What Price the Fear of Failure?

I feel a cheap gag mentioning “Time For Action” somewhere

A guest post from Andrew Luck (aka ArsenalAndrew) this morning…

Tony Adams made some interesting points during a recent radio interview in respect of contracts. In the Dein era, contracts were never allowed to run down to the last year; they were settled two years or more from expiry. He credits his continued survival under AW to the fact that he was on a long contract. Tongue-in-cheek it may have been but in his case, the long contract worked to the benefit of both sides.

Such contracts have now come to be seen as a double-edged sword, one which the club is increasingly reticent to gamble on. It’s fine if you nail down a player who avoids a career threatening injury or never loses form. Had Arsenal granted RvP a five year contract 2 years ago, detractors would have doubtless formed a disorderly queue to attack the club for its evident stupidity.

On the other side of this, if the likes of Jack, Ox et al etc., are not nailed down early on long-term contracts, there is every chance they will depart. And sooner, rather than later.

That Theo’s contract has run down is a more perplexing situation given his age and potential for further development. He has had fitness issues in the past whilst his development as a player has been very much in the public eye. A year ago many were critical of the player. Should he end up leaving in January, those same critics will no doubt be demanding to know why he wasn’t re-signed.

How have these contracts come to wind down? Are the players refusing to sign up to deals perceived as ‘below market value’? Or is it due to concern on the part of the club management, a concern that is resulting in a drive to restrict the number of long term contracts agreed? Exactly why was Theo not re-signed two years ago? Was the club being cautious and if so, why? Was it both player canniness AND club caution?

But one player supposedly nailed down on a long contract was Cesc Fabregas and we still lost him. Had he stayed and been injured, we’d have paid a high price in honouring our side of the contract for many years. Could it be our ability, our willpower, to retain players in the years ahead is somehow being influenced by that particular experience? Why take the risk if players can walk away whenever it suits them?

I don’t think back in May, any of us could have possibly conceived of a situation whereby we would go on to fail to re-sign RvP, Song and Theo. Whatever revisionists might now say, that particular triumvirate represented a key part of last year’s squad.

Is the consistency of Kronke in not committing funds a fundamental problem for the club? Is there a very real fear of failure, resulting in players being sold rather than risk losing them on a free transfer, as well as other players not being re-signed early enough in case their injuries or loss of form cause problems tomorrow?

Ultimately, is Arsène’s extraordinary work on the pitch being undermined by a lack of clarity in contract negotiations?

The case of Theo Walcott could prove very interesting. Unlike RvP, clubs are not queuing up to offer him £250k+ contracts. Unlike Cesc or Song, he’s not being chased by an impossible to refuse Spanish suitor. He is also young, improving and, these days, generally injury free.

If he does leave for a relatively modest additional weekly salary like Ashley Cole, this represents a real problem for the club. The threshold at which rival clubs can come in and cause mayhem is reduced to a figure so low that even 2nd tier clubs can enter Arsenal waters and create havoc.

The AGM saw most attention given to FFP and new commercial contracts. Is there far greater pressure being applied from Kronke to balance the books, pressure justified by FFP but also, conveniently, one that overtly acknowledges that there’ll be little in the way of extra funding if it all goes wrong?

He was invited onto the board as a benevolent facilitator, one who would allow the club to be run in a responsible, sustainable and self-sustaining fashion. Is he now obligating the board to adhere to these principles to the point that is causing real difficulty when it comes to managing player contracts? Stan may not have changed position but the market distortion introduced by the Oil Clubs has altered contractual dynamics.

It is one thing for the club to be unable to buy the very best players on the market but quite another to be unable to retain the best players, as this opens us up a whole new front of vulnerability to the activities of predator competitors.

If the club is now unable to retain its key players – and the loss of those key players cannot be explained by Spanish DNA or exceptional Dutch greed – then the lack of will power or perception of our financial weakness by others, could conceivably threaten the longer term security of the club.

Many of us, with good reason, refuse to welcome the long-term risks inherent in getting into bed with a Sheik or Oligarch in favour of short-term glory. Equally, if Stan’s rigid position is such that we are now too nervous to freely sign players on longer-term contracts, then that is as risky to our interests as anything else.

Do we have the willpower to control our destiny in this way? Walcott and an examination of how the club manages the contracts of the currently less-senior players may tell us if there is now a real fear of failure gripping the board. It could tell us if the latitude for error has become fatally compressed to the extent that far from being ‘one-offs’, future player losses could more likely become the norm.

And if you are Arsène Wenger, what’s the point of that? Sobering stuff, Tony.

’til Tomorrow.

277 thoughts on “What Price the Fear of Failure?

  1. as for the spuds season tickets the one year they did charge extra for cup games they got knocked out of the domestic cups away and didnt play any home cup games ,the following season they didnt take the credits in to account so they just lost the dosh how great is that!

  2. The concept of growth stock vs value stock is apparently lost on this crowd. No wonder Bill can get away with chatting foolishness.

  3. Steve,
    ACLF is my Arsenal playground.

    Purple shit you say?


    ..guess I’m just a brainwashed, purple-reign-believing fella who lives in his own playground then…
    oh..and I really dig Andrei Arshavin!

  4. Shotta @ 5:25:

    Either with growth or value stocks the goal for the investor is to make money. However, your point is well taken. Arsenal the way it is currently run was clearly undervalued and a very low risk huge money maker for Stan, so I guess you are correct and it should probably go in the value stock portion of his portfolio. You got me with that one.


    We are pals. In fact you are probably my best pal. (Hope that does not do irreparable damage to your reputation). If you noticed in my post I also made fun of myself so we can be nerds together. 🙂

  5. That’s a possibility, Steve. ManU have become increasingly counter-attacking in recent seasons (though not so much right now) – Walcott would suit them fine. I still think Arsenal can set a high asking price in Jan and see what people make of it.

    Like you say, it’s going to be interesting. And it’s not implausible that he could remain at the club and continue his improvement for us – but if that happens he won’t be earning 100k a week, that’s for sure. I think I’m a tad bitter about the thing, cynical too after Nasri and RvP.

  6. Henristic ,why would I not think you are a fan? What a strange thing to say.
    I do wonder why people who do not buy tickets should be worried about them .I don’t give a flying.Perhaps you are just a warm and caring person.
    As for the points you made ,I cant remember what they were ,sorry.

  7. Ah yes henristic.
    The weird logic that sees Milan’s owner heading to jail, the club in the worst period of its modern history. Without a stadium. Homeless. Season ticket sales under 25,000.

    As opposed to the kind of auger daddy that upon leaving bequeathed a stadium, a squad ….that kind of weird thing.

    Right you are. Sir.

  8. Bill, you seem to be a nice guy and I am sure we would get along socially even though we have two starkly different world views. But I am really fed up with how you are unremittingly stubborn and unyielding in your attitude to Arsenal’s policy on spending. You find every opportunity on this board to have a pop at Stan and the board for not joining the arms race led by Chelsea and subsequently taken up by oil sheiks at Man City. That growth stock jibe was very subtle but the intent was to portray Stan as a greedy investor who would sell when his stock peaked just like the growth investors in the early part of this century.

    Not even in the good old USA where the major sports leagues are franchises without the threat of relegation much less liquidation, are owners allowed to spend rampantly given the restraints of salary caps and more recently luxury taxes. The most that can happen to a profligate owner is the league will takeover his/her team or force the sale or transplant of the franchise to a more promising market. Heck the uproar that would result if a Russian oligarch or oil sheik took over an American sports franchise would make the current ruckus between Samsung and Apple a minor tea party.

    But why am I wasting valuable internet bandwith? We have been over this time and time again for the last 3-4 years and you keep repeating the same talking points. Goebbels would be proud of you for adhering to the 1st law of propaganda.

  9. Interesting post, andrew..

    at the risk of being told im being too simplistic or beating the same drum, i firmly believe and have believed for a while, what we do is strategic.. we allow our players to run down contracts and we try and pay players peanuts becuase it suits an agenda of making them unsettled and then selling them, putting the blame on them for not staying and diverting the fans frustrations at the former player and not at the door of the management team..

    are they idiots? of course not, they are very clever people..they think we are idiots though..

    its a financial fact that we need to make cl every season..otherwise we make a loss on the year..we cannot guarentee cl, we can however guarantee selling assets on the pitch so thats what we do, it keeps us in the black and by accumulating it over a period of time it ensures we dont fall into the red if we go a few years without finishing 4th and above..

    other teams only seem to sell their assets WHEN they finish outside top four, whereas we do it IF we dont finish in the top 4..

    our self sustaining policy requires us to sell players..its that simple..and this will continue beyond the sponser renewals because we no longer have property to sell, its all gone, and that helped to keep us in the black as well..so dont expect anything to change..

    id like to highlight this sentance of the post.

    I don’t think back in May, any of us could have possibly conceived of a situation whereby we would go on to fail to re-sign RvP, Song and Theo

    i disagree, some of us did..just like we said players like cesc and nasri and clichy would be sold and we can beat the drum about jack and jenks and le ox all we want but make no mistake under this administration they’ll be sold as well..

  10. Ok .if you are not “self sustaining” What are you?
    The answer is “in danger of bankruptcy”
    People talk as if its a crime to run a club at a profit.
    Guess what? That’s how it should be in professional sport.

  11. theres no law or rule that says you have to make a profit of 30mil per year..


    not even the ffp rulebook says you have to do that so why do we?

    and as ive said before if we have to sell players to be a well run club then we aint a well run club are we..

  12. “But one player supposedly nailed down on a long contract was Cesc Fabregas and we still lost him. Had he stayed and been injured, we’d have paid a high price in honouring our side of the contract for many years… Why take the risk if players can walk away whenever it suits them?”

    This harkens back to something I maintained at the time: we should *never* have sold his pathetic, ungrateful ass with that many years on his contract. If he wanted to go I would have said “Well you shouldn’t have signed such a long contract then. Now you have to play it out.” If he had sulked/tanked I would have fined him, sat him on the bench, and let him rot for 5 years. See how much game time he can get in Catalunya after 5 years out of the action. Now everybody and there brother knows that Arsenal has no stomach to hold people to their contracts.

  13. JJ have we made a profit of £30 million every year?
    No,we have not .So why say it .It just makes your stance look foolish.

  14. (enter JJ…right after Fishbone..what are the odds?)

    makes complete sense on your side of the playground JJ.
    but if true this means AFC are a serially-deceitful organization…
    all of them, the board, AW…even some of the sold players who at different junctures verbally confirmed that talks were ongoing…

    so it’s all been a smokescreen?
    the time? the meetings? the lawyers?

    meh..i beg to differ JJ.
    I think I like my side of the playground better.
    brightly lit, purply…washed, semi-gullible aka optimistic.


  15. The truth about ticket prices is that they were too high in 2006, and they are too high in 2012. For more or less every top flight club in the uk/England.

    I have thought of ignoring existing supporters associations, forming a splinter group for football fans. The People’s Liberation Front for AFC. I won’t stop people from wearing black bin bags. Cling film? No.

  16. The Arsenal come back from 4-0 down to win 7-5.
    The Arsenal play Man Utd next in the league.
    The Arsenal play Schalke away on Wednesday.

    And what the hell are you lot talking about? How much AW should or should not spend!!

    More fun on Le Grove today!!!


  17. DJ Cacofonix: always make sure you save a little fantasy for yourself…its a cold hard world out there…..thats my time, good nite ACLF.

  18. I can see it now Fins;

    BRIAN: Are you the Arsenal People’s Front?

    REG: Fuck off!

    BRIAN: What?

    REG: Arsenal People’s Front ! We’re the People’s Front of Arsenal!

    FRANCIS: They’re wankers.

  19. “our self sustaining policy requires us to sell players..its that simple..and this will continue beyond the sponser renewals because we no longer have property to sell, its all gone, and that helped to keep us in the black as well..so dont expect anything to change..”

    “theres no law or rule that says you have to make a profit of 30mil per year..”

    Isn’t there a contradiction there, JJ?

    I mean, if you have to sell to be self sustaining, how do you make a £30 million profit?

  20. the site lacks B-O-O-B-S irish,
    nothing to spark up the ‘ole testoste-furnaces…

    we need FunGunner, FirstLady & Maria back…PLEASE!

  21. Shotta @ 6:21:

    You also seem like a nice guy but for some reason it appears that you sometimes take this stuff as if its a personal offense if we disagree. Certainly none of it is meant that way. I think we would be very close if someone was to rate each of us on a stubborn scaled from 1 – 10. No?I have no idea what Stan’s real intentions are. Just my opinion and uneducated guesses, however stating our opinions and guessing is what we do to entertain ourselves on a blog. There are only so many things you can talk about. If we didn’t cover the same topics again and again and say the same things over and over in slightly different ways then we would quickly run out of things to talk about.


    I have the coolest belt clip for my calculator and a really neat pocket protector. I can give you the website where you can get them. 😉

  22. Of course, if we do need to sell, even at our ‘less than market’ salaries, how can we afford to pay more?

    It’s all very confusing.

  23. @ Darius (November 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm)

    Great comment, I generally concur and really aprpeciate the perspective you bring. A couple points to follow up on, though:

    “fans are suffering the pain of trophy droughts, mocking and humiliating taunts from United and Chelsea fans, a sheer hurricane of anti-Arsenalism in the media…”

    If those things bring fans to be “dissilusion[ed] with the whole Arsenal project” then that’s on the “fans”, who apparently weren’t much as fans at all. People support clubs in lower leagues, clubs that never get a sniff of trophies, never play in the Champions League – and *Arsenal* fans think they have the right to be dissatisfied? The fucking nerve.

    “Look – I’m not saying this is satisfactory. We want trophies, its important that we win trophies.”

    For me, personally, satisfactory is: playing football that is fun to watch, offensive and ambitious; running one’s team in a way that you can feel good about; players busting their asses on the field; management and the club hierarchy working in harness with the players and not at cross-purposes to each other.

    As a lifelong NBA fan, what I can telly you is: you don’t win every year unless you have Michael Jordan, and even then he needed a supporting infrastructure. People who bang on about “silverware” and “trophy draughts” ought to be slapped in the face with a sock full of quarters, then dipped in honey and dropped into a real drought… in in the Sahara… thousands of miles from the nearest oasis.

  24. no contradiction bob..

    the answers lie as clear as the nose..

    sell everything..its kinda the point im making..

    and speaking of odds, aman, i’ll have a cyber bet with you right now that we sell sagna next year..

  25. of course its confusing..

    if the futures so bright why sell everything, why make huge profits and why keep saying wait two years..oh wait weve found something else to fob you off with wait another two years..

    can we make it another two please?

    no? why not? peasants…do as your told and give us your money..

  26. “I mean, if you have to sell to be self sustaining, how do you make a £30 million profit?”

    That does not make JJ think at all Bob .It is an inconvenience to be ignored.

  27. id have said theo was the easier call but yeah im 75% sure we’ll all be calling theo a cunt very soon..

    id love to be proved wrong, mind..

    but the scripts written i think..

    unless we see changes in the way we approach things we could still be having this conversation in 5 years..

    i’ll tell you something though..the day wenger retires or gets ‘over the hill’ were fucked with this policy…but i have a funny feeling that could be the day stan sells..

  28. JJ the trouble with you whole premise is that nobody takes fuck all profit out of the club.

  29. Yes but you want Stan to sell.

    Presumably, a new owner would also act to protect their investment, with or without Arsene. A change of policy should mean, in your analysis, that we are not’fucked’.

  30. george
    i answered that one..


    if gnarbys the reason we are shitting on theo then fair enough..
    but i dont think gnarby is better than theo and it would be daft to claim otherwise
    id say we have other youngsters better than gnarby at the moment to be honest..

    selling theo because we have gnarby would be more moronic than selling sagna because we have jenks..

  31. AFC probably conned Abramovich, the Glazers, Mansours, etc to create a big diversion for their greatest of schemes.

    I pray we purple double even more now, JJ
    Just for you bro.


  32. Yes JJ but your answer was rubbish and incorrect.That should be considered I feel.

  33. Actually the Schalke game is on Tuesday, my bad! But still, ligthen the fuck up guys!!

    An Arsenal fan is enjoying a game at The Emirates when his phone rings. His pregnant wife has gone into labor. Knowing how much his wife loves The Arsenal, he sticks around to watch the end of the match. As soon as it is over, he makes his way to the hospital. After getting directions to his wife’s floor, he finds her in a room with two other women, who have also just given birth. One of the women is Chinese and is surrounded by her family, while the other is alone and looks way too young to have had a baby. Walking up to his wife, he kisses her and shares in the good news. The Arsenal had won again! With that he hears a groan from the next bed, the one with the young girl in it. “Don’t mind her” says the wife. “She’s a Spud!” Grimacing, the young man asks where his son is, his wife points behind him. Turning around he looks for his little bundle of joy, only to be directed outside by the nurse. There he finds three babies in cribs, all side by side. With a look of sheer panic, he turns back to the nurse but she calmly tells him that only one is his. Looking back down he pauses, then mind firmly made up, he picks up one of the babies and walks back in to sit beside his wife. Smiling, his wife reaches out and pushes back the baby’s blanket, so she can better see his face. She stops…and looks at her husband in shock.

    “That is NOT our baby!” she says. “That baby is Chinese!!”
    ‘SHHHH!!” replied the husband. “I know that”.

    Leaning over, he whispers in his wife’s ear.

    “But one of those two other babies is a Spud and I am not taking any fucking chances!”

    I’ll get me coat…..

    A liverpudlian,a manc and a pakistani’s wifes all have a child on the same day,when the liverpudlian goes to see his baby the three babies are lying beside each other,the scouser picks up the child who is clearly the pakistani and brings it to his wife to see,she says to him ”thats clearly not our child”,he replies ”well i wasn’t takin any chances one of those other kids is ****in manc scum”A

  34. george
    i never said they did..your assuming again..but i wouldnt put it past stan, hes a proven liar..

    bob, yes i do..but i also said with this administration dont expect things to change and expect the stripping of assets….
    kinda why i want stan to sell isnt it, to be fair

  35. fair point aman
    the stadium got in the way..

    but the stadium was the excuse 3 years ago..

    weve had 3-4 others since then..

    and when you have a ceo who claims we are at the ‘end of a journey’ ‘the stadium debt is under long term fixed control’ and ‘the financial shackles are off’ (2010-11 ish) it makes the stadium arguement look like a none arguement..

    i said the other day if the board stopped chatting shit then people would understand, but then they’d have to lower prices and they’d still get drilled for chatting shit to begin with so just keep chatting shit..

    if the stadium is whats holding us back then we needed an investor like dein said but to be honest its not the stadium they are hiding behind anymore, its ffp isnt it???

  36. no im english, born, bred and proud..

    and im off training..

    lets hope the team have turned a corner and we get 3 points at the weekend..

    by the way aman, bollox to the purple shite, arsenal are red and white..

  37. it could be FFP now as Ivan said.
    Is it that terrible?

    I prefer long term money man over the “if-not-now” investor.

    How many clubs are in the kind of shape we are in today JJ?
    This is the bottom line.
    The responsible bottom line.

  38. Finally! A Competition!!




    If you say NO to these three questions, you are an ideal person to become a fan of MANCHESTER UNITED.

    Yes, this is your big chance to join the ever-growing army of glory hunters who can be seen around the country in the colours of The Sc*m. To join the newly-formed club, simply send in a map with a cross, marking where you think the city of Manchester is. In the unlikely event of there being two correct entries and thus a tie, fill in the tie-break question at the bottom of the page.


    FIRST PRIZE: Brand new, ’61 registration Ford Bandwagon for you and the others to jump on. This prestige vehicle comes with many features, including stereo radio ( pre-set to come on at 4:45pm every Saturday as you, of course, won’t be at the game ).

    SECOND PRIZE: One years supply of newly designed Manchester United replica shirts. These will be despatched to you weekly.

    THIRD PRIZE: A complete supply of Manchester United programmes from the games that you have attended. Both will be sent in the same envelope.

    Tie Breaker ( in no more than 12 words )

    I feel it necessary to follow a football team that I have absolutely no connection with because: ………………………………………….. ……………….. ………………………………………….. ………………..

    Name: ………………………

    Address: …………………… …………………… ……………………

    Age:……. Mental Age:…….

  39. I still don’t understand what JJ thinks is a better way of running a football club. Also, relying on Champions League qualification each year to balance the books is some gamble…I’m confused…

  40. If we went on to win the league cup, arsenal would lift a trophy before United and RvP this year. that would be so sweet.
    And it would make him understand what a great mistake he made. Infact if Unite win nothing this year hes achieved nothing neither. except a fatter wallet ofc…

  41. Irish

    I’ll be printing out your form for distribution!

    On a vaguely related note, given that Irish is based on the US of A.

    Anyone know of a bar – decent one, mind – in Dallas or Houston that will show the Bradford game on delay? Might need one in Charleston as well as a back-up plan.

  42. Georgaki – I wish!!! 🙂 Sadly no my friend, just feeling very ‘off’. Spent the morning volunteering downtown Manhattan today, very disturbing. I think I might be going back down tomorrow again si it is off for a few beers now with some friends, try and unwind a bit. Weird seeing so many buildings without power, with so many elderly and disabled stuck in highrises with no elevators. Pets too. Gas stations are out of gas, does that now make them simply ‘stations’? Delis and supermarkets are running low on everything, yet people are being so fucking good to each other it blows the mind!! My legs are fucked from walking up flight after flight of stairs. The 11th floor was the highest I made it today, in a 28 story building, carrying-

    20 boxes of 1 dozen eggs
    20 loaves of bread
    30lb bag of dog food

    My relay met me and carried on climbing with it to the top floors. Fucking crazy!! But still, seeing the looks on some of these peoples faces (especially elderly living alone) really made it worthwhile. Exhausting but worthwhile 🙂

    Now off for a pint, laters fellow Gooners! 🙂

  43. Irish

    I wouldn’t put it past it happening. So far that’s about the only bloody airport we’re not flying via at the moment!

    I don’t think so this time but might be Easter time next year.

  44. YW – The Bull and Bear Tavern in Houston is apparently a good spot to catch a game, decent bar too from what my friend says. Check it out at thebullandbear-tavernandeatery.com

  45. YW – Well then, I will be expecting one of those Toblerone Easter Eggs then. Bloody impossible to get them over here!

  46. JJ;

    You really are getting like those sad repeptitive doomer twats whose names I dare not speak. Same shite every fucking day.

    Change the fucking record man.

    Wenger has money to spend, and he hasnt bothered to spend it.

  47. This obsession with blaming Stan is hilarious. He is doing nothing different to how the board had the club running previously. I’d rather he wasnt anywhere near the club, along with Usmanov TBH, but to say its all him is crap.

    You are like a doomer on le grove, only too scared to slate Wenger on here, so you continually stick the boot into stan and gazidis when you dont know the full facts, as none of us do.

    You still didnt understand the concept of a wage ceiling FFS. How many times did someone try and explain that one? How many times do we need to go other things?
    Cesc; left to go home to mama.
    Nasri; wanted obscene Oil wages
    Song; went with almost everyone’s blessing.
    Lying Dutchman; See Nasri.

    Its sad but true, there is seriously outrageous moolah out there for players who want it and we have suffered as a result.

    The club have fucked up along the way, they should be tieing down players and Theo should be given a good contract. BUT how many of those saying that now, were telling all and sundry he wasnt worth shit and wasnt up to much?

    AW has money to spend, he hasnt spent it. I think you should be directing your ire at him, seeing as you insist bleating on about this shite every fucking day.

  48. dex..

    firstly, i never said it was all stan, ive made references to dick law, tom fox, ivan gazidis, phw several times..so get your facts right..the whole management is to blame..

    secondly, ive slated wenger several times on here.. mainly about his ignorance towards formations and his uncanny ability to make a team lose shape with his square pegs in round holes technique..and yes i agree hes a tight git but you said it as well so dont go all mother theresa on me..

    thirdly, i understand the concept of a wage ceiling perfectly..it appears the club and you do not..we sell our best players and the wages go up..nuff said..

  49. Paul

    2 links in one post is the reason for moderation.

    Thanks, we’re flying into Houston on the 8th then onto Dallas and Charleston that week before coming home on the Friday.

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