In his office, Arsène gently rocks back and forth in his chair. He knows how the tilt mechanism works – it’s a lot easier than the zip on his coat. To the rhythm of his internal metronome, he stares into space repeating the mantra, “I told you this would happen”…
He’s just read Matt Hughes article in this morning’s Times about the pay gap. Matt, the “deputy football correspondent which must feel like one step up from Deputy Dawg in the newspaper industry, tells us the Arsenal camp isn’t happy and money is the root cause of all evil. Put the two together and HEY PRESTO!
He’s the first person to describe last week’s team meeting as “constructive” but then has to change the tone. Some of the bunnies aren’t happy that there is a clique of players who earn double their salary. Workplace pay disparity is a big story when it comes to equality. Workplace pay disparity when you earn north of £80k per week just means you’re jealous that the trio has greater spending power and can have more fun spinning the reels at bCasino.
In one week, these guys are earning anywhere between four and fourteen times the average national salary. When homelessness is an issue and they work for an organisation which won’t impose the living wage on its’ contractors, some are upset at the pay gap?
GET. OVER. IT.
Honestly, you can put up all the arguments about fairness – yeah, that socialist model really worked well, didn’t it – and I’ll sagely nod along about how hard done by players must feel. The complaint in the Times is “it has been noted in the dressing room that Wenger’s side have won only two of eight matches since [Aubameyang, Özil, and Mkhitaryan’s] signed [new contracts], including losing their past four games.”
As if they are the sole reason we lost four games…
AND HERE COMES THE BUT…
While I have no truck with the argument about pay gaps at this level, it doesn’t mean that Arsenal should try and short-change players. Unless the club has a deep well upon which to draw for transfers, of course, and then most of the squad can sling their hooks.
Jack Wilshere’s contract is a good example of where the club is reportedly getting it wrong. I understand the injury concerns they have. I can see some logic in loading the contract with fitness bonuses. However, asking a player to take a pay cut when the manager previously admitted that overplaying the player when he was younger caused a lot of the problems is just crass.
An offer of no pay rise per se but extra in bonuses isn’t unreasonable. To me, a pay cut and loading bonuses are, especially when you know that another two players with equally serious and recurring injury problems aren’t being asked to make the same sacrifice.
There’s something askew in Arsenal’s thinking if Wilshere is being offered different terms to Ramsey and Welbeck in that respect.
A lot of the talk at the moment is about the players needing unity to fight their way out of the current crisis. It strikes me there isn’t much unity at the moment if there are arguments about pay. When money comes into it, the divisions which already exist surface much more readily; that’s how it works, we’ve all seen variants of it.
KNOWN AS THE RAT
There is a serious malcontent in that dressing room or a small group of them.
First they bitched about Alexis, then leaked team meetings. Nobody will be surprised if the source of this story is the same group. Wenger empowered the divisions against the Chilean by publicly criticising him. He might have given the ball away thirty times a game but he knew where the net was.
And he found it often enough to get these shirkers out of the sh…
We’ve seen in the past few days how readily fingers are pointed in the media. These are stories which have their source, get embellished and present a picture of a disunified dressing room. The reality is that the manager can’t heal these divisions; if he could, he would. Arsène hates players being unhappy when they still have a purpose to serve.
That this is coming out in public underlines how little effect the Frenchman has over the players. He no longer commands their respect. He no longer commands authority. A neon sign flashes “He’s lost the dressing room” for the world to see.
Tomorrow night sees us travel to Milan for a tough match in the Europa League. My optimism over the tie has disappeared and if we are still in with a good chance of progressing to the last eight after the first leg, that’s a good result as far as I’m concerned.
But those are worries for another day…