That backfired quicker than I thought it would. Ian Wright was the legend who responded quickest to Mesut Özil’s Garbo moment. And the legend put the pressure right back on the German: why hasn’t a contract been agreed yet?
Wright, who famously required Ken Friar to make him read his Arsenal deal when he joined, hammered home the point by calling out Özil for hiding behind Alexis’ situation. Which is a fair point. This is a player who on the Australian tour led everyone to believe that when everyone was back in London, it would all be sorted out. Plenty of time has passed since then and no comment from either party. Nor any leaks to the press, either.
Asking a PR firm to manage your image is all well and good but when the move backfires, you’re left looking like Wayne Rooney on a night out while his wife is away.
Is Özil backed into a corner or just into silence on the matter? Largely, that depends on the reaction of supporters to Wright’s comments. It’s sure to be a theme others warm to but everything about the German’s handling of his deal points toward a quiet exit in the summer, contract unsigned.
Whether that can happen in football is another matter. I suspect he will try to keep a lid on his plans for as long as possible, knowing it will leak at some point. The departure will be stage-managed so that there is no damage to the wholesome image his sponsors bought into.
Apathy is his best friend right now, in the hope that he can float along as long as possible without having to account for the decision about his future.
End of another fresh start
Arsène’s view of football is more cynical than before. He still believes in Financial Fair Play but wants the process revoked on the basis that it isn’t enforced. This as UEFA opens an ‘Investigatory Chamber’ on PSG signings this summer.
There’s nothing to argue with on that point. Both City and PSG received dubious sponsorship deals but their well-heeled lawyers found ways of making that revenue palatable for the regulations. Quite why Arsène believed that any regulator would enforce rules is as baffling. As is the naviety behind the view that FFP would level the playing fields. It soon became obvious that cutting squads and fines was a price worth paying.
Of course, no club breaching FFP will give two hoots about what UEFA think. Uli Hoeness, rehabilitated tax evader, observed recently, “Football has reached a point where we must be damn careful. There comes a point where fans will have had enough.”
Personally, I think a great many have had enough. Look at the money Oxlade-Chamberlain was being offered, Alexis and Özil too. Yet Arsenal won’t come out and impose the living wage on contractors. So far, just two Premier League clubs have signed up to it: Everton and Chelsea.
Not Arsenal; the club says it pays all directly-employed staff the living wage. Well, that’s not good enough; this is an obscenely rich football club and it has a moral duty to ensure all staff employed directly and indirectly, are covered off. Ivan earns £2m a year, Wenger more. So do the players yet they have personnel working for them who aren’t out of the poverty gap. This is unacceptable.
Not that I expect much from a club whose owner is part of the Walmart family.
Put your hopes and dreams away
Arsène’s interviews whilst away on commentating duties – not at the Elite Coaches Forum or don’t you get invited if you’re not in the Champions League? – always elicit more information than anything he says to the British press. The hesitancy over his contract renewal, for example, was discussed and another of the ‘loyalty after speaking to other clubs’ situations emerges. PSG – again – discussed the coaching role with the manager.
So why does Arsène stay? Masochism is the easiest answer. It’s plausible given the grief he gets on an almost daily basis but he rises above that most of the time, I’m sure. Certainly his admission that he will continue managing for the foreseeable future indicates a workaholic with few outside interests, something he freely admits to.
What a change from the man who, when Bobby Robson brought Newcastle to Arsenal when he was in his 70s, said he would never be in that situation.
He renewed for two years. Unless he gets some indication this coming season that the contract won’t be extended by the club, I expect him to stay for two years. Quite how that pans out is interesting. Wenger admits that his contract situation adversely affected the club so this time both he and the board carry an obligation to resolve the situation quickly.
Particularly with the current problems over player contracts. It’s not unreasonable for players whose deals expire in 2019 to want to know what is going on. More importantly, who will replace Wenger. A board with a track record of balls-up’s is under pressure to have a plan in place for next summer. And not one devised by the manager.