Archive for June, 2008



25
Jun
08

Vincenzo Morabito, super agent part 2

I noticed that my readers are going ape over a post I did back when the whole Adebayor transfer saga kicked off that asked for someone to please muzzle Vincenzo Morabito.

You people are seriously excited about what this guy has to say?

Ok, well, just about an hour ago or so, Morabito gave an interview that basically rehashes all the stuff you’ve already heard: Adebayor is going to Milan, Arsenal are just waiting to get [insert striker’s name here], etc. etc.

People… calm down, this is an agent for the player trying to stir the pot so he can get a cut of any transfer fee.  It doesn’t mean Arsenal are actively selling the player.

Sheesh.

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25
Jun
08

Real Ronaldo

Normally you wouldn’t find me defending Manchester United and, even in their defense, I honestly think they deserve what they are getting with this whole Ronaldo fiasco. But there’s a much, much bigger problem at stake here, one that all football fans should be against regardless of the fact that the world’s two least-classy teams are battling it out over the contracted services of the world’s least-classy player; what is the value of a contract?

On Friday the 13th of April, 2007 Manchester United revealed that they had just put pen to paper with Ronaldo and “locked” him into a 5 year deal.  And now, just one year into that deal, the player wants out. The same thing is supposedly going on with Arsenal’s Adebayor: except it was just this year that Arsenal “locked” him into a 5 year deal, gave him a pay raise, and handed him the starting striker spot.

For both of these players, and both of their teams, this should have been the culmination of a great business relationship between team and player. Both teams took tremendous chances signing these players and both teams held the faith with these players when they under-performed — as I’ve pointed out before Ronaldo didn’t really start to shine until this year and ask any Arsenal supporter what they think of Adebayor’s previous two seasons.

In short, the teams invested years of resources in these players and when it came time for that investment to pay off, they wanted assurances that the investment would pay dividends and so, signed them to long term contracts. It should be that simple, but it isn’t.

It’s not that simple, because FIFA and UEFA allow a club like Real Madrid and AC Milan (or Barcelona) to unsettle a contracted player. I know, they claim that they want to do something about “tapping up” as it’s called in Europe (here in America it’s called “tampering” and there are pretty strict rules about it) but whenever it’s reported to the authorities they refuse to take action. Both Arsenal and Man U have repeatedly said that Ronaldo and Adebayor are not for sale and yet, just today you can find multiple press releases by Milan or Real Madrid over their outspoken desire to sign these players.

How is that not tampering? These teams are literally saying, in press conferences, “I would pay Ronaldo double what he is getting at Man U and give the team an insane transfer fee… too bad he’s still under contract with them, huh?” They then contact the player’s agent and say “you know, if he was to come here, you might just earn yourself a huge bonus check. How does £10m sound to you?” Or in the case of Real Madrid, they don’t even have to contact the agent, they just have the tea-lady leak to the press that the agent might earn a £10m headhunter’s fee, and in that way they can maintain their “innocence” in all this.

It’s disgusting and potentially ruinous to all of football. If players don’t have to honor their contracts, if other teams don’t have to honor another team’s contracts, and if all you have to do to get around any sanctions is tell the story to the press, then what is the value of a player’s contract?

No team is innocent in this but I think we’re seeing the culmination of a loose policy toward contracts because this latest attempt by Real Madrid goes way beyond Wenger saying “I could see him playing for Arsenal.” Something has to be done, or teams might as well not bother signing contracts with players.  I’d like to see strict rules over contracts, something like what they have in the NBA, where it’s illegal to mention that you’d like to sign a player, much less leak what kind of salary that player might get.

But I can’t see that happening, FIFA are too busy worrying about the number of “foreigners” in the English Premier League to care about the fundaments of football as a viable business enterprise, and so we should all expect another long, hot summer of broken contracts.

24
Jun
08

Don’t believe the hype

You know…

I saw the story, went to Nasri’s homepage confirmed that the player was saying the deal is done, and published an article.  Less than an hour later, his web site is down and the player’s agent is claiming the deal is not quite done. Everyone’s sources are claiming that the deal is pretty much done but that Marseilles are holding up the announcement.

Whatever.

The press have skipped past Frings and gone straight to the “G’s” in their never ending, alphabetical, search for players who will not be playing for Arsenal next season.  Today?  It’s Shay Given.  Linking the hapless Given to Arsenal the day after the club released the news that Almunia was given the #1 shirt has to be one of the news stories of the off-season for me.  They could have picked any team to not link him to, why Arsenal?  Why not Pompey, or Boro, or Scunthorpe United?

Karim Benzema is also rumored not to be going to Arsenal, reportedly, not for £40m.  Technically, this breaks with the alphabetical linking of players UNLESS you just call him “Karim” in which case he’s right on track!

Adebayor is still not going to Milan and honestly, the quotes in this story pretty much put the Adebayor transfer stories to bed.

If the club do not allow you in, there is nothing you can do.

When a club says their player is indispensable, there is not a lot that can be done.

Looks like Wenger gave Milan “the answer they deserved.”  I suspect if Barcelona offer the insane £32m that Wenger is reported to be tossing around, Adebayor will leave.  And since that won’t happen, Ade will be in an Arsenal shirt next season.  To help you get used to the idea, here’s some Arsenal greats praising the lad.  “Ade adds another dimension.”  Yes, he’s able to warp space-time, fold himself in half, and appear suddenly on the other side of defenders.  That’s how he scored 30 last season.

I’ll update the blog if anything happens.  If not… cya tomorrow.

23
Jun
08

Welcome Samir Nasri

It’s all but official: Arsenal have signed Samir Nasri from Olympic Marsielles for £15m.  Whoa.  £15m is a lot of cash but it does look like Arsenal have finally gotten a true wing player and, moreover, he looks like he fits the Wenger bill: young, technically gifted, mobile, and malleable.

Good luck kiddo!

23
Jun
08

How to take a penalty part two: don’t think

Fabregas at Euro 2008

It was a very dry match, which is exactly what the Italians wanted it to be. Everyone watching knew that the Italians weren’t playing to win as much as to “not lose.” It was the type of game that any Arsenal fan recognizes immediately: a ton of great movement, great passing, loads of possession, chances not taken, and great defending by their opponent. Now, think back to any of Arsenal’s away matches up ‘norf last season and that’s what this match reminded me of. It even featured that same kind of bad luck where you just can’t seem to score a goal no matter how well you’ve broken your opponent.  Quite amazing actually.

That bad luck, though, was nothing compared to the way the Italians used the ref to turn the match into a grotesque charade of football: diving, pushing, cheating, and when the Spanish got a break away? Feigning injury. Huh. Wait a second… that’s what Bolton do! The Italians are the Bolton of international football! No wonder I hated them so viscerally from the very start.

Unlike a typical Arsenal/Bolton clash, however, this tournament must have a conclusion so, they played a useless 30 minute overtime period, followed by this year’s ubiquitous feature: the penalty shootout.

First, due credit to Iker Casillas. The impartial observer must admit that Casillas’ two saves won that match: they were as great of saves as I have seen any keeper make in any international tournament. Too bad the press is all a twitter with Fabregas’ “winning” PK because Casillas really deserves all the credit.

That said… what a stone cold penalty by Cesc! I had told my lady earlier that I thought Cesc might win it for the Spaniards but never would have predicted that he would take the fifth and decisive penalty, in fact when it went to penalties I almost left for my own football match (we won 9-0) because Cesc has never taken a penalty and I had no reason to believe that his coach would let him take one now.

But there was number 10, walking toward the spot. The camera focused on him as he backed away from the ball, his lips were blue and he had the 100 mile stare, I said “breathe Cesc, breathe!” Then… Buffon, never having seen Cesc take a penalty, guessed the wrong way and Cesc, unlike Modric, Ronaldo, and John Terry, found the back of the net at the time when his team needed it most. He didn’t shirk his duties like the horrible Nikolas Anelka. He didn’t fall down on the spot like the hapless John Terry. And he didn’t shoot wide and proceed to cry like the World’s Most Annoying Footballer ™ Ronaldo. Nope, he stuck it. He won the match.

Good for him. I was hoping that Spain would get knocked out of the tournament and Cesc could join Robin van Persie on vacation prior to the start of the season but if he had to go on playing, well… that was simply the best way in the world to do it.

Adebayor Week at Arsenal.com

Meanwhile, back in sunny old London, the fans were busy voting on who should be player of the season and after Clichy comes Adebayor in 3rd place. Bit of a mystery to me as to why so many people voted for him at all since you all seem to hate him so much but vote you did. And, erm, third place he won! Passive sentences no more shall I write!

Anyway, it’s Adebayor week at the old dot com and if you follow that link there’s a link in there in which you can spew your invectives. Just remember, he’ll be the guy in the number 25 shirt scoring goals for Arsenal next season, so you might want to hold back some venom for the two game streak where he fails to convert. Also, you might try to think of some of the positive things he brought to the team; like the winning goal against Spuds, or the 11 game scoring run, or the fact that he fundamentally (and for the better) changed the way that Arsenal played football last season. Stuff like that.

… oh yeah, they released the official squad numbers — looky there, Hleb and Adebayor are still on the list.

Transfer Roundup

And why shouldn’t Hleb be on the list? After all, Arshavin is the one who’s going to Barca and given the choice between the two, I’d probably pick Arshavin if I was Barcelona.

But that news does leave the Hleb situation in doubt, because I honestly can’t see Barcelona turning down Arshavin for £10m and buying Hleb for £8m. They would be foolish. How much you wanna bet that Hleb is with Arsenal next season?  A pint?  You’re on.

Meanwhile, over on the smelly side of London, Tottenham is ready to swoop for Arsenal fan target and £10m rated goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. I approve this transfer as it will hopefully stop people in forums from linking us to him.

What am I saying? Arsenal fans will never stop linking Arsenal to Gomes!

And that’s it for today, perhaps Barcelona will announce that Adebayor just text messaged their cousin’s brother’s agent’s tea lady to ask for a spot of fresh tea.  Which is a CLEAR SIGN he wants to play with Theirry Henry next year.  It’s all so obvious, isn’t it?

22
Jun
08

Transfer merry go round

No one actually knows what’s going on. There are rumors, innuendo, a lot of “I heard such and such” but the truth is that no one, NO ONE, knows what’s actually happening with the Adebayor situation. And anyone who claims to have “insider” information is full of it, because Adebayor could easily go to Milan, Barcelona, or stay at Arsenal: all three of those scenarios are equally likely and anyone claiming special information on which of those three situations is simply guessing in order to generate hits on their web site. If you need any further proof, just look at where these reports are coming from: The Sun via Barcelona. I haven’t seen a less trustworthy source since the USA got sold a bill of goods on Iraq by an insider aptly named “curveball.”

It’s pretty clear that Barcelona and Milan are openly trying to prise him away from Arsenal but all the noise from our side is that they don’t want to sell the player. The boss is even going so far as to say that while he brought his checkbook to Euro 2008 and while he sees a ton of talent on display, he “will use my cheque-book first to keep the players I already have.”

How this jives with the whole Adebayor saga remains unclear but it isn’t the first time that we’ve heard him say this. My suspicion is that Wenger is very happy with the return he’s seen from Ade and wants to lock the player up but doesn’t want to overpay and upset the wage structure at the club. Furthermore, the player was just recently valued at £32m and the latest word is that even their reported offers of £21m are too rich for their depleted coffers and so they want to offload some of their players (Eto’o and cash for Adebayor? No’o thanks!). The player has only ever publicly stated that he wants to stay at Arsenal and (unlike Ronaldo) has repeatedly denied links to any other club. This story is possibly about Ade trying to get a raise, likely about Joan LaPorta keeping his job, and absolutely not going to happen. This story has no legs folks, Adebayor will be in red and white next season unless Barcelona cough up some kind of gigantic transfer fee.

Or maybe it will happen, like I said, you should distrst anyone who claims to know what’s going on.  If it does happen Arsenal will get a damn fine return on a player they only paid £7m for. Either way I’m done with this story until I see a report on the dot com, I’m not generating hits for The Sun or helping LaPorta keep his job.

Remember back at the end of the season when I told you to prepare yourself for a summer with little or no transfer activity: the club had already started making noises about how the transfer kitty was less than £25m, and that of that £25m money was first going to go toward keeping the players we have. Now, think about what’s happened this summer: Arsenal have signed Aaron Ramsey, they have penned new contracts with Song, Sagna and Clichy, and the rumor is that Samir Nasri is on his way in. Nasri is reportedly costing £12m, Ramsey £5, and if each of the two full backs commanded £60,000/wk that’s another £6m. That’s a total of £23m and those deals right there have probably eaten up all the transfer kitty. Unless Adebayor moves on or Hleb commands the price Arsenal are supposedly asking (which no one seems to want to pay) there is no money to bring anyone in.

What I see happening is even IF they sell off Adebayor and Hleb, Arsenal will bank that money. Defenders will not be purchased because Wenger is happy with the defensive team and feels like Song can fill any other gaps there. A central midfield partner for Cesc is unnecessary because Arsenal have Gilberto and Diaby will be his understudy. There won’t be any loss in the striker spot because that’s already too crowded with Bendtner, Eduardo, Vela (who scored again for Mexico yesterday), van Persie, and Walcott. On the wings there will be Nasri, Rosicky, Eboue and possibly one of the many strikers.

None of which mentions the youth team that is bursting at the seams with talent like Simpson, Ramsey, Nordveit, Lansbury, Traore, etc etc. I can see all of these kids getting some playing time when injuries strike the first team.

With the credit crunch squeezing condo sales in the Highbury development, debts payments straining the coffers, and the wage structure rising with the signings of Clichy, Sagna, and Song (and imminent signing of Adebayor) we’re not likely to see that superstar signing so many of you seem to want.

My advice? “You’ll get over it.” You might as well start getting over it right now.

21
Jun
08

Good buy, Spuds

There’s a trick to taking penalty kicks: get the ball on target.

That’s it, that’s my only trick.  Master that and everything else is gravy.  Too bad for poor Croatia that they couldn’t master that simple trick.  I watched the entire Coatia v. Turkey match as I was home sick and my analysis is

  1. Luca Modric is overrated, undersized, can’t play a lick of defense, and chokes in the clutch.  In short, he’s the perfect Spurs signing.
  2. Tommy Smyth has no clue whatsoever about how the game of football is played. I’ve known this now for years, but he’s usually been relegated to just covering Champions league matches and now it seems like he’s the main announcer for every match in Euro 2008.  Whatever genius in ESPN’s programming department decided that Tommy merited this promotion should be shot to death, resuscitated, and shot to death again.  If I have to hear him say “bulge the old onion bag” one more time, I am seriously going to lose it.  Plus?  I don’t need Tommy Smyth telling me what is and isn’t a foul, especially when the same foul is committed on both ends of the pitch and he sees it two different ways.
  3. Slaven Bilic has always been a diving cheater and cheaters never prosper — except Ronaldo, who stands to prosper quite handsomely.

I can’t wait to see Germany utterly dismantle Turkey.  I don’t think Turkey can even field 11 players due to all the suspensions that they have coming.  I know that everyone is picking Holland to win, and who doesn’t like a team that has more vans than a skate shop?  But I think the Germans are the team to beat.  They are just too damn big, tough, organized, oh and they have learned to dive.  When I saw the 6’4″, 200+ lb,  Metzelder drop faster than Britney Spears’ panties after he got touched in the face, I knew that the Germans were working on something really special.  They are my favorite team of the tournament so far.

There’s No News Like Arsenal News

Today, Arsenal aren’t buying Diogo, nor are they buying Eto’o, which brings the reporters up to the “E’s” in Arsenal’s alphabetical non-pursuit of every player in the world.  Up next, denials that Frings is coming to the team.

Silly season is in full swing, folks.




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