Jul 092009

At the end of the season, I was planning to put together a piece on how the single most important thing we can do this summer is keep the squad intact, and avoid the major losses we’ve suffered over the past few years. I never actually got round to it, but to remind you, here are our major sales from our last four summers:

2008: Flamini, Gilberto, Hleb, Lehmann (following Diarra in January)

2007: Henry, Ljungberg (following Lauren in January)

2006: Campbell, Cole, Pires

2005: Vieira, Edu

Some stellar names there, I’m sure you’ll agree. Players come and go, and eventually everyone leaves, so it is completely unrealistic to expect a few seasons without departures of some significance, but it has been a while since we’ve had a summer of stability. The knock on effect of that is we’ve generally needed two signings just to get back to where we were, save for exceptional circumstances (e.g. in 2005 when Cesc stepped up to replace Vieira).

When two or three first teamers leave, you either need someone ready made to raise their game and force their way into the side, or you need to dip into the transfer market. And if you’re trying to improve on the previous season, you then need to go beyond that. It is a lot to ask.

The quietest summer we had was in 2003, when Seaman was replaced by Lehmann and not a lot else happened. Many wrote us off that summer, as United had been busy, spending around £30m, but in the end, the stability pushed an already talented side forward to become the Invincibles we now use as Wenger’s benchmark.

Last summer was a painful one because three departures all came from the same position – central midfield, and in reality Wenger never had a hope of replacing the trio effectively. Players were forced to step up who weren’t ready, and the sense of competition for places was lost.

Towards the back end of last season, we began to see that competition return. Eboue was ousted from the side, Adebayor was threatened by Bendtner’s progression, and Gibbs proved himself an excellent understudy to the injured Clichy. With Rosicky back this season, and Vermaelen signed, the wide men and the central defenders are in the same boat.

And that is how it should be at a top club. What we don’t want now is for first team players to start moving on before we’re ready to let them go. So it is superb to see that so many of our players are being tied down to long term contracts – Ramsey, Gibbs, Fabianski and Wilshere have all extended their deals so far, and were yesterday joined by Van Persie, probably the one player with a contractual question mark over him when the close season began.

Long may the stability continue. Two signings and no departures is usually better than four signings and three departures, no matter how unglamorous it may seem.

Not only have the players pulled together, so have the board, in rejecting Usmanov’s rights proposal, which seemed to involve a dilution of shares to provide more capital for either paying off a chunk of debt, or more likely making cash available for a marquee signing that would placate the fans watching some of the crazy antics going on elsewhere.

And I’m glad they turned it down, although the Sun, seemingly becoming the repulsive Uzbeki’s destabilising mouthpiece, interpret the news as a ‘blow’ to Wenger. Given Wenger’s faith in the squad and ability to bring in and develop younger players, I expect he fully endorsed the board’s stance.

It is a self-sustaining model, with one condition. Signing the players that will become the world’s best, and helping them fulfill their potential, is fantastic, if you can keep them. With the quiet dealings going on this summer, we are putting ourselves into a very strong position.

It may not be extravagant, but it is absolutely the right approach. Don’t let the hacks convince you otherwise.

  27 Responses to “Players close ranks and are swiftly followed by the board”

  1. Bang on and well said

    Come on you gooners

  2. Fantastic piece – someone with some sense. Thank you, I really hope many Gooners read this and agree – it is sense. The “hacks” are totally against us, always have been BUT I do not understand why….. we are the one club in the premiership whi are doing things in the right way – we should be revered for what we are doing – for our “PROJECT YOUTH” It’s fantastic and I am more proud than ever to be a Gooner. And so should all other Gooners!!!!!!

  3. oops I spelt reveered wrong

  4. Fantastic blog, excellent article. Can you please post it on the http://www.teamtalk.com/football/arsenal blog, we have far too many Uzbeck lovers poporting to be gooners only for them to keep slagging off The Arsenal. Your help is much appreciated.

  5. Excellent piece and well written – it’s been a while for a gooner blog to speak so much sense…

  6. A great read and contains a lot of sense. The writing on this Arsenal blog consistently seems to be of a considerably higher standard than some others out there!

  7. good stuff. bang on!

    i do feel we will lose someone (eboue and/or Senderos.) but only if we a re geting someone in. the main thing is no A-listers are leaving. yeah!!

  8. Fantastic article.

    It hard to stay positive when the papers are publishing stories about our best players leaving and general doom and gloom but reading this has purked me up. Bring on 2009/10 season can’t wait to see Arshavin running riot and Eduardo smashing in the goals.


  9. i fapped to this article.. well written mate.

  10. So the board have said they want to remain as they are
    Well if we dont win anything this season and even worse finish outside the top four then surly the currant board has to resign
    We still have no answers to where the profit from transfers and the extra cash from the new ground has gone which by the way watching Arsenal is the most expensive in the world
    If we loose Cesc then this confirms what Wenger has stated in the past we have to sell one player a season at profit
    Its time for a couple of experience signings in key areas or a time for a change at the top

  11. That article was great until you mentioned Usmanov and worse, The Sun.

    Such things don’t warrent a mention EVER when talking about the Arsenal.

  12. Reasoned, rational and logical rhetoric amidst the rabid dross churned out by many other blogs. Good work.

  13. Spot on Son.
    Surely how we win is more important than what we win. That’s what Arsenal is all about. Victory Through Harmony.

    Arsene has helped to establish these principles on an International stage.

    Every fan we gain from outside the UK does so because of our principles, and method.


  14. Good article.

    talking of contracts did Theo extend his?

  15. Thanks for the feedback folks! Jac, you’re absolutely right, Gazidis mentioned Walcott in his list of players that have committed their future, but I missed him out.

    Stu, I think part of the reason some of the hacks don’t like us is that we don’t provide much copy – we don’t make extravagent signings, and we do all our work in private. It doesn’t help them fill their pages.

  16. You live in a fantasy, a theoretical world, where like arsene wenger you believe in a model not reality, if you think that we are in a strong position. Next summer if going to be worse because of this summer and I will explain why in detail.
    If it were so simple to win a title, our model was so good we would have won the title 2 seasons ago, but we dint. We fell apart and lost 4 plyers in the aftermath. You can blame injuries, but thats all bollocks, they are a part of football, and its the depth of your squad that saves you in those times. Hence we do not have the correct model, its too rigid and too dumb if you ask me. What we need is a combination of chelseas and our current model, which is called the manchester utd model(the sensible one). It entails great manager, great squad, adequate finances, and some frightening youth prospects. If a takeover is the only way to get there, do it. Our board has to be retarded or have just not moved on with the times. We need desperately to add to our squad, we need to become a force to be reckoned with again. No one is scared to play us anymore, can you blame them, we have a bunch of kids running around half the time. If we dont buy a strong cdm(I dont care if its a big name or not, just that hes 6 feet tall atleast and looks less grotesque and clumsy than song). You win leagues with world class strikers. Not just by stringing together intricate passing movements, if that were the case villareal and roma would be europes greatest. Barcelona have it lucky right now but they spend when they have to. Just compare our spine to say liverpools not utd or chelsea cause its far to0 embarrasing. torres, gerrard, alonso, carragher. adebayor fab denilson gallas(toure). They kill us on every position, even gerrard vs fab.
    If you actually think that we have a strong squad you need to wake up. I honestly think that we are closer to the evertons and aston villas than we are to chelsea and utd anymore. We go into next season with one defender so far, and we are actually delusional enough to listen to arsenes and ivan’s comments that the club is a strong position now. Just manage your expectations, do not expect a trophy, just more transitionary flashes of brilliance and inconsistent performances, and when the dust settles, we can say our goodbyes to fab and look forward to another summer of instability.

  17. Sorry, Gooner, the Manchester Utd model is near insolvency. If you want that, good luck. You better find another club to support, Arsenal will not go that route. As for the story about a takeover assisting with cash, haven’t you learnt yet. Takeover are LEVERAGED buyouts. THat means debt on the books and the “investor” hopes to cover his debt with future income. Many times it doesn’t happen and the club goes belly up. As it is today, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea are technically insolvent. Again, you may need to support another club if that’s what you want.

  18. Spoken like a true supporter, Gooner…I wouldn’t have it any other way…the Sugar Daddy bubble will burst, the rules will change, just like F1…sustainability will be essential. That Uzebek is not the answer, end of.

    I fucking love this club just the way it is, the dignity, tradition, history, style and loyalty to a genius vision. If you can’t see that, Gooner, I pity you. I’m not in this for glory, thats the bonus of good support, I’m in it because I AM GOONER!!!!!

  19. It pains me alot when arsenal as a whole makes decision that are proteineous in nature.we have all heard the comment from a gooner.it is realistic that when you quality you get success.the board does not feel responsible,loosing players like how a man is loosing his wife.we have said time upon time premier league is changing other clubs are stepping up.wenger said “keep the players “and at the end he sells them.honestly,why will the fans not complain with the heavy disgrace that arsenal have display.we have to bring a messiah that will bring change.is just some little adjustment that will put steel to our team.i love the club.i want us to buy quality to bring to the glorius club of all time.i have said,many have said,we are going to continue, for change is our faith

  20. Very good piece from a truly sensible Arsenal supporter. There are far too many ‘Trophy supporters’ out there masquerading as fans. They do not support the club.

    gooner: If your Manchester United model is so good, why are they not able to even service their debt now? Haven’t you noticed that they are reluctant to spend the Ronaldo money? They are choking right now, but they are doing their best to hide it from the whole world. Very soon everything will bust out.

    Haven’t you noticed how the others, including Chelsea, are very cautious in the market? Liverpool has altready received a letter from their creditors, Nat West, and they are panicking. So you want the club to go burst in order to get a trophy for you? Well, we don’t want our club to go burst, thank you very much.

    Armiyau salami: If you follow that guy, you are completely deluded.

    My advice, go support Man U, since you seem to love their model so much.

  21. Very good article.It’s imperative that we keep the squad together and don’t sell any big name players.One more player would be great but if not i’d be happy with our current squad.Too many “supporters” just want to criticise Wenger or single out individual players for abuse. Can anybody else remember the football we used to play before Wenger came? No other manager would have kept us so competitive on such a miserly budget while the stadium’s debts are being paid off.

  22. I’m not sure why people think Usmanov is good. The simple fact is he wants to take money from the club in the form of dividends. He is in it for a profit after all.

    The current board has it’s faults but they haven’t taken any dividends since the seventies. That means more money for Wenger in the long run

  23. To all of you that talked about the intricacies of takeovers, leverage buyouts etc. thank you, Im a finance graudate. LB and LRV thanks but i think ill stick to arsenal. If I dint care I wouldnt be arguiing about this would I. And btw both of you are semi-retarded if you to think utd is near insolvency, it would be global news, not a rumour you read on goal.com. The fact is those clubs are nowhere near insolvent, they are just highly leveraged. Yes they do have alot of debt,which means enormous interest payment. But they have the future income streams to more than cover them. If they cant they will renogiate or the owners can change. Who cares, as long as the club principles dont. Man utd has lost none of its prestige with foreign owners., Fergie calls the shots, and with the funds to back him he wont three league titles back to back and a fkin champions league along the way. So even if they do have twice the amount of debt as us(which they wil pay off dont worry), they also way more trophies in the past 5 years, so do chelsea so do liverpool. And btw chelsea have soft loans from abramovich so they are fine, and we have as much debt as liverpool 300 million, we just do a much better job of handling our finances, which is why they are in more trouble then we are They are the only ones in suspect financial position, thats why i said the utd model.I never said we needed to go out and buy buy buy. But we do need to become more competitive in the transfer market. Internal growth is more important definitely, it is our policy and its fine. But utd do that to, ronaldo for gods sake, anderson is good. But they spend on quality players like berba. I understand that we cannot buy becasue of emirates stadium and thats a fair trade off. But why are we so averse to diluting our shares for additional funds? Is it because our owners are scared that usmanov will take control? Who cares let him, as long as arsene is doing what he has to, I personally dont care who owns what percentage of the arsenal pie, as long as it means better players for us.

  24. Dignity, tradition, style, loyalty, are words thats all. We need to add to that trohpies, im sorry but thats what counts in the end, not potential, not style, not good football, not anything. And its pathetic that you take my criticism for being a glory hunter, If I was i would have moved on a while ago, and not been sitting here wasting my time arguing about why and how we went wrong. And I still stand firm on what I said, when the dust settles next season, fab will leave and it will be another empty trophy cabinet(carling cup is a good possibility though), unless we buy atleast 2-3 more experienced players.(not in age, but experience in the premiership or a good league)

  25. Normally i don’t ever comment on blogs but after reading this i just couldn’t help myself. Firstly i just wanted to say that everyone has a right to their opinion on what they think about whats going on with our beloved Arsenal at the moment, and i think each of you make some absolutely valid points. But what struck me is what you came out with Gooner, and I’ve heard far too many people say this too. You call the other guys semi retards because of what they said about how Arsene runs the show and the clubs finances. So you are i would assume a very smart finance graduate and you said i quote
    ”The fact is those clubs are nowhere near insolvent, they are just highly leveraged. Yes they do have a lot of debt,which means enormous interest payment. But they have the future income streams to more than cover them.”

    I find that really really ironic because i could bet a million pounds there were lots of very smart finance graduates like you at Lehman Brothers or RBS or Northern Rock that said exactly the same thing not too long ago. I can picture them saying hey man, its no biggie! we get paid big bucks and win some awards for this at the mo and so what if we got lotsa toxic debts we might accrue?! Those will tooootaly be taken care of by the millions of bucks we’ll make in future revenue! High five while we spend our massive bonuses at a strip club Brotha!!
    Shame those smart finance guys didn’t see the financial meltdown coming huh.
    I aint no finance graduate but methinks Its that kinda smart finance type of attitude that got us in the terrible financial mess the country’s in at the moment.
    Dont get me wrong Gooner, i think you make some valid points but dude you have no idea what the hell is gona happen in the future, so the idea of just spending loads of money on the basis of covering those debts from future revenue is crazy. I mean what would happen for example if we spent lots and lots of money and still didn’t win trophies what would you say then man. We aint the only ones with cash you know!
    I see where you’re coming from Gooner but its not cool to call those other guys retards because of what they said.
    Just to finish this off, i just want to say my personal opinion is that, i wish we could spend lots of money, and bring in lots of great players at the right price, or even at stupid prices, but realistically, Arsenal football club cannot operate on such a model. I can see what Wenger is trying to do and yes it might be frustrating sometimes but on the long run i think its probably better than throwing lots of money that may or may not change anything. Gooner you said dignity, style, tradition and all that stuff are just words, but my friend what do you think makes all these idiotic footballers whore themselves out the moment they hear that Barcelona or Real are after them. Why do you think these clubs seem to have billions of fans that allow them to make and spend this never ending bucket of cash they use to cover their crazy crazy debts even when they aint winning shite?! Its because they have built up and represent some of these things that you mock as just words… apart from dignity of course!! And in my opinion i think thats what Arsene is trying to do is build the exact same sort of sense of style and identity for Arsenal football club. A basis for long term success and fanbase that these European clubs seem to have even when they are loosing, and i think its working. Our youth system is already lauded as the best in England for these reasons and our style of play is spoken of in the same breadth as Barcelona. Do you know how amazing that is. Speak to anyone outside of England or Europe 10 years ago and they wouldn’t know shit about arsenal but ask now and we are synonymous with beautiful football and and a distinctive style and tradition that is Arsenal. That’s just the start of our march to greatness. building the arsenal style and identity, from the youth set up right to the seniors, and my friend i think the only way to do this is to start with a generation that live, breath and bleed arsenal and you can only do such imprinting on kids!! and I think the trophies will come but first Arsene is trying to lay the basis for arsenal to be a truly great club that can afford to throw money away like the Reals and the Barcelonas of this world, and trust me its going to take a lot more than just money and one or two bought trophies to do that, i mean just look at Chelski!! If abramo left them they would be screwed, and we would be too if we went down the same route!

  26. @ jayojay: Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, my brother. I am a Nigerian, live in Lagos but visit the UK once in a while. The pessimism amongst the (vastly huge) Arsenal fanbase here is overwhelming. Its a breath of really fresh air reading through your very intelligent analysis. Please spread the sensible word. Might even start a blog of your own. I’d sign up! Victoria Concordia Crescit. That’s what I live and breathe. Come on Gooners!!!!!!

  27. This is a VERY refreshing exchange here guys by people who obviously care. I support the views of the author. When I left England in 84 I never dreamt this great Club could restore it’s position as a LEADER in Football. This era is as important as the pre war Chapman period when we led the way. Being a fan of that and all it entails is what makes me proud to be a Gooner.

    I would take one issue with Jayojay re Arsenal being like Barcelona. I think it is the other way round in that Barcleona decided to change their style of play from Sperz style mediocrity (2nd to Madrid all the time) and go for the Invincible style of play of our great club.

    It should be noted that the core of their club was internally developed and supplemented with buys, some of which have been less than spectacular.

    THE Arsenal are on the right track. If ou don’t want to follow go koin the Japanese tourists in West London. You’ll need a bath after every game.

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