Chambers Gives Us A Sign While Who Knows What Mesut’s Up To

It’s a mythical beast like the Rok – or a good film with the Rock in it – the Unicorn or Phoenix; extinct and the stuff of fairy tales. It’s the ‘one that got away’, seen less frequently than the Loch Ness Monster, Centaur, Chimera. Scarcer than a Yaya Sanogo goal in a competitive match.

The ‘one club man’. Except the ‘one club man’ never was truly tied to one club their whole career. There was always another club or two after the ‘one club’ but never living up to the ‘one club’. Typically but not always, the reality was that the playing days were over but as every retired player seems to say, that’s the drug they don’t want to give up.

The likes of Geordie Armstrong, David O’Leary, Tony Adams or Pat Rice; the ‘one club man’ has been hunted into extinction by football economics.

Not that this morning’s headline makers will ever find a home where they feel they truly belong. Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez; they are the modern footballer, emphasising how the game has changed.

This morning there’s a distinct change in tone surrounding Mesut Özil’s future. His agent clarified the German’s future,

“Özil wants to play another two-three years in the Premier League.

“Talks with Arsenal are ongoing regarding a new deal, what I can say right now is that negotiations are going well.”

Loosely translated, that means no-one has yet come forward with an offer which matches Arsenal’s. Of course, it won’t be long before the situation is spun into ‘he never wanted to leave, we were just negotiating’ or ‘he’s staying because of Arsène’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Özil is staying because no-one else wants him badly enough.

It’s Getting Faster, Moving Faster Now

Comparing the gossip around the pair is instructive. Özil is a luxury player, one who makes a very good team great but unlikely to lift a decent side to title challengers. Sanchez can do that because he scores 15 – 20 goals a season. Both are undone by the foibles of colleagues and neither is enough on their own. But ask any fan what they prefer: the creator or the finisher, and the latter is most people’s answer.

Clubs, it seems, are no different. While Özil taps into the heart of Besiktas and Internazionale but not Manchester United; they have no heart, they appointed Mourinho. And stymied by rules which keep them waiting until next summer for a deal.

Sanchez meanwhile is coveted by the current leaders of Europe’s five major leagues.

Yet the latter cops the flak. He’s the traitor, the one who will leave next summer. He’s the ones the ‘cool kids’ of the dressing room don’t like because he’s too showy, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Who does he think he is?

One man remaining is Calum Chambers. He bucked the trend by signing a new deal yesterday although it later emerged he thought he was signing an autograph but that’s life, eh?

Neither player comes close to the definition of a ‘one-club man’. They never will either nor do I think they want to. There’s flightiness to their nature which is evident in their career history. That’s football; no different from life in wanting the best in your career.

It’s Getting Out Of Hand

This in a sport where employers show less loyalty than those in the ‘real world’. Players are sold on a whim without regard for whether they want to leave or not but dare they choose to leave? My goodness, Hell hath no fury like a football supporter scorned.

Players don’t help themselves. We’re not daft; we know they are instrumental in all contact with other clubs. If they were honest about their intentions, maybe we’d react better.

Mind you, I see Twitter every day so maybe not.

But proclamations of a heart’s desire for Arsenal followed by a swift change of scenery are as hollow as claims of losing your heart to a starship trooper. Footballers need to man up, to stop relying on the fix adulation brings while supporters need to stop acting like spurned lovers.

This is the modern football you want; don’t go crying when it shows itself to be something altogether less appealing and wholesome. If you want to moan about Alexis and give him abuse for doing so, I’m sure you won’t hold back on the manager for his treatment of Sanogo, Jenkinson or Debuchy. Or is that against your code.

Alexis is leaving because we’re not winning trophies. Özil would do the same if a club could carry his luxury. In coming years, I expect Ramsey to go, Lacazette and Bellerin too. That’s the nature of football. Players come and go.

I’ve Got The Spirit But Lose The Feeling

Yet I still see that people invest in them. Invest instead in the club. Players aren’t the personification of clubs nor is the manager. These are employees, handsomely rewarded and like many, I’d argue over-compensated. More than ten times the national average salary earned in a week? The economics of football, to me at least, undermines an sense of investment in individuals.

Players always earned more than fans in the past but were less distant, seemingly more ordinary. Now? Not the case. Maybe that’s how it should be with the state of football today. If ‘fans’ want to sling abuse about every aspect of players lives on anti-social media, maybe we’ve got the players they deserve.

It’s time to man up, my fellow fans.

Finally, a reminder that the latest installment of Jukebox Classics can be found here.

’til Tomorrow.

36 thoughts on “Chambers Gives Us A Sign While Who Knows What Mesut’s Up To

  1. ‘morning Yogi, Footballers eh, just a bunch of overpaid, over-hyped, badge kissing, money grabbing, trophy chasing, diving, cheating, injury faking, disloyal prima donnas.

    Having said that where would we be without them, right now I’d probably be out in the garden, clearing up before winter.

    Just think how boring football would be without the wheeling and dealing, whinging and whining if all the players were well behaved, loyal little angels. Just twenty odd blokes kicking a ball about for an hour and a half, twice a week.

  2. To the serious matter of Calum Chambers. Merts retiring at the end of the season, Koscielny perennially injured, Gabriel gone, suddenly we start to look short of centre backs, giving a young gifted defender a new contract is a no brainer that even Wenger can recognise.

    ,,,,, just in case.

  3. Ah, for the days of ‘Big John and ‘Geordie’.

    Reminds me of that game against Stoke in the ’72 semi final. poor old Bob came a cropper during the match and, according to Radford, “I were chatting to some supporters on the half way line with Geordie while Bob was being treated. One of ’em said, looks like he’s going off, who goes in goal? Geordie looked at me and I realised, ‘Bloody, ‘eck, it’s me!”

    And he did, for the last 20 odd minutes and kept a clean sheet.

    They were men in them days. Of course, ‘Big john’ actually wasn’t that big, only 5’11” but he was one of the best I have seen in the air. Went on to non league management, after a short spell at West Ham, of course, and ran a pub. Decent employment for a proper footballer. He also scored more club goals than Van Persie.

  4. Contary to earlier comments, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says contract talks are “going well” with Mesut Ozil, but “it’s possible” he and Alexis Sanchez will leave in January.

    The contracts of both midfielder Ozil and forward Sanchez are due to expire at the end of the season.

    When asked to confirm reports negotiations with Ozil’s agent were progressing “positively”, Wenger said: “That is my understanding.

    “The fact we didn’t agree last year doesn’t mean he wants to leave.”

    Wenger’s phrase “That is my understanding” would indicate that he is not directly involved in those talks. Is there a D O F in the background?

  5. Orson Kaert,

    As YW points out, contract talks going well is solely due to a lack of interest (at his wage level) anywhere else. In fact we would be mad to give him a £300k/wk deal. I’d be asking him to take a pay cut or perhaps even consider not renewing at all.

  6. Great post Yogi. Your best one during this international break. I agree completely with regard to your idea that the club and its results should be more important then individual players. However there is no instruction manual that tells us how to be a good sports to each fan. Some fans tend to become emotionally attached to specific players and that attachment becomes the most important thing to them. In the case of Arsenal there is a large segment of fans that have become incredibly attached to this manager and everything has become about him. I have been following sports all of my life and I have never seen such complete devotion to a manager and to me that is the strangest thing of all but to each fan his own and its not for me to question what makes them happy.

  7. andy1886,

    We have managed to get ourselves into a situation where we have to try to sign Ozil up if we can, as Alexis definitely seems to be going. Losing both players in January, or for nothing in the summer means a significant rebuild. If the club can get one of them to sign up the job gets a little bit easier. So Ozil gets his hefty pay rise and we look to find another player who can work with him. Whilst I am not convinced that we will ever see Ozil the assist king again, the prospect of him plus Lacazette and another dynamic forward next season could work. If we can get the cast around Ozil right we could see him becoming an influencer in games again.

  8. I think both scorers and creators are important but I suspect most would agree with me that having good scorers is the most critical part of a teams attack. Most top scorers are also good creators and most of the good ones can create their own chances. However, Very few purely creative players can score and the things creative players do are not effective without having a top scorer who can turn their passes into goals. Good scorers are much harder to find and cost a lot more then purely creative players. You can also get creativity from anywhere on the pitch but other then an occasional midfielder like Lampard or Yaya Toure you need to get the vast majority of your scoring from you forwards. All that said a purely creative player like Ozil can be an important part of a team. The problem in his case is that he has not been a very good creator for Arsenal for the last 2 years and a purely creative player who no longer can effectively create does not help any team so the whole debate about whether creators or scorers are more critical to the team becomes moot in this case.

  9. Wavey

    Part of the problem is that we have to use Ozil who is not much a threat to score in one of the forward spots in the 343 formation. That means we need to get all of our scoring from the other 2 forwards. I think we would be better served by having someone who is at least a threat to score double digits in league goals in all 3 forward spots. No?

  10. Bill,

    A great idea in theory, but given that we have to finance a replacement for Alexis it seems unlikely that we will have the resources to find a replacement for Ozil with the dynamic you describe. If we had looked to sell the players in the summer we would have at least had a fighting chance. Do we keep Ozil, or take a punt on a relative unknown who is cheap? We have put ourselves in a position where we have to compromise when we should have been the ones dictating.

  11. If we have Ozil, it makes sense to use him. If Wenger’s present formation prevents that then change the formation so as to make the most of his undoubted talents.

    I would rather see someone who posses a football brain in the side than Ramsey.

  12. Orson

    I think we switched to the 343 formation partly to accommodate Ozil. When we were playing the 433 Ozil was playing in a forward position directly behind the striker. He set up further up the pitch then the 2 wide forwards. That left us with only 2 players in central midfield one of whom was Xhaka who is not very good when put under pressure and we were getting over run in the midfield when the opposition closed us down. The 343 moves Ozil to a forward position where he is not as much of a defensive liability and adds wing backs to the strengthen the midfield

  13. In the 433 the our width came from the 2 full backs bombing forward which leaves us with only 2 CB’s staying deeper in the defense. With the 343 the width comes from the wingbacks and that still still leaves 3 defensive players at the back.

  14. Wavey

    Your point is well taken. However what is the point of a huge commitment in wages and years for a purely creative player who can only play as a forward and is no longer even effective at creating? We might as well use welbeck who does not score either but at least he adds energy and some pace and defensive chops

  15. Good post Yogi.

    Signing up Chambers for another 2 years is a no brainer especially when you consider that Kos’ injuries are becoming more and more of a problem, Mustafi is out injured right now, Mert is set to retire, Holding’s confidence looks completely shot and Nacho is still really good but that leaves us really only Mustafi and Nacho going forward.

    I think the situation with Ozil and Sanchez is self made in no large part to our inability to put a complete team together around them. We have failed to put a complete team together for years and its not just about the difference Ozil and Sanchez can make because we all know they are top players, its the team as a whole. Say we do sell Sanchez and Ozil, are we a better team; no we aren’t but we do have the players to at the very least be a mid-table side. Get the balance right and this team can compete, continue on with what were doing and we won’t have much of a team left after next season.

  16. I think we have been conditioned by the Wengerball era to believe we need a creative genius to run the midfield. I think we have plenty of creativity throughout the first 11 without that midfield maestro playing in the #10 role and we don’t really need to replace Özil with a like for like type of player.

  17. Bill,

    Not comparing Ozil to players but its not Wengerball that has anything to do with a #10 creative genius, some of the best teams to EVER assemble have had them including Fergie’s teams.

  18. Bill,

    The only difference is that they have built complete teams and well Arsene hasn’t done that since the Invincibles and part of that team was already put together.

  19. I think the focus of our attack should be to speed up the tempo and get the ball into the dangerous positions in the attacking 1/3 before the defense has a chance to set up and organize. If we can do that then we don’t need to rely on someone who we hope can unlock the defense with that inch perfect final pass.

  20. Bill,

    That has nothing to do with Ozil, that has to do with our pivots: Ramsey and Xhaka getting the ball from defense to the attacking players quickly.

  21. C

    For years you told me that Ozil was going to change the way we played by breaking open the defense with his perfect thru balls to players running into space. Now you are telling me that is no longer what he does and the way he influences the game is by hanging around the final 1/3 and waiting for someone to get the ball to him. The problem is that buildups thru midfield take time and by the time we get the ball to the final 1/3 the defense has already set up. We have certainly seen over the years that once a PL defense is organized its very hard for any team (even one with Mesut Ozil or Cesc Fabregas) to break them down.

  22. C, Bill,

    As you two are pretty much on your own at the moment, maybe you would like to see what is being said on this side of the pond about the US footie team??

    — “This may be remembered as the darkest day in the history of the United States’ Men’s National Team (or USMNT, as they like to acronymise it). Without question, there have been worse performances — such as in 1954, when they lost every game in qualifying — but you suspect that this time it hurts more, not least because for the past quarter of a century, vast sums have been spent on trying to turn the country into a “football nation” and a viable World Cup contender.

    In some ways, they have achieved the former, but the latter feels as far away as ever and won’t even be up for discussion for another four years.

    And that, simply put, is a major blow for a nation that appears to have so many advantages in its region. Concacaf depends financially on the US and Mexico. The United States are far wealthier than anybody else in the region; they have the second-strongest league; they have the second-highest number of professional footballers — actually, they have roughly as many as Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Honduras combined; and all they needed to do to avoid crashing out was not finish last or second-last in the qualifying tournament known as the “Hex” (so-called because it features a “hexagonal” of six teams).

    Defeat in Trinidad meant the US failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986Defeat in Trinidad meant the US failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986

    Yet somehow, despite all this, they contrived to win just three of ten games, even though half their opponents are not even ranked in Fifa’s top 50. They failed despite the safety nets that the Concacaf qualification process offers: the system is so generous that ultimately, even having won only 12 out of a possible 30 points, the US missed out because of a Panama victory over Costa Rica that hinged on a “ghost goal” that ought to have been disallowed.

    The team’s qualification run in the Hex began with consecutive defeats — at home to Mexico (1-2) and away to Costa Rica (0-4) — which cost Jürgen Klinsmann his job. The former Germany coach had earned plaudits for taking the US out of a difficult group stage at the 2014 World Cup and only exiting to Belgium after extra time in the round of 16.

    But Klinsmann had also irked some figures in the US establishment by not taking Landon Donovan, the international team’s all-time leading goalscorer, to Brazil and pointing out that American players might be best served playing in Europe rather than Major League Soccer (MLS).

    The United States Soccer Federation recalled veteran coach Bruce Arena, who had led the side at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups — reaching the quarter-finals at the former. He remained on track to right the ship until September, when the US lost at home to Costa Rica and then could only draw in Honduras.

    Still, they controlled their own destiny, particularly after a 4-0 thumping of Panama last week. A draw in Trinidad would have sufficed but they fell to a 2-1 defeat to the group’s bottom team. And, with it, crumbled years of planning and investment.

    Football may not be as mainstream a sport as basketball or American football but, in recent years, it has entered the national consciousness during every World Cup and fitted comfortably into popular culture.

    The economic interests are huge. The most expensive World Cup TV rights in the world are, by some margin, the US Spanish-language rights, which for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments are worth $ 600million (about £454 million). The second most expensive are the US English language rights at $400 million, a three-fold increase, while the Spanish rights had an uptick of some 80 per cent over the previous deal when they were awarded in 2010 for the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.

    Millions will still tune in to see the top players in the world of course, just as they do to watch foreign domestic leagues and the Champions League. But the blow of not having the US present at the World Cup for the first time since 1986 is sure to be felt.

    Within the smaller — but still significant, in a country of 330 million — football community, the impact is sure to be felt as well. Klinsmann’s words will no doubt boomerang back to reignite the debate over MLS and whether it is the right vehicle to incubate talent.”

    What do ya think of them potatoes??

  23. The whole notion that Arsenal tries to walk the ball into the goal has come from the Wengerball era where we have built our attacking strategy around a dominant technically superior midfield and trying to break down the defense with measured buildups thru midfield and intricate passing moves. During the Fabregas/Cazorla/Ozil eras we have always had one of the worlds best creative midfielders to run our attack. The things we try to do look brilliant and are really attractive when they work. However, the reason you attack is to try and score lots of goals and despite all of our bluster about being an “attack minded team” all of those great creative midfielders and all the defensive solidarity we have surrendered over the years in the name of playing attractive attacking football the reality is that we have never really been a high scoring team.

  24. Henry

    The USA sucks at football. Not much else to say. When I grew up none of our kids played soccer because no one cared about it and that seemed like a legitimate excuse. However, soccer does not require expensive equipment and the kids can run around a lot which makes parents happy and our children have been playing soccer for > 20 – 25 years now. For some reason those kids are not developing into good football players and we have not been able to put together a critical mass of difference making players. We are forced to rely on grit and work ethic which can only take you so far even in the best of circumstances. When the team that builds its strategy around work ethic and solid team play loses a bit of motivation then everything quickly goes into the crapper.

  25. Part of the problem is that our best athletes would almost all rather play American football, basketball or baseball as opposed to soccer if given the choice.

  26. Personally, I doubt that we can accept Wenger’s assessment that Ozil talks are going well. It is not beyond belief in my cynical world that talks were going abysmally and that Ozil had served notice that he intended to play out his contract. Wenger and Ozil may have both agreed that they would publicly declare that talks were ongoing because it decreases the likelihood of fans turning on Ozil whenever he plays poorly. Also it gives Wenger an easy response to any questions about Ozil’s contract talks. Both sides see the value in publicly maintaining that contract talks are ongoing.

  27. Bill:

    The USA sucks at football. Not much else to say. When I grew up none of our kids played soccer because no one cared about it and that seemed like a legitimate excuse.

    USA USA is a powerforce in women’s ‘soccer’. For boys, compared to ‘oval football’, hockey, basketball and baseball, soccer is somewhat seen as an effete sport due to it’s popularity with girls.
    But due to the second generation of immigrants I feel it’s popularity is growing. What cannot be discounted is the effect of satellite transmission and explosion of cable TV channels. 25 years ago one only saw the World Cup soccer on TV every 4 years. Today the plethora of cable TV sports channels mean that most of the European club matches are available.

  28. Bill,

    The style of football we play requires someone to drive the team forward. It usually means we need a creative player in the middle who can thread the passes, or a forward who can drive at teams with the ball. Welbeck running around in one of the forward spots can prove effective in some cases (especially against Chelsea in the cup final), but his lack of goals is an issue and ultimately it’s just another way to camp out in the opponent’s half without looking like we have a threat. We ideally need a complete rebuild of the way the team plays, but that just isn’t going to happen under Wenger so possession football is going to be the model for some time. The history of qualifying for the CL every year comes from playing that style of football. An Ozil type is probably best suited to that aim, although I agree that he hasn’t been performing in that role.

  29. Wavey

    That makes a lot of sense and probably mostly correct. If I had to guess, I suspect that Sanchez will be sold in January or leave on the free next summer. Giving Özil a contract will be somewhat of a face saver for Arsene and since there will not be a lot of outside interest he will be a lot easier to sign. The problem is that a new Ozil contract will mean that we get to watch Mesut decline further as he enters his age 30 years and it probably take a huge part of our already stretched wage budget which might mean more wage dumping next summer. I was not a big fan of either Wojo or Gabriel but the reality is that both were probably wage dumps and the attempts to sell Mustafi and Elneny were also probably attempted wage dumps. Those are players who have some value whereas we could not get rid of several of the players we have no use for such as Debuchy, Lukas perez, Jenkinson, Joel Campbell because their wages were too high.

  30. Speaking of Perez, so far he has 1 goal in about 300 minutes of playing time with Deportivo. Time will tell but the notion that a 29 year old journeyman who spent most of his career struggling to be a relevant player in Russia would have been a potential difference making player with Arsenal if only Arsene had given him a chance seems a bit of stretch.

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