At the moment, there’s one story in town: Laurent Koscielny.
There are some bizarre reactions to his strike action, with the club on the receiving end because the former French international has given nine year’s service. Nine well remunerated years. Not as well remunerated as some players but with a weekly wage which equates to something like three timesthe average annual wage of the rest of the population.
Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn both fetched a fee (equivalent today of £1m and £500k) as 36-year-olds when they left after longer and more illustrious service. Koscielny has no right to a free transfer against that background, against any background, which is something his defenders need to think long and hard about. The cult of supporting players before the club is alive and kicking.
No. Sympathy. Here.
It is stunning that he and his agent so badly misjudged the situation. He was a popular player beforehand but now every mistake he makes will be pounced on and magnified. His age, the natural slowing down as injury and life takes its toll; The viciousness of social media is likely to go into overdrive next season if he stays at Arsenal.
David Ornstein noted on the BBC website that Koscielny felt disappointed by the failure to finish in the top four. He wasn’t happy with the direction the club is headed, the sage of Salford declared.
That Koscielny is part of the squad which imploded escapes scrutiny. Emery bears ultimate responsibility for that failure but players aren’t absolved of blame. Footballers are among the least self-aware people you will encounter. They rarely, if ever, accept culpability when things go horribly wrong.
At this point, it’s worth noting neither Bordeaux nor Rennes qualified for next season’s Champions League…
So, Arsenal Are Wonderfully Run Then…
No, not at all. I understand why Emery reacted furiously to Koscielny’s childish behaviour. Raul declaring it a breach of contract underlines the change of attitude in the club’s upper echelons.
However, going into the new season with a 33-year-old as central to your plans is a questionable policy. That emphasises the football poverty we find ourselves suffering. That’s no-ones fault but our own.
Holding and Sokratis must surely be the first choice centre-backs, injuries permitting. It leaves us with Mavropanos – about whom Ornstein claims there are doubts at the club – and Monreal who is old in football terms.
If Emery persists with a back three, which I think he will at the start, we face the prospect of Mustafi, who alternates brain farts with breathing, Chambers, who wasn’t good enough for Fulham as a central defender last season, and Koscielny. Or to put it another way, two players we want to sell while the other wants to do one.
It’s a farcical situation and one at which we would be rolling in the aisles if it were at another club. Or is that trolling in the aisles?
The most worrying aspect of this on a personal level is that I have zero confidence in the club to resolve matters before the window closes. Being on tour means little or nothing. Sanllehi and/or Edu can Skype, email, a WhatsApp and even fly anywhere at a moments notice. Distance is nothing any longer.
Thinking Outside The Box
Some continue to peddle the proposition that the hierarchy will tap Enos and Josh up for funds. It’s a forlorn hope, a pipe dream, for which he has no previous with his other sporting franchises. KSE promotes financial probity and sporting mediocrity. Success on the pitch is something which happens to their investments by good fortune rather than any owner strategy.
In Japan, Yokohama offered a creative solution which will appeal to our country bumpkins owners. Shunsuke Nakamura, 41, joined Kazuyoshi Miura to form an experienced forward line. Miura is 52 years young. Expect Edu to be instructed to scout walking football near you…
There’s no other way to describe this situation other than a clusterf*ck. Neither Koscielny nor Arsenal come out of it well.
However, contrary to my initial thoughts in yesterday’s post, this boils down to a greedy player wanting his own way. And we’ve got enough – and more pressing – problems with other squad members whose best interests are diverging with those of the club.
It’s sapping my natural enthusiasm for a new season and the preseason has yet to get into full swing.