God Save The Good Ship Arsenal And All Who Sail On Her

Another day and nothing new to talk about. But enough about Ivan’s Q&A last night. As it’s Friday, over at Dad’s Jukebox, we’ve reached 2002 in Times of our Lives, with a couple of posts coming this weekend.

To be fair, the club doesn’t need to do these sessions and wouldn’t lose any sleep at all if they didn’t. That they do and manage to say very little is why Ivan is CEO; he’s a masterful schmoozer. There were several things which were slips when you read them back; even a mastermind like Ivan has those moments.

The first was almost immediate. “It’s difficult to process a season like that, because we won a trophy but feel disappointed,” he summarised accurately. “Last season we finished second and spent about £110m on transfers,” he went on, underlining why there is such little confidence in the club managing the transfer window.

£110m is not to be sniffed at yet we finished lower than at any point since 1995/96. Arsène’s 21st season at the club reflected his 1,000th game; a Premier League damp squib. The club has to understand why and be effective in managing the solution. They won’t be; they can’t even manage the manager.

Which is something Ivan sought to tell us they most certainly can do. From the board’s perspective, they didn’t care that it wasn’t a “popular decision”, just the right one although the past decade or more suggests their ambition to win the Premier League will remain unsatisfied.

If the Kids are United

Gazidis confirmed many suspicions that there isn’t a winning bone in any of the bodies of the club’s leadership:

“We wanted somebody that plays attractive, exciting football that people want to watch. Giving young players a chance is another one of the values of the club. Sometimes that costs us in points, but the emotional investment we all feel in watching a player’s journey with the club is an important part of what we want to have at Arsenal.”

Giving young players a chance is a fine attribute, but at the cost of points? Emotional investment? Yes, it’s great to see a youngster come through the ranks but that’s not a prime reason for the club’s existence. Too much emphasis is placed on tangential values.

He observed that the decision will be judged in May. OK, he didn’t but it’s the same kind of sentiment.

That the decision to re-appoint Arsène wasn’t unanimous is underlined by his hesitancy in answering that question. Stan is engaged with the club when it may impact on the strong balance sheet and Wenger is very good for the balance sheet.

Ivan was disingenuous – hardly a surprise – in talking about Stan’s reason for being involved in the club. It is all about money and just because he hasn’t sold the shares yet, doesn’t mean he hasn’t made money. His asset value has doubled, which the bankers of the world will unite in welcoming. Money isn’t always cash.

Inevitably, the timing of Arsène’s renewal came up. Inevitably, Ivan sidestepped admitting the fustercluck the board and manager made of it all. The rationale was clearly laid out; they were scared of the reaction.

Questions and Answers, Honesty, Lies

The longer it went on, the more we knew renewal was coming and frankly, the way the Premier League and Champions League campaigns panned out, there was never going to be a good reaction.

Would we have finished in the top four? Who knows and to be honest, is there any virtue in doing so? 10 – 2, lest we forget.

Soft-soaping the fanbase is something the club used to be able to do. I am not sure they realise it isn’t going to work anymore; they just hope it will. Is there redemption ahead? I don’t think it will be easy. Ivan wants us to get behind the team and the manager. We want a team to get behind although I’m not sure Arsène wants anyone behind him having heard the steel against whetstone.

There’s a straightforward way to inject enthusiasm into the atmosphere: getting busy strengthening the starting XI. According to Ivan, we don’t need depth, we need the real deal. He reminds me of the soldier played by David Essex in the War of the Worlds soundtrack. The 1970s one with Dickie Burton, Justin Hayward and more synthesizers than you can shake a stick at; “it’s just a brave new world, with just a handful of men; we’ll start all over again”.

His optimistic naïvety represents my perception of Ivan while I’ll settle for weary cynicism of Burton’s narrator. Still we don’t have to worry. The board is going to “communicate” the love of the club they have. They are in the pulpit, praising the light. Amen, brothers and sisters; amen! Can you feel the love? Have you seen the light?

’til Tomorrow.

121 thoughts on “God Save The Good Ship Arsenal And All Who Sail On Her

  1. Sorry to have to go back on my word, but I couldn’t leave this one without a reply. I promise this will be the last time we exchange words. I understand that you’re entrenched in your view of AFC and appreciate that despite all the evidence to say that nothing will change, you continue to hope it will. We are united in the fact then that we both want the best for the club. The only difference being that you want to cross your fingers it’ll happen and I’ll actually ask for it to happen?

    With that all said, the reason for my reply is your comment below from yesterday’s thread crossed a couple of lines.

    You know little to nothing about me or my life. I live a very happy, fulfilling life that I feel blessed to have fallen into. Bile and pessimism are not words I associate with myself regularly. In future I’d advise you to get to know your subject matter a little better before using such strong language

    I can assure you, if AFC won every domestic cup and the UCL in one season, there would not be a single person on this planet happier than I about it

    I’m confused by your advice on my attitude. I don’t see optimistic and ignorance as being opposites? Nor do I consider them mutually exclusive? I see ignorance defined best by blind faith whilst ignoring a plethora of fact to the contrary

    Disgrace to this fine blog? I’ll leave Yogi to decide that. In terms of behaviour though, for the reasons I’ve outlined here in this reply to you, I think it applies much more to yourself.

    I wish you all the best anyway

    nicky:
    @Damon,
    As one of the habitual doom and gloom merchants who disgrace ACLF, you persist in living in a life, full of bile and pessimism, refusing to accept the possibility of change.
    If Arsenal FC won every trophy in sight you would still find an excuse to criticise. My advice to you is to try an optimistic attitude for once and you will find it’s much better than your presentignorant one.

  2. Patiently and magnanimously put my friend.

    I can only concur on all fronts however I am not so constrained by politeness.

    Go fuck yourself, Nicky – you are way out of line.

    You really are proving to be just another twat who has somehow convinced himself that he owns the blog.

  3. Thye west coast is massif, sir.

    Yeah – I love it here.

    Vancouver is a bit special. Where you at?

  4. Damon,

    Well said Damon, I mostly ignore his petty minded and spiteful comments, very few bother engage with him.

  5. Don’t have much choice but to respond when it gets personal like that.
    Very restrained I thought.
    Tolerance doesn’t always come with age…

  6. When Alexis goes, it will not be because of the money or even playing for a better team. It will be because of Wenger. Alexis knows that Wenger just isn’t up to it. Alexis has had at least the following coaches: Guardiola, Bielsa, Martinez, Sampaoli, Wenger. He knows the difference between a good coach and a bad one. He can see right through Wenger’s “reputation” and has heard all his bullshit for three years and doesn’t want to hear anymore. He wants to end his career with a decent coach. Full stop. Wenger should die of shame that Alexis wants to leave.

  7. Jonny

    Just summer hols in the Med. Rhodes is this years choice. Mallorca shall get the annual September visit

    As you know, I have dual nationality with Canada but have never got to Vancouver. I’ve been told if I did, I’d probably never leave. My parents are on a huge trip later this year and I’m most jealous of the stint between Calgary and Vancouver that they’re taking by road. One day, no doubt I shall visit

    Keep safe and hope to catch up with you sometime soon when your back in Blighty

  8. Yeah, I did that journey – it really is totally unreal.

    I could well imagine living in Vancouver.

    Let’s liaise when were both back in Blighty.

    Sure we can sort something out – best to wishes to your wee sweet lass. 😀

  9. Excellent!

    Greetings suitably passed on

    I shall look forward to hearing your tales of travels over a few nice cold ciders in a warm garden someplace.

    Bon voyage!

  10. Damon,

    You didn’t even get the usual smiley face where he tries to suggest he’s only joking.

    Decided a while ago he was a WUM and now mostly ignore, but that was a very personal attack on you. A very controlled response.

  11. In catching up with the comments I saw one commenting on Alexis’ announcement that he knew his decision on his future, but was going to wait until after the Confederations Cup to disclose it. Sounds very much like Wenger announcing that he knew what he was going to do, but was waiting until the end of the season. It appears that Alexis is making a point and I’m assuming that is bad for Arsenal because it wont be that he’s staying.

  12. Wavey,

    Actually he did have the little winking face. I dont think it copied over is all. Yeah, I couldn’t let that one slide past, try as I might

    Yep, I’d say Alexis is definitely off. Why stall the announcement if he’s staying? It’ll be interesting if we do sell to a domestic rival to see the response from the fanbase. Pitchforks and sythes out or another sign that we’ll accept another notch up on the corporatisation of what used to be a football club

  13. lacazettes a great signing, he’s essentially the striker we wanted theo to be (perez) ?

    but it will be interesting to see if we are making these signings to convince sanchez to stay or we are doing it because we know hes off.

    on the face of it – for 50-60mil and no CL income we’ll either be selling all our squad players to make the money back or a few of our best players.

    I’ve seen this movie many times before – so i know what my moneys on – and remember we sold rvp to UTD so the club dont give two fucks what anyone thinks – as long as the pennies are right then the highest bidder it will be and if thats city then thats where sanchez is going.

    Id like to say sanchez will be kept and we’ll make a cull of squad players but seeing as though half of them are home grown i cant see that happening

  14. If Sanchez forces a move to City, the folly of renewing Adsense. Ontract will have taken a matter of weeks to expose itself

    A new manager could’ve argued the case to stay the last year and back himself to turn things around a bit. If Alexis still doesn’t like what he sees in 12 months time, it’s a massive pay day when he walks on a free

  15. Damon,

    I think Alexis would stay on for 12 months to see what happens and walk on a free if he wasn’t impressed. I don’t think the club would ever take that risk though. That would suggest that they have no confidence in making the kind of statement in the transfer market that would convince Alexis that they are going to put up a serious PL challenge. If we made the signings and battled for the title and narrowly missed out you would maybe think that Alexis would at least have seen signs that the club genuinely wants to battle for trophies. If he didn’t want to sign up then, fair enough I suppose.

  16. If the club were intent on battling for trophies in the coming why not negotiate a short term deal with Alexis to show that intent:

    Ask him to extend his contract for a season on new wage terms (of course) with an agreement that the club would agree to sell him next summer if he were not happy with the way the season had panned out.

    That would give Wenger a season to show him that there is genuine intent, but ensure that the club isn’t out of pocket next summer if Alexis feels that events haven’t lived up to expectations. Alexis could just say stick it, I’ll walk or look at a new deal when I’m out of contract next summer of course.

    I think Alexis is one of those players who gives his all when playing and he will also want to put himself in the shop window for the best deal he can get next summer, so I would expect him to play his best next season even if we were just hold him to contract.

  17. Wavey,

    With the amount of money around on transfers now, I think it’s only a matter of time before a big player stuffs a club and takes the money for themselves on a free.

    Very simply, my thinking goes like this… a player like Alexis is, say £50m transfer and £250k a week wages

    on a four year deal that’s over a million pounds a month saving on a transfer fee if he goes on a free. Over to the agent to carve that up in the players favour. You fancy most would get at least half of that (£125k a week) and potentially close to all of it, depending on how hot the player is. If my simple maths can get there, I’m sure some. Lever agent is way ahead of me

    £2m a month can’t be far away in the Prem, on that basis?

  18. Damon,

    At some point clubs are going to have to seriously rethink what they pay for players. If players are tempted to run their contracts down to go on a free, or even on a lower fee in the last year of their contract it completely shifts the market. Maybe the rich clubs are able to continue to pay up, but why would the other clubs pay? If clubs like Everton etc don’t have much prospect of winning trophies that will provide significant payouts they will lose money on their trading and even the big TV deals wont offset loses. The real issue is for a club like ours which doesn’t have the ambition to want to challenge for titles. The competition for a top 4 spot used to be fairly limited, but now the chasing pack have properly caught up and the only way to try to stay ahead, or even on a par is to spend more on players. We’ve already seen it with signings like Alexis, Ozil, Xhaka and Mustafi all being bought at hefty premiums to our previous spending levels. Without a particularly good system for the development of young talent, we are going to have to keep paying up to maintain our position and players like Alexis will never want to stay at the club.

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