Archive for September, 2012

First Published on arsenalvision.co.uk:

Hello Gunners. I haven’t written in a while, as I’ve been taking in the news, transfer rumors, etc. I usually do a post match rating and analysis, which I have taken a pass on doing the last couple of weeks because I have seen, read and heard too much to digest and address properly without a bit of perspective.

So after all the Sahin talk, the misinformed comparisons to Mata, the various moves by other clubs, the  sales of RvP and Song, the possible departure of Theo, the two draws, no goals scored, etc.; where is Arsenal as a club?

Well, the view and points I am about to make come from a Gooner that supports the club, not the players. I am not an Arsene apologist either, but I do in fact give credit or criticism where it’s due. I support our philosophy, but understand that sometimes that must be broken to fix the problem. Sometimes going into some debt is ok. As a self-employed entrepreneur I can tell you, not all debt is bad debt, but we are nowhere close. So let’s begin.

Philosophy

Everyone knows Arsenal’s philosophy footballing wise. The team plays very attractive football and is always amongst the better teams technically. Since 2005 all that pretty play has led to many disappointments. Was it the philosophy or those implementing it?

Football wise you would have to say that Arsene brought in the right type of talent for the team to succeed, otherwise AFC players would not be coveted by the top teams in Europe. Man management wise you would have to say poor decisions were made as to the type of characters chosen.

A thriving youth set-up, top-notch facilities, amazing stadium, and all the rest of the package make Arsenal one of the top sports franchises in the world. While the #1 goal is to win trophies, we all agree there, how we get there can be just as important. Will the 7 year wait be worth it if when we win, we do it the Arsenal way? In my opinion, it absolutely will. Add all the things that were accomplished internally along the way and Arsenal are sitting pretty to commence the next phase which is to go back to winning trophies.

You only have to look at the top 10 franchises in the world to realize that we are not alone in recent trophy less years…New York Yankees (2000-2009), Dallas Cowboys (1995-Present), Washington Redskins (1991-Present), LA Dodgers (1988-Present), and NE Patriots (2004-Present). So value certainly doesn’t guarantee success, but looking at that top 10 it lets you see Arsenal are in some rarefied air and indeed an elite club. AFC has come a long way without winning trophies in the last 7 years, so that begs the question:

Where do we go from here?

Debt

Some say Arsenal need to spend whatever to get the players needed to get ahead and mount an all out assault for trophies. I sometimes land in that camp, but only for the right players.

Others have a view that getting into too much debt and changing Arsenal’s philosophy will lead to the club ending up like Malaga, which I also agree with.

It is not an easy issue to overcome and Gunners are split over it. Is Arsenal  a selling club, a buying club or as some suggest a trading club? I believe they are a trading club.

That doesn’t make AFC more ambitious, less ambitious, frugal or quick to make coin. That makes Arsenal a realistic buyer and seller in the current climate.

Now, all of that said, not all debt is bad debt. Paying 35m + X wages for a player of considerable talent can pay off in a team morale boost, talent and competitiveness. Add too many of those players and you can have too many cooks in the kitchen. The balance is ever so important and I trust Arsene to know what that balance is better than you or I; take a look at 03/04 as an example.

Will Arsenal dip into the deep coffers and overspend to get the players that are perceived as needed or will they continue on the road of buy cheap, sell expensive and constant turnover? The answers to those questions are going to be dictated by the results this year more than any other. When the answer comes, unless it comes with trophies, it won’t please 100% of the fan base, some will be happy and others upset, that’s the reality of the modern fan as well.

These questions then lead to the ever important personnel issue. Have the additions and departures to AFC this summer thus far been good for the team?

Sales/Purchases

Let’s make this simple;

Podolski: Experienced, technically proficient player. He is already making adjustments to his game to suit AFC play.

Giroud: Raw, talented and made for EPL play. Will take time adjust but likely to pay off huge.

Cazorla: Already plays like he was brought up in the system.

RvP: AFC waited patiently for 6 1/2 years for him to be a consistent player. The last 18 months he was made the center of the offensive attack, and whilst finally staying healthy he delivered. Does he repay this patience? Nope. He buggers off at the first opportunity. To me this was a good sale. Better to get 24m now than nothing later.

Song: Good player, never played his position as needed, helped a great deal going forward, hurt a great deal defending, a double-edged sword. Can’t say I am sorry to see him go as I have called for it or a defensive replacement to allow him to go forward for quite some time. He’s already keeping the bench warm at FCB already, amazing.

Sahin: The truth? Sahin wanted to stay at RMFC this year. Mou wanted him to get playing time. Sahin chose Arsenal after a Wenger call. AFC then decided to try to make the loan into a permanent deal based on the fees that were to be paid. What was an already agreed upon loan deal was turned sideways. Sahin and Real Madrid decided that going to LFC made more sense as both club and player wanted a reunion at the end of the year.  Nothing complicated or sinister, just bad timing and bad information passed on by many parties.

Lansbury: Bad deal for me. He never got a chance to show what he had at AFC. He gets no chance and Ramsey gets a million. Not what many of us expected.

Theo: One has to make a true evaluation; Theo is a work in progress that no one knows will pay off. Does AFC bail now after 5 years or continue the work? We shall see.

Departures: We are all waiting on NB52, Chamakh, Arshavin, Park, Squillaci to be sent packing, looking unlikely with each passing day.

Arrivals: Unless some of these departures happen, arrivals will be tough. But a DM and a DEF player are likely. A ST will come in IF Arsenal can move theirs.

So, AFC rid themselves of players that were unhappy, ungrateful or unwilling to look at the big picture and replaced them with players that WANT to be at AFC…not a bad deal in my view. The fact is the club replaced a squad full of champions and competitors with spoiled kids. The young replacements were not ready and given too much pay and responsibility for it to never end any other way other than how it has. That is Wenger’s fault, and it was a direct result of having to pay for the Emirates and changing the spending philosophy to maximize profit, the board’s new priority. Enough blame to go around. BUT…

As long as Arsenal continue to bring in a mix of youth and experience and the correct type of characters that want to accomplish something AT the club instead of using the club to transition, the Gunners will be just fine.

Season Results

Given the two results thus far this year and hearing how fans have reacted you would think Arsenal are set for relegation, again. I say again because this sounds so familiar. Remember last year after 7 matches when at 7 points most said AFC were destined for the bottom half of the table and possibly relegation. Oops, that didn’t work out for them did it?

Listen, last year at this time the club had departures, a horrible chemistry with attitude issues and a horrific back line. This year AFC dominated the two first matches, the defense has been great and only the lack of play time together has kept AFC from 6 points instead of the current 2. Things are looking bright for the club, a couple more additions and some consistency in the line-ups as we had only once last year (the run of matches where we beat Milan, 5PUR2, Citeh, etc) and our trophy drought is well on its way to being a thing of the past.

I blame the board, Wenger but most of all the players for where AFC are right now. There are no innocent parties in this. It is a team effort when AFC wins and it is a team effort to lose as well. We as fans can’t have it both ways. Arsene can’t be a genius at spotting talent, then be blameless when that talent goes rogue. We can’t love the players then blame Wenger when those players grow to prefer money over the club, no way for him to know that beforehand…as I said before plenty of blame to go around.

We have to go back to basics Gooners. Support and love the CLUB, cheer the players and realize that it is never as bad or as good as the media, AKB, WOB, etc. want you to think it is. The reality is we support an elite club with small club values, embrace it. If you can’t, there will be more disappointment coming. If you can embrace it and have done, you know Arsenal are leading a charge to go back top and most certainly not lagging behind.

Good days ahead, you have to believe that, or what’s the point of support?
COYG!