Özil’s Contract & Curing The Malaise

“I am confident [he will sign a new deal], yes. But what does that mean? I don’t know.”

Arsène’s trawlers and seagulls moment after Saturday’s win over Newcastle. Asked about Mesut Özil’s contract situation, he tried to clarify matters but just ended up leaving everyone bewildered and definitely none the wiser.

Looking back over ‘Mexit’, there’s a pattern to the way the narrative unfolds in the media. An interview about talks happening in London after the summer tour ended quashed speculation he was leaving. A month later in mid-September, the United speculation gathered pace; Mesut ‘invited’ fans to his house in a virtual tour.

Every time the press push him to another club, a story of hope that he will stay emerges in the back pages.

Like the EU, Team Mesut know they have Arsenal over a barrel and can use the club any which way they want. The money on offer is almost irrelevant now; we’ve gone through a level where it is meaningful. One year of playing at £250k per week or more is enough to set him up for life. The only meaning it has is in negotiations with other clubs.

But the brand, one which reportedly decorates the side of his house, is all. Protecting his carefully crafted image is second only to the football side of things. And I don’t dispute that primarily, Özil is concerned with football. You can be in love with London all you want but if we’re in a downward spiral, a player of his level ought not to be interested in playing for Arsenal.

If he is in that scenario – of a 7th place or lower finish with no comfort found by a cup win – then it’s only ever been about the money. And I don’t think it is.

50 Shades of Wenger

I don’t think Mesut is staying, that’s for sure and at some point, the news will ‘out’. I think they – Team Mesut – have seen the backlash against Alexis and don’t want their client to suffer the same. That began when Arsène criticised the Chilean last season and continues now with every criticism through to ‘Alexis Tax’.

Sanchez mentally left Arsenal last summer. The dip in his form this season underlines that. It’s been a hugely disappointing season for him, both for club and country. While City conquer all, we fumble around in the minor placings. While others celebrated qualifying for Russia 2018, he suffered as Chile crashed out. Arsenal are not seeing the best of a player who sparkled for a couple of years.

However, ‘Sexit’ means he’s fair game. He isn’t perfect, that’s for sure and the loss of possession irritates but he is still our key creative player when it comes to goals. Mesut Özil doesn’t score his fabulous volley if Alexis doesn’t follow up his shot and challenge for the ball. Our goals in the last week have his fingerprints all over them

Football supporters are like that and it’s not a new phenomenon. Michael Thomas, 1989’s hero, was greeted with a chorus of “Judas” when we went to Anfield a month after he’d left to join Liverpool. Frank Stapleton can tell you similar tales.

Never leave a club for your bitterest rivals; Mesut will find that out the hard way if he moves to Old Trafford in the summer.

I wonder how Charlie George would be remembered had he joined Tottenham as was planned in 1975? As it is, joining Derby at the time Tottenham had called a press conference to announce his signing adds to the folklore surrounding him.

Talk About The Past

Reports last week claimed Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck rejected the opportunity of contract renewal talks. Jack Wilshere bounced Arsenal into talks next month. We’re in a mess. The apathy in the stands John Cross talks about permeates every level of the club.

We used to laugh at Manchester United when Ferguson left them with an ageing squad. Compared to the state Arsène is leaving us in, it’s a masterclass in football management. I’d take United’s situation as champions with an old squad over ours as also-rans crammed with under-performers, every day of the week.

Will we make a better choice than David Moyes as successor? Stan has no history to back that claim up but that’s no reason not to make the change in 2019.

The malaise runs deeper than one transfer window can resolve. We could go mad this January but it’s not our style. If Alexis leaves next month – and I think that in spite of Arsène’s words, it might be best for all concerned – we have to act. Quickly; not wait until the end of the window on the hope that someone in the squad will raise their game for six months.

It’s a tough sell next summer for Arsenal. Europa League qualifiers two years running highlights a drop in status without the wherewithal to correct the fall. There’s no point in worrying about the messages losing Sanchez and Özil will send; that damage has already been done by the farcical events of the last deadline day and this season.

And last; don’t underestimate the damage wrought by Arsène’s indecision. Has he learned or the board learned the lessons of that farrago? Are stuck in a Groundhog Day, doomed to repeat the same mistakes without respite?

Time will tell but even with six months of the season remaining, time isn’t on our side.

Win a Free Arsenal Print from Art of Football

The fine fellows at Art of Football have donated a free print for their fine range – which you can view here – for one reader. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

What was the score when we last played at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup?

Send your answer to competitions@aclfarsenal.co.uk by midnight (GMT) on 18th December 2017. The winner will be chosen at random from all of the correct answers. Editor’s word is final.

’til Tomorrow.

51 thoughts on “Özil’s Contract & Curing The Malaise

  1. HenryB says:

    Great post, Yogi,

    With regard to Arsene’s indecision at least in football matters you must realise he is a proud Frenchman, and often his head screams ‘NO” and his heart seductively whispers “yesss” and his reality politely tells him “No” and hope springing eternal tells him “oh, go on – give it a go”.

    Is it any wonder it takes time for him to make his mind up? 😀

  2. Orson Kaert says:

    ‘morning all.

    I wonder which way Wenger will be remembered, the manager who could have got £60 million for Sanchez last summer, the stubborn head-in-the-sand ostrich if he sells him for £20 million in January, or the clown who lets him go for nothing next summer.

  3. YW says:

    One thing’s for certain, he’s definitely sullied how he will be remembered. Had he left in 2014, I suspect the period 2011-13 would have been airbrushed out or lost in the ‘move to the Emirates’ narrative. Now? Not sure it will be so easy to erase the notion that he’s a man who stayed in the job too long.

  4. Pete the Thirst says:

    Well we won on Saturday. Not much else to say about the game.

    If we play like that against Liverpool on Friday we’ll get our arses spanked. Maybe time to play a back four and give Maitland-Niles the defensive midfield spot in front of Xhaka, who is looking more £3.50 than £35 million signing at the moment.

  5. chris says:

    HenryB,

    So how does that do any good to Arsenal ? In house he is notorious for not making up his mind until too late. Senior staff in various areas have been totally frustrated – as, of course, have been the fans !

  6. Ras says:

    He’s sadly sullied, damaged goods. The inability to see through the mist of eternal false hope has now reduced him to a mere mortal. There would have been a time when he would of walked comfortably amongst the pantheon of football Gods.

  7. Dukey says:

    Joe Root won three out of three tosses…..what a tosser!

  8. Dukey says:

    Oh come on horse n cart. Wenger was in a no win situation regarding dirty Sanchez. If he sold him for £60 millions then people would have berated him for selling our best player and having no ambition, now he’s ridiculed for not doing a rvp. Now I like moaning about Wenger just as much as the next angry gooner but on this one I think he gets a pass.

  9. andy1886 says:

    Dukey,

    Not sure I agree, many of us on here were saying to sell him in the summer. We were told however that Alexis wasn’t the sort of player to let it affect his form if he stayed (wrong), and that it was worth losing the £60m to get CL football back (also wrong even if that does happen). I would have sold both of them, but as has been said a million times before it should never have got to this stage in the first place.

  10. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi.

    We have talked about this endlessly. I think team Sanchez has mentally already left the building and there is nothing anyone can do about it. I think we could probably resign Ozil bu it would be utter madness for a team that already has totally messed up its wage scale to give a fading 30 year old player one of Europe’s bigger longer term contracts. It might be different if he was actually producing and having a real positive impact on a consistent basis.

    Regarding the next contract for Arsene it’s perfectly clear that team Arsene is about getting the best deal they can for their client in terms of wages and working situation even if that means holding out for months and watching club struggle on the pitch while he waits to sign a new deal. The contract squabble proved beyond any doubt the whole notion that Arsene loves the club and is willing to sacrifice his own interest for the good club is utter rubbish. Football contracts are about business and Arsene is no different then the players we complain about all the time. They want what is best for themselves. The one thing that does give some hope is the new high profile front office hirings. I am confident that team Arsene’s long term goal is for him to be manager for as long as he feels healthy enough but may be Ivan and Stan are actually making plans for a new world order in 2019. Hope springs eternal.

  11. Dalm says:

    Long time since we didn’t have Arsene at the Helm – how many of us can remember the time beforehand

    First part of the tenure was successful – win stuff and top 2 finishes and flow into Emirates and project youth, and other money coming in to the game and what seems to be an ongoing demise and groundhog day of matches and months and seasons which are inconsistent..

    Does look like the club – and the squad – and the contractual situations – and results and realistic expectations are all pretty much down the toilet and up the creek without a paddle.

    Having said that – hope springs eternal – anyone know of a good stream for tomorrows match….

  12. Bill says:

    Dukey

    Andy and Henry B were both campaigning for selling Alexis last summer and in retrospect there can be no doubt they were right. That said I agree with you. It was and still is a no win situation for Arsene and he would have been roasted for lacking ambition if he had sold Alexis or Ozil.

    The thing we can’t give Arsene a pass for is the fact that he let this whole situation develop in the first place. Arsene has been in control of every important decision the club makes with regards to its football operations and I can’t believe there is any other big club in the world which seems as mixed up as Arsenal. The Alexis/Ozil contract situations and last summers bloated squad filled with over paid underperforming players that required a wage dump when we needed to strengthen the squad are examples of just how rudderless we are right now.

  13. C says:

    Excellent stuff Yogi!

    One of the maddening things about all of this is the fact that Ozil and Sanchez’s situation have come about simply because of the indecision of Arsene and the BoD over this contract and with that came the summer transfer window. I think both players (well we know Sanchez was all but set to leave until he didn’t) saw what was happening over the summer and the talk of, “we can’t buy until we sell” non-sense but then give Arsene a bump in pay.

    The real shame is that when the likes of Ramsey and Welbeck don’t want to hold contract talks, you know it could get much worst before it gets better.

  14. Bill says:

    Last year was the first time in the Wenger era that we missed the top 4 and clearly we needed to strengthen the squad. However the focus of everything we did last summer was centered around the Sanchez/Ozil situation and the need to trim down a bloated squad and cut wages. That is just plain and simple mismagement

  15. C says:

    Bill,

    I completely disagree with you my friend, it wouldn’t have shown a lack of ambition IF he had brought in a quality replacement.

    That’s the thing that I think people are passing over, I was SQUARELY in the keep Sanchez camp and I still am BUT to say you would lack ambition by selling him is wrong, its only a lack of ambition if you don’t bring in similar quality. For instance, if we had sold Sanchez and brought in Lemar or Dembele (of Celtic) or even found a way to get Aubameyang than your talking about not lacking ambition but having the wherewithal to know that Sanchez doesn’t want to stay so you bring in quality who is younger and wants to come and play.

    The problem though is that very few have faith in Arsene to be able to identify and make the decision to bring in quality.

  16. Bill says:

    To be fair Arsene did buy Lacazette and we all had been screaming for a new striker for years. Lacazette looked good at first and hopefully he won’t go the way of Podolski and start off well but then get bogged down by our slow paced tippy tappy. Arsene used to have a reputation for improving players but all of the goal scorers not named Alexis that we have purchased in this decade have seen significant decreases in their effectiveness in front of goal when they move to Arsenal. Sanchez did better then the others and my theory is he was good at creating his own goal scoring opportunities and he was much better at breaking down the organized defenses by himself. However all of the other scorers we purchased have struggled.

  17. Bill says:

    The one thing is disagree about in your comment at 12:53 is about Lemar. We need production from anyone who replaces Alexis and Lemar was more of a midfielder who happened to score a few more goals then expected las season but he and he has taken a significant step backwards this season. Reminds you of Ramsey or iwobe. How often have we seen that happen with our own U21’s. If we thought spending $35M for Xhaka was a mistake think of how bad it would have looked if we had spent $90M for Lemar.

  18. Mike says:

    YW,

    I think in the fullness of time, he will get back credit for the early years of his management. However I think when he does go, initially there will be a lot of relief and his legacy will be badly tainted. It’s now obvious the longer he drags this on the worse it’s gonna get. I even think if he stays on another season it’s going to get really bad. The atmosphere on Saturday was so flat and dull.

  19. C says:

    Bill,

    Monaco had quoted a price much less than that earlier in the summer. Lemar is a talent, make no mistake about that but I do wonder if Lemar, like Sanchez, isn’t fully there given he thought and it looked like he was on his way out before the deal collapsed. I would have taken Dembele of Celtic (still would), I think at the end of the day though, its comes down to finding a quality replacement.

  20. Bill says:

    C

    How many times have we heard that someone is a talent? Unless money is no object you can’t spend that big money based on potential and one season of over performance. We need production from whomever replaces Alexis and the last thing we need is to add to our current group of midfielders who don’t score. That said, the main point of your comment is still excellent and showing ambition in the Alexis situation is all about getting a good replacement. It just can’t be someone like Lemar.

  21. Bill says:

    The difficult part about replacing Sanchez is that we need a scorer and so far in this decade coming to Arsenal has been a dead zone for goal scorers

  22. C says:

    Bill,

    I wasn’t saying specifically Lemar, just more of that quality of talent and player. I think that is part of the problem though, we have to be able to find production and quality.

  23. Bill says:

    I think the reason the scorers we buy not named Alexis have been struggling so much at Arsenal relates to what we talked about yesterday with regard to the slow tempo of our buildups and the difficulty our scorers have trying to find ways to finish thru banks of organized defenders.

  24. C says:

    As far as legacy goes, I think Arsene will be viewed as a manager that changed English futbol and for all of his early successes as well as his successes in the FA Cup, but he will also be viewed in a parallel light as a manager that not only stayed on too long but one that simply refused to adapt and change to the ever changing futbol world and because o that the 2nd half of his reign was one of decline.

  25. HenryB says:

    chris:
    HenryB,

    So how does that do any good to Arsenal ? In house he is notorious for not making up his mind until too late.Senior staff in various areas have been totally frustrated – as, of course, have been the fans !

    You do realise that was a joke? The smiley emoticon at the end may have been a clue.

  26. HenryB says:

    Bill and C,

    You know I do not like to get between you two when you are in an interesting squabble, 😀 but neither of you have mentioned the latest rumour that has a bearing.

    After ‘Pool and Arsenal forced the original asking price up to ridiculous levels for Lemar, ending with Arsenal allegedly offering £90m which was rejected just before the transfer window closed.

    Well, it seems that Moody Mourinho had been sniffing blood in the water and was ready to make an offer for Lemar and blow everyone else out of the water. Now he has turned his attention to a Brazilian named (Bailey?) who rather £90m or £100m, would cost ‘only’ £30m, and who is reckoned to be every bit as good as Lemar.

    So what? you may ask? And my reply would be that it proves there are other talented players out there, and we really should not get fixed on just one players — if we had problems getting Lemar in the summer, we should have moved on and got someone else. Why do Arsenal not get that.

    I cannot stand Moreen but he seems to understand the simplicity of having a list.

  27. C says:

    HenryB,

    For me it was now nor will it ever be one player and nothing else. I think in the summer we should have chased several players as there were and even now are plenty of talented players out there. For instance, Dembele of Celtic who is bigger than Lacazette (well who isn’t) but is quick, pacey and a clinical finisher not to mention he started as a winger.

    I think the problem comes, and something we have discussed, Arsene is shit at having a plan B once his plan A doesn’t work or either he gets fixated on it.

    There are several players and if there is ANY truth to Madrid offering Lucas Vazquez in a deal in the winter for Sanchez I would bite there arm off to get that deal done immediately.

  28. Bill says:

    C

    You must be disappointed to have the Steelers lose that game yesterday based on the video review. Sitting and watching the replays hurts the flow of the game and makes its remarkably deflating for the team on the wrong end of the decision especially when it is changed. However, At least things are consistent in American football and we don’t get the crazy conspiracy theories that are everywhere in European football.

  29. Bill says:

    Henry

    $90M was a completely ridiculous price to even consider for a 21 year old player who had 1 good season no matter how much potential you believe he might have. We are not the only team in the world who have U21 players that have a great start and never replicate that first year and hit a plateau which is much lower then we had expected.

  30. Bill says:

    $90M is also a crazy number for a midfielder who is not a high volume goal scorer. The really big numbers should be for players who score a lot because there are a lot fewer of them.

  31. HenryB says:

    We are in agreement as usual, C. 🙂

    Bill, these conspiracy theories are not something I have much, if any, empathy with.
    A ‘conspiracy theory’ is a roundabout way of saying some referees cheat. It is possible that some officials do cheat, it has happened, but if every fan of every club who has complained about it is to be believed, then it is so widespread that no club is safe from referees cheating.

    I think that is balderdash and evidence of paranoia. If all paranoid fans from all the clubs were put together in one stadium, I dread to think what they would do to each other.

    Bah – humbug. 🙂

  32. Bill says:

    It’s not that midfielders are not valuable but it’s a lot easier to find good ones so you should not spend your big money on the midfield. IMO

    The midfielder who should go for the really big money is someone like Frank Lampard who is a top midfielder but also consistently scores in the mid teens. We thought we might have had that sort of player after Ramsey’s 13/14 breakout season. Unfortunately Ramsey was not Lampard and he has never come close to replicating that season

  33. Bill says:

    It’s also easier to build and/or develop your own midfielders then it is to build goal scoring forwards

  34. C says:

    Bill,

    Mate it was gut wrenching, I actually am not a fan of so much replay in American football, simply because its made the stuff you know to be true and accurate your whole life playing sports to be different and its the fear I have with replay in futbol. For instance, that touchdown that was but wasn’t based on the NFL is a touchdown at every level EXCEPT the NFL because the ‘catch rule’ has changed so much because of replay to where a catch is a catch except………….

  35. Bill says:

    C

    I today’s world there will always be replays and we all know exactly what happens in ultra high definition multi angle ultra slow motion so there has to be consistency and the what is a catch rule has to be codified. We have seen in European football that if you leave it to the subjective view of the ref then you are going to have inconsistency and a lot of calls will be missed. You would be rightfully be upset if you would lost the game because the opposition scored a touchdown that the replay had showed was not a touchdown.

  36. HenryB says:

    We all think AW can procrastinate when choosing new players, and then is forced into dubious purchases by circumstantial needs — and frankly the CB situation is screaming out advanced warning that it will need resolving in the near future.

    To balance things, after I have been guilty of being unkind to Mr Wenger about his supposed indecisive nature, the other side of the coin is that a sign of intelligence, and AW certainly has that, is the flexibility to ponder what is the correct choice, of those available, while stupid people are happy in their ignorance and are always sure they are right, with very little evidence of why that is the case.

    In my case, I am always decisive, but sometimes I am not so sure. 😀

  37. Bill says:

    C

    I was cheering for the Steelers yesterday. Things like that tend to even out over time. Hopefully the replay decision will go in your favor if the teams meet in the AFC title game

  38. C says:

    Bill,

    I would love for it to go in our favor in the AFC Title game.

  39. Bill says:

    C

    You might not be old enough to remember but I think it was easier and perhaps more fun to watch sports before the days when replay were so common and detailed. We had no idea how many mistakes the game officials were making and we thought the refs were a lot more accurate then they really were. We didn’t have any idea how inconsistent they were and how many they missed. We had no idea how many offsides calls in European football were wrong and we did not care. Ignorance was bliss.

  40. Bill says:

    If I had to bet I suspect the Steelers and New England will meet in the AFC title game.

  41. C says:

    Bill,

    I was old enough my friend, I remember watching games and matches and thinking that everything was fine and that what we saw was what it was. Problem now is that so much of replay is actually changing the rules and making things more complicated for instance the catch rule. Its why I fear for what it might do to futbol.

    If you had to bet they would meet in the AFC title game, you would probably be a winner my friend

  42. Bill says:

    I was listening to some pundit on talk radio who was giving Mourinho a load of schtick for playing defensive football at home against Man City. However, the problem is that its been difficult to stop Man City when you have an organized defense but at least there is a chance to hold them down. However, Man City’s counter attack is so fast and devastating that its impossible to stop them if you try to play football with them and their defense has been pretty good so you can’t expect to just play football with them and outscore them. I would not be totally surprised if Man City goes unbeaten but if they do lose it will be to a team that sits very deep and nicks a couple of goals on the counter attack or may be scores a set piece goal or a penalty.

  43. Bill says:

    During the early Emirates era we used to say that Fergie and Mourinho were cowards and destroying football when they would sit back and defending against us and hitting us on the break, but it worked every time. There is no extra credit for being stupid and trying to play football when it gives your opponent a better chance to get a result.

  44. Orson Kaert says:

    I’ve said this many times before, Wenger just does not appreciate good defenders. Nor does he attach sufficient importance to defending.

    Since the departure of Soll Campbell we have not had a commanding figure at the centre of our defence., someone who would not allow himself to be bullied by strikers. Vermaelen and Koscielny are both decent defenders but they are not the sort who would have taken Didier Drogba on and come out other than second best, I include Mertesaker in that category.

    The other problem is of course lack of defensive responsibility, our full backs are always looking to join the attacks, as is Koscielny, Monreal and Holding, they too often get caught out of position thus leaving the back door wide open.

  45. Bill says:

    Orson

    After he disbanded the 03/04 title team Arsène really focused on building a team to play his version of total football He wanted everyone on the pitch to have a high level of technical skill and be able to contribute to the passing game. Rather then focusing on their ability as defenders he wanted his CB’s to be ball playing CB’s. He made the same mistake with Xhaka when he ignored defensive liabilities in order to get someone he thought would be a good passer at DM.

  46. Orson Kaert says:

    On a day when the World 100 metres champion, Justin Gatlin, is embroiled in a performance enhancing drug scandal, my morning was brightened by the Matt cartoon in the Telegraph, the caption read “A spokesman said, the England cricket team are not under suspicion”. 😁

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