What Price Loyalty?

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Football is the most modern of industries, seemingly impervious to failure and ruthlessly exploitative. It’s a world away from the game thirty years ago, itself unrecognisable from the century before. Continually evolving, commercially relentless; football seemingly know no bounds.

Yet it arguably fails to maximise the potential of its past, so focused is it on the now and the future. Governing bodies look for ways to artificially induce competition, levelling the playing field to give the illusion of competitiveness, all the while maintains the status quo so that the grip of the powerful is never released.

Who the powerful are is the variable; no one group is entirely in control. Clubs make money, players make money; the only ones who actually seem to derive pleasure from football are supporters and even that is a questionable supposition given the angst which pervades the electronic world. It’s becoming an increasingly strange – and strained – relationship, rightly supporters feel exploited and aggrieved, clubs show no inclination to pay anything other than lip-service to the lifeblood of the game.

By now, you are expecting a diatribe to expand upon a theme, the oppressed supporter speaks out. Perhaps it will on another time for today, the supporter is the guilty party. Not in the sense of financial exploitation but emotional. It’s only natural, we invest ourselves in the club, the players, the result. Every supporter feels the euphoria or desolation when the final whistle blows, it’s all a case of extremes. We’re not perfect, not at either end of the spectrum or the ground in between.

To me our biggest fault is failing to realise that we are the only ones who support the club. Everyone else works there, players included; in short, it’s a job. Genuine supporters who get the chance to take a starring role are few and far between. That rarity is the result of an increasingly mobile and global workforce. I don’t doubt that players develop an affection, even affinity, with certain clubs but being genuine supporters? I am not convinced by any claims in that respect.

Lest anyone contest that view, you only have to look at the reactions of Arsenal supporters to the current situation surrounding Cesc Fabregas’ future. The former captain was idolised by young and old enough to know better when he played in the red and white. Undoubtedly, he was the most influential player in that Arsenal generation, arguably in the Premier League at the time. He left, not on the best of terms, painfully forcing the club’s hand in a one-bidder auction. Judging by the transfer talk of this and last summer, a lot of supporters clearly have unfinished business with the Spaniard, manifesting in a false sense of loyalty, imposing our own dubious footballing morality on a player. His departure to a hated team was not unusual. The sense of betrayal felt by some had hallmarks of Stapleton’s decision to join United and to a lesser extent, Michael Thomas joining Liverpool.

As we age, our reminiscences become tainted, more rose-tinted as we recall the days when players were loyal and policemen needed to shave before pounding the beat. If you look back through the club’s modern history – post-1963 – player longevity is diminishing; they come, they go with nary a heartbeat skipped. That year brought about the first seismic change in players as George Eastham successfully challenged the existing retain-and-transfer system. It marked the moment when football turned toward the Bosman ruling. The creation of the Premier League changed the game more fundamentally with the continuing wage explosion rendering club loyalty irrelevant. Previously, a decade signalled the payday of a testimonial and the chance to enhance the pension fund. It didn’t always work, Tony Adams first benefit match didn’t even attract 15,000 to Highbury; it wasn’t all down to Crystal Palace being the opposition, quite a few people I knew objected to the principle of a man in his mid-20s having that ‘honour’ bestowed upon him when he had another ten years left in the game.

There is probably a well-known psychological study which covers fans bestowing of our loyalty onto players. We seek to make them one of us and to a certain extent I understand that, we’ve all do it to varying degrees. But it just doesn’t exist. Yesterday’s observations about the current squad and their loyalties is an interesting exercise along those lines; to me, there isn’t a player at the club, who under the right circumstances, would not leave Arsenal. I think it’s that simple. Whether those circumstances would ever conspire to exist is another matter; I believe that the game has undergone such a fundamental change in philosophy that the one-club player, whilst existing, is more and more becoming a romantic notion of the game. Ryan Giggs is an exception to the rule in that respect.

But, I wonder, did they ever exist? Was that loyalty ever truly there or was it a case of the regulations around the game made it more likely that players would not move? Certainly, clubs power in contractual terms made it harder for players to agitate for a move; they still did it of course but it was nowhere near as easy as now, clubs were not so supine in that sense. There were genuinely loyal players, I’m thinking of George Armstrong, O’Leary, Adams, Rice, Storey, Dixon, Winterburn but even then there were times when certainly Adams and O’Leary considered leaving well before their prime. Adams was less overt but O’Leary certainly held the club to ransom in the early-80s when Brady had left and Stapleton on course for his departure. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t diminish my respect for him as a player, he had to look after his own interests in a short career but loyalty comes at a price.

Which brings us back to Fabregas. The burning desire for some to see him wear the red and white once more is understandable from the footballing perspective, less so from the sense of ‘unfinished business’. The aura of a terrace hero is the curious concept in all of this. Liam Brady flirted with Manchester United and Nottingham Forest before going to Italy; it didn’t diminish the love felt for him. Stapleton went to United and is reviled. Neither side was particularly successful at the time so animosity born of mediocrity took hold. Charlie GeorgeΒ  was within hours of joining Tottenham before Derby stepped in; would he be regarded as the terrace hero he is now had that move not fallen through? It is impossible to say, the vitriol served up today carries less physical violence but the hatred seems deeper ingrained into the psyche of the abuser.

The question is that if we – supporters –Β  let go of the concept of player loyalty, does it rip a central theme from football or is it necessary to crush the cult of the player, where supporters follow the man over the club? The latter suggests that John Stark, Football Mercenary was a visionary and acerbic cartoon strip than this youth appreciated at the time. But the dimunition of player loyalty is entirely in keeping with Premier League football; fans have morphed into customers, to revenue streams and are less important to the clubs. Should we be surprised? Not if you were a football fan from the 60s through to the improved facilities now. Only by realising that supporters are customers have the clubs provided facilities that do not endanger lives. Lets be honest, most if animals had been subjected to the same conditions football supporters were three decades ago, there would have been multiple prosecutions demanded by the RSPCA.

A changing game but spare me the agonies. Enjoy a player whilst he is there, when he goes, he is gone. No bleeding hearts after the event; we move on. They have.

’til Tomorrow.

 

195 thoughts on “What Price Loyalty?

  1. Bill – “Man City or Liverpool already scored more then 100 goals this season and Cesc is not going to improve them.

    Really? You don’t think replacing Joe Allen with Cesc will make them a much better team?

  2. Andy @ 4:02:

    It would give them a better player at that postion, but how in the world do you improve the attack of a team that just scored more then 100 goals in a season. I memory serves correctly that has only been done 3 times in the last 50 – 60 years in top flight English football. Cesc controlled the ball might actually slow their attack down. Right now Suarez is the one who moves the ball forward at pace and gets the ball into dangerous positions before the defense sets up. Why would you want to mess with that system and bring the midfield more into the ball control game when the system that they played this season was so incredibly effective at scoring goals?

  3. @Bill

    Benzema could as you rightly say turn out to be better for us. I cannot and won’t gainsay that point at all. Often a player moving can find an environment more to their liking and thrive within it, perhaps this would be the case for Benzema.

    You touch on an important point as well as in scorers around him. An issue Arsenal struggled with this season once Theo was lost. Giroud’s 16 in 36 was creditable, but did not set the world alight. His most telling contribution (personally speaking) was the goal in the 1-0 victory of Spurs (neat finish). I can see a player like Remy or Benzema being better in a 4-3-3 then our 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1. the question for me is whether we are going to be flexible enough to switch. I think it was Andy that raised the point the other day that irrespective of what we personally think, Arsene seems to see Giroud as the No.1. If that is the case then we are probably not going to be delighted with the summer business in that particular role. Opinions abound, but if I was ‘moneyballing’ these two players then the scoring percentages recently seem to favor Remy over Benzema. The fact that Remy might be had at a cheaper price is irrelevant to the argument, his skill set is speed and finishing. Price for me doesn’t factor in to the equation, only team needs. I don’t see Remy has the creator that Giroud is and given he finished as what our 2nd or 3rd assist guys speaks to his additional responsibilities. Now, strikers can often gather assists, but when you watched Giroud and Ramsey link up you saw why he was being asked to play with his back to goal. With the absence of Ramsey Arsenal lost steam and failed to demonstrate the drive needed to propel players forward.

    So for me, it is all about how we intend to set ourselves up for the coming season. In Ramsey we have a world class engine, perhaps even a world class talent if he can maintain his form. In Ozil we have a player able to thread balls to players on the move. What we need now is players in that attacking third of the pitch possessing technical ability and speed to exploit the abilities of players like the 2 mentioned above.

  4. Bill that make no sense mate. Just because they scored 100 goals, does not mean they can’t score more. I would argue if you have the likes of Cesc pinging balls through to their front 3 they would get even more chances. Cesc feeding Suarez would be ridiculous.

  5. @MA

    I completely understand what you are saying as you are clearly not speaking just to my point of view because as you and I have discussed several times I like Giroud but he just lacks something for me. I think your point about him being the no. 2 and should no.1 get crocked, well then he does a job until no. 1 gets fit. There isn’t any guarantees of a a striker coming in and lighting the place up but at the same time if we are to truly make the push to the next level then we can not stand pat with what we have because clearly what we have is lacking something and since we all recoginize that we desperately need to add in the striker department, why not bring in a more talented and clinical striker and let the cards and chips fall where they will and then whoever doesn’t get the nod then they will be a quality no. 2.

    MY biggest gripe with the whole thing to be honest about Giroud is what people say when they speak on Benzema at time to be honest and that is, he is not the same striker that we saw in France.

  6. The fact that a team like Liverpool with very little true midfield creativity and teams like Chelsea in 2010 who scored 103 goals or the ManU teams of the previous decade who often lead the league in scoring with almost no midfield creativity demonstrate again and again that midfield creativity is not the crucial element in scoring goals. I think we as Arsenal fans have been conditioned to believe that midfield creativity and passing skill is the key to a great attack, but the evidence would clearly argue that you score more goals if you build your attack around your goal scoring forwards rather then building it around ball control and midfield creativity.

  7. Goonerandy

    If you go and see the other stuff he says, like his digs at Wilshere as well.

    I actually don’t rate Rooney as i said before but Scholes is arrogant because the british media think he farts sunshine and rainbows.

    As a player i have never seen anything to suggest he was anything more than a good midfielder.

  8. Bill – That is not my thinking; I do agree that creativity means squat without something to create for (we are a prime example). But Liverpool have a rapid and lethal front three (which carried them all season). Their transition to attack was devastating. Somebody like Cesc would excell with that in front of him.

  9. What Scholes was great because he could ping a few 50 yard passes and tackled like a lunatic?

    Nah he was majorly overrated IMO.

  10. Look for me, Cesc would instantly make Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United better. That is my honest opinion, I think he is a world class or at the least an exceptionally talented footballer.

  11. Moe – I really can’t agree there mate. Firstly, he said Wilshere had not really progressed. Hard to argue with that and Wilshere even said that Scholes made decent points after speaking with him.

    Secondly, Scholes is one of the best midifielders of his generation. Not just English, but midfielders full stop. The guys was the best two touch player I have ever seen. I was reading a list of quotes on him the other day by pretty much the cream of the footballers over the past 15 years; to a man they all named Scholes as the best player they had played against. He was a superb player.

  12. Andy @ 4:13.

    It makes complete sense if you look at the evidence. See my post at 4:16.

    I hope my facts are correct but I think there have only been 3 English teams in the last 5 -6 decades that have scored more then 100 goals. I think I remember that when Chelsea scored 103 in 2010 it was the most goals since a Spurs team scored 100 in 1963. Again, I don’t know the facts with certainty but I think even the best Barca teams or Real Madrid teams did not score much more then 100 goals in La Liga. I don’t think there is any way that Cesc to Liverpool would increase their goal scoring output. If you took the ball away from Suarez, it would slow them down and IMO they would not score as much.

  13. I think what MA is driving at is that Giroud has his merits. The fact we played 4 5 1 this year gone, only allowed him to show his strength when certain personel were available.

    I think that he’s right and we might see the likes of Remy brought it to play more of a 4 3 3 next year. I think it will be at Podolski’s expense too I’m afraid.

    Didn’t AW also say that when he was chasing Suarez, he appealed because he could play across the line? I think that was a hint towards the 3 across the top. If he’d come, he would have been deployed to play off of Giroud. Even OG suggested he wasn’t worried if he came, but was if Higuain came, because they both would have been deployed in the middle. Perhaps AW had even discussed it with him?

  14. @C

    If you are not looking at improving then you are standing still or at worst going backwards. I get it. Point of fact no longer is the player they were, time does that to us all.

    @Andy

    I agree, Cesc feeding more to the likes of Suarez would have been even more terrifying. I don’t think it is being loyal to the player to simply say he is supremely talented and whomever gets him, if indeed he moves, is going to benefit.

  15. Goonerandy

    Fair enough, agree to disagree. I still think he talks out of his behind πŸ˜€

    I like constructive criticism and the stuff he says are not constructive, they are opinions delivered as fact as if he knows better.

  16. @Moe

    Scholes has to be the worst tackler in the history of futbol! Fortunately for him he was protected by the Dark Lord Sith!

  17. I don’t think that anyone could honestly say GiroUd has been terrible. I would use the term ‘okay’, but ‘okay’ strikers don’t win you the league, certainly not the CL. My guess is that AW thinks either he can improve (I’d question that at his age) or that he would be helped if he didn’t have to play so many games. I think it’s the latter – hence our desire apparantly for someone to compete with rather than replace him, a player of similar calibre to take some of the load off. Giroud visibly tired last season after Christmas, if he had continued his early season form he would have got past 20 in the league I’m sure.

    I think Arsene is convinced that two ‘decent’ strikers are a better option than one top class striker.

  18. Bill – Will have to disagree on that one then. There is no limit on goals scored, simply because it has only happend a few times before. That does not make any sense at all.

  19. I’m not sure Cesc’s loyalty is the issue here – he wants to come back but AW doesn’t want him.

    Given we’ve rejected him I don’t blame him where he goes. I blame the club – for me it’s a total no-brainer to re-sign him. Sell santi for 20m and get Cesc back…half our midfielders are injured at any one time anyway

  20. @GA

    It doesn’t make him a superb commenter or coach for that matter. If he has these views and feels they are valid and would add value he has access to the players to have a word with them. He chose instead to articulate his news to a national audience, fully in the knowledge of what he was doing. I actually thought that in the whole affair, it was Wilshere that came out on top for demonstrating the type of maturity that Scholes seems to lack. He chose to speak out the man privately and discuss it rather than make more of it in the press.

  21. Andy:

    ManU teams that had absolutely zero midfield creativity with players like JS Park and Darren Fletcher in the midfield were outscoring us even during the height of the Cesc era when we had some good forwards. The point is that building your attack around midfield creativity was attractive but not as effective. The history of this century in English football argues that building your attack around forwards who are able to get the ball up the field quickly and either score or help create opportunities before the defense can park the bus is the best way to actually score goals. Once the defense parks the bus its much tougher to break them down. A system that uses the creative midfield to orchestrate methodical build ups, maintain ball possession and tempo and create opportunities with passing (which Cesc excels at) has not been as effective for actually scoring goals. No?

  22. @Bill

    Teams with midfield creativity mean while were winning the Champions League and their domestic titles. I don’t see the point. If midfield creativity is so “non-influential” then surely everyone would be back to playing lump it long, no?

  23. Romford – Agree 100%. But keep Santi, we need to add, not replace. We can afford him.

    Maimi – I don’t really see the big deal. He was asked a question and asnswered it. Better than most of the cliche’d drivel most of the ex-pro’s come out with.

    Bill – That really depends by what you mean by creative midfield. We played lots of possesion football without being direct enough. That is why we struggled to score. It was down to the system, not the players per se. I would wager if you put the likes of Cesc in a midfield and told him to get the ball to the forwards quickly behind the defence, he could do it much better and much more often than lesser players. Thus, creating more chances. thus making it more likely that the team would score more goals. No?

  24. Miami:

    No one ever mentioned “lumping it long”. That is completely different then what Liverpool or Man City or Real Madrid etc etc etc do. You know that as well as I.

    Andy:

    Obviously there is no theoretical limit on how many goals that a team can score but unless decades and decades and decades of history is wrong, the reality is that scoring more then 100-105 is not going to happen very often no matter how many great players you have.

  25. “Miami:

    No one ever mentioned β€œlumping it long”. That is completely different then what Liverpool or Man City or Real Madrid etc etc etc do. You know that as well as I.”

    Then they do have creativity in the midfield. Boom. Sorted πŸ™‚

  26. “Andy:

    Obviously there is no theoretical limit on how many goals that a team can score but unless decades and decades and decades of history is wrong, the reality is that scoring more then 100-105 is not going to happen very often no matter how many great players you have.”

    Isn’t the surest way repeating this achievement by acquiring better players then? In that event, doesn’t Andy have a point?

  27. Bill – To look at it for from a diffeent angle then; what about the games in which they struggled to score? Or the games which were close and they could not quite get over the line? Surely having better players in the side would give them a better chance of doing better in those games.

    This is a daft argument really. There is no doubt that the likes of Cesc would improve them, thus making them a better team. Just because they have score loads of goals does not mean they cannot improve in the attacking area of the pitch; if not in volume in goals, certainly in craft where they are struggling to break through.

  28. Afternoon Romford. Quite agree (as usual) ideally we’d sell Santi and buy Cesc and have plenty left over to address other areas. I’d prefer someone a bit more fleet of foot on the left anyway which is where Santi is going to get most of his games (unless something happens to Ozil of course). Not that I’m suggesting Cesc out wide, if money is tight we have options in Ox, Gnabry or the less swift of foot Poldi. Not that any of this is going to happen of course.

  29. With Santi still having the ink drying on his new contract what exactly would make anyone think he’ll be sold?

  30. Not very charitable of me I’m sure but I’ll not shed a single tear for Ribery on missing the world cup. Always thought he was a vile spiteful player regardless of ability, never mind his personal life. One player I could never support even if he did ever pull on our shirt.

  31. He wouldn’t be Miami, but it would be a pretty good solution if AW had been so inclined. Incidently, there was rumour that his wife wasn’t happy over here and that this may have impacted his form this season, so I was a little surprised at the new contract.

  32. Can’t see any reason at all why we would sell Cazorla. He is one of our best players.

  33. I didn’t think Santi had a great season, especially after the impact of the player during his first with us. But, for me, his season was defined by a superb free kick in the FA Cup final πŸ™‚

    I like the little man, but have always felt he wasn’t best suited to the AML role. His goals come from the top of the box, making him positionally better suited centrally. I think he has the best technical feet at the club.

  34. Midfield creativity is not a bad thing to have and I would rather have it then not have it. However, in order to score goals its more important to have top quality goal scorers in your team. Excellent forwards can control the attack and score tons of goals with very little midfield creativity but as Andy said, midfield creativity without someone good for them to pass the ball to does not mean squat.

    The major point of all of this is to bolster my contention that we need to do everything we can to improve our forward line. Getting Fabregas would not be a major improvement in our ability to actually score goals until we improve our front line and if spending $32M on Cesc deters us from spending on goal scorers then it could actually be counterproductive.

    All that said, if the only choices are to either get Cesc or to leave $32M sitting in the bank then I would much rather take the former option.

    I hope that makes sense.

  35. Were Arsenal to have acquired a striker last season in the price range of Ozil whom they gathered instead, then I took set some validation for a Cesc move this summer. However, as we all know that never happened and thus we’ll be watching the talented Cesc plying his trade somewhere else.

    I see Real are starting their media juggernaut with respect to a move for Suarez.

  36. Bill – It does, and this is the crux of it:

    Getting Fabregas would not be a major improvement in our ability to actually score goals until we improve our front line and if spending $32M on Cesc deters us from spending on goal scorers then it could actually be counterproductive.

    We are in exellent financial health. If there was a time to flex our muscles and improve the squad significantly, it is now. Get the forwards we need, get Cesc, replace those leaving. We would be set and with a superb chance of challenging. We would have the best midfield in the lge with good forward options (hopefully with some pace) ahead of it.

  37. @Bill

    I have had fun pushing your buttons. I think we concur that the attacking areas need strengthening, I really hope Arsene and his team are doing what is needed. Another striker for sure, whether to compete with our replace I don’t care, just as long as they bring something different to the mix. I’m comfortable enough with Giroud, but were we to nab a big name and employ a 4-3-3 like Liverpool, thus attacking with speed then I’m good with that. They formation isn’t going to work with just a big name striker, we need more pace out left with Ox and Theo sharing the right. Now, were this to happen, I would loan Sanogo and Gnabry out this season for the experience, along side Eisfeld and perhaps Toral whom also appears ready to taste bigger level competition.

    Jenkinson stays, that is a no brainer to me. Bellerin could see playing time at a Championship club again, did well for Watford until the change in staff saw him placed on the bench. Joel Campbell is the dark horse here, a good world cup and we’d be delighted with him in the squad.

  38. This summer is the most important summer for Arsenal in recent history.

    We are literally a few quality players (the right players) to becoming a footballing juggernaut.

    I don’t say that lightly but based on our season pre february, as long as we grind out results against the big clubs then i really believe this club can be special.

    We just need our manager to realise how close we are, how just a few quality signings can make us an imcredible team.

    We already have one of the most enviable midifields in world football, now lets go out there and make our strikers the same!!

  39. MA

    That goal epitomised everything Arsene wants.

    And also a little moment, a flash of brilliance from Wilshere and what he could potentially be.

    The boy has to just stay injury free at all costs, have one season or two relatively injury free and we’ll see the real jack Wilshere.

  40. And of course Giroud! Brilliant pass.

    Showed a little biased there! Shame on me! πŸ˜€

  41. @Moe

    I mentioned the other day, Jack looks best playing that 1 touch football and it showed up. Having watched all the contenders for the goal season, I have say it was impressive how many beauties Ramsey scored. It is one thing to score goals of course and hell, all are welcome. But, Ramsey accounted for 5 of the 12 and there were some truly beautiful strikes. Also interesting how often it was that Giroud was the provided, he and Ramsey seemed to have quite the connection.

  42. Andy:

    This whole discussion started because I disagree with your contention that spending $32M for Cesc is a no brainer. Everything I posted above was my attempt to explain why I disagree and to explain why I think its more important to spend first on good forwards.

    Getting Cesc is only a great idea if we can get the forwards we need and get Cesc at the same time. If its one of the other then getting the forwards should be the first priority. Going for the good value purchase on the forward line so we can still afford Cesc is a bad idea, IMO. No matter how much financial muscle we have, I seriously doubt Arsene would spend what it takes to fix our forward line and get Cesc at the same time.

  43. MA

    Yep, and if i remember correctly Ramsey had the same failings after his injury where he held on to the ball too long.

    Ramsey, Giroud, Ox, Ozil and Wilshere have the best connection.

    I was always impressed when they played together, very quick incisive passes.

    Ramsey was riding a wave of awesomeness, the boy just has no limit.

  44. @Yogi

    Do you have a logo/print style (font) whatever in respect of the blog? I am going to design a long sleeve red T-shirt with reference to your site. When the new season starts I intend to introduce myself to the local supporters movement and I have no doubt during the course of doing so I will be in some part waxing lyrical about your site and more importantly, your insights.

  45. Bill – Fair points. I don’t agree, but fair points all the same. We should really be able to afford to go after our targets and still get Cesc IMO. To me, it just seems too good an opportunity to pass up. Given our new financial wealth, that should not be a stretch. If it is, there is something wrong.

  46. Lets not forget how much more comfortable and dangerous Podolski was when played with Ramsey, Ozil, Ox and Giroud!

  47. @Yogi

    I’ll need a better sized image of this gravatar, with your blessing of course.

  48. Massive loss for France as Ribery has just been ruled out of the World Cup according to France.

  49. Andy:

    Nice to have you back, We missed you.

    If we had not bought Ozil last summer we would have left $42M in the bank gathering dust so I am glad we bought him. He was an excellent tonic for the team and fans who were overjoyed with finally making a big money purchase, However, if we had one wad of cash to spend last summer, spending it on a creative midfielder who does not score much was not a wise use of our money and we overpayed. I have nothing against overpaying but if we overpay it should be to rebuild the forward line that has been neglected for many years. The forwards we added to our attack since 2007 have been Bendtner, Arshavin, Chamakh, Gervinho, Park, Giroud, Podolski Sonogo. That’s pretty sad if you ask me. If we manipulated the market and were playing an elaborate game in last summers window with the ultimate goal getting Ozil, then that was not very smart. IMO.

  50. “Bendtner, Arshavin, Chamakh, Gervinho, Park, Giroud, Podolski Sonogo.” Add Eduardo.

    What a trail of tears! Bill, you made me miserable just reading such a list! To think, previously AW had bought Adebayor, RvP, Henry, Anelka, Kanu, Wiltord to add to Bergkamp and Ian Wright. Since RvP departed, we have been impoverished. Of that list, to be honest, Giroud has been the best of the bunch for Arsenal and was a nice purchase if it was an addition to keeping RvP or upon purchasing a top striker last summer.

  51. Arshavin?

    Come on he was excellent, one of the most talented players i’ve seen at Arsenal.

    He just faded really, but i think he really did add something.

  52. I was second only to PG as a booster of Arshavin, Moe, on this blog. But looking at that list as a whole, can you say that AW has been buying well when it comes to attacking talent the last several years? We were constrained fairly severely and goal scorers are the most expensive, so hopefully we’ll get some decent forwards now. But that is why Bill’s point is a serious one. That is the area for most significant improvement but also the most expensive to properly address. Can we afford to splurge on Cesc as well? If we can, fine. But not at the expense of improving our forwards, hopefully.

  53. Lets be honest about Podolski too, when played he has scored goals and assisted on his fair share too!

  54. It’s got nothing to do with loyalty.

    It is pure business and more importantly priority.

    1) Cesc left us for Barca DNA. What loyalty? Barca DNA apparently is 30m quid.

    2) Players have to see things without prejudice to too much passion. hence Sagna who has spent 7-8 seasons with us has been a loyal servant but we cannot fault him for moving even to City. He needs to secure the best deal for the future with limited time left on the clock. I can’t even bring myself in some ways to hate RVP. both him and Nasri were correct in their assessment of us and have been repaid by titles( albeit this is a bit self fulfiling by departure weakening us further) + less we forget RVP has spent the majority of his career with us on a comparatively low wage (Never mind his injuries)

    3) We need in priority terms a TOP Class striker, and CB, RB GK. Buying cesc would not only be a distraction but may also run the risk of shying money away from the striker addition. lest we think we are suddenly the world’s richest club, think again.

    4) We cannot enter into a bidding war with Chelsea. Yes they are bidding for cesc and the price looks attractive but if we enter, there is no reason to suggest the price may not creep up to 50m mark (even if we believe we have an exclusive first right deal). Plus if you fight with a club with deeper pockets than you, expect reprisals with your other additions in market.

    5) We have plenty of midfielders where we are thin on the ground elsewhere. Do not expect history to repeat itself. We have been fortunate up top and at the back + at CDM. These areas may come under pressure next season if we fail to do business. First things first. Adding cesc will also stifle organic growth of some young players. And lest we forget, 2 of the 3 departures this season is for want of playing time.

    6) Last season, we were slightly handicapped in our bids for HIguain and Suarez bc Wenger likely put a limit of 40m+2 on the striker bc he had an eye on Ozil coming in at end of market (he had to realistically reserve 45M+ to ensure we could close the deal). It would be stupid to assume that this was a last minute deal. Buying players is not like going into a shop and buying things off the shelf at a fixed price.

    More importantly, Madrid would be stupid to have not prepared the ground in selling a major asset knowing full well they had to make money to compensate for the Bale deal.

    Wenger went in early to prepare the ground most likely working on the player’s sentiment. Speak german anyone?

    Not many seem to remember that Madrid have a special relationship with Spurs 9for what it is worth) Spurs have the money to sink 100m and could well afford Ozil (in return for Bale). Why does Ozil not go to Spurs. Do they not have a 4th place pot and CL? No they don’t.

    Player sentiment is one of a triumvarate of issues to be taken into consideration along with selling club and buying club. Put agent and price in the mix and the situation is more fluid than most simplistic fans believe it to be.

    Adding Cesc at 30m now (assuming Chelsea won’t fight) would complicate adding a Top End striker later (and we do have to watch permutations again from Madrid this season if we are looking for the very best…which we should)

    Chelsea can bid 32m for Costa and it looks like a great deal (which it is) bc there are few who would fight them for price. They can easily climb with the price to 50m where we cannot bc we have other areas to fill which may need money spent.

    A surplus midfielder versus a striker we need, I think I know where our priorities must lie this summer. Firepower. To watch, Falcao situation.

  55. Limestone.

    Arshavin was not a bad purchase. As you said though, the issue is that we have tried to replace our incredible strikers with the players on that list. It was never going to work. You get what you pay for with goal scorers which is why if we are going to have to be selective regarding when we do overpay then the place to do is on goal scorers.

    I said it before but I would be happy if we sold Cazorla and Wilshere and added the money to our warchest and then spent it all on Cesc, Cavani, and Remy and a RB. Get a back up GK like Schwarzer or Brad Freidel on the cheap. If we still have money left get a DM, if we are out of cash, get the DM next season.

  56. Many would argue that Arshavin was more of a hybrid creative midfielder type and his best position should have been playing in the midfield behind the striker rather then as a forward.

  57. Still many wooly headed supporters think Ozil was a last minute signing or spur of the moment.

    HE was not.

    Spurs could have swapped him for Bale (they had 100m which they spent)

    He did not go to them.

    Do you honestly think Madrid would not feel out a possible sale of one of their top assets when they know they had to recoup some money with Bale’s impending purchase?

    The player sentiment is as much important as the price the selling club is willing to depart with or the price the purchasing club is willing to buy at. Let’s not factor in the agent but clearly this is a dynamic situation and not akin to buying off shelf fixed price where most here are likely more familiar with.

    Bargaining (haggling) is a complex business involving posturing and movement on part of others (nominally those with deeper pockets than us). Discretion is important but ground work has to be laid.

    No surprise that Wenger (who speaks German) was not instrumental in applying correct pressure to player. After all, Spurs have no CL, no 4th place pot and no pedigree. 100m counts for nothing if someone is on hand to whisper that into his ears.

    It is not as cut and dry as going out and buying players. A lot of factors need watching.

    But Ozil’s addition was not an accidental panic buy. You think we were just first on hand at a late stage with 42.3m to spend and we snapped him up just like that? Timing is also crucial. That other clubs had commited money by then also played to our hand.

    Anyone who has done business would understand that. Nothing exist in a vacuum not least in a football transfer market.

  58. Arsharvin’s issue was pace.

    he was unsuited at LW bc he was slowing (not to mention getting a bit of weight on)

    AT AM, he had less need to track back and the space around him to work with would be compressed.

    Trouble was our midfield cover ahead of the Cback pairing was not the strongest either and it would not have worked out for him to have the luxury there.

    but his versatility meant he was best able to exploit through the middle much like Santi currently.

    I never thought for once that Arsharvin was lazy, just unable to compete and had a tendency to switch off. his late showings for us showed some commited tackles but he was unable to keep up for 90 minute spells.

  59. LSG

    Nah I agree with and what Bill was saying, but I felt Arshavin could have been so much more if he was played in AM more often.

    But yeah buying these creative players instead of goalscorers was a bit detrimental

  60. I would like Cesc to return to Arsenal – though he appears to look burnt out – his stats are still good. he would make us better. With Rosicky and Cazorla close to the end of their careers, an experience player like Fabregas will also help younger players.

  61. Quick question, is it me or is Arsene bringing through youngsters alot slower than before?

    It seems that with the quality of the first team raising there is much higher standard and so youngsters are coming through as fast?

    I’d like to see a few youngsters given a run out more often next season, only in games that are won and maybe carling cup games.

    It just seems the future isn’t looking so bright for our current batch of youngsters. They don’t seem to be coming through as much.

    Maybe it’s my bad memory or something and it’s exactly as it always was.

    But yeah just a thought.

  62. Dukey:

    πŸ™‚

    Moe: Having creative types is good as long as you also have the goal scoring firepower and they don’t slow down the game by emphasizing ball possession and moving the ball forward thru the midfield at a tepid pace.

  63. Bill

    Agreed, we seem to think slowing the game down and being in a perpetual state of slow possession is controlling the game. It’s not, it’s just wasting time and opportunity.

    Liverpool’s frightening wing play and speed of attack is what we need to go back to, couple that with our defensive being better and it’s a good formula.

    When the big games come, just shut up shop and restrict space. I hate Moruinho but he knows how to not get beat 6-0 by a rival.

  64. I suspect Cesc is a very different player now to the one we sold. He`ll always be creative but his fitness has to be questionable – besides , he`s not played a proper game of football or even had to run for a couple of seasons.

    If he were to return you would think someone from that midfield area may have to be sold. Santi seems the obvious candidate (regardless of his new contract) but one thing he gives is minutes on the pitch.

    It`s a really tough call for Arsene & one which will be criticised whichever way it goes, particularly if he ends up at a rival in England.

  65. @Moe

    The issue with the youngsters coming through is that all the best youngsters are all…………….yup you guessed it, CM and ACM! Akpom and Bellerin we will probably see more of next season in the early FA Cup matches and CC matches.

    But when you look at the current crop of talent in the form of Zelalem, Crowley, Olsson, Toral; they are all CM and ACM and outside of Toral, they don’t have the pace to play on the wings. Even Gnabry is better suited centrally though, we have seen his talent on the wings and enjoyed it.

    Eisfeld was the exception and I think he could have been similar to Nasri on the wings but he is so good centrally with not just the ability to pick a pass but a true eye for goal but I just don’t think with the likes of Ozil, Santi and Mozart in front of him he would ever get a fair shake. I though he could have replaced Mozart in the rotation but then Mozart signed for another year so that pretty much killed that.

    Then there is Hayden and Miquel who I think both would do well as our 4th CB but both need to be loaned out to continue to develop next season. Miquel had a long term injury that saw him only feature in a few matches.

  66. Paulie – Yup, he will probably be a better player than the one we sold. He will have progressed playing at Barca and is now entering his peak years.

  67. Cesc is a great player but so are Ozil and Aaron and Santi and Jack and Ox. Plus Rosicky in reserve. He properly made a mess when he left a club where he was loved and went to a club that threw him out after 3 years. He could have been an Arsenal legend, now he is a Barca also rant and soon a Chelsea mercenary. In the end he will probably not be remembered by any clubs fans, because in Barcelona they did not value him. At Arsenal he was good but when it mattered most he just jumped ship. At chelsea he will just be another mercenary, there are to many stars already at that club for him to become a true Chelsea legend.

    Same with Van Persie really. Coming to the end of his career, he could have been a great player and an arsenal legend. Now he’s merly a great player that “probably should have won more”. No club will ever cherish him and value him as a true legend. Because the one that did he left.

    It is a shame, heck even Nasri managed to obtain legendary status by being part of CItys first trophies for god knows how many years. So in that way, both him and Clihy has achieved something RvP and Cesc will never achieve, even if those two are probably the better playes….

  68. Fuck cesc, something tells me its his mentality that is the question mark over him, will he disrupt the dressing room harmony…I think Wenger thinks it is,,,,, we dont want him coming in throwing his paella hissy fits again,

  69. I don’t think there is any loyalty left with players. Money talks.

    I don’t doubt that any of our players (or that of any any clubs) would move if it benefited them. It has always been this way, only it is now more in the public area than ever before. Even club legends such as Adams and Brady all agitated for moves/nearly moved at varying points.

  70. Very good post Poodle. I agree entirely. Both those players made huge mistakes long term leaving Arsenal. They got impatient. But I also have to look to AW for underestimating the problem of retaining these players by not surrounding them with the right talent to succeed to some extent. I hope we learn from this and try to avoid similar scenarios by getti g the right players to hold onto Ramsey, Koscielny, Ozil and so on. Next season we need to be much closer to winning and get past the quarters in the CL. The usual 4th place and out after the first knockout will disillusion players. I want Ramsey and Wilshere to be Arsenal legends with necks heavy with medals when they leave us at the end of their careers.

  71. C

    I really hope next season we see more of them, because i think we need them to evolve, they can’t always be youngsters.

  72. Call me a posidivalavista but we were top untill walcott and ramsey got injured. There is hope…….hope that we cant sustain injuries to key men….

  73. I think yogi has made a great but depressing point , there has never been any loyalty, just never the chance for players to move and earn so much so readily and easily.

  74. 191st

    Dukey, as I posted earlier yesterday………. Loyalty is a figment of the imagination!

  75. Morning Henry

    Yeah, middle eastern figs tend to get the ol’ peanut butter flowing. Now you know why Clocky in Egypt has a certain affect on you πŸ™‚

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