Football’s traditions are continually under threat and Arsenal matches at 3pm on a Saturday are a dying breed. No game this weekend until Monday night, when Sky demands supporters schlep to the furthest away game of the season at Middlesbrough. For an evening kick-off. Bravo.
Despite the turmoil, the club is already planning for next season. The first signing is done and dusted, reportedly, with Schalke’s “highly rated” left back, Sead Kolasinac, arriving on Bowman this summer. If true, this suggests Kieran Gibbs will be moved on in the next transfer window.
The former England international is one of those whose contracts is in ‘renew or sell’ phase. It’s no surprise that he is on his way with Nacho Monreal retaining the manager’s trust through consistency.
In a time when ‘good news’ is in short supply, it will be a surprise if the club don’t try to capitalise on the signing now. If they can allegedly spend time briefing the press against certain players, is it beyond their wit to build a story of strengthening the squad for next season?
But that would mean announcing something in the future and Arsenal backed themselves into a corner on that one a few weeks back. Bravo.
Two bucks an hour and working weekends
The headlines this morning all claim Arsène fears meeting Alexis’ wage demands would destabilise the dressing room. I can’t find he actually said that so it’s an interesting collective mood of the sub-editors.
Wage inflation struck the Chilean’s ‘demands’ and £300k per week is now £384k per week. At some point, the figure will reach a level which brings a majority reaction of “He’s not worth it. Sell him!”, and the club will use it as justification for selling him. “But we listened to what you said…”
No matter the walk of life, wages are an emotive subject. I’m sure Arsène is protective of the rumoured £200k per week he is being offered in the New but unsigned deal. Or is it? Unsigned, I mean. Has the ink already dried but the season declined so it’s not a good time to announce? It’s never going to be a good time beyond the board not suffering the opprobrium of the masses.
Some will argue that the manager should be paid more, it’s what happens in business. Not always is the answer, and definitely not in football. Arsène made a very reasonable point about living within your means:
“I understand as well that top players is a big priority, but at the end of the day even for important players you can only pay as much as you can afford.”
Very true. However, if your wage structure is set up incorrectly, where you reward mediocrity too well, you compound the problem by not rewarding the key players with the market rate.
Arsène never hides his disdain for grotesque demands from players but his view of football economics has always been out of kilter with reality. The ‘socialist wage structure’ arguably cost him he finest young talent he had because it didn’t allow him to sign the experienced and exceptional lest they upset the dynamic of the group. Wages are important but so is winning.
The Reward For Fear
Wenger’s language is alarmist. He stopped short of telling us we’re all doomed but not by much:
“Players earn so much money now that the cases have become much more individual than global. You have many different opinions there.
“Some people tell me: ‘Just give his what he wants’. But then you cannot respect anymore any wage structure and you put the club in trouble as well.
“You have to make the decision in an objective way. Always the club has to be the priority.”
However, the club has to balance its priorities of money with challenging for trophies. Arsenal sit sixth this morning through poor form. If we don’t attract the best players, we won’t return to challenging for the title.
Would Arsène’s legacy, already in danger of becoming tarnished, disintegrate if he left the club further away from the title than when he joined?
All flippancy aside, a stand-off with the two prodigiously talented members of the squad do undermine Ivan Gazidis’ position. Remember the claims that we could compete with the likes of Bayern Munich? Already hollow thanks to repeated drubbings at their – and others – hands, failing to pay the wages of key players is pressing the self-destruct button.
While that may not sit comfortably with the manager, that is the reality of the world he lives in. Sometimes, he can come across as King Canute, unable to stem the tide against which he rails.
An already bad atmosphere will only worsen if we lose Alexis. I think Özil departing would meet with less resistance at present but with the commercial money’s Arsenal receive and broadcast income, questions would rightly be asked why we can’t keep both. If the wage bill needs to be trimmed, there are quite a few candidates to put ahead of them in the queue for the exit.
That’s it for today. Enjoy your Saturday off.