Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No New Signing After All

Morning all. While for most of the summer I have been so supportive of Arsene Wenger and figured he would certainly improve the squad and make it competitive before the transfer window closes, I've found myself drifting further and further over the other side, and today is no exception.

After the first leg against FC Twente, Wenger had this to say to

“Will something be done ahead of the second leg? Certainly yes, but before Saturday, no.”

Yet the match is today and there isn't a new signing here. Don't tell me about Silvestre because he doesn't count. There is no improvement on the squad from the time of the last leg until now. Not only that, but the transfer window closes in four days. I know Wenger likes last second deals but why wait so long? It never seems to be the case at other clubs who come in and buy our players all summer. When you wait till the last minute you can't always get the player you want at the price you want, and it seems like it would be much easier to start earlier so you have time to negotiate and get exactly what you are looking for.

I don't know why Wenger has consistently misinformed us about the transfer dealings this summer. Very early on in the transfer window he said we would have a signing in the next couple weeks, and that didn't happen. Also, he said we would sign a "creative player and a powerful defender." Well we got our creative player in Samir Nasri, who I think we're all happy with, but we haven't gotten anywhere close to a powerful defender. There is just something shady about all these quotes with no results to follow them. I'm starting to think that it may actually be the board that is causing all these problems. I know Arsene likes a youth policy but this is getting ridiculous.

When asked about any new possibilities for signings today he had this to say:

“There are no names and there is no news,” he reported.

“We do not have to worry about too many other players. I believe we have the needed squad and a strong squad. I believe in the players I have instead of always looking at who might be coming in. It is not one player who makes a difference. It is up to us as a team to show personality, strength and belief. If we can find one more, we will do it, if not we will not limit our ambitions because of it."

Don't you think something is wrong there? He's said all summer we need a couple of signings and every time he says it he changes it to how we don't need any new players, we just need strength and spirit. Either Arsene has gotten too stubborn for his own good or the board isn't letting him spend any money.

Arsene also spoke about Phillippe Senderos being sent out on loan. You already know my feelings on that, I think it was a bad move for us.

Today we face FC Twente though in the 2nd leg of that tie with a 2-0 lead. It shouldn't be an extremely difficult fixture for us with the lead and the home field but you never know. Cesc Fabregas is back fit so hopefully we'll get to see the return of our savior tonight. I'm hoping for a 3-0 or 4-0 win to get the confidence back up after Fulham. C'mon you Gunners!


Gooner14 said...

Remember 2006, last second signings? Lets just have hope & patience. Just a little patience (hard as it is, what other option have we got?)

Even last year, we went on surprised a lot of people by doing what we did.

Lets just we get a reprise of what we saw last year.

Come on you gunners!

Andy said...

He will sign Alonso I hope, he’s just waiting on guarantee CL qualification. Once we have qualified tonight he will be calling Liverpool in the morning to bring Alonso to the Arsenal................I hope or am i clutching at straws!!

Anonymous said...

Come on now lets be honest, a year ago who thought Flamini was going to become so good for us? Who thought Adebayor was going to score 30 goals? Who thought we'd miss out of the title by a mere 5 points?

Not many if we're honest. Yet those players were at Arsenal the year before. Wenger bought fewer players last summer and lost Thierry Henry!!

Who's to say we don't already have the players ready to step up and be the Flamini of this season?

Fair enough Denilson has been erratic to say the least but we still have Diaby who Wenger has had in mind for a while to be Cesc's midfield partner. Song is looking quality and don't forget Aumaury Bischoff.

Wenger didn't lie to us. He thought he'd sign Nasri quickly as he did with Rosicky two years earlier but there was a hiccup and the deal took longer than he thought.

He was probably intending to sing Inhler but he's decided to stay in Italy. Liverpool won't play ball with us for Alonso so what else can he do?

Plus I have a feeling we will see at least one last minute signing as that is the way Wenger does it.

Have a little faith!!!

Mike said...

For some reason streams are really hard to come by for this game, so I'm stuck listening on Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come for the rest of the Champions League.

Good news is Nasri just scored. Sounded a lot like his goal against WBA since they said it was off a cutback, but who knows what it looked like LOL

ArseNole said...

Yeah took me ages to find one and it's about 5 minutes behind live so im listening on ATVOnline as well and then watching it on delay lol

Anonymous said...

Alright, I have faith.

Mike said...

The studio crew on just read my email about Cesc!

ArseNole said...

Ha i heard that and I turned to my brother and said "they just read my mate Mike's email!"

Amerigooner said...

Dude, when it comes to football, Arsene is smarter than you, smarter than me, smarter than the goonerweb at large. It's fun to second guess the man, and we all have our opinions (agreed), and at times we may disagree with some of the things we see... but it's like one of us trying to critique a Mozart in music. We just don't know enough to really be on the same plane as the master. He's a true genius at what he does. He knows what he's doing, he's keeping us competitive with an unlimited checkbook (Chelski) at a fraction of the cost. We will win the league this year or next, I'm convinced of it. Sit back and enjoy it and don't let the echo-chamber of the internet get you down.

ArseNole said...

Mate, never have I said that I am a better football manager than Wenger or that I'm as smart as he is. I know that he's a great manager, but this blog is about my opinion and all I've said is that he hasn't delivered on what he has said. I respect and support the man but if I don't give my own opinion then why write?

Andre said...

I think we'll et another midfielder before the window closes, but it won't be Alonso. They have no one ot replace him and he's cup-tied to Liverpool in the CL.

Anonymous said...

Having seen a lot of foote already and not only Arsenal¿s matches but the other title contenders as well as highlights of every match. And it seems to me, having watched these matches or at least highlights, that Arsenal fans are overreacting. Now Manchester United drew against Newcastle at home in the first game, but other than that every game the other top teams have played has resulted in wins. Fair enough then, they must be doing better than us.. But that isn¿t the case at all. Chelsea demolished Pompey admittedly, but other than that game the top four have struggled in every game. Chelsea SHOULD have lost against Wigan, Liverpool SHOULDN¿T have won any game so far this season, and Man Utd SHOULD have lost against Newcastle. But the fact is they didn¿t, and unfortunately for us, we did. That¿s how it works out sometimes, had van Persie scored moments before Fulham did and Ade had put his header slightly more to the left we¿d be talking about winning 4/4 games this season. Man Utd had a similar start last season, and so while the Fulham game highlighted a few problems that we undoubtedly have, I am not too worried. Gunners fans, have some realism, you are able to watch possibly the best football throughout the world week in, week out, so start to believe and give your support to our talented players¿ (even Adebayor, despite everything that happened he will still be an important player for us) push for trophies and don¿t throw your toys out of the pram on week 2 just because we lose to a rapidly improving Fulham team after (crucially) an international break.

Gooner4life said...

According to Wenger, we dont need any new signings that will play first team. He has said that we could get a substitute player but only 1. Arsenal have just beaten Newcastle 3-0 and I'm starting to understand what he means. There's a certain 21 year old who wears a no.4 Arsenal jersey who can turn the game on its head. CESC FABREGAS! He was superb today and perfected the quick midfield passing that we have come to be known for. We can still win the premier league this season. All we need to do is keep our players healthy.

Anonymous said...

I write as a disgruntled Arsenal fan. Before you get your hanky out to mop up the tears of boredom I'm not disgruntled for the reasons that you might think. The summer transfer window has been a pain in the arse, as it always is. Some players want to leave, some players want to join, Wenger seems indifferent to the whole situation and fans believe all manner of nonsense spilt out in the press. This feeling of frustration seems to have taken root with many Arsenal fans as they demand reinforcements to equalise for the loss of Flamini and Hleb in particular.

My concern is that many of us have been sucked into the Transfer Window and left in a rabid trance which only big money signings can cure. I may be alone on this but I don't crave big money deals, I crave beautiful Football and players who want to play for us because they want to be part of our ethic. Wenger could easily have signed Arshavin for £20m and given him £100k a week. This would no doubt have made many fans feel more confident. It would have troubled me. Frankly, I don't want a player who dreams of playing for Barcelona one minute, us the next and then Tottenham. The same goes for Barry, a proven quality midfielder but one who's over priced and apparently dreams of playing for Liverpool. It's a cliché that we trotted out last season when things were going well but no one had heard of Vieira when we signed him, no one thought Flamini was good enough and everyone thought Henry was sub standard winger. All these players went on to play exceptionally well for us so who can honestly say, with 100% confidence, that Wenger is wrong and that Alex Song, Samir Nasri and even the much maligned (before he's even kicked a ball) Amaury Bischoff won't go on to be quality acquisitions?

We could have spent millions but in the current market what would we have got? Modric for £20m? Keane for £18m? Bentley for £18m? No thank you.

I just ask that our fans stop for a moment and support the team and understand that we are incredibly lucky to have a manager who builds a team in the proper sense. All our players are Arsenal players and know, or can be coached, the Wenger way.

It would also be incredibly helpful if our fans stopped reading crap news papers and listened to facts for a moment. Emmanuel Adebayor never said he wanted to leave as much as it's convenient to believe that he did. At worst he said he needed to talk to Wenger about his plans. He is an Arsenal player and a hugely important one at that. There is no benefit to booing him whatsoever and I urge all true Arsenal fans to bollock anyone near you who feels the need to boo him on Saturday.

We may not win the quadruple this year but we will challenge again. Keep the faith and remember your history.

Arsene knows, unfortunately many of our fans don't seem to have a clue!

Anonymous said...

Arsenal’s apparent vulnerability leaves the Gunners trying to fend off suitors for their best players most summers. But what makes the North London club an easy target – and is it always a good career move to quit Arsene Wenger’s team? Graham Lister considers the evidence…

As the tasteless sauce of Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor's future continues to simmer above the flame of Italian and Spanish press speculation, it's time to consider a couple of questions.

Firstly, with Alexander Hleb also being courted, why do Spanish and Italian clubs seem to regard Arsenal as a vulnerable target whose cherries are always ripe for the picking?

Secondly, is the grass really that much greener beyond the Emirates?

Vulnerable Arsenal

So far, most of the mileage in the Adebayor story has been clocked up by the would-be buying clubs and the Spanish and Italian media who convey their messages. Their agenda seems to be a tried and tested one: unsettle the targets with a steady drip-feed of declarations of intent to buy them.

You can argue that it doesn't matter how many times Barcelona or Milan say they want Adebayor or Hleb, or how earnestly they say it, because unless Arsenal decide to sell there can be no transfer. But if the players' heads are turned by all the speculation, and they become unsettled, then Arsenal are left with dissatisfied and unfocused players who may as well be offloaded/cashed-in if their hearts are no longer in it at the Emirates, irrespective of what contracts they may have signed.

Adebayor, in those quotes that have been reliably attributed to the Togolese striker, has rubbished claims that he is demanding (or begging for?) a move, and insisted he wants to stay with manager Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, talking enthusiastically about the Gunners' prospects for next season and what is needed to go the extra mile to lift a trophy or two.

Hleb has been more equivocal about his future, but Wenger himself has made it clear enough to anyone in Milan or Barcelona prepared to listen that he does not want or intend to sell Adebayor.

However, in the real world we all know that doesn't mean the player(s) won't leave this summer. Things can change with sudden and dramatic rapidity in the transfer market, and there is surely too much smoke in the latest reports for there to be no fire at the heart of the speculation. At the time of writing, and with his latest attributable quotes, the odds appear to favour an Ade adieu.

That raises the more interesting question of why Arsenal seem to be particularly vulnerable to the unsettling transfer market tactics of the top clubs on the continent. Each summer, with monotonous regularity, the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Inter and Juventus gather round the Arsenal squad like vultures anticipating a kill. Arsenal fans endured two or three consecutive summers of Real Madrid publicly courting Patrick Vieira. Then Barcelona made it clear they were determined to prise Thierry Henry away from North London. Now the targets for the top Spanish and Italian clubs have shifted to the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Hleb, Adebayor and even (until he put an end to it by immediately signing a new long-term contract) Gael Clichy.

The clear implication is that the big continental clubs consider themselves a bigger and more attractive proposition than the Gunners. That must infuriate many Arsenal fans, frustrate Arsene Wenger and be uncomfortable for the board at the Emirates.

Not Big Enough?

Arsenal are undoubtedly one of England's biggest clubs. Only Liverpool and Manchester United have been more successful in terms of honours won. But unlike those two North-West clubs, the Gunners have a relatively undistinguished European record and significantly have never lifted the European Cup/Champions League - by common consent the currency in which the reputations of the biggest clubs are now traded.

They may have been a tad unlucky to lose their first final in Europe's premier competition, against Barcelona in 2006, but the fact is that lose it they did. Although the Gunners are able to guarantee Champions League involvement to top players - they've qualified for eleven consecutive seasons - there may be a feeling that you won't get a coveted winners' medal in North London. That is where the likes of Real Madrid, Milan and Barcelona have a clear advantage over Arsenal..

And the fact that, despite playing such exhilarating football under Wenger, the Gunners haven't actually put a new trophy on the sideboard since 2005 also counts against them, though they have the potential to remedy that soon, and indeed came close to doing so last season.

There is an irony at the heart of top-flight European football. It's a team game, but while modern players are happy enough to win as a team, when that team - of which they are a part - fails to deliver silverware, some individuals distance themselves from the collective shortfall and talk of the need to move on to fulfil their ambitions. As long as Arsenal's campaigns have no silver linings, they are vulnerable to the Mathieu Flaminis and Hlebs using such arguments against them.

Not that success is a guarantee of stability or satisfied stars. The current Cristiano Ronaldo saga is a case in point. He has won two consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League with Manchester United, and swept the board for the last two seasons as far as English football's individual awards are concerned. There is now a view among his apologists that he's been there and done that and wants a new challenge. Apparently Ronaldo wants to be hailed as the Fifa World Player of the Year, and sees a 'dream' move to Real Madrid as the only way of achieving that ambition because no England-based player has won that accolade.

So Arsenal can't assume that winning things will keep the predator clubs from their door. And of course they are seen as predators themselves when Wenger and his scouts continue to unearth raw, unknown talent and polish it into the sort of gems for which Europe's elite are eager to bid big money.

Money, Money

Which brings us to the issue of money. Perhaps it is in this regard that Arsenal are perceived to be most vulnerable. They are a relatively conservative club, though not one afraid to embrace change, as the bold decision to depart Highbury and build a new stadium 500 yards away at Ashburton Grove amply demonstrated. The Gunners are fiscally prudent, and the financing of the Emirates Stadium project involved incurring debt; but they have structured things in a typically prudent way, so although they are not the richest of the Premier League's Big Four, they are the most financially sound at the moment, following the foreign takeovers at the other three and the debts that those clubs are saddled with as a result.

This, though - together with Wenger's disinclination for splashing out on big-name stars, and the club's much discussed but ill-understood salary structure - has created the widespread perception that Arsenal are tight-fisted. It is a perception that works against them in a competitive market place, not only with some of the players they try to sign, but also among the players already on their books.

In the Premier League, only Chelsea (£132.8million) and Manchester United (£92.3million) spent more than Arsenal's £89.7million on wages in 2006-07, the last season for which analysts Deloitte's figures are available, so the club are not exactly cheapskates. Making European comparisons, Deloite recently revealed that the French, Italian and Spanish leagues spent about the same proportion of turnover on wages (63 per cent in 2006-07) as their counterparts in the English Premier League. The notable exception was Germany, where only 45 per cent of income went on salaries.

Yet these figures don't paint the full picture of how Arsenal compare vis-a-vis their domestic and especially continental rivals in terms of paying the top performers. The Gunners may well be right up there based on the size of their overall wage bill, but of keenest interest to individual players is how that wage bill is distributed. The charge often levelled at Arsenal is that they don't pay their top players 'enough.' This argument received plenty of airing when the tapped-up Ashley Cole was feeling hard-done by about Arsenal's 'insulting' offer of £55,000 a week a couple of seasons ago. It was headlines again when Flamini decided to weigh anchor and sail off to Milan. And no doubt it is the underlying plot in the current story that is likely to see Adebayor and/or Hleb end up in Barcelona (or Milan).

Few people, outside the club and the players themselves, know exactly what the wage structure is at Arsenal and how much better or worse it is than those at rival clubs. But the perception is that the Gunners try to keep the differential between the lowest and highest earners in the squad as narrow as possible for the sake of team spirit and, crucially, economic viability. It seems to mean some players will periodically get disgruntled with their lot and start entertaining notions of how much better off they could be elsewhere, giving encouragement to rival clubs to start whispering in their ears - or getting the media to do so with a loud hailer.

The Sunny Side Of The Street?

Footballers like to tell us that it's not about the money but the glory. The reality is it's about both. But although cash can be a powerful motivator, most top flight players are extremely wealthy these days whatever club they are at, so at the end of the proverbial career, it's probably the medals that count – or more accurately, counting the medals.

So leaving aside the unknown factor of how much richer anyone got by leaving Arsenal, what can be said about how much more successful those who left the club became?

You can divide the players who've left Arsenal during Wenger's reign into distinct groups:
- Those who retired as Gunners (eg, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon)
- Those who moved on towards the end of their careers with their best years behind them (Steve Bould, Ian Wright, Ray Parlour, Paul Merson, Martin Keown, Lauren, Nigel Winterburn, Robert Pires, David Seaman, Davor Suker, Kanu, Oleg Luzhny, Jens Lehmann, Freddie Ljungberg, Sylvain Wiltord, Sol Campbell...)
- Those who moved because they could not get into the Arsenal first team on a consistent basis, and found (or struggled to find) their level elsewhere (David Bentley, Jermaine Pennant, Matthew Upson, Lassana Diarra, Fabrice Muamba, Moritz Volz, Luis Boa Morte, Francis Jeffers, Pascal Cygan, Richard Wright, Stuart Taylor, Sebastian Larsson, Jeremie Aliadiere - plus a host of youngsters who never made the Arsenal first team or played just once or twice in the Carling Cup, such as Steve Sidwell, Graham Stack, John Halls, Anthony Stokes, etc).
- Then there is the most interesting group - those who when they left the club were thought to be moving onwards and upwards. This group includes Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Edu, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Jose Antonio Reyes, Ashley Cole, Mathieu Flamini and possibly soon, Emmanuel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb.

What A Difference A Move Made

From the above list, how many can be said to have gone on to bigger and better things post-Arsenal? You could make a case that Sol Campbell and Kanu are enjoying an Indian Summer at Portsmouth, but another FA Cup win and a Uefa Cup campaign hardly eclipse what they achieved at Highbury.

Vieira has won the Scudetto in each of his three seasons in Italy's Serie A, though the first two of those, with Juventus and then Inter, were somewhat devalued by the Calciopoli scandal, through no fault of Vieira's, and anyway he'd already won three domestic titles with the Gunners, and has not been the driving force in Italy that he was in Wenger's team.

Petit flopped badly at Barca; Overmars fared better but not spectacularly so, and could not inspire the Catalans to any trophy success after they'd paid the Gunners £25million for him.

Bentley has flourished at Ewood Park, but with respect, Blackburn are not Arsenal, and he is now angling to leave Rovers because he craves Champions League football.

Cole at Chelsea is not the player he was at Arsenal, and the gap he left was immediately and convincingly filled by Gael Clichy. Pires has sparkled for Villarreal since overcoming another knee ligament injury, confirming that Wenger should have offered him the two-year deal he wanted in summer 2006; but that has to be tempered by the fact that Pires will be 35 in October, and Wenger is always looking to youth and the future.

Anelka? Yes, he won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2000 (but only after falling out with then-coach Vicente del Bosque and being suspended by the club for 45 days for refusing to train) and a Turkish title with Fenerbahce; but looking at his overall success with seven clubs in nine seasons since leaving Arsenal, it is debatable whether he would have been better off staying longer under Wenger's guidance.

The Options

It remains to be seen whether Flamini will excel at Milan, though he goes to the San Siro with the momentum of an outstanding last season at Arsenal behind him.

And what of Hleb and Adebayor, if they leave? Hleb's footwork and creativity in the Gunners' midfield, alongside his pals Flamini and Fabregas, was often excellent, although his goals return remained a big disappointment. Pires, whom he essentially replaced, would average 14 goals a season from the left wing; Hleb's average is four. If he moves to Barcelona, say, how will he be used? In a way that suits him best - or like Henry was last season, which certainly didn't play to the French striker’s strengths?

As for Adebayor, among many Arsenal fans there is a view that although he improved dramatically last season and scored an impressive 30 goals, including some real crackers, the 60 he missed were almost as significant. The point seems to be that Adebayor is far from the finished article and that if Milan or Barca are prepared to spend £22-25 million to buy him, Arsenal should take their money - especially if the player wants to leave. Adebayor has more improving to do (20 per cent more, according to Wenger), so will he do that at Camp Nou or San Siro where the burden of expectation on him will be immense as the new big money striker?

Making your name in a particular team - in this case Arsenal - is the thing that attracts interest from so-called bigger clubs. But once the player is out of that environment, and away from the mentoring of a trusted coach (Wenger), there are no guarantees that development will continue at the same rate, or that the goods will be delivered in similar style or volume. Along with the money, that is a consideration the 'restless' players need to take on board as they ponder the pros and cons of leaving the Emirates.

If both players eventually insist they want to leave, Arsenal's options are to dig their heels in and keep them to their contracts; offer them big pay increases to keep them happy; or sell them for the best prices they can realise. The first option is not really viable, as keeping disillusioned players at a club can infect morale within the whole squad.

Nor is the second option sensible, because it is financially unsustainable in the long term, and could disaffect other players who will demand similar treatment.

So if push comes to shove, selling them on may be the best bet for Arsenal.

The grass may not always be greener, but players sometimes have to learn that the hard way. Nor is any player indispensable. Arsene Wenger's team look close to achieving honours, and given the Frenchman's record for finding and bringing the best out of talent, that scenario is not likely to change even if Adebayor and Hleb go this summer - especially if their sale generates funds to help bring in high calibre new recruits. The pertinent question may not be what will happen to Arsenal if they go, but what will happen to the players if they do?