The interminably dull and protracted move of Ashley Cole seems to have taken a step closer yesterday with an official approach from Chelsea containing a reported bid of £16.5m being rejected with Arsenal requiring them to bid a total of £25m including a player exchange of William Gallas. At least that is we are being told by sections of the media this morning. If it is true, it is an uncharacteristically tough negotiating stance taken by the Arsenal Board and wholly welcome. Given Cole’s age and experience, there is little to choose between him and any of the other Internationals that Chelsea have signed in the past in terms of value. It also suggests that the oft-reported escape clause / Gentlemans’ Agreement does not exist. In much the same way that Ferguson has told van Nistelrooy that he will not be leaving on the cheap and will continue to play with the club, Ashley has been told he is staying put until someone meets the clubs valuation. It is certain that this stance will not sit well with the Left Back but to be honest, I care not what he thinks about it. This is about getting a fair value for one of the clubs assets. I doubt Cole will not participate in training in order to secure the move as it would antagonise the Board even more but it is interesting that certain sections of the Chelsea blogs already do not want him to join as he is considered a troublemaker. One by one the Chelsea targets have gone elsewhere – Zambrotta – or shot themselves in the foot with poor World Cup performances – Roberto Carlos – so it would not hae surprised me if they had stuck with Bridge in order to avoid all of the accusations of tapping up being brought back to the surface. But the move looks more certain and to be honest, good riddance to the him. if all he cares about is the £90k a week he is reported to require then so be it. For all his protestations about being let down by the Board – I do not doubt that he genuinely feels aggrieved and they too probably did not play ball in the fairest sense – there is a point where pure greed becomes motivation and Ashley has reached it. Most of us would give our right arm to earn £65k a week for a year but does the extra £25k a week make much more of a difference at that point? Obviously to the Greedy Man it does.
Setlist as follows:
- Heckler Spray
- Elevate Me Later
- Cut Your Hair
- Debris Slide
- Newark Wilder
- Fight This Generation
- Two States
- Brink Of The Clouds
- Range Life
- Best Friends’ Arm
- Silent Kid
- Hit The Plane Down
- Stop Breathin’
- Summer Babe
- Black Out
- West S
Download It Here.
A number of articles and blogs are being devoted to whether or not Arsene should try to re-sign Patrick Vieira. Seemingly driven by comments attributed to Dennis Bergkamp at the weekend, the prospect of Vieira returning to wear the Red and White does not fill me with a feeling of excited anticipation. Based on the form he has shown (and I hasten to add that most this is based on media reports), I cannot see that the club would benefit from such a move.
Reports from Italy suggest that prior to Christmas 2005, he was back to somewhere near his best. After that, as the team struggled to maintain its form, Vieira suffered accordingly. Whether his loss of form was a symptom of the team collectively doing the same or if he was a cause of the team doing so, I know not. However if you consider that for the last season at Highbury he was seriously below par, this would suggest some motivation has gone from him as a person for about eighteen months. This is not something that Arsenal need now. The team requires a consistency in performance that was missing for the majority of last season if they are to secure a comfortable top three finish. Would Vieira return knowing that he was to be a squad player, rotated on a regular basis with Gilberto and not guaranteed any starts in the big games? No chance. And what of Gilberto Silva? Would he be happy to drop out to allow Vieira a berth in the starting XI? Another, “No Chance”.
You will note that there is one name I have deliberately left out of the equation. I cannot see how Vieira would replace Fabregas. Their games are fundamentally different and I believe Arsenal are set out differently as a result. Fabregas has more attacking verve and vision than the current model Vieira. Whilst the latter adds more defensively, the attacking loss would be felt harder. No more incisive passes from the middle and the young Spaniard is in a different league as far as finishing is concerned. For all of the good that Vieira played in the knockout stages of the World Cup, do not forget the sheer ordinariness of the Group phase.
I doubt it would cost the club any cash in real terms, other than to write off the outstanding balance on his transfer fee that Juve still owe to Arsenal. One other point to consider is how many players returning to the scene of their original glory have come anywhere near reproducing that form second time around? I’m struggling to think of anyone in the English Game who has not diminished their reputation second time around. I doubt that Vieira has even crossed Le Bosses mind as a squad player but I remain convinced that following Cole’s expected departure this week (God it’s long drawn out) there will be two new faces in, more than likely players we’ve not heard of.
On that note, this mornings Times has a round up of the current state of play in the squads of the top flight clubs. The view of Arsenal is pretty much spot on:
What They Need
Experience in the spine to help combat their difficulties north of Watford last season. There is precious little cover for the central defensive and midfield pairings, a problem that has been made more acute by the injury to Phillipe Senderos. Gael Clichy may not be the answer to Ashley Cole’s imminent departure.
Arsene Wenger believes that the British market is overpriced, so expect the manager to look in France again. Claudio Cacapa, the Lyons defender, is attracting interest.
You cannot really argue with either of those paragraphs. It is well known that a series of injuries is going to leave the side stretched, especially if Diaby fails to hit his targetted return. The only argument that you could broker is that they have ignored Flamini’s performances in the left side of defence were a damn sight more convincing than those he has displayed in midfield. Little surprise that there is constant speculation fuelled by Wenger about signing a left sided centre half.
Setlist is as follows:
- Do You Want To?
- I’m Your Villain
- Auf Achse
- Dark Of The Mattine
- This Boy
- Take Me Out
- The Fallen
- Eleanor, Put Your Boots Back On
- Walk Away
- This Fire
Download it here.
A quiet day following the inauguration of the new stadium, like moving into a new house it will be a short while before it feels like home. A multitude of posts will ensue of the day but without disrespecting the occasion, it did not feel like a matchday but when do testimonals ever? Comparisons with Highbury are trite as they are two very different places; the money on the Emirates seems well spent and if Wembley feels that comfortable then it will be worth the wait. Goodplaya has written up a pretty accurate summation of the day here.
The Sundays’ are not whipping up the usual storms this morning with the usual rehash of transfer gossip but different clubs involved. According to the News Of The World, Stephen Appaih is likely to settle by the grime of the Solent at Portsmouth rather than the plush surrounds of Islington. Curtis Davies is still the rumour that refuses to die about Arsenal’s apparent signings but nothing new on that front. Curiously enough, the storm that brewed following the Real Madrid Presidents comments about Fabregas never lit up with Wenger’s comments about the West Brom player even though they were of a similar standard. Nothing will ever show Arsene that he is considered to be “One Of Us” by the media like that. Ashley Cole seems certain to be off if Peter Hill-Wood’s comments are to be believed, things happening in the background appears to be a euphemism for “We’re haggling over the fee”. The Govan Gob is at it again. Having bitched that Chelsea are bad for the game, the former shipyard worker now questions whether Arsenal will sell the Emirates out on a regular basis. Well, initially that will happen but it is going to be an interesting time observing the attendances when teams such as Middlesbrough and Portsmouth come to visit, neither noted for generating huge turnouts. Given the clubs financial forecasts and models are based on an average of 40,000 attendees each game, that is the key figure to look out for.
The interesting piece is the News Of The Screws interview with Sol Campbell. The overriding feeling when reading it is one of history being rewritten, judge for yourselves here. Even allowing for the florid and sensationalist language of the red tops, the piece concerns me in that it shows a remarkable detachment from reality. “I decided I didn’t want to put it all at risk and that I had to take care, sort myself out and then come back when I knew I was ready.” This is at direct odds with his own comments at the time about there being personal issues that needed sorting hence the West Ham Walkout. And since when did disappearing off to Belgium resolve injuries? Surely that would be best done in a treatment room?
And finishing on the too bizarre for words, “I was out for two months. I was strong, I was professional, so when the time came I was ready and I pulled out a top drawer display in the Champions League semi-final. That showed me the talent was still there. It’s the old saying: ‘Form comes and goes but talent is there forever. That’s exactly what I felt that night-Sol Campbell is unbelievable, second to none!”
A footballer needs confidence but with Sol it may be more a case of bravado than anything else. Anyway, if he wants to continue playing, I hope he finds what he wants somewhere.