A Day in the Life of Arsenal: Contract Drama and Training Soap Operas

It’s car-crash television watching another club turn inwards on itself and devour every shred of dignity. You know, how other fans viewed us.

Mourinho’s reign is the Hovis ad. Manchester United are the baker’s boy freewheeling down the hill, just at the moment when he realises that the brakes on the bike have failed and there are just two options: jump off now and take the bruises the cobbled street will give, perhaps even a mild concussion; or, ride to the very end, struggling to control the bicycle before ending up in a crumpled mass of torn skin, blood and metal.

We all want the latter but surely the former is how United will react? The hounds of the back pages who lost the scent with Arsène are moving in for the kill with Mourinho.

Which is all well and good, but if they can just hold off for a few more weeks. Thanks to United’s ineptitude we moved up the table although there’s an element of relief that Tottenham didn’t go top of the table. I’m sure there’s a DVD on the way: “Celebrate the day we moved to second in the Premier League!”

Not that we’re without our own drama. Mesut Özil returns to training today in our own early afternoon soap opera; it’s a tale which has a few more episodes to run. Once he returns to the first team, the story dies. Unless he gets hooked, then the series is commissioned for a second run.

Football without its dramas is nothing, is it?

Talk Is Cheap Unless You Pay For It

Which leads to Aaron Ramsey’s contract. The decision to renew or not to renew feels like it needs a Mel Brooks song with the Blazing Saddles Busby Berkeley chaotic ending. It’s January, it’s not; there’s too much brand management in football from the players.

The silence in these situations is more detrimental to a player’s reputation that making a statement either in an interview or creating a false narrative on a hastily created website. You know, I would have no issue if Ramsey said he didn’t believe in the project or he needed a new challenge. That happens; it’s part of working life.

Silence used to be golden; we know Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe told us that. However, that was the ’60s and now Silence is most definitely not golden; it’s the fodder for speculation and every niggle about a player, the role in the team and performances. About how they were good for one season, how they were overhyped, over-rated and over the hill long before we reached this point.

It’s a simple equation for the player, but the way negotiations play out now seems to ignore the fact that the common sense of the many is outweighed by the shouty social media madness. The damage is done quickly and almost irreparably.

Almost is great because it is not quite certain. Ramsey is second only to Özil in the marmite stakes. He’s either adored or hated, which underlines the extent to which extremes rule the roost. Is it a calculated strategy to rely on the stadium’s support? Ensure the club shop records sales of his shirt, t-shirt or pillowcase. I assume there are pillowcases; I don’t know and honestly, I don’t care.

Scorched Grass

Anyway, there’s something about contract negotiations which is utterly tedious, even back as far as the Vieira days and before. Signing da ting; how rare it is for a deal to be easy, to be straightforward. A sign of our fallen status, of the decade without a title challenge?

He’ll sign if he wants to, he’ll leave if he thinks the grass is greener. Manchester United’s tribulations, trials, and implosion underline that for Ramsey. Chelsea last season; football now is combustible at every level unless the title is habitually a realistic option. Even then, it’s only a matter of time before the cracks appear at City. One wrong signing, one rampaging ego is all it takes for the happy ship to be holed.

It happens all the time in football. Always has done, always will; just the surroundings are different. Frankly, there’s nothing new in modern football.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Arsenal: Contract Drama and Training Soap Operas

  1. Here’s a question, does a more confident Iwobi who has already signed give us what Ramsey offers when he is fully fit and playing well thus allowing for Ramsey to be sold and that money be re-invested in a CB or winger in the January window?

    Personally I would do it.

  2. Have to say, Manure look worst off then us, have to say Arsene might have been mad but it most certainly looks like we got the better of the Sanchez/Mhkitaryan swap.

    Interested to see how the club, players and Emery continue to develop after the first win.

  3. Also agree.

    Players should be sold if they go into their final 2 years without signing a new deal. The final year for exceptional cases and even then sell if no deal a month before the window ends.

    We need to send a message to players that we are not going to be messed about any longer. This has been a long-standing problem and its not just Wenger who was/is to be blame. Edu, Kanu, Wiltord all left for free – Dein’s fault. Flamoney and Hleb – free (a watershed as I said at the time). We used to get good money for wantaways like Petit, Overmars and Anelka – we got great money for the last 2 and replaced them with better players in Pires and Henry.

    We have had the Ozil/Sanchez farce, now Ramsey. Will we never learn?

  4. I enjoyed this post, YW, almost as much as watching Mourinho’s press conference!

    Good discussion yesterday on the need to disrupt counterattack. But I do have to wonder if this team has the personnel for the strategy. Our midfield is not that athletic and we don’t have the pace besides Auba to compare to Liverpool and City upfront to implement the same style.

    Adam Singh is another convert to the idea of a 442 midfield diamond—we are a growing community!

    C, I have been suggesting Iwobi play as an 8. I think we should have sold Ramsey this summer. Now that Reiss Nelson appears to be moving to Hoffenheim, we are really missing a fast wide forward. This isn’t good.

  5. Enjoyment of another’s misfortune usually causes me to feel a little bad but when the misfortune is Moaninho’s it is a guilt-free pleasure. That it is a similar brand of misfortune to that recently endured by ourselves, as YW points out, matters to me not at all!

  6. C – agree, happy to cut Ramsey loose and strengthen with the cash.

    I dunno if we got the best of the deal per se – Sanchez played well for us. It’s more that Mourinho is the death of creative players and Sanchez went to the best club for money but not his style of play. In that we were going to lose Sanchez on a free and Mikhi fits more naturally into our team, you could make the case, I suppose.

  7. LSG,

    I would gladly have Iwobi as an 8, but I think a confident Iwobi is a good back-up to Ozil, a good 8 option and a good wing option all because he does have pace, technique, skill and when confident or being positive he offers so much but also stays fit. Nelson leaving is massive and all summer I banged on about getting Martins (who ended up at Atletico) and have been talking pace for YEARS and now we most certainly need more of it either through physical traits or futboling IQ.

  8. Woolwich Freddie,

    Yup but then when you consider that Sanchez is on 500/wk, I think Mhkitaryan was good value for business (ofcourse we could have taken the money too but purely talking the swap).

  9. In the future, the diamond is a maybe for me.

    If we’re all basically agreed that the full backs are getting roasted with no cover? In my opinion, the diamond needs the full backs to provide width and the 4 middle players all drift centrally and offer even less cover than we get now

    You can put me firmly into the “Not Yet” category on that one, thanks

  10. Nelson leaving is a good thing, I will stop raving about him and Bill can then offer ideas on how we can make top 4 with no wingers.

  11. The problem is we lack pace in the midfield. Going by the tactics videos which were produced on Emery’s PSG team, the defensive midfield pivots are meant to slot into the position vacated by the fullbacks and that’s not happening currently because Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka all lack pace.

  12. Damon,

    I think it depends who plays on the outside of that midfield. For instance, if its Guendouzi, Torrier or even Elneny who are players that cover space well and are much more likely to sit, then it will work because they will already be there to cover. But, if its a Ramsey or even Mhkitaryan who is more focused on attacking and less about the midfield balance and defending then obviously it will be a nightmare.

    If it matters, I’m in your camp more so than the diamond camo at this point.

  13. lari03,

    Are Guendouzi and Torriera slower than Veratti and Raboit, not sure but I do wonder if part of it is because they have played in systems and understand covering. Torriera played in a very similar style at Sampdoria and when he is on the pitch he does cover but I think we won’t truly know until he plays a full 90.

  14. C,

    There’s so much instability at the moment and only a competent starting 11 can deliver the necessary goods. I know Torreira is a good but the level of execution of the coach’s game plan from the midfield is not encouraging.

  15. Guendouzi & Torreira look quite quick to me.

    If Torreira is the defensive midfielder he can drop between the centre backs into a 3 on a counter attack. You don’t always need 4, but it does help when our centre backs are as slow as a pair of turning oil tankers.

    lari03:
    The problem is we lack pace in the midfield. Going by the tactics videos which were produced on Emery’s PSG team, the defensive midfield pivots are meant to slot into the position vacated by the fullbacks and that’s not happening currently because Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka all lack pace.

  16. lari03,

    Tend to agree but I do think that we won’t truly know the extent of our problem until we find that balance and I do think that 2 of the things that is clear for me is that Torriera must start next to either of Guendouzi or Xhaka and that if we are going to continue move forward with a high line, pressing and possession style that Leno needs to be our GK because, as we have seen, having a sweeper keeper and one that has distribution helps cover for bombing FB’s as well because they will come out and cover those long balls over the top that Cech simply refuses to come out and cover.

  17. The trickle has turned into a flood caused by Wenger’s loose grip on the transfer situation.

    The real mess started with us trading Ashley Cole to Chelsea in exchange for William Gallas and some loose change. David Dein was at the root of that saga. Very similar to the Sanchez mess last season.

    TBF I thought we got decent money for Hleb at the time. He hardly played for Barcelona.

    Alex Ice Cream:
    Also agree.

    Players should be sold if they go into their final 2 years without signing a new deal. The final year for exceptional cases and even then sell if no deal a month before the window ends.

    We need to send a message to players that we are not going to be messed about any longer. This has been a long-standing problem and its not just Wenger who was/is to be blame.Edu, Kanu, Wiltord all left for free – Dein’s fault. Flamoney and Hleb – free (a watershed as I said at the time). We used to get good money for wantaways like Petit, Overmars and Anelka – we got great money for the last 2 and replaced them with better players in Pires and Henry.

    We have had the Ozil/Sanchez farce, now Ramsey. Will we never learn?

  18. Hello all. I’m also not sold on the midfield diamond idea. I understand the want to change formations and think hell it might be worth a shot (i aint a coach). In my opinion, the last decade has taught us we need LESS midfielders on the pitch, not more. Iwobi has always had a good dribble in him, right now i’d probably rate him as one of the most likely to ‘beat his man’ 1v1. PEA showed some good dribbles over the weekend too, step overs, deft touches, racing past defenders.

    front 3: PEA – Laca – Welbeck (iwobi playin well too he is in the mix)

    midfield 3: ramsey/xhaka/torr/guendo/mhiki/ozil
    2 ballerinas, 2 defenders, 2 box to box (ideally? then we have some depth)

    no changes to back 4 really.

  19. Not only is silence not golden, it is anathema to many/most in the media. Brand management by the players for sure but also by the talking heads.
    I’m indifferent to Ramsey staying or going but less so with Ozil because of the money tied up in him. Surely he (Ramsey) knows he won’t get anything near what he seems to be demanding from Arsenal from someone else.

  20. lari03:
    Nelson leaving is a good thing, I will stop raving about him and Bill can then offer ideas on how we can make top 4 with no wingers.

    I will make a bet that if we sell Nelson he will never turn out to be good enough that we will wish we had not sold him. I have been a skeptic regarding players like him for several years and the skeptical approach has given us the right answer almost 100% of the time. I guess it depends, Do you want the answer we want to hear or the right answer

  21. Pete,

    I agree (I seem to be doing a lot of that today!) £5m plus Gallas was a terrible deal for Cole – one of the best fullbacks ever. Gallas was past his best by then – emotionally as well. It was preceded by the Edu/Wiltord/Kanu fiasco though that Dein oversaw.

    We basically got our money back for Hleb as we feared him doing a “Webster” after his now infamous “Ice Cream” meeting.

    I heard that Nelson is signing on and then being loaned out.

  22. If we had not been skeptical then our team would be filled to the brim with players like Chuba Akpom and Ryo Miachi and Thomas Eisfeld and we would have been relagated long ago

  23. Alex Ice Cream,

    The other point to remember about Dein that caused a lot of grief at the time was the involvement of his son Darren acting as agent in selling a number of our players – Febregas and Henry come to mind.

    His legacy to Arsenal could be as bad as Wenger’s.

  24. The media is killing the game. Im disgusted by the lack of respect shown to clubs, managers,players now a days!

  25. Good point Bill. We are fed a lot of guff about the quality of the youth coming through the ranks.

    AMN looks decent. Nelson hasn’t set the world on fire yet.

    I recall the hype around Jay Emanuel-Thomas a good few years back. He’s playing non league football now at age 27.

    Sadly it looks like Spurs have done a much better job than Arsenal in recent years in youth development. Who to blame?..Wenger and Brady, who used to probably spent more time at the Bank of Friendship than on the training pitch.

    Bill:
    If we had not been skeptical then our team would be filled to the brim with players like Chuba Akpom and Ryo Miachi and Thomas Eisfeld and we would have been relagated long ago

  26. Pete the Thirst,

    Rubbish, the notion that Spuds groomed these super young talents is a farce honestly. All of their talent was store bought and then put into their style:

    Alli burst onto the scene and everybody was fighting for him
    Kane was pushed and loaned out and nobody thought he would be banging them in like he is now
    Son was already a superb player at Leverkusen
    Moura was playing at PSG before being pushed out
    Vertoghen and Alderweild were already considered top quality defenders
    Wanyama was brilliant for Celtic for several years
    Etc, etc

    I think the thing that people forget is that Spuds splashed all of Bale and Modric’s cash on players and some worked and some didn’t. I think only Kane and Trippier(who wasn’t much of anything until last season at 26 only because Walker left and Aurier wasn’t able to come immediately) is one of theirs everybody else was bought. The difference at Arsenal is that Arsene was playing out 18 year olds against 21 year olds and we all know the difference those 3 years make physically, mentally, emotionally and in development.

  27. Pete,

    Yes – it was Dein that brought in Kroenke in the first place by way of introduction. The Arsenal board were anti-Kroenke to start with then invited him in after Dein sold us out to Usmanov.

    Dein also screwed-up deals as we have discussed yet is still held up as some kind of messiah by some. People have short and selective memories.

    Dein sold us out and now that we are saddled with Kroenke his legacy is worse than Wenger’s.

  28. C,

    Certainly, Iwobi can play more than one position for us but I would like him to start training as an 8 since he hadn’t played that as much at Arsenal. I think Auba will play on left a fair bit so to get time, he could develop as an 8 with good on the ball attributes—passing, dribbling— and his physicality/strength and decent pace/athleticism. Less pressure to score goals but opportunities to get forward if he can put in the defensive effort needed. I see it as a real fit.

  29. Damon,

    Emery is not going to stop sending his fullbacks forward anyway. So the goal is to have midfielders who can cover the flanks without yawning space opening in the middle for the counter and maximizing the finishing and scoring power of our greatest attacking assets: two top strikers who combine well. We should, IMO, be doing this right away. I’d be playing 352 in big games for the same reason. Torreira has to be at the base of the diamond.

  30. The diamond 442 or 352 are not panaceas but they are, I think, the best formations for the squad we have right now. How do you get Auba and Laca on the pitch together?

    Auba is not good at build up and shouldn’t be defending that flank so deep. He’s an elite finisher in the box with devastating pace. Playing him on the left is an option but not really the best one, imo.

    How do we organize so that we can defend with fullbacks involved in attack getting to the end line for cutbacks? You need covering, energetic two-way midfielders. We have some candidates here.

    I would prefer 352 even more but this seems even less likely to happen especially since the club sent Chambers on loan without replacing him. I’m not holding my breath for 33 yr old Kos with a chronic Achilles’ tendon problem that has hampered his effective pace and confidence as a defender returning and saving the day defensively. He is one more of our CB’s that have similar non-complementary qualities. He’s no Mertesacker to sit deeper, read the game and organize his defenders.

  31. LSG,

    I have always envisioned (I remember many a discussions between me, you, Moe, Henry and CA/MA) were we all thought that Iwobi would ultimately end up there if he can figure out the defensive side and I think he couls very well end up there. Personally, with Guendouzi and Torriera, I would actually like to see him develop as a player capable of playing as an 8 or a 10. Emery prefers a 433 and if we sell Ramsey and bring in a proper winger or CB to allow Iwobi to develop behind Ozil(natutally he would play matches and on the wing), I would be really excited about the prospect of a midfield of Iwobi/Torriera/Guendouzi. Aubameyang will feature more on the flank (I wonder if Emery delayed because he wasn’t sure if Welbeck would be staying and didm’t want to play both Lacazette and Aubameyang together until he knew) with Lacazette at CF.

  32. Bill –

    Would love to see the real arsenal dream team , made up of all our promised youngsters. Reading thru that list is a good trip. To be fair, i think most teams will have a bunch of failed academy players. A front three of Ryo, Yaya, JET would tear most teams to shreads if you ask me.

  33. Bill: I will make a bet that if we sell Nelson he will never turn out to be good enough that we will wish we had not sold him. I have been a skeptic regarding players like him for several years and the skeptical approach has given us the right answer almost 100% of the time. I guess it depends, Do you want the answer we want to hear or the right answer

    Spot on William 🤠

  34. Thrillbo

    Based on what has happened to them since they left Arsenal, a team with a front 3 of Ryo, JET and YAYA would have been relegated years ago.

    Lari03

    Sending Nelson on loan is a great idea. Best thing that could possibly happen for him and the team. IMO. May be this will be the exception and there is nothing wrong with hoping that players like him turn out to be useful players. However, the record is about 100% and its been a mistake to put players like him into relatively high leverage squad spots.

  35. Alex Ice Cream,

    Yes Alex, I’m afraid you are right. Apart from a miracle we are lumbered with Kroenke until he decides to sell his shares and depart.
    The only satisfactory solution I can see is if a consortium from (say) the City, buys out Kroenke. Otherwise our great Club will continue to meander from one single owner to another. A very poor outlook. 😉

  36. nicky,

    Surely, we should just support thise who wear the shirt?

    It’s what you have been banging on about for the last few years.

  37. One observation from the west ham game that no one has mentioned was the invisibility of Jack Wilshere. We should have sold him several years ago when he was rumored to be worth $40M. I understand that we want to believe in our own players but we have made a lot of mistakes over the years holding on to players like jack, Ox and Gibbs etc etc etc while we wait for them to mature and come good.

  38. consolsbob:
    nicky,

    Surely, we should just support thise who wear the shirt?

    It’s what youhave beenbanging on about for the last few years.

    😂😂😂😂 on the nose Bobster….on the nose

  39. LSG,

    Agree

    352 suits our players best
    I would like Lich as CB right as more pace but holding ok in 3 too

    Then we can have Auba and Lacaz up front

    Torr DM

    AM up for grabs on results and I put Xhaka on that category now as a passer
    Ramsey Ozil Iwobi Mik
    Who wants it most?
    One passer one dribbler
    2 passers

    But i fear we are in for long slog on perfecting the 433 pressgang but hope we learn fast!

  40. C,

    I recall those discussions too—and agree 8/10 is perfect. Torreira/Guendouzi/Iwobi would be wonderful to see if these young guys develop properly. But can I say, we really could have used a player like Banega right now.

  41. Arsetralian,

    These players will need to be top students to get a chance at top 4. We’ll see. At least they fought hard against Chelsea; I was proud of that spirit. And winning after going a goal done speaks to that.

  42. Part of my services is that I occasionally provide editing services.

    What nicky really meant was “The problem is that Kroenke doesn’t fit the Arsenal.”

  43. YW:
    Part of my services is that I occasionally provide editing services.

    What nicky really meant was “The problem is that Kroenke doesn’t fit the Arsenal.”

    I stand corrected.
    Loyalty to any single Owner of Arsenal FC has to be earned.
    Unfortunately, to folk like Kroenke, our Club is merely a good investment….nothing more. 😉

Comments are closed.