Thursday, October 2, 2008

Manuel Almunia Takes Too Much Shite

Good morning everyone. Not a whole lot going on today so a quick news round-up I think? Yes, sounds good.

Remember yesterday when I said Almunia takes too much crap and he's actually a good keeper? Well today he came out and spoke about being the Arsenal number 1 and says he's growing into the role.

"I'm very happy to wear this fantastic number for Arsenal and I'm pleased with how things are going; I'm feeling very well and we have not conceded too many goals, although we always need to improve.

"I think this season I am growing as a goalkeeper and hope I can grow more as the season progresses."

You've got to hand it to the man. He's always had a good attitude about everything in his time here, even when Lehmann was giving him stick for nothing all last season. I think he improves really with almost every game. Really though is there a better option for us? I think he is one of the top three goalkeepers in the Premiership right now at the very least. He made another great save against Porto and his reactions are excellent. Keep it up Manuel and I for one will be rooting hard for you!

Emmanuel Adebayor talked about his and Robin van Persie's partnership, and said he hopes it will lead to winning trophies. It's weird with those two. Sometimes, like yesterday, they look like they are the best of friends and play together wonderfully, but then other times they seem completely lost out there with eachother. But with more games comes better understanding so the longer RvP is healthy and they are able to play together, the better off we will be. Adebayor said exactly the same thing:

"If Robin is fit for the whole season we have a chance to do something special, that's for sure.

"We talk off the pitch about the way we play.

"You must discuss what you have done well and what you have done badly."

Their partnership really could be the key to our season. Remember last year Adebayor was scoring for fun but when he finally did go through a drought there was nobody to pick up the slack because RvP was injured. Now it seems like we have a lot more options. RvP is healthy (knock on wood), we have Vela and Bendtner that can go in, and Eduardo will be back by the second half of the season. So let's hope van Persie can keep up his fitness and keep this partnership going.

And to put a smile on everyone's face, Tottenham are still the only team in the league without a win. Yes, even West Brom and Stoke have wins before Sp*rs. Isn't it absolutely wonderful? Good job spending all that money you cunts. You're the worst "top 4 contenders" in history.


Mike said...

I agree that people are too hard on Almunia. I think some of it is just because of the CL Final. I read the Arsenal America blog a lot and some people over there will never forgive him for getting beat near post.

Anonymous said...

Are we over Flamini? When Mathieu Flamini left Arsenal we all knew it would be hard to replace him. He was only a first team regular in his last season in an Arsenal shirt but what a first team regular he was.

He was one of Arsenal's best players last season and was a big factor in Fabregas playing so well. The two complimented each other and I firmly believed that they could have emulated the partnership of Vieira and Petit or been even better.

Since leaving Arsenal he has endured a slow start to his Milan career being on the bench more often than playing. You could say that he may regret leaving the Arsenal and is following the route of many who believe the grass is greener on the other side.

One thing is for sure, I think Arsenal miss him. Despite the controversial manner of his departure I still wish deep down that he was still an Arsenal player.

I mean no disrespect to the players we have but it's obvious that we are lacking in the midfield area. It's obvious that Arsene Wenger thought so too, after all, we have now found out that he put bids in for Alonso, Toure and Inler.

Le Boss seems to have put his faith in Denilson after the failed attempts to boost the midfield area. I like Denilson but despite his undoubted quality he is inconsistent with his performances. That is expected with his young age and lack of experience.

Diaby is the player a lot of Gooners would like to see given a chance in the middle with Cesc but we have more chance of seeing Spurs win the league! I rate him highly but Diaby is constantly on the treatment table. He has been likened to Vieira but Vieira he is not. He only looks like Paddy, he doesn't play like him.

Song is a player I'd like to see given a chance. He seems our toughest tackler and can do the dirty work allowing Cesc to weave his magic. Le Boss seems undecided on where Song should play though. Is he a defender or a midfielder? say he is a defender so that gives an indication on where Arsene thinks he should play.

The midfield seems to be doing an Okay job at present but I think its really just papering over the cracks. We have not really faced a side of note and we have lost two games. I worry a little about when we face the midfield of Chelsea and Manchester United. With Flamini in the side I'd have no worries.

I'm not doubting that we have quality in the midfield but I still feel we are lightweight since the departure of Flamini. Le Boss thinks so too............

I think we can cope short-term without Flamini but we need another player added there in January. Denilson, Diaby and Song are potentially very good players and need time. At their age they have plenty of that! But I still feel that they need someone else to help guide them through this stage of their career other than the veteran Cesc Fabregas.

Anonymous said...

Throughout every summer us gunners are subject to a barrage of media hype talking up the chances of our very best leaving Fort Emirates.

But is the grass really that much greener beyond the Emirates?

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.

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. C.ronaldo would have gone had Real M coughed up the cash. 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.

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.

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 had flourished at Ewood Park, but with respect, Blackburn are and will never be Arsenal as long as wenger is at helm, and he is now angling at Spurs, a club who is bottom of the League.

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.

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?

Connolly's agent said...

My god that's a long post, anon. And I thought I was wordy. Interesting, though. Three points:

1. van Persie and Ade, though 1st choice pairing for two years, haven't really had a chance to play much together. When you think about it, it's still in its infancy, so you'd expect a bit of awkwardness at times.

2. Song will be very good for us, adept as both midfielder and defender. I think he's better in the hole in front of defence, because he's got good positional sense and can cover for the surging runs by Toure. But he shouldn't have cut his dreads - they looked awesome.

3. I don't miss Flamini at all. Ugly, ugly bastard. But I do miss an experienced midfielder who'll allow Cesc to roam forward. There's a thought running around that we're converting to 4-2-3-1, with Cesc and Denilson as holding/deep lying midfielders. I think Cesc's more effective closer to the final third.

KiddCdog said...

arsenole ur a joke!