The Summer Of Our Discontent

Have They Bottled It?

In the increasingly polarized world of Arsenal support, it seems that there is only room for unrelenting positivity or cataclysmic doom. But I’d like to suggest that there’s a third option. Perhaps it is possible to question some of the decision making at the club, without implying that Arsene Wenger is some anachronistic fool who’s lost his understanding of the modern game and the people controlling Arsenal FC are all avaricious monsters hoping to destroy everything good at the club. I don’t think it’s necessary to be so intractable.

At this point, I am ready to concede that the club have made some egregious mistakes this summer. The club have failed to deal truthfully with the fans, and once again left crucial transfer business to be done far too late. On the one hand there are issues where Arsene is choosing sporting concerns over pecuniary realities, while simultaneously ignoring certain other sporting deficiencies in the name of financial considerations.

When you add up all the facts, there’s simply no avoiding the conclusion that the people controlling Arsenal are in the midst of bottling this pivotal transfer window much the way their players recently bottled the Carling Cup Final. If we’re going to be critical of the players for such transgressions, we should be allowed to be equally critical of the leadership at Arsenal.

Consider the following questions:

  • Will Cesc stay at Arsenal? If he does, when will he be ready to play? What can we expect from him? If he’s sold, how will we replace him?
  • Will Nasri sign? If he doesn’t, will he be sold? If he is sold, will he be replaced? Would we let him leave for free?
  • Will we buy a central defender? Will we go into the season depending on Gibbs and Traore at left-back?
  • Will Bendtner, Eboue and Almunia be sold?
  • Without Bendtner, and with Chamakh’s dip in form, do we genuinely have enough quality at center-forward beyond van Persie?

Arsenal knew that it faced virtually every one of these questions at the end of last season. And with less than two weeks until the start of the new season, none have been answered. Maybe we shouldn’t expect to have every answer. A few can only be provided in time. But it’s unconscionable that we should be asking the same questions on August 3rd that we were asking in May.

It all starts with Cesc Fabregas. Last summer there was endless speculation that he would leave for Barcelona. Arsene was clear that Arsenal had no intention of selling him. However, there was no denial that Cesc wanted a move to the Nou Camp. Some people close to the situation suggested that Arsene asked Cesc to give him one more year at the Arsenal. Regardless, Arsenal’s public statements about the player proved truthful and accurate. Arsenal said Cesc would stay and Cesc stayed.

This summer has been entirely different. We began the summer with declarations from the manager that Cesc was staying and that the player was not for sale. Slowly, as the summer progressed, those statements changed. Now we know that the club will sell the player to Barcelona but only if the Catalans meet our valuation.

In the background, there has been speculation that the player is quietly on “strike.” He did not accompany the team to Asia. He did not play for the team in the Emirates Cup. And while the club initially tried to mollify supporters with claims of a continued hamstring problem, they have since acknowledged that he’s “unsettled.”

Whether the player is in fact on “strike” is irrelevant. It’s clear that the Cesc issue is directly effecting the team’s preparation. Cesc Fabregas is arguably the best player at Arsenal. You can’t possibly prepare for a new season, especially one so front-loaded with key fixtures, when you don’t know the status of your most influential player.

Moreover, we are now hearing claims that Arsenal’s ability to proceed with essential transfer business hinges, to some extent, on what happens with Cesc. Not only are the team unable to prepare with their best player, but they’re also unable to conduct the business necessary to improve the team.

The team have left this too late. Next week there are international fixtures. Most players will spend that week with their country rather than their club. By the time they return to London Colney, the match at St. James’ Park will be 48 hours away. So it’s safe to say we are down to the last five days of meaningful preseason preparation for Arsenal. And we still don’t know if our captain and best player will be with the team, or if a replacement will be bought should he leave.

At this point it almost doesn’t matter. If Cesc were to stay, it’s unlikely to expect much from him for the first few weeks. If Cesc is sold, and Arsenal were to buy a replacement, it’s hard to imagine that the new player could be ready in time. So we should simply expect neither to have Cesc at the start of the season, nor have any reinforcements at his position.

It’s a bad outcome to a bad situation. But the club have created their own fortune. If they had just been honest at the beginning of the summer, they could’ve taken control of the situation. Frankly, I’m not sure why they haven’t anyway. Arsenal could have come out and said:

Cesc will be sold to Barcelona if they meet our valuation of the player. We value Cesc at £40 million and will not entertain any bid below that price. We are prepared to hold Cesc Fabregas to his contract if we do not receive an offer at our asking price. If the necessary bid is not received by the start of our Asian Tour, then Cesc will be an Arsenal player for the upcoming season.

I might be over simplifying a complex situation but frankly I fail to see how. This transfer is down to one thing; price. They want the player, the player wants them. By hesitating in our approach to this transfer we’ve given Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas reason to believe that we can be bullied into accepting a lower bid. If I were Barcelona, that’s precisely how I would interpret Arsenal’s behavior. I wouldn’t pay what Arsenal are asking if I didn’t have to. Especially when Cesc isn’t even Barcelona’s primary transfer target.

Some people might argue that Cesc’s own behavior is what’s put us in such a difficult position. I don’t accept that. We could tell Cesc that he’s free to go if Barca meet our price and explain to him why the price is reasonable given other market valuations. If Cesc threatened to go on strike for the season, we call his bluff.

Everything Cesc has done in his Arsenal career has been geared towards achieving success for himself and his team while garnering the respect and admiration of the fans. Can anyone believe the player would sit out a season, right before the European Championships, in his mid 20s, because Barcelona wouldn’t pay what he’s worth? Would he trash his reputation, lose the money, give up a year of football, and possibly lose a spot in the Spain squad over this? Nothing about Cesc suggests that he would behave that way. I think he would accept that his “dream move” to Barca has to wait and do his best for Arsenal once again.

The fact that we are now in this confused situation with Cesc Fabregas has nothing to do with Barcelona or the player. It has to do with Arsenal showing a stunning lack of conviction or direction on an issue that they knew would be prominent again this summer.

If that was the only thing the club did wrong this summer, then you might say it’s not the end of the world. But there’s the Samir Nasri situation to consider as well. Nasri became a popular figure at the Emirates last season. While there’s no denying his spectacular start to the campaign, there’s also no avoiding the deterioration of his contribution over the last 5 months.

Nasri is still essentially unproven, but he wants to be the highest paid player at the club. Despite his obvious motives, he has dazzled some fans with spectacular bullshit about wanting to see ambition from Arsenal before he signs. I find it interesting that when Denilson claimed he was a winner and wanted to win trophies, most people dismissed that as lunacy. But when Nasri says it, while negotiating a contract, many people are quick to lap it up.

If you believe the reports, and there’s reason to believe them, Arsenal can get £22 million for Samir Nasri. Yet for some reason, Arsene Wenger has departed from his usual policy of fiscal responsibility and said that Nasri is not for sale. It’s hard to understand really. Nasri is far more replaceable than Cesc. We can get more money for him than he’s probably worth. We’re likely going to lose him for free next summer anyway. But Arsene has chosen this moment to show a callous disregard for finances. Why?

Wenger said earlier in the summer that you cannot sell Cesc and Nasri and claim that you are still an ambitious club. Perhaps he is right. But that depends entirely on what you do in connection with those sales. If you fleece City for £22 million and use it to buy Juan Mata and a dependable center back, then you will not only be seen as ambitious, but improved!

Wenger’s stance on Nasri has started to change recently, just as his stance on Cesc has changed. Wenger now says that Nasri will only stay if he shows clear signs of his commitment. Personally, I don’t care if he agrees to sign for Arsenal for half his current wages. He’s not a £22 million player in my opinion. He’s not capable of playing Cesc’s role in the center of the park. And wingers are something we have in abundance at the club. Selling him gives us the resources to properly strengthen.

But now that situation is shrouded in uncertainty. Nasri can’t play in the first leg of our Champions League playoff tie. Had we sold him early in the summer and spent that money already, we’d be a stronger side to start the season. Now there’s little chance he’ll be sold before the season begins, if he’s sold at all. He won’t help us start our qualifying campaign for the Champions League, but we won’t have a replacement for him in time to help us if he is sold. As far as I can tell, it’s a situation that’s been badly mismanaged and the ultimate decision on Nasri may eventually prove to be the wrong one.

And as bad as the Cesc and Nasri situations have been this summer, the handling of our defensive issues has probably been probably worse. We were told very clearly at the beginning of the summer that Arsenal would be active in the transfer market and that the defense would be strengthened. It was a decisive statement that the manager was aware of our deficiencies and intended to rectify them.

But actions speak louder than words. Wenger sold our established left-back and bought an untested, young right-back. Carl Jenkinson looks a bright young talent but right-back is the most settled position in our defense. Meanwhile, Gael Clichy’s departure means two untested left-backs will battle for that starting role. Gibbs is the player Wenger has identified as Clichy’s successor, but injury problems have consistently kept him from finishing matches, let alone playing for several months consecutively.

And none of those moves addressed the problem in the center of defense. Time has ticked away and Arsenal have yet to sign the central defender that we were assured was arriving. Early in the transfer window we heard that Samba and Cahill were likely. Now we hear that Jagielka is a target. But in each case, Arsenal did not see fit to buy the player. By most accounts, our bids were deemed insufficient in each instance.

Even as recently as last week, Ivan Gazidis has said that Arsenal were certain to make more moves in the transfer market, but the question of timing is again paramount. Arsenal play five times from August 14 to August 27. Is it reasonable to expect the same XI to play every one of those matches? Probably not. That means that an out-of-form Johan Djourou will probably have to play in a key fixture. Traore and even Squillaci could have to do the same. Which begs the question: how has the defense improved from last season?

Arsenal’s manager publicly acknowledged that the defense had to be strengthened. If we enter the season having sold our longest serving first-team defender and having bought a young back-up right-back, how can anyone expect a better defensive record? There’s no denying the importance of Thomas Vermaelen’s return from injury, but with so many fixtures so early in the season, Arsenal need strength in depth.

By waiting so long to buy a defender, Arsenal may also find that the market becomes less favorable. The perception right now is that we need a center-back. As a result, teams will want full-price to sell us one. But if we start the season by conceding a few bad goals, the prices won’t improve, they’ll worsen. If we are seen as desperate, then players like Cahill and Jagielka will suddenly become even more overpriced than we seem to think they are already.

We have plenty of evidence that Arsenal are not always the best when playing games of brinkmanship with transfers. We narrowly missed out on Xavi Alonso, and had to wait until January to complete what should have been the summer signing of Andrei Arshavin’s. Often when we’ve waited until too late to secure a target, we’ve wound up with consolation prizes like Silvestre and Squillaci. Then we have the case of last summer’s pursuit of a goal-keeper.

Last summer Arsene privately identified goal-keeper as a position that needed to be addressed. We had targets. We pursued them. We balked at the prices. Right until the very very end of the summer transfer window, Arsene coyly suggested that the business would get done. But it didn’t. We started the season with Manuel Almunia as our number one when there was no excuse in the world for that happening. Without arguing about whether it turned out for the best due to Szczesny’s rise to prominence, Arsenal’s transfer tactic’s last summer were an abysmal failure. If you identify an problem area and don’t address it, you’ve failed. Pretty simple conclusion.

Right now we’re facing the same fate. Defense was identified as a problem after last season. We’ve failed to address it, and we will now struggle to have addressed it before the season starts. Is there any possible excuse for going into the 2011-2012 season with a weaker defense than the one we had last campaign?

You could argue that we have to respect our financial realities. We are not a club that can afford to just pay whatever price we’re quoted. And that’s absolutely correct. But it’s not an exculpatory argument in this case. Arsene can’t say we are able to lose Nasri for free next summer, then suggest we are not able to pay the asking price for a top quality center back. If we had conducted our Cesc business or Nasri business is a timely fashion, then we’d be well positioned to pay what’s required to secure the services of someone like Gary Cahill.

The signing of Gervinho shows that Arsene is still a top evaluator of talent. He finds gems at prices that fit the Arsenal financial model. And for that reason, he often balks at buying players that he perceives as being overpriced. But surely Arsene knows that £22 million for Samir Nasri is more than he’s worth. If you can sell a player for an inflated price, why can’t you then pay a little extra to improve an area of the squad that desperately needs it?

And if money is really the issue, then why haven’t the outgoing players moved already? We knew that Arsenal had to make some signings this summer, but it was almost equally clear that some players had to be sold. Proceeds from those sales could’ve been used to fund signings regardless of how Cesc and Nasri’s situations are resolved.

It’s easy to argue that we’ve tried to move out certain players but can’t find willing buyers. Maybe that is the case. Of course that raises the issue of their wages, but I don’t want to broach that topic.

Whether we’ve done all we can to move players like Bendtner, Eboue and Almunia remains to be seen. But if we’re sitting around waiting for the dream offer for these players while simultaneously haggling for the lowest possible price for our targets, you can see the hypocrisy. Ultimately that’s a recipe for being stuck with unwanted players and failing to acquire new ones.

With all the broken promises, equivocation and indecision this summer, it’s no wonder supporters are antsy. I fully believe the booing at the Emirates Cup was more an expression of frustration with Arsenal’s summer business than with the team’s performance on the pitch. (Not that I believe is was the proper expression of that frustration, but that’s another topic.) It’s hard to argue that the nervousness among the supporters isn’t mostly justified. And when a club’s supporters are nervous and on edge, the club needs to find ways to ease the tension. Cue Peter Hill Wood.

When the Chairman of Arsenal FC speaks to the media, it should only be to praise the supporters for their commitment, and thank them for their patronage. That’s what you do when you’re in the customer satisfaction business. And when you know that your club is going through a challenging, transitional period, it’s even more incumbent upon the Chairman to show some circumspection in his public comments.

So it’s hard to defend Mr. Hill-Wood for his latest outburst in the Star. He criticizes the fans as essentially some impatient mob that doesn’t understand the business of football. Even if he’s right, he is completely out of line saying such things. In any other business, he’d be in peril of losing his job.

Right now fans are frustrated that Arsenal’s new owner, Stan Kroenke, has remained relatively silent regarding his plans for the club. The only men doing the talking are Ivan Gazidis and Peter Hill-Wood. Since Kroenke remains silent, fans will inevitably assume that Mr. Hill-Wood’s words represent the sentiment of the club’s leadership. That only makes his comments more stinging.

Mr. Hill-Wood is a millionaire who attends Arsenal matches for free alongside fans who pay the most money in England for their ticket and are still coping with a new 6% increase. Those fans were treated to a disgraceful capitulation by their team at the end of last term and promised changes this summer, most of which haven’t come. And to add insult to injury, those fans are experiencing the range of emotions that come with losing our captain and best player to the team that knocked Arsenal out of European competition the last 2 seasons after a protracted tapping-up campaign.

All Peter Hill-Wood has done is help entrench a sense of disillusionment among a major segment of the support. He’s furthering an “us against them” mentality between the supporters and club’s leadership. It’s the last thing the club needs right now. More than anything the players need Emirates Stadium to be fortress that intimidates the opposition. But the Chairman’s comments hardly make fans want to sing their hearts out. Instead he’s helping foment more of the very unrest he so clearly despises.

In fact, Mr. Hill-Wood indirectly slighted his own players. Jack Wilshere is the latest Arsenal player to come forward and suggest we need signings. He joins the likes of Ramsey, van Persie and Szczesny is making that observation. Other players have gone farther, questioning the ambition of the club. Players like Denilson, Nasri and Clichy have all made statements to that effect. I’m not saying I agree with them, because I don’t. I still believe we are an ambitious club. But when the players make these kinds of comments, it’s hard to blame the fans for following suit. And it’s totally unacceptable for the Chairman to respond by dismissing all of it as aberrant behavior.

This isn’t an issue of where Arsenal will finish in the upcoming season. We all live in hope. Even if we lost Cesc and Nasri and failed to make another signing, I’d get right behind the players wearing an Arsenal shirt, and right behind Arsene Wenger, and I’m sure they’d put up one hell of a fight for silverware. That’s not the point.

Arsenal were confronted with a summer that presented very clear challenges and required very decisive action. But the club failed to act decisively. While we accept that it is not our right as fans to know everything the club are doing behind the scenes, they are in the business of pleasing fans. After all, that’s what a professional football team is supposed to do. It’s supposed to please its customers.

Arsenal can please the fans through positive results on the pitch. But Arsenal can also endear itself to fans by taking decisive action to rectify acknowledged problem areas. Ivan Gazidis obviously understands that. Why else would he appear on camera and say that Arsenal understand where the weaknesses have been, that there are significant resources to invest, and that we will definitely still be active in this transfer window? He didn’t make that statement for the benefit of our bargaining position with other clubs. He said it to calm the fans. He said it to reassure us. But those statements were made more than two weeks ago already. And still no sign of “activity.”

Having said all of this, there’s still a positive viewpoint. Cesc could stay. Nasri could stay. We could add a defender or two. Maybe even a striker will arrive. We could even have all of that resolved this week. It seems unlikely, but it’s not impossible. And if that happened, some people would be inclined to say we had a fantastic summer. I might even have been one of those people. After all, we’d have everything we wanted.

But upon further reflection, I just can’t fully agree with that anymore. We will start the season unsettled. It’s a foregone conclusion now. Because even if all of the aforementioned miracles occur, it’s too late. We can’t get everyone settled and ready before NUFC. Especially when few players will be with the club next week.

We’re 48 hours from Member’s Day and there are rumors that a version of the team photo will be taken with and without Cesc to allow for either eventuality. Who knows if that’s true. But having that kind of uncertainty this close to the season is obviously not in anyone’s best interest.

A new season should come with excitement and hope. Right now, there’s more trepidation and animosity. The fans are fighting amongst themselves over these very issues, and that’s sad to see. It’s hard to mentally prepare for this season when the most pressing questions from last season are still hanging over us. Only when those questions are answered, will most fans feel ready to start thinking about what transpires on the pitch.

But I don’t want to end this stern examination on a sour note. As I said earlier, I live in hope. When the curtain rises on the 2011-2012 season, I will be ready to support every player wearing the famed blue and light blue of Arsenal. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. The joke comes courtesy of the very funny @feverpitch on twitter.)

I recently received my new Jack Wilshere shirt. (Yes, the new away shirt. I’m a sucker for marketing.) And as I slipped it on, I noticed that familiar motto behind the crest as always. “Victoria Concordia Crescit.”

Ultimately it’s up to the management at Arsenal to conduct the club’s business. And it’s up to us as fans, to support our players in what they do on the pitch.  A long time ago Arsenal adopted that latin motto meaning “Victory Through Harmony.” Never has it seemed so appropriate as it does now. It’s time to stop worrying about the business of football and leave that to the business people at Arsenal. It’s time for us to come together as supporters and see a common ground. Maybe the easiest way to do that is to remember the common enemy. They’re the ones wearing the other shirt.

Meaningful football will soon be upon us and I for one am excited to support The Arsenal once again. As always.

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About Yankee Gunner

Loyal Arsenal Supporter, Obscure Television Personality
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96 Responses to The Summer Of Our Discontent

  1. Datta says:

    Brilliant read!

  2. John says:

    Brilliant blog!

  3. MrK says:

    Totally inspiring. Totally.

  4. Gary says:

    Your english dna influenced this piece? Or financial considerations?

  5. Nishaad Rao says:

    Wow that was good! summed up the entire situation perfectly. we had to hit the ground running this season, but i see very little chance of that happening. of course, i will judge the summer only when the transfer window closes, but it seems unlikely with every passing day that it will be a good one. already we have stalled too much – both on cesc and nasri. nasri clearly isnt worth 550k a match (40 matches for 22m), and cesc can go at the right price – i dont know why he doesnt see that barca are not at all serious about getting him, or at least sandro rosell isnt. poor management from the club, and the PHW comments were the cherry on the top.
    really frustrating, especially after being promised so much! still, if we get mata, if we get a CB, maybe another player, i think it might be a great summer. cant really see it happen, but hey, i would love to be surprised (as long as it isnt silvestre, of course).

  6. A quite brilliant piece of blogging. A very honest, and warts & all look at the failing thus far of the club & it’s `leaders`

    I use that term `leaders` as Arsenal are often berated for lack of leadership on the pitch. For me, Arsenal seem to lack leadership from the top (Stan) down. With only the mentally besieged Wenger (of whom, by the way I am a supporter…. but slipping)

    All we seem to be left with as a fan is rumour & supposition. And of course the bickering, black or white only acceptable viewpoint. The very reason I am on a twitter break in fact. Tired of the bullshit!

    Your blog is one of 6 I bother to read. I am glad I do, as this post sums up wonderfully the situation for the fans/club/media.

    Hats off sir. Hats off.

    Daryl

  7. BigDaveMK says:

    As an Arsenal fan of 45 years I have never been as frustrated with the club as now, apparent inaction & delayed action will cost the team more than just points.

    Whatever the heart says is the likely league position at the end of the season, the head knows better. Europe is to far to travel next year!

  8. This is the best Arsenal blog post I have ever read.

    Thank you.

  9. John says:

    “Kudos”

  10. Paul Ready says:

    Best article I’ve read all summer.
    You speak as we all feel but with a sense of calm.
    Keep up the good work buddy.

    Paul

  11. Well done,
    Shamed to admit it, as many times as I have conversed with you on twitter I have never read your blog, but as time is now on my side and I will read more often now.
    A great read and many valid points.

    Ray

  12. onimsi says:

    Great great great. Wonderfully said.

  13. LimparAssist says:

    Really well-written piece. Enjoyed reading. Seems to have been published ten days too early though – calm yourself!

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you say you might be over-simplifying a complex situation.

  14. A2d says:

    Great analysis, but i am afraid i have lost faith in Wenger – sad to say this. We have seen a progressive decline from the past few seasons. We can’t even hold him to his word anymore. Statements made are being reversed ever more regularly now with the cases of Cesc and Nasri like you pointed out. All the club tries to do now like the manager is damage limitation and “spin”. What every football from top to bottom lives for is hope, at Arsenal it seems ever so distant.

  15. PeterShadda says:

    Bravo Sir.

  16. Great read…

    I think patience is the answer to this summer of Discontent… But we’ve been patience for bloody 6 years now!..

    We need to forward, first, we need to sell cesc and replace him.

  17. JimmyRimmer says:

    Fantastic Read. Very measured and consice.

  18. Hari R says:

    Great post! I’ll be making my presence felt at our first home game. Come on you Gunners!!!

  19. gary johnson says:

    Brilliant, eloquent and fair summary of everything that has gone on since the last game.
    It is probably also a good insight as to how the vast majority of Arsenal fans feel. At least this one anyway.

  20. I totally agree with George Blazendy. Dude, you’re the man! 🙂 Excellent piece of writing.

    Cheers from Poland!

  21. Baaaaa says:

    “That, sums it all up!”

  22. amin_89 says:

    Outstanding

  23. Daniel says:

    yhats how i wouldve said it and ive commented ina lot of the gunnung hawk posts etc.How can i get to see ur new stuff. Do i follow you on twitter??how?

  24. Bariyu says:

    Excellent post. Captures my thoughts.

  25. hank says:

    i find your ideas intruiging and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  26. I enjoyed reading that.

  27. caribbeanGunner says:

    This is simply a beautifully structured article. I can’t say much more than congratulations on the best read I’ve had all summer long!

  28. NickW says:

    I agree with everything you said about the chairman, the frustration of the fans and the hypocrisy regarding the stance over Nasri. However while I think we should support the team on the pitch I think we should be able to boo the board and the manager if it turns out that they do nothing to address the obvious weaknesses of the team. It is not acceptable to keep fleecing the fans and then put nothing back into team. We moved to a new stadium so as to compete with Man U and Chelsea but so far our net spend on new players is less than than it was when we were at Highbury. You cannot keep telling the fans there is money to spend and then not spend any especially when the performances on the pitch are getting steadily worse. The way the team defend is embarrassing at times and needs to be addressed not ignored. Not to do so is a dereliction of duty by the board and the manager.;

  29. Pablo says:

    Great job!

  30. Sunny says:

    Take a bow, well written piece.

  31. thor says:

    Brilliant article..

  32. james says:

    o.k., everyone can stop writing now. Everything which needed to be said is above. Brilliant, perfect bloggery. A great read, thanks.

  33. Rashel says:

    You just hit the nail on its head so.

    Well done. Great work.

    Peace and love

  34. Andrew Ross says:

    Stunning and spot on piece of writing!

  35. Vinay says:

    Absolutely brilliant, wish people who really matter as well read this to understand how painful this has been so far. The belief will always be there but there must be some substance to have hope as well right. We play 5 games in august and we still dont know the starting 11, hell we dont even know who will be an arsenal player or not.

  36. Nij says:

    good read. well done!

  37. sam says:

    best arsenal blog i’ve read in ages. brilliant and inspiring.

  38. Clay says:

    impressive!!

  39. Poe Roeder says:

    Some bloke linked this piece….now, u have a new permanent reader.

  40. Gunnerwinsumday says:

    Bloody brilliant

  41. Peter Ruck says:

    Excellent blog which I wish every Arsenal director, member of the management team and the players could read.

    Just one point, I know the club pleads poverty, the reality is they are very wealthy, take a look at the last annual report and especially the cash situation, I promise you’ll be amazed.

  42. JD Gooner says:

    Brilliant!

  43. HD says:

    Very well summed up sir. If there were more balanced pieces like this from blog sites, there’d be a lot less in-fighting. I think the fans are all desperate to look for the positives, the young players coming through etc., but the Cesc and Nasri clouds hanging over us are causing a lot of misery. Personally, if both were sold and still no-one came in, I’d feel happier than I do knowing that I’m going to be watching their two miserable mugs for months to come.

  44. Escobar says:

    If Only the leaders of Arsenal read blog posts. Brilliant write. Everyone associated with Arsenal seem to write well but all will fall on deaf ears. Its going to be another doomed season. Then it will be RVP’s turn to complain next season.

  45. Prateek Gupta says:

    Awesome read! Justifies all the events perfectly!

  46. Toon Day says:

    Great post…

  47. Michael Bell says:

    YankeeGunner spot on

  48. Abdi the kernal Ali says:

    Brilliantly insightful, good job

  49. Wavey says:

    Picked up the link from ACLF. A good read and a fair summing up. All will become clearer one way or the other in 10 days.

  50. scully says:

    Wow, now that’s a brilliant read!

  51. grimbogooner says:

    Well said, well written, well read: Well Done mate…

  52. Caribkid says:

    Extremely well written piece my friend. The very same thoughts have pervaded my mind but I could put it in writing as eloquently as you have.

    Ever thought about submitting this piece to one of the newspapers? might be a good idea.

    Send this to Kroenke and the club also.

  53. Pingback: How Late is Too Late in the Transfer Window? - The Offside - Arsenal blog

  54. Homey says:

    Outstanding blog. I’ve been writing the same thoughts in my blog recently, without knowing we were writing similar things. The only difference is that you’ve stated it much better than I could have.

  55. Didi says:

    this is my first time on here, but i really had to applaud this piece well done mate, cant say anything more

  56. seunwill says:

    briliant comments! The gunner situation shrewdly analysed well done!

  57. Confidentgoner says:

    Every paragraph was breathtaking. You, sir, write so well. The analysis is perfect, but for me the sword is raised, ready to descend on Arsene and his ‘directors’. It is criminal to shaft the very fans that pay your bills.

  58. markthg says:

    Excellent write up, best blog I’ve read in a long time.

  59. JBH says:

    Sorry you are well off the mark. Nice try but very simplistic.
    Looking at your questions.

    1. Cesc. AW is playing a clever game. Lets look at the facts. Barca hate Arsenal, they are annoyed that they lost Cesc in the first place and now have lost Toral and Bellini. Arsenal refused to play ball with Cesc last summer and to top it off Arsenal are a perennial opponent in the CL (and beat them this past season). Its not as much hate as say with RM, but they still hate Arsenal. Anyway the good news is that AW is using that hate to Arsenal’s advantage. Second key fact is that Cesc wants to go.
    AW made it clear that he will fight to keep Cesc, but he is up against Barca and Cesc (and a lot of stupid Arsenal fans it seems). Rather than push for an early resolution AW is delaying a potential deal for as long as possible (in response to the question AW said “the deadline is 31 Aug”). The change this year is that he is making all the moves that indicate he is pandering to the demands of Barca when in fact he is not. So he tells Cesc to not go on the Asia tour or to Cologne indicating willingness to do the deal and most importantly indicating to Cesc that he is serious about listening to Barca’s offer. Barca (and this is where the hate comes in) mistakenly think that Arsenal are serious about selling Cesc and stick to their low ball offer, and make noises about being patient until 31 Aug (figuring that AW will relent late in the window). This also causes the most disruption to Arsenal as they lose their captain too late to do anything meaningful in the tsf window. But the longer it goes on the more it is obvious to Cesc that he is not that highly valued by Barca, while this is not a key point in Cesc’s mind – Arsenal will use it. Arsenal are using AW and PHW comments in the media cleverly against Barca as well. PHW a couple of weeks ago said “I suppose if we get a very high offer we will listen to it”. Arsenal have not put a figure on Cesc’s head and the media is only guessing what they will accept. We’ve seen Euro 35m, 40m and 45m and £35, £40m and £45m mentioned in the media (and they are all guesses). So Arsenal are in a strong position to reject whatever Barca offer up to the final deadline date. Making cosy comments in the media about Cesc being “unsettled” and “suppose we listen to an offer” are for Barca’s benefit and encourage them to bid, but bid low. The more Barca put stupid comments out about being short of funds, limits, and being patient the more likely they will fail. If they were smart they would ensure they complete a deal early rather than late. But with their hatred for Arsenal and irrational desire to get a “cheap” deal, getting one over Arsenal is part of their plan.
    Re the key question of keeping Cesc happy with Arsenal. AW is giving Cesc every opportunity by giving him an extended summer break, leaving him out of the tours, bringing him to fitness slowly (he needs some rehabilitation in any event), and missing some pre season games (which he is not needed for). When the time comes late in the window (maybe even on the 31st) Arsene can quite clearly say he has done all he can to give Barca the opportunity to buy him. So if they stick with low bids which Arsenal are unhappy with then Arsenal have a meaningful strategy to keep him and keep him happy.

    2. Nasri. Will be sold either very late in the window or in January if he refuses to sign a contract extension. Arsenal will not risk another Flamini, especially with RvP and Walcott now with 2 yrs left on their contracts. There is no hurry to selling him now as AW will have more time to get a replacement (and Gervinho or Ryo may be the replacement). Mata is late in his contract and Valencia very, very, heavily in debt.

    3. Central defender most likely to come in the last week of the window. Cahill has 1 yr on his deal and the later the better to get the best price. There are other options also available. Why hurry when you have 4 CD now?

    4. Bendtner, Eboue and Almunia are all for sale and it is very likely that 2 or 3 of them will be sold before the end of the window. Again most like to pick up bargains late in the window. But it is not always easy to sell a player.

    5. The new away kit launch was last Thursday. Gervinho has no number and has not been assigned a number yet. No 9 is available and has NOT BEEN assigned to Gervinho when it easily could have been. For whom is the no 9 shirt being held for?

    • Thanks for the comments. I see your argument regarding cesc, but I’m still not sure that the tactics you indicate are worth the impact it’s having on our preparation and transfer business.

      Regarding Nasri, Phillipe Auclaire reports that Wenger has already decided to keep Nasri and lose him for free next summer. Can’t be sure that’s true. But worrying.

      Appreciate the feedback and that you took the time to read it. Thanks!

    • Pasha Koptev says:

      That’s what I call logical thinking, well done mate! Agree with everything, except that even though Barcelona do whine about their “kidnapped” youngsters which shows their level of hate towards Arsenal, but they themselves kind of stole 5 great players from Arsenal (Petit, Overmars, Van Bronckhorst, Henry & Hleb). Did we care? Not a bit. The case here is that Barcelona are just too full of themselves and want everything their way. They are a spoiled, arrogant and cocky football team both on and off the field. Just look at their diving against Real and the way they played against Arsenal in the CL (grabbing players by their throats, surrounding the referee). They just want to get everything their way and they know that FIFA stands behind them, that is why they keep playing these media games and even get their interviews published on FIFA’s official website. Even the fact that they have 400 million worth of debt doesn’t mean anything to them. They think they will be up there forever because they are “more than a club”. I am not even going to start with their supporters, I know that Arsenal have some deluded fans among its following, but most of Barcelona fans are arrogant glory hunters who just spray you with shit every time you just try to say something positive about Arsenal (believe me I cam across too many of them). I once spoke to a Spanish colleague of mine who is a Barca fan, he was really happy that Barca beat Real in the CL. When I asked him whether it was any kind of professional for Alves to playact in that way then come back after 60 seconds, he simply replied: “Well that’s totally fair, how else could Barca players show the referee that Real are playing too rough”. I was gobsmacked, welcome to the theater with some elements of football in it I thought. Well anyway, got carried away, sorry. Just don’t think that I am a Barcelona hater, I just hate the arrogance behind this team. Wenger is a clever man and I know he’ll play his game till the end and I really hope that come August 31st Barcelona are going to be kicked in the teeth for the second summer in the row!

      P.S. read this and cheer up people: http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/opinion/columnists/annie-eaves/Annie-Eaves-Barcelona-DNA-Alexis-Sanchez-Cesc-Fabregas-Sergio-Busquets-Xavi-article776502.html 🙂

  60. Awesome Blog Mate !

    By far the best read of this irritating and utterly unsatisfying period !

  61. This is a reasonable, comprehensive analysis of the situation. I wonder if the inordinate focus on the business side is something the club’s leadership has brought upon itself and with it supporters’ growing discontent. Admittedly, I do not follow other clubs’ communications as closely as I do the Arsenal’s, but I have a hard time thinking any other club makes as large a point about its financial model and results as does the Arsenal. The transparency is laudable. It’s also a result of the role of the AST. But for supporters transparency and financial stability are means to an end–success on the pitch. Whereas I get the impression that the club’s leadership views transparency and financial stability as ends in themselves.

  62. Ed says:

    Best article I’ve read this summer. And I’ve read them all!

  63. Robert Coleridge says:

    SUPERB….

  64. Tim says:

    Thanks so much. Glad to see somone is as frustrated as I am, but still has hope (which I sadly do not). Thanks from Maryland

  65. AfroArsenalista says:

    After all the hype on twitter, combined with my insomnia, I decided to read your blog. Everyone is right, it is a thoughtful, well-written piece. I totally agree with everything you said. As a female arsenal fan in joburg, surrouded by manyoo and liverpool fans, talk about the club I love sinking makes me very emotional. I am terrified we will let cesc leave, keep an unmotivated nasri, and fail to strengthen our defense. Then I’ll be forced to spend another season watching football on my own cause I can’t stand the taunts from opposition fans, and because I can’t control my continuous mood swings during matches! I be alternately thrilled by beautiful attacking play and enraged by bungled defence…both of which have the potential to bring me to tears. Then halfway through the season I’ll threaten to stop watching altogether, empty threats of course because at the end of the day, I love the club with such an all-consuming unconditional passion that missing even one minute of Arsenal football is unthinkable! Then……then when we finally lift a trophy, I’ll dance and cry and sing in my lounge in Johannesburg just as if I was in north London with 59 999 other like minded people celebrating with a joy that can’t be described. ………………………… That’s what I hope anyway! (the sometimes gloomy, sometimes girly/fairytale view of things)

  66. Jimmer says:

    “Cesc will be sold to Barcelona if they meet our valuation of the player. We value Cesc at £40 million and will not entertain any bid below that price. We are prepared to hold Cesc Fabregas to his contract if we do not receive an offer at our asking price. If the necessary bid is not received by the start of our Asian Tour, then Cesc will be an Arsenal player for the upcoming season.”

    How do we know that they haven’t said something similar in private to Barcelona? I’ve never understood the why football fans feel it necessary to conduct business in public. No other sport does this. It is bad business.

  67. Jimmer says:

    “The fact that we are now in this confused situation with Cesc Fabregas has nothing to do with Barcelona or the player. It has to do with Arsenal showing a stunning lack of conviction or direction on an issue that they knew would be prominent again this summer.”

    Sorry to double post here, and I’m certainly nitpicking, but, again, why exactly do you think Wenger/Arsenal have a stunning lack of conviction or lack direction on the fabregas issue? Just because AW is not sitting down and literally spelling out his plans regarding the future of his best player and the inner workings of negotiations–during said negotiations–to the press does not mean Wenger & Arsenal have no direction or conviction on this issue. The supporters may be confused or frustrated because business is not being done in what they deem a timely manner, but that certainly does not mean that Arsenal or Wenger are in anyway confused or are lacking conviction. I’m fairly certain they have a better understanding of the future of the club than any of us and they most definitely have a plan (and a plan B, C, D, etc.) Again, it’s bad business to let the public know what your plans are WHILE you’re negotiating a transfer with Millions of pounds on the line.

    Anyway, really a fun read.

    • Understand your point. That’s why I said as fans we’re not entitled to know everything. But even now there are rumors that the team photo could be cancelled. (probably/hopefully not true.) the statements we’ve been given on cesc have often been conflicting. And having him apart from the squad for Preseason can’t be good if he’s staying.

      Sent from my iPhone

  68. femi says:

    Amazing piece of writing, brilliantly constructed. U were spot on and ur message of hope in spite of all d drama is excellent stuff. It may not matter to d Emirates Board and it doesn’t anyway but I have OFFICIALLY given up on watching live games. I’m 33: young, fit and healthy but our defending has almost made my heart stop working too many times!! Its just not worth dying for. Now my passions have widened and I’ve even taken up swimming just to sustain d relaxed heart I’ve always had! I L♥√ع d club and will ALWAYS do but reasonably, Arsenal or any thing in general that is deficient to one’s health is just not worth holding onto. It can best be llikened to doing drugs!! I don’t do drugs by d way but that’s what my Arsenal addiction felt like and I’ve decided to save my heart. Many congratulations on d excellent writing again. Enough said from me.

  69. Terry says:

    Fantastic analysis on nearly all counts. The one area I would slightly disagree is over Cesc. I think we are playing it right. Wenger has clearly said publicly and I assume directly to Cesc that he wants to keep him, he’s our captain and best player. His team mates all want him to stay too by the things I have read. At the same time he acknowledges his aspirations to return to his boyhood club. But from what I gather Arsenal have told Barca what they think his value is and Barca have not stumped up the cash, and that is making Cesc unsettled because he must be asking himself, well how badly do they want him. The Nasri saga on the other hand is a complete f#ck up.

    • I do think the club want to keep cesc and want to get their £ if he’s sold. But it needed to be sorted out sooner if possible. His absence hurts the team’s preparation. And if he’s sold, his replacement won’t arrive in time for season to start

      Sent from my iPhone

  70. Mario says:

    Brilliant read…best article I have read all summer and sums our current situation up perfectly. I couldn’t have put it better myself, it is also nice to read a true honest blog

  71. Mike Perry says:

    Brilliant ! Speaks for 95% of fans. I would be even more critical of the entire Arsenal Board. They have no shares to speak of, assume that they are no more technical football experts than the rest of us fans, so what are they doing on the Board, what are they contributing ? They seem to be just meaningless figure heads who have left Arsene and Ivan Gazidis running the Club, with the result that Arsenal seem incapable of signing any player without the most protracted negotiations and haggling and this also seems to apply on shipping players out. Buy low, sell high and do nothing !
    That seems to be the policy this summer.

  72. Shai says:

    Fantastic post sir, youve wrapped up my summer frustrations in a nutshell.
    A quite brilliant read. Well done indeed

  73. george webster says:

    An excellent analysis and sums up the frustrations of gooners everywhere. The problem is that being outsiders we cannot be sure what the situation really is in regards to Cesc or Nasri. Clearly Barca want Cesc as back up to Xavi & Iniesta and have Thiago in the wings, so can they really afford a big fee for a squad player? They are also having to keep Cesc on side hence all the noise from Camp Nou so AW may well be correct in playing the long game, at this moment in time I think Cesc will stay unless we become willing to finance the deal for them over a number of years or alternatively they let us have Thiago in part payment. Will IG or silent Stan countenance this, I don’t think so. As for Nasri I would sell him now but I think AW is waiting on the possible work permit for Ryo, if successful then I think Nasri is on his bike, Mata would be nice and I think that deal may still happen, but again dependant on the WP issue. Also to be considered is the 25 man squad rule, this causes complications as we have a number of young players who now need to be part of that squad, whereas as previously they were under 21. I still think there are reasons to be hopeful.

  74. nigerian gunner says:

    God bless you yankeegunner….this piece is brilliant, outstanding and on point..thank you, thank you, thank you.

  75. AKASH DEEP says:

    brilliant article but have to agree with jbh on the cesc stance that arsenal have taken ……its all about waiting

  76. Camden_Monkey says:

    Excellent piece of writing!!! ……. You well and truly managed to nail each issue squarely on the head… A great read read and I thoroughly enjoyed

  77. C4 says:

    Great article with many valid points, although I’m inclined to agree with JBH more than the article. I think that they’re handling the Cesc situation as well they can. Looking at Cesc’s stats, there isn’t a ready made replacement for him anywhere except maybe in Barcelona. So even with Man Shitty money, there’s no replacing Cesc. He’s the most creative midfielder in the world. Barcelona are lucky we’re only asking for 40 mil, as well as giving them exclusive rights to buy him. We could have also acted like disrespectful assholes (much like THEY’RE doing) and sold him to Real Mad or Man Shitty for 60 mil. After all he’s the best available of his kind in the world, and Barcelona’s rivals seem to have picked up on this, and they value him more than his dream club does.
    Overall, I think we’ve handled it well. Let’s keep him until Wilshere and Ramsey turn into the monsters we know they’re Gunner become, then we sell him to Barca. If they still want him. Because Alcantara might just have made that no. 4 Jersey his own by then.

  78. Anders says:

    Brilliant, sums up what all Arsenal fans are thinking. Keep up the good work, hopefulle the situation will be resolved before the start of the season.

  79. its hard to believe we are being run by a professional outfit all this “last” minute stuff why do aw ig and finally phw come out with such rubbish however i agree that a work permit for miyachi might change things A ll the time we near the start of the season with as you say most of our problems unresolved

  80. desigunner says:

    Well articulated piece that sums up the frustration of fans but has some very fundamental flaws. JBH already pointed out some of them.

    And as Jimmer mentioned in the comments, why do you think making a public stand on Cesc would have made any difference at all? What if Arsenal have already made the stand in private? You acknowledge that fans don’t know everything but carry on with your criticism without a foundation. That just leads to further illogical points.

    Suppose Arsenal made that statement that you’ve mentioned. What if Barcelona don’t match that price? How do we call Fabregas’ bluff? And what does ‘calling his bluff’ even mean? Do we put him in the reserves? How does that help? We still don’t get the money and our best player is completely pissed off. Can you deny that possibility would arise if your approach is followed? Should you not think it through a bit more?

    Next we come to Nasri. Based on what you’ve said it seems you don’t rate him as a 22M player. Mancini and Wenger seem to rate him at that value or higher. Ferguson is also interested based on reports. So should we take your opinion on whether he should be sold because we are getting a high value for him?

    Funnily enough you think by selling Nasri for 22M we can buy Mata and a CB. “If you fleece City for £22 million and use it to buy Juan Mata and a dependable center back, then you will not only be seen as ambitious, but improved” – really? When did you last check their prices? And we are yet to question the assumption that Mata will actually adapt to the Premier League. Remember Reyes?

    And who are the dependable centre backs? Jagielka, Cahill, Samba, etc? Hasn’t Squillaci won more titles than those three? Did those teams conceded fewer goals than Arsenal or more? What makes them proven and dependable?

    Also interesting to see that there is no mention of Frimpong or Bartley. Nor of the tactical changes being attempted. You think buying players is the only way to improve the defence? What makes you assume nothing has been done or changed since May?

    I can go on and on but there are too many assumptions in this post and it would take a lot of typing to point that out. I can see why it is popular. It reflects the frustrations of most fans and there are some valid points in there. But you’ve attempted to take on too many complicated topics and not done justice to any. Take them one by one and think them through, you might change your opinion on some.

    • Thanks for your comments. I strongly Disagree with you on cesc. You “call his bluff” by putting him in the side. Do You believe cesc Would refuse to play? I don’t. My point about nasri wasn’t based on my valuation of him. That was editorial. But if Wenger does value him as a 22 million player or more then it’s even more difficult to understand why he’d be willing to lose him for free. You’re correct that no signing is a guarantee. But does that mean you don’t make them? If your suggestion is that Wenger couldn’t buy a CB who would do better than squillaci then we have bigger problems. Wenger said we need to strengthen the defense. So it’s up to him to do it. And I only bring up Mata because he’s an Arsenal target. I don’t pick the targets. I appreciate your comments but I think we just disagree here

      Sent from my iPhone

  81. Elfa says:

    A good article, underlining our problems a little too well. I think that my main problem with the standstill stems from the fact that Arsenal broke my heart last season, and not just once, over and over again. I had this feeling, really believed that it was going to be our year. In may I went to the Emirates for the screening of Fever Pitch and I actually cried when Michael Thomas scored THAT goal. Now was the time, and we missed it. I never expected much from the transfer window, we never buy a whole group of players but I was hoping for a really strong and commanding central defender and now I feel like time is running out.
    I also think the players look a bit as disheartened on the pitch as they did towards the end of last season. Even if those aren’t important matches and there surely have been some spells of brilliance, the old problems are way too obviously still there.
    As fans though we have to remember those words on our crest, and give them meaning. All to often I think Arsenal fans tend to be overly critical of the team and certain players – we’ve got to get behind those who are playing for us and encourage them to do great things.

  82. C4 says:

    I should have given you credit for rallying the fans to get behind the team and support them, I think it could make a massive difference. The booing, and constant bashing of the players in the media is not helping 1 bit. How anyone could believe this will have a positive effect on the club is beyond me. It won’t force them to spend, it will only make “world class” players want to leave.
    Let’s get behind the team. It’s pathetic that we boo them, while other teams’ fans don’t do this, despite having MANY, MANY more reasons for it than we do.
    SUPPORT Arsenal, make the right kind of noise for them.

  83. Optimist says:

    Yes a very good artice and some excellent comments, particularly about the Cesc situation. It’s a very difficullt situation in all sorts of ways- Barcelona are playing a disgusting game – which one would like to have thought was unworthy of them but seems very in keeping with their performance against Arsenal at the Nou Camp.

    They are putting Cesc under all kinds of pressure, emotional, nationalistic, personal, and are at the same time are somewhere trying to get their revenge on him. IF they wanted to bring him home they could pay the (incredibly reasonable) 40 million pounds Arsenal are supposed to want – why don’t they want to? They want to bring him home and humiliate him for leaving. I think that’s why it’s very important for Wenger not to humiliate him, to be patient and let him realise that going home to people who treat you like that may not be such a great thing.

    The report in L’Equipe today says that Nasri is more likely to leave said one factor was his lack of effort against Boca. I think Wenger is having to design his team on the fly- to prove who will be in and out -what happens with Ryo will make a huge difference here. I alos think the defence is undervalued, Vermaelen and Koscielney are I think a great pair of centre backs and a fit Djourou can be a more than adequate substitute, Like you I think that a defensive midfileld is the biggest problem and maybe another striker.

    But we start the season with a fit Van persie and Ramsey, a Wikshere a year older with a great firts season under his belt, a clear first choice keeper who oozes confidence, some young players buzzing with enthusiasm and talent. And the Nasri/Fabregas issues will be sorted. There’s much to be optimistic about.

  84. Montlenyane Maromba says:

    what a blog..so i have a reliable source,no more caughtoffsute nd arsnal blog…yankeegunnerblog is my new destination..,dankie for an honest nd simplified piece!!

  85. Mike Perry says:

    Very good article

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