know which team will show up – against any opponent.

    Much can still be made from this season. Yesterday is history, and the players, coaches, and Arsene must find or regain ambition and a winning attitude.

    Blaming others is not an option.

  20. Rebuilding?

    Two more years of this “rebuilding”, and we’ll forget how a St. Totteringam’s day feels like.

    What is this obvious advantage we have over the tiny Tots?

    The new stadium?

    ManCity and West Ham have got one for free.

    The training ground?

    The Tots have just built one.

    The club’s appeal on the transfer market?

    Ask Vertongen and Holtby.

    The team?

    In the last 3 seasons, we finished just 1 place above them by 5, 6, 1 point.

    Shrewd business?

    They got more for Berbatov and Modric than we got for the Dutch and Cesc.

    I wish Arsene to never experience what it is to finish below them. And to prove me, the stupid doubter, wrong.

  21. pedantic george aka Blackburngeorge
    January 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    ha are they serious? they see ghosts and then try to make people apologise for things that were never said ? ha again. not with me.

  22. George, people identify with ACLF for a specific reason, if we lose our identity then their is no surprise that some will leave. Maybe it was not Yogi’s intent to have an identity but it is what it is.

    Henristic, I was not calling Ateeb crap, I was really dealing with him trying to put the Arsene abuse in a beautiful wedding dress.

  23. Coo Property

    Well one apparently minor advantage we have over our North London cousins is a stadium

    Which in spite of nine years resolute efforts, including wasting £20 million on costs trying to secure the “free” Olympic stadium they are not one brick further forward building

    The new Sainsburys will however be open in April – much yo the delight of the good folk of N17

  24. The new Sainsburys will however be open in April – much yo the delight of the good folk of N17

    keep em coming

  25. Ok, Henristic, one more. A pimp would not have sold a player that was on a long term contract, Cesc would have been told to shut his trap, stop crying for mummy and go and play.

  26. I think I am going to buy the 71 Jersey, they are 50US on the Arsenal US site…not bad. No UMBRO symbol though.

  27. Manning is something else. The best for me, even though he has only won one super bowl, so far.
    Denver’s defence is tightening also.

  28. Paul – Don’t tell him mate! Keep him guessing 🙂

    Asked how good he felt Guardiola was, Wenger said: ‘He started his career with caviar and he would get caviar at Chelsea, so it’s a good ingredient again to do well.
    ‘It depends on the quality of the players. Barcelona this season are 16 points ahead of Real Madrid so they have an exceptional team. He’s a great manager – but so is Benitez.’

  29. Both are the best, Paul.

    I used to wear the home kit in 1971, when I had very long hair and al my mates called me Charlie. I had no. 11 on my back, altho’ Charlie wore several numbers.

    Now, when I go to Arsenal I wear the away shirt. Iconic. We won the double in it.

    Wouldn’t argue with the home kit though. If only all Arsenal kits were as good.

  30. bleh Bendtner just keeps failing no? now hes gonna be shipped home from Juve in the summer. How much longer is his contract? he is going to have as crude a wake up as Sneijder is xperiencing atm ones hes off Arsenals book.

    Maybe if hes lucky a lower half PL team will pay him to play? But i mean, with his attitude? who would want somebody like that in the dressingroom?

  31. Well I almost fell off the chair when I heard this one, pure classic! Some friends on Facebook:

    Catherine – My car is messed up! Where do I take it?!?!

    Marc – Take it to that place on 4th, really fast, but you have to watch out, all car repair shops try and screw you by selling you stuf you don’t need. What’s wrong with it?

    Catherine – It makes this weird noise when I start it up and the engine stops sometimes when I am at a red light.

    William – Oh that is definitely your flux capacitor, have you tried sending 21 gigawatts to it and seeing what happens?

    Catherine – I don’t know how to do that!?!?!

    William – OK do this, it’s really easy. You’re going to want to deflate your tires at least halfway, make sure your tank is filled up with as much gas as you can put in it. That will reset the flux capacitor. Then take it to the auto shop on 4th and tell them that you need more gigawatts for your flux capacitor and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.

    Catherine – OK cool! I’ll do that right now! 🙂

    2 hours later:


  32. Vinnie Jones starring as an assassin in the latest episode of Elementary. Has a hooker in his apartment who tries to get him to interact with her after he has paid her. He says, “Do you mind love, I’m watching The Arsenal”.

  33. “pedantic george aka Blackburngeorge
    January 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Bill .I other words you lied?”

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to get back to you sooner. That comment demonstrates your excellent tactical nous. Divert attention from the real topic by going on the attack. Good thinking. 😉

    Yogi. I don’t think I ever told you how much I enjoyed the main post today. Thanks. Should be a fun game tomorrow.

  34. Another quality post YW. Love the picture reference to The Conversation, great film.

    I know I’m commenting late on the thread so this has probably already been covered but we could have had Mata and Alonso had Arsene been more decisive

  35. Has the overall standard of football commentary declined on aclf? Read 500 plus comments on the eve of a very interesting and critical match and the honest and obvious answer is yes, drastically. I cannot recall it ever being so poor.

    Has aclf become a moaning board blog, where negativity feeds itself? Yes, indeed. Read not only the quantity of posts that essentially say the same thing, arsenal is poorly run club that is performing badly with sub standard players and manager but the words and terms used to describe the club, players and manager. Most of all, the absence of robust, factual debate of the type once epitomized by fun gunner has not been replaced. A kind of vacuous repetition has become the dominant style, as if few really have anything much more to say.

    Is there less fun, wit, silliness and also less observation and exchange on matters of football interest including football as an entry point to so much in social and cultural, as well as wider economic and political life, all over the world? The gulf could not really get much wider. I find aclf becoming quite humorless and narrow. Our magnificent Irish is keeping much alive with passion, he makes me laugh out loud, ably assisted by anicoll’s sharp arrows and other a few other sunny voices shotta, pauln, too few. I can’t name each one but they know who they are. Frank’s occasional visits relieve the desperate monotony and his wit is alive, if tempered.

    As a group the doom mongrels are decidedly unfunny, meaning they seldom if ever smile.

    Has aclf totally lost the plot, collectively? That depends on what the plot is. It is more often than not a one issue sounding board, no matter what is happening out there.

    I have a vision of ateeb, bill and jj wandering up and down muttering to each other, shaking their heads, gesticulating from time to time, oh the heresies taking place, unbelievable they do not see what we see, they seem to be saying. “Wenger is like a pimp” adds ateeb.

  36. By the way. I think you are spot on with your reasoning about why the City fans are not coming today. A nine hour round trip when the match is on tv would be enough to put me off.

    It is just another stick to bash The Arsenal with. My friends think i am paranoid but whenever Arsenal are written about in the media there is usually the phrase, who have not won a trophy in over 7 years. When was the last time anyone read something like this; Chelsea, who did not finish in the top three despite investing over a billion pounds in their club…..

  37. Our recent record against City is not too shabby. With their defence looking as shaken as ours attack is probably.the best form of defence

  38. Very good article Yogi. The way Ferguson and United will always be different but a bit of urgency and decisiveness goes a long way. So many of the signings linked with us could make us into a much better team, however it is hard to know who we are ever actually close to signing, especially when it seems to take an age to get things done.

    I am very anxiously waiting to see what happens to the Zaha situation. If he does go to United Im very sure that he will go on to be a great signing for them and leave a bitter taste in my mouth, as we have been linked with him for so long. In fact he is just the type of signing Wenger is keen on, British, young, fast and bags of potential. The fact that he is an Arsenal fan surely gives us an edge.

  39. I feel comfortable that the unholy alliance between AW and `Old Red Nose’ is a way of fighting ManSour and forcing him to spend more money or hit the UEFA fair play limit. There is no doubt in my mind that RvP has made the difference to Manure in this way and possibly will force a period of more expenditure and rebuilding at ManSour.
    Arsenal do not have the resources to fight ManSour directly, and are outbid on anything and everything that shows above the horizon, AW can hardly even bid enough to raise the price to force ManSour to pay more the difference is so wide. Like a poor player at poker can be bullied out of any round and broken on any hand if that is what the rich ones want to do. The Stakes are high and ManSour or Abramovich before him would love to see Arsenal in the red and suffering.

    Arsenal can not out bid on anything, the only way Arsenal can replace a player is to take a risk and bring players in before they have made it really big. It has worked with Cazorla, but not so well with Podolski or Giroud yet – as well as a few others. The intent has been there, it is just not working to the point we can yet challenge.

  40. Not whinging and crying like slapped little girls,about every little part of the club,does not mean we think every little part is working to its optimum.JD.

  41. Self-examination, censorship, intolerance of irreverence, old farts, self-importance and twitter are fucking everything up.

  42. Speaking of Twitter Frank,I have not seen you there for a while.Have you opted out?

  43. Can’t make head or tail of it, George. Though some of the youngsters are enjoying it. Fast, wizzy and incessant. Total distraction. Good for reaching lots of people but I value my privacy. All power to it is what I say. But I’m sure it won’t miss me. Besides I guess I like to dip in and out so to speak…..

  44. @MA 5:39 pm (yesterday),

    I see your point. However, the Dutch boy left us not real choice and I recall raising the point about his destination when his mock excuse for leaving first appeared. We seemed faced with his inevitable departure to the Mancs. The only choice he left Arsene and the club was whether he joined this season (and we got some money by which to replace – Poldi/Giroud/Cazorla) or he left on a free at the end of the season. Either way, his (Dlur Alex’s subsequent statements have made clear that he was going to the Mancs come what may. Other than this pitiful state (one that leaves the Dutch boy at a poor place in my eternal esteem), I do not recall us selling our best players to our league rivals – they all go abroad: as Dutch boy would have if he had a single decent bone in his treacherous body or any respect for the club that stood by him throughout etc, etc.

    Onto the financial model. It has seen us through a globally difficult time and secured economic stability for the club. It is this achievement that enables us to discuss who we should be bringing in/ how we should spend our resources.

    Concerning the ‘socialist’ model, I can see the reasoning behind it. Wengerball depends on collective harmony and interdependence. How better to encourage this than by creating parity among the team components (payers)? I sometimes wonder what it says about the players who leave for better rewards because they feel they are better than there colleagues!? Most of them (Dutch boy apart, presently) have found out that this is not the case: albeit all too late for their failing careers. Cesc is an exception here and I don’t have a problem with his reason for departing. I acknowldge that we are now at a crossroads at which we need to reconsider our pay structures and that, ironically, might be one of the positive outcomes of the Dutch boy’s desertion.

    On to Arsene. Is he perfect? No. Is he a great manager? Yes. Is there any other manager out there who might do a better job? Possibly, Slur Alex (but that would lead to my disassociation from AFC), Guardiola and (potentially at this early stage) Laudrup. The first two are unlikely to join us and the latter needs more time to prove himself past the honeymoon period. Also, certain players (such as Jack and Cazorla) have made explicit the importance of Arsene’s presence to their continued involvement with the club!

    Above and beyond all else, I do not believe the supporter should undermine his/her club during the season. End of term reports are fine and a good time to make them public in my view. Furthermore, although the focus on silverware has made it almost impossible to state this at this time: I still believe that the current squad are fantastically gifted. Yes, the whole does not add up to the sum of the parts at presence. However, time is needed to gel. This was the case with the previously under-performing Mancs with Rooney and Ronaldo in it – until they clicked.

  45. Apologies, when I suggest that Dutch boy is the only one to go to our league rivals, I ignored the exodus to the blue Mancs. Yet, I doubt if any of those departures are better than our current options and that is why I stand by my comment.

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