UEFA, Shame and Loyalty

Ah, football; it’s a funny old game but no-one is laughing at the moment.

A contingent of Leicester’s fans decided to let Spanish police know what they will be missing with Brexit, and missed the match as they were cordoned off in the plaza they decided to wreck. That worked out well, didn’t it?

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund were forced to kick-off against Monaco less than 24 hours after their team bus was attacked by explosive devices. Nuri Sahin’s interview is a man in shock and no wonder:

Thomas Tuchel criticised UEFA for their decision,

“We weren’t asked at any point. We were told by text message that the decision had been made in Switzerland. When they told us ‘you’re up tomorrow’, we felt completely ignored.

“We would have liked more time to take stock. This gives you the feeling of impotence, that we have to keep functioning and nothing else matters.

“I encouraged everyone to take the game seriously but football is not the most important thing in the world.”

There are questions to be answered, mainly why they were hell-bent of playing the game last night. It’s easy to answer: money. UEFA, whose motto is “The show must go on”, was scared of losing sponsorship revenue and television money. Nothing is more important than the cash cow of the Champions League.

The disregard for footballers as people is staggering, even by the authority’s standards.

With Granada appointing Tony Adams as manager, only to see Kieran Richardson and Nigel Reo-Coker pitch up, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum. I hope it goes well for Tone, I genuinely do, but he must talk a good game because his managerial record doesn’t.

Tears Are Souvenirs

It’s the end of season from hell apparently. Arsenal face 5 games in 15 days – yes, it’s 15 not 14 as the medja claim, count it out on your fingers beginning with the 7th of May, the date of the first match, if you don’t believe me. So that’s a match at the weekend followed by a midweek match followed by a weekend match followed by a midweek match and then a weekend match.

What a tough run of fixtures. A game every three days. Poor lambs.

The impact of Arsenal’s poor season was felt when the club was publicly humiliated by Sky’s decision to drop coverage of the Leicester match in favour of Tottenham v Crystal Palace. You understand’s the decision, with Spurs potentially still being in the title race at that point. We, on the other hand, are likely to be fighting for 7th place and the Europa League qualifiers.

That will get Stan’s attention. Revenues will drop by more than the savings on bonuses, that’s for sure, and hitting Kroenke in the pocket is the only way to get his attention. Such is the way the board think, the ‘transfer warchest’ will be cut once all the season ticket renewals are received.

Which is the reason the club is on media lockdown on Wenger’s contract. He’ll play a straight bat and the directors won’t have to listen to the ungrateful serfs showering them with dissent instead of being pleased that we’re allowed to buy tickets to watch the Arsenal.

Missing out on the Champions League for one season was always the premise put forward during the ‘austerity years’. The Arsenal could survive financially without it. Oh, the irony that now, when the club is wealthier than ever, the cash cow isn’t there to be milked.

Excuses Have Their Uses

No doubt Arsène will be tasked with cutting his cloth accordingly. When investment has been needed in the squad, no-one has pushed him before and no-one will push him now. Lip service will be paid to the problem but nothing more. The board talks a good game but has a track record in displaying a lack of ambition regarding the playing side.

According to former PR poodle, John Cross, Arsène is running around telling everyone who will listen that he wants two more years, despite claims that the hierarchy reportedly told him he had to cut some of the backroom staff. Colbert, Peyton and Rowley, are supposedly the unlucky ones but whether that is true or not is another matter.

After all, Arsène is big on loyalty and he surely will stand square, shoulder-to-shoulder, with his comrades and not selling them down the river to save his own neck?

This pathetic pantomime for the club continues for another month. Leaderless, rudderless and clueless. There used to be a football club over there, now it is a monument to Mammon.

’til Tomorrow.

52 thoughts on “UEFA, Shame and Loyalty

  1. Morning YW. I expect that he’ll be foregoing his pay rise then? Of course he will, loves Arsenal so much that he’d do it for nothing.

    More empty seats, more protests, the one thing that cannot be allowed is for them to push this through and for the fans to meekly line up and accept their daily dose of ill-judged Arsenal PR.

  2. Yes good luck to Tony. In an idyllic world Adams would keep granada television up then take over afc and bring back the glory years of top 4 finishes…

  3. Brilliant summary of our club YW-how you muster the will each day is beyond me.
    I suspect a drop of anger must fuel you with recent shenanigans.

  4. Good morning folks, Yogi it looks as though UEFA is run about as well as Arsenal and with the same motivation. Money!

  5. Morning all,

    Depressing – that’s all I can feel about the current plight and today’s article. Nothing personal of course YW. It’s just the situation we are in and it stinks. As for UEFA, their treatment of Dortmund really is no surprise, but is equally depressing.

    WIth reduced/lost TV and CL revenues, Arsenal will need some new sponsors…..Prozac perhaps?

  6. Just received an invite to the Sport & Recreation Alliance’s annual sports summit which is to be held at the Emirates this year. I used to attend such things for my now part time employer, when I was full time, so wont be visiting the conference suites. Bloody typical really. The last one I attended was held at Stamford Bridge. Took an onion, garlic bulb and rabbits foot with me just for my own well-being. Was torture being there, having to walk past their trophies, memorabilia etc.

  7. UEFA shameless, but the difference between the penalties for racist chanting/abuse and a player over celebrating a goal (e.g. Taking off his shirt so sponsorship is no longer visible for the tv cameras) tells you how low we have sunk.
    No idea about AWs behaviour or how much he can spend. Maybe one day it will come out. He should leave having run out ideas on the winning, tactics and personnel front. I don’t think he is comfortable with big money except for his wages which he should be ashamed to collect.
    He has zero leverage. His contract is up and I cannot believe that we cannot find an equally good or better manager for the same or less salary.
    As walrus face is majority shareholder he can run the club into the ground, but I would say this end could also be achieved by a group of not very bright 18year olds at a fraction of the cost.
    I have been a gooner for longer than I can remember (Bertie Mee was manager) and this lot take the cake for spinelessness and lack of pride.
    I would like us to win something again, but without root and branch surgery of players and execs, that may not happen. I would not be surprised if we get relegated next season without some drastic measures being taken

  8. Silly question

    What should UEFA have done – I guess put it back a week and compensate all the fans ?

    One club says decision taken unilaterally UEFA say in consultation ?

    BTW anyone seen the u tube clip of the guy being hauled of the flight in the US with our beloved managers face superimposed. Made me chuckle.

  9. Anyone know the season ticket renewal deadline? One day after that will be “Announcement Day”.

  10. Excellent stuff, YW. Interesting about the backroom staff. If that really is an issue, AW should do the honourable thing and resign. My respect for his motives (let’s leave aside judgment, performance and so on) would be even further reduced.

  11. Cbob, I was about to post this to Nicky yesterday and then felt perhaps it was overboard–I like that he still seems to get some joy from following the team somehow because I find watching us pretty excruciating at times. Then I read this morning your response on yesterday’s comments which harmonized in substance with what I think is the problem. I paste it below since it was still on my clipboard:

    Nicky, since it doesn’t really matter anyway, how about allowing that supporters will have disagreements, differing views and perhaps enjoy debating and discussing with one another on a forum like this? Why do you object? I’m not opposed to your sunny ways and wouldn’t castigate you for having them. But you needn’t complain about others for not sharing your feelings. You don’t really provide reasons for your optimism; it is just that you have different expectations and a distinct approach to supporting Arsenal. So do your thing. I like reading your optimistic views. What I don’t think is admirable is how much it seems to rely on complaining about those who are critical and have a different view.

  12. Orson Kaert,

    Astute prediction. However, I think they will wait after the season finishes at this point even if the renewal deadline is earlier than the end. But it is a good question–when is renewal deadline? We will certainly stop hearing about the war chest after that point.

  13. I really enjoyed the continuing discussion after I left off for the day between Raven, DFS, Andy et. al. Interesting speculation and analysis around a shadowy behind the scenes story of power politics/faction. Whatever is happening, the lack of genuine concern for the club beyond its position as a corporate entity prevents me from identifying any heroes or villains.

  14. Limestonegunner,

    I think that the final ST renewal date and Arsene’s contract end date pretty much coincide – end of June. Also I believe that we can officially confirm any new signing on July 1st (I could be wrong) so lots of things all coming together at the same time and the perfect time for an announcement (for Arsenal’s spin merchants at least). Makes a nonsense of Arsene’s claim weeks back that we would know about his future “soon”.

  15. Just to add to the swirl of leaked ‘information’ or misinformation depending on your level of cynicism I see that the Evening Standard are claiming that the club will make a record wage offer to Alexis of £300k a week. Another very transparent bit of media manipulation if you ask me to make it look like we are trying to keep him (despite being told by Wengerites that we cannot compete at such salary levels) and/or make him look greedy. Also at odds with Wenger’s claim that talks were on hold and would resume in the summer.

    Quite honestly it’s hard to believe anything that comes from the club or it’s pet journalists these days.

  16. andy1886,

    As in the RvP situation, the club and AW want to ignore any of the “unacceptable” demands the player might make as part of the negotiations related to the club’s ambition. As far as the rumours I hear, Alexis is interested not only in getting paid handsomely (and appropriately) but also wants some real assurances the club will put together a team designed to win big trophies and not just tread water for 3rd/4th place. A few years ago, I (almost alone here) supported RvP’s position and castigated the current regime for selling him at all (much less to a rival) since keeping RvP on a modest wage (around 70k) for even half a season would have been worth it and we might have actually had a chance to win the league that following season. Even better would have been actually investing in the players that were needed then. I would maintain the same now. The player is correct: Alexis deserves to be paid and should be convinced that the club actually plans to build a proper team. However, I wonder how they would actually fool him at this point when we have had money and failed miserably under AW.

  17. This is one area where the board/owners/exec and the manager will be completely on the same page: no conditions related to ambition. AW will see it as an affront to his authority and the club does not want to be forced into actually spending big money on wages OR new players just to keep a high-priced talent.

  18. You can’t let “workers” make these kind of demands that put limitations on management on how things are run, you know! So pretend it is just exclusively about money and not conditions of labor.

  19. Yogi

    Another great post. It must be a true labor of love for youdon’t know how you can write about this stuff everyday. I remember I always chuckled at people who got emotionally involved in day time soap operas but the things we are seeing from our club are just as ridiculous. I have no idea what is happening and I have grown less interested in every speculating. It’s almost like feeling numb. I still have to believe that Arsene is in charge and making the decisions but I am not sure and I have no idea what is going thru the mind of whomever is making the decisions.

    One thing I do know is that the notion that Arsene loves the club and everything he has done was motivated by that love of the club are sadly mistaken. No one who loves the club would allow this state of limbo to go on and on. I have always thought that Arsene’s ego and wanting to do things his way was the single biggest factor that motivated his decisions even from the start of the Emirates project and project youth etc etc.

  20. Limestonegunner,

    Yup, I had a similar outlook on RvP, in fact it’s unbelievable that most Gooners still do not understand the actual facts that summer. A recent Arseblog podcast reiterated the same old (and erroneous) sentiments that he was a greedy mercenary and that Arsenal were not in a position to meet his alleged ambition. Not that a top class footballer actually wanted to win titles heaven forbid.

    The facts are (and they are in the official published accounts) that during the 2011-12 period (we sold him to United in August 2012) Arsenal’s cash reserves were around the £140m mark and never dipped below £100m. Plenty enough to compete for the best players and make a real challenge for the title (United spent about £40m that summer and won the title, even Chelsea only spent £80m, City considerably less). Arsenal of course did their usual thing and spent a net £10m approximately.

    Strangely the same apologists don’t seem to have a problem in believing that we went from being almost broke that year to having the best part of £200m in the bank a couple of years later – as though it suddenly fell from the sky one day.

    No wonder there are people still making excuses for Arsene. Talk about gullible.

  21. andy1886,

    Exactly so, Andy. I’m not saying he or Alexis are saints but they do want to win. Who else at the club can you safely say wants to win and can contribute to achieving that goal at this point. I had doubted AW but wanted him to prove us all wrong with ample resources 2012 on–all he has done is remove any doubts that he can bring AFC back to the top even with massive money to spend, which he has used for 3-4 years unsuccessfully. A club interested in winning would move in a new direction.

  22. I don’t know how anyone could blame RVP. He did exactly what almost all of us would do. He could get more money and a better chance to win big trophies at ManU. Arsenal takes advantage of that all the time when we buy players from smaller teams.

    I don’t know if you any of you remember this but Arsenal’s wage bill for players was always reasonably close to the other big teams even back in the early Emirates era. We always spent big on player wages but we were incredibly stingy with transfer fees. Like everything else Arsene was in charge of player contracts and wage negotiations and he built the dysfunctional socialistic wage scale which paid squad players somewhere in the same ballpark as star players. Big teams that win big trophies are built around star players and how any club would expect to keep its best players with that strange distribution of wages makes no sense.

  23. I really think that Arsene fell victim to believing in the legend that had grown up around him. He thought that players like Thierry Henry improved because of him and that he could go on building his own superstars only this time he was going to do it even better by starting them at age 15 in the academy. He also believed that he was good enough to build a great team by playing his own version of total football. As long as we had an advantage in technical skill and we could maintain ball possession and control of the midfield then the goal scoring and the defense would take care of themselves. You can still see that latter idea in the purchases from last summer. We spent $65-70M on Xhaka and Mustafi and the outstanding and eye catching part of their skill set is technical skill and passing.

  24. Bill,

    Indeed. Wenger was always arrogant, remember the “we don’t buy superstars we make them” line that used to get trotted out? When we were winning we chose to ignore it but truth was that he wasn’t universally popular in the English game. He thought that he could win “the right way”, that is without spending big money and by playing the way he believed football should be played. We all know that there is no “right way” and to think that only you play the game properly is certainly arrogant. Personally my favourite Wenger side was the first one with the Graham back line and PV4, Petit, DB10, Overmars et al, not the later pass to death style that he adopted after the Invincibles.

    The money excuse was very convenient but not entirely valid. We either refused to spend (as Wenger said to Dein if they had given him £100m he would have given it back) or wasted money as you say be overpaying individuals who had not earned it (and when they failed we couldn’t give them away). Most of this pre-Kroenke which nails another myth that Wenger had been restricted by a parsimonious owner.

    Now the chickens are finally coming home to roost and the only defence that is being offered is one of sentiment because there is no logical argument to offer. Would you trust this man with a ‘war chest’ and player contract negotiations? I know that I wouldn’t.

  25. andy1886,

    Of his big money signings, which have been really excellent? It may be too early to judge but Mustafi and Xhaka have some flaws. Ozil has talent and skill but has not been decisively valuable to us. Alexis is really the only one.

  26. Limestonegunner,

    Well you could suggest that Alexis has a temperament problem (certainly that’s the line that certain insiders have been briefing) but that’s only because a drive to win isn’t welcome in Arsene’s world. So yes, Alexis has been excellent. But the same could be applied to Ozil – in the right team I’m pretty sure that he would be fantastic, but not in an Arsenal side that can barely carry themselves let alone a gifted player that lacks some of the more physical attributes.

    I think that we saw enough of Mustafi to suggest he could be a very good buy, but I would challenge any defender to flourish in the mess that is our defensive system. Xhaka was highly rated too, I’d like to see him in the right system under a different manager.

    I don’t think that he has bought badly as such, I just think that he is unable to get the best out of players and provide them with a framework to succeed.

  27. andy1886,

    That’s very fair. I just think at those rates he could have found a better DM. Kante was available for a fee less than Xhaka’s but we didn’t want to pay huge wages. Mustafi would have been cheaper if he’s tried to get a CB earlier in the window but he waited until after Per’s injury at the very end of the window so Valencia upped the ask. We’ve needed a striker for ages and he’s failed either to buy or to develop a young striker like he once used to do. I wouldn’t hand him 150/200 to spend and expect a championship/CL challenging team.

  28. When you look at the team of youngsters that have been assembled at Monoco, Wenger should hold his head in shame. What a great team to watch.

  29. Dukey,

    Or when you consider how BvB and , Juventus and Atletico have built teams with character and flair that go deep in Europe on far less money.

  30. Arsene’s philosophy was always flawed. Good defense will always stop a good attack. You can’t win without a solid defense. The idea that we could build our team around our attack and our ball possession would be our defense was fatally flawed. It only takes 10 seconds of possession to score on a good counter attack.

    The other philosophical mistake was to believe the key to scoring is midfield creativity and passing and we did not need great goal scorers because with the proper creativity scoring would take care of itself and we would pass the ball into goal. However, the reality is that the most difficult thing for a player to do in football is to be a goal scorer. It’s not that creativity is bad but all of the creativity in the world is useless without having enough firepower.

  31. Mesut Ozil has said that he will not talk about a new contract until the summer. He says that he is not important, none of the players are important, right now what matters is the club. It’s up to the the whole club to fight for a top four finish. He ended by saying that Wenger deserves respect for what he’s done I the past twenty years.

    Well I guess I can’t argue with any of that, but it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the manager, is it?

  32. Interesting point that highlights the change in fortunes of the two NL clubs:

    Tottenham have not been this far ahead of Arsenal in the table since May 1963 but manager Pochettino insists he is more concerned about catching Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    Worth repeating that – May 1963.

    But worse than that, we’re already considered to be an irrelevance:

    “I think we’re playing and fighting for bigger things,” Pochettino said.

    “If we look at the bigger picture it’s to try to reduce the gap with Chelsea. I think today it’s not important the gap we have with Arsenal.

    “The most important thing is to do our job, try to win games and try to reduce the gap with Chelsea.”

    Shouldn’t someone be telling him that it’s all about a top four finish and their version of St. Totteringham’s Day? Or dare I suggest that they actually have bigger ambitions?

  33. Perhaps Mustafi will turn out to be a good signing. The problem is that I think he caught Arsene’s eye is because he is really good on the ball and not because of his defense.

    Xhaka is a problem. Clearly what Le Coq showed us in 2015 was that we need our deepest midfielder to concentrate on defense. We don’t need our deepest midfielder to be a great playmaker or passer. However, at least so far Xhaka has not been a good defensive player. Xhaka does not have the positional sense and he is not mobile enough to cover the flanks when the full backs go forward. His main focus is ball possession and passing. If we are going to use him in midfield then we probably need to pair him with a defense first player which leaves no place for a midfielder to help the team transition from defense to attack. Even worse, we are going to struggle to be a really good defensive team and we can’t hope to play an aggressive pressing style when 2/3 of our midfield is Ozil and Xhaka.

  34. Orson Kaert,

    Given that he’s hardly likely to announce that he’s off and get abuse from fans it would seem that he’s just biding his time as are the club over Wenger. What’s good for the goose and all that. To be fair he probably knows that next season could well be a train wreck and at his stage of his career why would he want to be wasting his time being enveloped in that? I expect him to sneak off in the summer although the club will likely not recover his full value when they sell (as per Cesc, Cashley, TH14 and PV4 and others who held the contractual upper hand).

  35. We play our best when we have a deep lying defensive midfielder and a more dynamic player in the box to box role. Ramsey in 13/14 and Cazorla were examples of dynamic box to box players. Ox has shown signs that perhaps he could provide some spark from midfield. However, if we have Xhaka as the deepest midfielder then we can’t afford to have a dynamic aggressive player in the box to box role because it leaves the defense exposed.

  36. Even though Le Coq has not been as good in the last couple of seasons we still played our best football when he and Cazorla were in the midfield.

  37. Bill,

    I thought the best thing about Coquelin’s emergence that season was that it proved the value and importance of that defensive midfield role. What I hoped was that we would get a dynamic, physical, defensively minded player who had better on the ball skills than Coquelin. Unfortunately, AW ignored that lesson and concluded instead that the ball-winning abilities should be deployed as an adjunct to our attack! Amazing.

  38. Limestone

    Le Coq and Gilberto or even Arteta for a couple of seasons proved how important it was to have a defense first player in the deepest midfield role. On the other hand Song and Denilson showed what happens when the deepest midfielder focuses more on ball possession or trying to be a playmaker.

  39. Well written YW
    I wonder what Burkinshaw would have made of the Mammonic orgy that is the modern business of football. Well done slipping the knife in with a quote from a truly good man from the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Rd

  40. Not for nothing but Gilberto was the perfect dM, think back to the Invincibles; yea Vieira did all the running but Silva was the deep lying playmaker dictating play. Actually he was what you want in modern times in your deepest midfielder: technically perfect, brilliant passer and range of passing, brilliant defensively. Busquets is the closest thing to what all clubs want as their DM / deepest lying playmaker.

    And with that, I will chat with you lot tomorrow

  41. Why have we stopped playing with a Regular starting XI?

    I can hardly name an Arsenal player in the last 12 seasons who played the full season. In the early Arsene days when we were winning and by days I mean years ago. We almost always knew the starting XI, now if a player gets a stretch of 12 games, we say he had a good season!

    One of the most baffling things to me, it’s as if Wenger prefers to please every player in his squad by giving them playing time, but not to the benefits of the team or the results and achievements.

    We have also became greatly ineffective in the Market or even spotting young talent. Something we were famous for, now all the good young talents going somewhere else. We have missed out on a lot of outside talent and lost great number of our own over the years.

    It’s a rut in Bureaucracy and outdated ideas accumulated over the course of 21 years. A new vision for the future is a Must.

    I hope the Board and Arsene have something to offer at the end of this season, I can’t Imagine if this continues into next season. It will really be tough.

  42. Bill – Agree with all that. Cazorla basically provided the tight ball control that got Arsenal out of trouble (without having to rely to Coquelin’s technical skills). Maybe a Coquelin-Ox axis in midfield. At least the Ox has athleticism and can dribble (hopefully, out of trouble).
    As I’ve said, I think Theo has to be benched. All he does is run into the space that Bellerin wants to run into. That’s a big reason why Bellerin is playing rubbish. There should be an inverted winger out there: Ozil or Perez.

  43. Nothing much to report from Arsene’s press conference, only that Kos is ‘80%’ likely to be available on Monday. The good old ‘Handbrake’ got a mention and that we need to play with freedom and express ourselves. Personally I’d prefer a bit more structure and discipline but there you go.

    Asked if he had learnt anything from our recent troubles the answer was No, only what he already knew. So no prospect of much changing on the playing front. On the Alexis £300k a week he didn’t really answer the question, happy I would assume to allow that to be out there so the club can appear to be doing all they can while making the player look greedy.

    No news on his future, asked if the BoD where united he claimed not to know what their thoughts were, asked if he spoke to Kroenke regularly he only said that he had a good relationship with him.

    All in all very little of any substance as AFC continue to stumble along and keep everyone in the dark.

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