Monday, 13 June 2011

The world's going to end for Arsenal: Part One

If anyone was listening to a well-known radio station in England on Friday, their ears would have absorbed an indictment of Arsene Wenger and the state of affairs at Arsenal. Arsenal are in crisis. No really they are. Didn't you know? I didn't. Maybe it was because I was out of the loop. It wasn't the mid-season crisis when they lost the in Carling Cup final to now relegated Birmingham or the fact that Arsenal managed to finish 4th in what seemed to be a two horse race. It was the early transfer window crisis. Their crime? Well it's not something Arsenal did but it's what they didn't do. They didn't sign Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones. Maybe one but preferably both. Liverpool and Manchester United did, wisely stocking their central defensive and midfield positions respectively. Yet not all is as it appears.

All this doesn't matter because Arsene Wenger's inactivity speaks volumes. Well on radio it does. Radio hosts and eager callers on multiple radio slots called for Wenger to show the Arsenal fans "a sign" that they can sleep at night and justify spending a huge chunk upfront on a season ticket. How? Simple. Spend a lot of money on a player in order to "make a statement." What kind of statement? It wasn't mentioned. Listeners must have been excited at this radio relay. The baton was handed over with skill throughout the morning and the afternoon. Not once did the baton drop and everyone brought their best to this special event: "THE END OF ARSENAL." Yes, in capitals. Oh and Wenger has to spend now or he has to go. Not tomorrow or late in June but now. Early July maybe? I don't think anyone mentioned July. It's not an important month because it's the start of the transfer window in most of Europe. Not a big deal really.

"Wenger needs to find players who can perform against Stoke on a wet autumn night. No, really."
Some fans did call in and were a little ticked off. They told listeners and radio hosts to wait and see what happens before passing judgement. One even criticised the past footballing ability of a host who is long retired from the professional game. Seriously. It got quite heated. But what these "myopic" Wenger acolytes didn't consider was that everyone was leaving Arsenal. Dear Leader was losing it and everybody around him. Well that's what they were told. They wouldn't have ball boys and kit men by the start of the season. The debilitating exit list was worrying: Denilson, Bendtner, Rosicky, Arshavin, Clichy, Nasri and Fabregas. Take that naysayers. What were Arsenal going to do? Van Persie had two years remaining on his contract and so did Walcott. They wouldn't put up with Arsenal paying high wages, players being sold and not winning a thing.

So what was the damage? Clichy to Liverpool, Nasri to United and Fabregas to Barcelona. All conjecture right? Well, not quite. Nasri has spoken about his development and the possibility of joining another team. Oh, and he wants more money. Probably better signings too. He'll probably get both but his words were dangerous, especially with just a year left on his contract. You know what the media's like Samir so you shouldn't speak to them: you've been happy at Arsenal but you've only got a year left on your contract, media hacks will report it and put pressure on Arsenal to...oh, I see... "I'm not saying I will not play for an English club … except Tottenham," Nasri said. That's thoughtful, and he continued, "After, another team in England, I don't know … But money is not the most important. I'm just 23. What's important is that I have a good team that can get better." Oh dear. But Nasri said this in March. Hmmm....very suspicious.

What about Clichy? Well Madrid don't need him because I heard on twitter that Jose's getting Coentrao to merge with Marcelo to create a Portuguese speaking super mutant left back who'll stop both Messi and Alves at the same time. Bayern, Inter, Milan and Juventus don't have a vacancy for Gaël either. If he wanted to move, he should have hawked himself around earlier because those European heavyweights have all moved imported some nifty left backs. Well not Bayern, they've got a right back so that they can move Lahm to left back. Maybe City will be in for him or the Americans at Roma.
Apparently, Liverpool don't like non-English players. Maybe Gaël's agent hasn't heard about this. You know, Liverpool look for bargains such as Carroll and Henderson. I read we bought Henderson for £16 million, possibly even less, so I'm sticking with that. After all, David Ngog's worth £8 million so you never know. Reports have confirmed that Liverpool have bid £5 million for Clichy because he's only got 12 months remaining on his contract. You see, Comolli has this trick he used with Ajax to get Luis Suarez in January. It's to bid really low and anger the club, wait for them to quadruple the asking price, say "sorry" sincerely and finally come to an agreement for a reasonable fee. But that's for foreign nationals only.

"Sorry Arsene, Liverpool only want to pay big bucks for this lot."
To me, it seems that while Clichy may be a good addition for Liverpool, he wouldn't be a great loss for Arsenal because he hasn't performed well for a while now. He's been at Arsenal for around 8 seasons and there's a thing called getting stale. And atrocious defending. At 25/26, he's young enough to reasonably renew his performance and he's still a fantastic athlete too. Anyway, if Liverpool do get him it will be an improvement on a precocious 17 year old, Glen Johnson out of position (nothing new there) and an assured Brazilian with a sweet left peg who's 30 and plays once in a long while. Anyway, Gibbs could step up just as Clichy did when Ashley Cole left. He looks like he's another mobile, attacking left back from the Arsenal production/youth acquisition line. Then there's Baines. He's not bad you know. Arsenal play attractive football and are in real European competition pending a play-off. Arsenal may not pay as much in transfer fees but they pay a pretty wage you know? Especially when those concerned are top youngsters. Look it up.

Now, the real worry is this yearly "will he or won't he go to Barcelona" soap opera (with Spanish subtitles) which I'm sure Arsenal fans are fed up with and Samir Nasri's possible departure to the league champions. I don't think Samir Nasri will do something as despicable as weaken Arsenal and strengthen United. I think if Arsenal do buy well, Nasri will stay. Fabregas may go but it depends on whether Barcelona deem him a priority this season or next. "The best team ever™" Barcelona have been crying about their meagre transfer budget of £40 million (plus sales, mind you) to improve their side. They aren't one to sign players for bloated fees like Real Madrid and sell them on the following season. Okay, they do sometimes: Chygrynskiy and Ibrahimovic amongst others. But it's all about La Masia, well most of the time. If Barcelona actually want to really push for Fabregas, not this tiki-taka nonsense, then he'll be keen to leave. I'm sure of that.

The only sticking point would be the matter of price in negotiations between the two clubs. Except for the slight sly tactical tweaks which make a difference, Guardiola seems to have come to a point where he realises all this plan B stuff is nonsense because plan A is the only plan Barca need. So Pep's on the lookout for players who will fit into the current system. And quite right too. That's where Giuseppe Rossi and Cesc Fabregas come in. I don't know if Barca's bleating about being the poor man of Europe is a tactic or a genuine commitment to reduce their debt but the question is can they afford in their "mes que un club" business plan to get both Cesc and a quality forward? As well as a left back too? If the answer is yes, then Cesc is gone.

The little men in Barca's midfield have been holding their yearly talk on Cesc's compatibility with Barca's "way." What a loss Fabregas would be if this transfer comes to pass. But then again, it's more cash for Arsene to reinvest. Hopefully. Arsenal have the quality in places but need some "balls" or "English steel" or whatever it is that'll stop them from drawing after being 4 up to Newcastle and losing the Carling Cup to Birmingham. Relegated Birmingham. Then again, relegated Blackpool did the double against some side in the league...

Here's part two so read on to continue the goodness


  1. Firstly nice site, thanks for posting it on arseblog. An interesting aritcle and as a gooner I agree some fans are far too melodramatic regarding the clubs fortunes. But I agree with most gooners that we have an awful squad. Cesc, Jack, Nasri and RVP are our only world class players yet still Jack and Nasri have only broken out this year, RVP is always out crocked and Cesc's future is uncertain. Denilson, Eboue, Diaby etc are just so bad for so many reasons I haven't the time to describe why.

    The silver lining is that AW has got 4th and even beat Barca with such a squad. But then one asks, why were so many terrible players bought in the first place?

  2. Thanks but I've been reading Arseblog for a while. It's a good site and I'll continue to follow it. I think Arsenal's goalkeepers have shown promise this season and Diaby has quality but always gets injured when he looks like he's turned a corner!

    Ramsey will be important next season I think. I mean this list isn't half bad in addition to Wilshere, Van Persie and Nasri: Sagna, Song, Chamakh, Walcott and 3 good centrebacks in Vermaelen (missed sorely last season), Djourou (who has exceptional quality but needs to improve concentration a tad) and Koscielny (improved throughout season and needs to be kept away from Squillaci!).

    I haven't added Cesc because I think this may be a good opportunity to sell him. Get a player from Barca (even though Wenger apparently doesn't like exchanges) and use the fee from his sale to add to your funds. I mean, Nasri can play in his position and I think next season Ramsey will show why he was rated as good a prospect if not better than Wilshere.

    Gervinho and Chamberlain are nailed on to come too. But yes, Wenger needs to act this summer to improve the squad.