Archive for July, 2008



19
Jul
08

I’m off

The panel van is all packed and we’re just about ready to leave but I thought I’d stop by for a quick note because there was a pretty major announcement yesterday.

But first, let me say, Arseblog wrote a piece this morning that basically said it’s the manager’s job to “bring success” (code for trophies) to the club and that this “success” will only happen when we buy some “experienced” (code for old) player.

He’s wrong.

Well, sort of.  Success can be defined in many ways: for Derby last season success was achieved when they scored a goal.  For Arsenal, this year and every year for the next 10, success is not going into bankruptcy or (worse) being forced into a takeover by Alisher Usmanov.  Every single thing that the board and the management says and does indicates that they are running Arsenal like a business and will be very, very conservative when it comes to transfers in.  And so, I think we need to redefine success for ourselves away from the notion that Arsenal are perennial title/FA cup challengers and toward the notion that Arsenal are a frugal team and title challenges are icing on the cake.

Success could also be seen as being a member of a club that bucks the current system.  Arsenal don’t need to pay £80m every year to bring in big names like Kaka and Schevchenko and then slip up at the last minute of the final; we can do that on the cheap!

And further, why does everyone think Arsenal need experienced players?  Who’s more experienced than Fabregas, Toure, Clichy, Eboue, Almunia, Senderos, and van Persie?  They’ve all been to the Champions League final and have had years of experience in the EPL.  Throw in old man Gallas for some salt and a poor haircut and I honestly struggle to see what more experience the team needs.

So a shift in definitions, really a shift in perspective is needed. This team has the necessary components to win a title.  Unless… unless Cesc Fabregas gets injured.  But it looks like it would cost £80m to get a replacement for him anyway and I don’t see that happening.

Speaking of which, the Kaka to Chelsea for £80m story does add a bit of a wrinkle to the Adebayor to AC Milan story.  If Milan were to suddenly find themselves flush with £80m would they reconsider a bid for Adebayor at £25m+?  Maybe, but all signs right now are pointing toward Adebayor being in an Arsenal strip next season.

Which is another thing you should probably shift your perspective on.

Anyway, that’s it for today.  8 hours of driving HERE I COME.

18
Jul
08

Was Hleb really that bad?

hmmm, should I pass?

hmmm, should I pass?

I got some stick yesterday from my meatworld friend (and Arsenal supporter — Alex) for saying that Hleb averaged 25 shots per season over the last three seasons. It’s true! I swear! It’s such an amazing statistic that it’s hard to believe but according to his profile on ESPN.com it’s true. We’re not talking “shots on goal” because last year he only had 13 shots on goal — in all competitions. I mean total shots; 25 shots, 11 assists, and 4 goals — in 38 competitions.

The other thing I got stick for was my characterization of Hleb as a forward. In the Arsenal 4-4-2 he lined up on the left side of the midfield but as we all know, he rarely played that role of winger; I honestly cannot remember him putting in a cross all year. And there were times, in the 4-5-1 that Hleb was slotted in as a second striker. You have to at least characterize him as an attacking midfielder.  And for an attacking midfielder to average 25 shots per season for three years on one of the most proliferate shooting teams in the world, should indicate that something is seriously wrong.

To give you some perspective; Gael Clichy had 21 shots in all competitions last year, Kolo Toure had 40 shots and netted 2 goals and 2 assists, just go ahead and click through and look at the rest of the team I think it’s pretty clear that Hleb was profligate.

So, yes, Hleb really was that bad.

Arsenal are falling apart

Of course, now that Gilberto, Hleb, and Flamini are gone the press are having a great time sticking the needle in. For some, our midfielders are disappearing so fast that “Arsenal’s midfield is the Bermuda triangle.” For others, winning anything this season would be Wenger’s best accomplishment ever, on and on.  The bloodsport of the press second-guessing Arsenal’s practices (transfer and otherwise) in in full swing. Which has been spurred by Wenger’s latest statement that buying a big name now would be “killing” the youth program that he has built up.

Well… it would. If Arsenal signed Marcos Senna, they would be taking opportunities away from Diaby, Denilson, and new boy (announced today) Francis Coquelin. If Arsenal are a business, as everyone in management keeps telling us that they are, then bringing in a big name player is bad business because big named players cost more money than you’ll ever get back on them. It’s like buying a new car, the moment you sign Marcos Senna he really has no place to go but down in valuation. Buying Francis Coquelin on the other hand isn’t 100% guaranteed to pay dividends but if he does pay off it’s almost always a huge payout. Just look at the money being offered for Adebayor.

The only problem with the youth system, and the reason that Wenger and Peter Hill-Wood keep doing their media blitz and saying the same things over and over, is that a youth system makes trophies less likely. Not impossible, mind, just difficult. Experience matters on the football field and team full of green players would most certainly be run off the field.

But that’s the genius of Wenger’s system. People point out how few players over 21 that Arsenal have available to play in the midfield as if age was the only factor in determining experience. Fabregas is only 21and already he has over 175 starts (for both club and country) he’s been to several different competition finals, and this season earned a starting spot on the Spain team who won Euro 2008. He’s got more experience than most 27 year olds and all credit for that goes to Arsene Wenger. He bloods these kids in cup competitions and so forth but more importantly, he stands behind them when he puts them in the starting lineup and gives them all the room they could ever need to grow. By the time a 17 year old has reached his 21st birthday, if he’s put in the hard work, if he’s got the talent, and if he’s been lucky to escape injury he will be as experienced as most players in their late twenties.

I know a lot of Arsenal supporters have gotten used to the idea that the team wins trophies. But the thing you have to remember is that we don’t deserve the trophies, we earn them. Arsenal cannot afford to splash out £100m over a year (as Tottenham and others have done) buying a big name players just to satisfy a few cranky fans who feel like we deserve a trophy. We don’t “deserve” trophies at Arsenal, we earn them. Hard work, dedication, and the genius of Wenger will get the club another trophy I have no doubt.

There is no shame in this. I’d much rather support a “selling” club who knows when to turn a hefty profit on a player than support a “buying” club where every year the fan expectations are doubles and trebles and superstars.

So, when we see Wenger buying another 17 year old we’ve never heard of we should rejoice, because it means we have the opportunity to watch another player blossom before us, maybe win a trophy or two, and then go off to Barcelona while filling our coffers.

This weekend and next week

I am going on “vacation” tomorrow. By which I mean I am driving my family from the beautiful Pacific Northwest to the Badlands of South Dakota. To visit my in-laws. Who I just saw two-months ago. Did I mention that I will have a two-month old baby in the car? For 1,200 miles? Yeah.

I will be stopping at places along the way but since I will be in the middle of no where I cannot guarantee that I will update the blog every day. Which means that no doubt Wenger will sign Marcos Senna while I’m gone. Yeah.

So, if you don’t hear from me, that means I’m dead, which will be a welcome relief from the car travel. But seriously, probably the blog won’t get updated every day for the next 9 days. So, here’s to Arsenal: let’s hope they beat Barnet in their pre-season kick off tomorrow. And here’s to me: let’s hope I survive the trip.

17
Jul
08

Official news

Alex Hleb is officially a Barcelona player. The club is being very professional about this departure and even treating it like it’s a sad day by giving him the normal farewell with one of those “looks back at his career” articles; that said, when you read the thing it’s almost a backhanded compliment. In three years he scored 11 goals and got voted Belorusian player of the year twice. 11 goals in three years. In the last three years, William Gallas has more goals than Hleb. Because when he gets a chance, HE SHOOTS.

I’m not trying to get down on the kid, but damnit, watching him play for the two years prior to this was insanely frustrating. I only need to say that he averaged 25 shots… a year… in all competitions for the Arsenal fans to shake their head and mutter “shoot. SHOOT!”

So, he took his passing boots to Barcelona, away from the hustle and bustle of his home in Hampstead Heath, and it could be said that Hleb was a Wenger failure. Well, not a complete failure but a sort of half-assed failure. Wenger was never able to work his magic on Hleb and transform him from a central player to a wing player, he never could get Hleb to take chances when he got them, and in the end Arsenal couldn’t even really cash in on his transfer.

Afterward the boss had this to say

Yes, it is true that some of the things he said painted him to be a completely coddled, rich, knob. And yes while he was at Arsenal only the Holy Spirit took less shots on goal but Everyone at Arsenal wishes Alex the best of luck for the future.

I may have misheard parts of that quote but I’m pretty sure that’s what Wenger said.

And that’s the whole of the news. There are rumors that Gilberto will sign for Panathinaikos today but nothing concrete just yet. Honestly? Losing Gilberto will be a much bigger story for me than losing Hleb, but I’ll write about that when (if) it happens.

All news has gone dead over the Adebayor transfer saga. Yesterday, Galliani was quoted saying that AC Milan was done buying after landing Ronadinho and today Barca signed Hleb, so where Ade would go at this point is only left up to the wild imaginations of the football press corps. Maybe they’ll link him to Chelsea. Oh I know, Adebayor is going to Man U! You heard it here first! Tell everyone. I have the inside scoop: my brother’s cousin’s sister’s fiance saw Adebayor pass out at the Manchester Baskin Robins, it’s very serious.

What happens to Adebayor when he doesn’t get a transfer? After all that’s been said and done I have to wonder how he scampers back to the club with his tail between his legs? An understanding manager might take a look at this whole situation and see that here was a young man, who grew up very poor, fresh off a great season, who had his agent telling him things, other agents telling him things, clubs promising him things, and basically everyone in his inner circle convincing him of a bunch of stuff that was completely false. They did all that in order to unsettle the player so that they could get him for a bargain. AC Milan paid a mere £16m for Ronaldinho. Now, I know he’s fat, but this is a guy that Chelsea reportedly offered eleventy billion pounds for just last year — no, they were bargain hunting and they figured if they unsettled Adebayor enough, Arsenal might let him go for a similar amount. Meanwhile Barcelona smelled the blood in the water and let it be known that they too would buy Adebayor, if the price is going to be stupidly low, like £16m.

An understanding manager might put a crazy valuation on the player (say £35m) in order to let everyone know that he’s not only not interested in selling but also that he understands that you all are up to your old tricks and that it’s not going to work this time. Because once you put a huge value on the player, there’s no way that you can sell him for half the price and still save face.

That same understanding manager would probably have a clear-the-air meeting with the player before the begining of the season, to make sure the guy was still on board and to let him know that he understands. And then he’d re-introduce the player to the team as if he was a new signing. Which is what he’ll be because there’s no way that you can go through something like this without it being a transformative event.

Anyway, that’s what I imagine will happen. And when Adebayor steps out onto the pitch in an Arsenal shirt, we should all give him a warm, understanding, welcome back.

Just don’t do it again, Ade.

My Obsession With Robbie Savage

It looks like it’s time to hang up my Robbie Savage kicking boots because there’s no kick I could deliver that would bite nearly as much as the fact that he was dropped by Derby County. I expect Tottenham to sign him for £16m any moment now.

And Finally…

In at number 2 of the Gunner’s all time greats is Denis Bergkamp. I couldn’t possibly write a more fitting tribute to the man so, please go read it. The only thing I would add is “grit:” Bergkamp had it whenever Arsenal needed it, and the club could use a man like that right now.

Until tomorrow

Update:

Gilberto has officially left for Panathinaikos.  Far more so than Hleb, Gilberto will be missed.  His leadership (he was club captain 2 years ago) on and off the pitch, his skill as a midfield stopper, and his knack for scoring a goal at just the right moment all made him an important player for Arsenal during his 6 years with the club.

But possibly the most important quality that Arsenal need to replace, especially now when the likes of Adebayor threaten to throw the club into turmoil, was his quiet professionalism.  The way he went about playing, practicing, and coming on when asked (in whatever position the boss asked him to) after he had been stripped of his starting position and his captaincy at the start of the season speaks volumes about the class and character of the man.  It is fitting that the first we all heard that Gilberto wanted to move on was just the other day, when the deal was nearly done.  Not a peep to the press about it.  No agent angling for a better deal.  No complaints about “mistreatment” or “slavery” by his former employers.  Just a “hey thanks I had fun, I’m going to finish my career in Greece if you don’t mind.”

Arsenal need more men like that, especially now.

Good luck, Gio, your class will be nearly impossible to replace.

16
Jul
08

Ready? Set!

Xabi Alonso waves good bye

It’s a morning of players “set” to do stuff.

Hleb is set to get a medical today and be revealed as a Barcelona player tomorrow.

Gilberto is set to get a medical today and be revealed as a Panathinaikos player tomorrow.

Arsenal are set to make a bid for Xabi Alonso [record scratch] wait, whut?  Hey! Back in May I made a joke about Xabi coming to Arsenal in order to point out the silliness of speculating and now it looks like that joke has come full circle.  Don’t get me wrong: Xabi Alonso is a very good player and would be the perfect replacement for Flamini — he’s one of the best passers in the EPL, he’s got a great engine, and he’s won the Champions League.  BUT! As much as I would love to see Xabi in an Arsenal shirt this story is thinner than Nichole Ritchie.  First, the death of the Alonso to Juve deal is being touted as the reason why Liverpool can’t sign Keane/Barry.  Second, Arsenal have been linked to Barry.  Third, why would Arsenal give Liverpool the money they need to sign a player that Arsenal also want?  Fourth, does Arsenal really want to give Liverpool the money to sign Keane?  And finally, would that really be a good deal for the Arsenal?

No.

The smart move is to go for Barry because that gives Villa the money to go for Bentley, which upsets Tottenham’s attempts to land the player, and it pips Liverpool to a player, and it gives Arsenal an Englishman that they can use to festoon all their advertisements and make Sepp Blatter/Michel Platini/Xenophobic Nationalists happy.

But that’s all blogger speculation, right?  What does the club actually say about all this?  Peter Hill-Wood wades in to the debate.

Maybe people need to wake up to the realities of the world and that the days of easy money have come to a pretty sudden end. There is an awful lot of talk about big transfers and major demands of players, but you will find throughout the UK and Europe that money is not quite as easy to obtain as it used to be. So I feel a lot of these stories emanating from agents may not actually come to fruition. There is a lot of talk but no action. It disappoints me because a lot of people don’t seem to realise that, in the long run, you must run a football club on a sensible commercial basis.

A solid reminder that Arsenal aren’t buying anyone this summer and to look closely at the stories and see who’s saying what.  In the case of the Alonso story it’s a “his agent said” so I’m putting that at 0.00% chance of being true.  The Barry story is closer to true but the only thing we know for sure is that Arsenal want to be kept “in the loop.” This could mean that they are anywhere from actively looking at the guy to waiting around in case there’s a chance to get a great deal, with the latter the most likely scenario.

It’s that last part of the PHW quote that makes me so confident that Arsenal aren’t buying any more players even if they do get £30m for Adebayor.  Add up the transfers: Arsenal are pretty much even in the transfer market.  Assuming that the Hleb story is true and Arsenal are getting £15m for him, now subtract Nasri’s £11m and Ramsey’s £5m: pretty much break even.

Now look at PHW and Wenger’s comments, they keep using words like “stability” and describing last season as “unfortunate” and we keep hearing how the Boss would much rather take young players and turn them into big stars.  These aren’t hints, folks, they are straight up telling us that unless there’s some kind of incredibly great deal this is the team we will see on the pitch next season. Any other money generated from player sales will be saved in case of an emergency and players need to be bought during the January transfer window.  That’s my word.

Finally, Tony Adams is #3 on the all time greats list, which means that Bergkamp and Henry have to be #2 and #1 respectively.  As for Adams, I don’t think Arsenal will ever see another player like him, check out the story on the dot com (linked above).

15
Jul
08

Scouts honor

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king

I was looking through my annual Official Arsenal’s Supporter’s Magazine yesterday and there was a great interview with Steve Rowley, Arsenal’s chief scout.  In the interview (which has been reprinted in its entirety over at Young Guns — I’m fairly certain in violation of all known copyright laws) Steve describes how the Arsenal scouting system works.  The system isn’t revolutionary: they develop contacts, they watch a player play, they build a dossier and then the Boss decides.  The only thing unusual about the Arsenal scouting system is as Steve puts it

The manager is so, so good at assessing a player that he can say straight away whether he likes what he sees or not. Then he will get onto his own contacts around the world to find out more about the player’s background, so it’s not just down to playing ability. When he’s made the decision, we move quickly to seal the deal.

Steve also revealed that Wenger likes to get players in that he can mould into the type of player he wants them to be, that the scouts are aware of these big names you hear all the time, but that the boss likes to get a bargain.  If you need evidence that Wenger has an eye for talent just look at Setanta’s starting XI “Wenger’s Greatest Signings.”

Knowing all this, it’s a bit of a surprise when I hear that Arsenal have put in an inquiry for a developed, well known, EPL player like Gareth Barry.  Nothing about what Martin O’Neill has said is the Arsenal way of doing a transfer.

Myself and Steve Walford both know Arsene Wenger’s assistant Pat Rice. He phoned Steve to ask how the Liverpool thing had gone and said that they might show an interest. At the end of the conversation Arsenal said: ‘that’s fine’ and that they’ll let us know. That is exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, this smacks of O’Neill trying to pressure Liverpool into increasing their price for Barry by mentioning Arsenal.  I say unfortunately because I kinda want to see Wenger sign an English player, one who is well established, who has talent, can start right away, and someone who will bring experience to the training ground.  Barry fits all those requirements.  I guess we’ll have to wait an see, but now that O’Neill has gone and publicly linked Arsenal to Barry I’d be surprised if the deal gets done.

The other “big” story is about Arsenal raising ticket prices.  Yes, it’s true: Arsenal have increased season ticket prices 4.5% the first such increase in 4 years.  Those robber barrons!  How dare they raise their prices 4.5% over 4 years?  Why, that’s not even anywhere near the rate of inflation.  What’s more, they include all European and cup competitions in that price.  Which means that Arsenal ticket holders can get an extra 15 home matches or so every season.  Oh the humanity!

Certainly, the clubs need to address the issue of making matches more available to young fans and local working class fans but I think that $2000 for season tickets is a damn fine price.  Our local football team (the Seattle Seahawks) has a comparable ticket package: $700 for 10 home games (which includes pre-season). And then you’ll be watching the Seattle Seahawks.  Besides, it costs me close to $2000 to fly to London for a week and see just ONE match.  £925 is just a little less than £80/mo which is certainly a luxury item, but then going to see a match is a luxury.

I also doubt that this 4.5% increase will see too many people turn in their season tickets and if they did there’s a huge waiting list of people ready to take their spot.  So many people, in fact, that Arsenal had to go out of its way to make tickets available for the average Red level member like myself.  And hell, if you’ve got £15, and you happen to be in Huddersfield, you can go see Arsenal play in this weekend’s first pre-season game.

Anyway, there’s no tranfer news to report yet today, though I suspect we’ll see some movement early this week.  First, Hleb, then Barry, then Adebayor, then Arsenal will bank the cash: you wait and see.

’till tomorrow.

14
Jul
08

New away shirts are here

I admit it: I voted against these shirts before I voted for them. When pics were leaked two weeks ago, the shirt just looked dingy and ugly to me.  Yes, I know that they’re doing this in honor of the 1989 title win at Anfield.  I appreciate that.  But after my initial reservations I’ll admit, it’s not a bad looking kit.  You can pre-order one at the dot com but I wouldn’t recommend getting “Hleb” or “Adebayor” or “God” put on the back.

I had to wear my team captain’s Liverpool strip during yesterday’s match and of course he had “God” on the back in honor of Robbie Fowler.  I got a lot of shiat for that by the other team, naturally.  Coincidentally, our team might actually be able to pick up Fowler as it seems like he’s set for a two week trial at Blackburn.  Owch.  Just retire, old man.

Blackburn has also announced that Nigel Winterburn (no.32 on the Gunners’ Greatest Players list) will be their defensive coach.  Maybe Blackburn will try to play football under Nigel’s watchful eye?  It’s too soon to tell.  What we do know is that Bentley is supposed to be going to Spuds for £17m: a portion of which will go to Arsenal.  HA!  That’s justice, as if having a case of Bentleyism wasn’t justice in itself.

In the “Not joining Arsenal” group this morning is a 16 year old midfielder named Tawick Jibril.  I never heard of him, but he does have a 10 minute YouTube video.  In which case it has to be seen as a huge loss for the Arsenal.

There are more stories about how Andrei Arshavin is wetting the bed he’s so excited to join the Gunners… (wait for it)… but Zenit haven’t received a bid from any EPL teams.  At £10m he’s an attractive player, at £20m he’s overpriced, out of shape, and at 27 years old you’ll never get your money back on him.  DON’T BUY HIM ARSENE.

It’s being reported that Hleb has joined Barcelona for £15m, now we’ll wait and see who Arsene buys with that money.  Oh yeah, bye bye Hleb, I hope you find some peace in Barcelona.

It’s also being reported that Barcelona are offering Eto’o plus cash for Adebayor.  No’o, please’e, thank you’u.  Eto’o would demand a huge salary, he’s a whiner, and a dressing room malcontent.  The last thing Arsene needs is that headache.

And finally…  probably my all time favorite player (it’s hard to choose) has found himself at #5 on the Gunners’ Greatest Players list. Football fans the world over have to admit that Vieira was the only player who could ever stand up to (and on) Roy Keane.  If he wasn’t stopping people in midfield, he was scoring brilliant goals or just providing the midfield engine of a team that would go unbeaten over 49 games.  He was an inspirational leader on the pitch and was still able to toss down some pizza after the match.  It’s sad to see him play now, I prefer to just remember the Patrick Vieira who scored against Tottenham.  That was they guy that terrified midfields up and down the country.

’till tomorrow.

13
Jul
08

The shine is wearing off

I watched the game that Frank Lampard played immediately after the death of his mother.  I was at the pub with Tacoma’s biggest Chelsea fan and she was effusive with praise for Lampard the whole time which reached a critical mass when he scored.  “He’s so precious” she said like a mantra “so precious.” I couldn’t help myself — I vomited up “He’s not ‘precious’ he’s a gold plated turd.” Of course my outburst brought a well deserved rebuke from her as she stood her ground.  I knew better: Frank Lampard is a hero to Chelsea fans and they will stand by him until the bitter end.

That “bitter end” is rumored to be Jan 1st, when Frank Lampard will sign a free transfer with Inter.  Owch, he’s so pissed off at Chelsea’s paltry £30m contract offer that he’s going to screw them out of a transfer fee?  Owch.  Chelsea fans are starting to realize that some of the shine has worn off Chelsea’s gold plated turd.  You know it’s bad when even Andy Dunn takes a few minutes out of his weekly screed against Arsenal and current column lambasting Hleb (yeah, Hleb’s the poster child for greed and whining in the EPL) and spares a few inches to call out one of England’s heroes.

What do people expect?  The culture at Chelsea breeds this sort of greedy attitude and spreads it like a plague across Europe.  The salaries they pay distort reality, the transfer fees they throw around distort reality, and their problems on and off the pitch are symptoms of that distortion.  It was always only a matter of time before the greed and pomp that Chelsea used to lure players into their web would come back to bite them.

Of course Lampard thinks he deserves more, he’s just swallowed the Chelsea party line.

But who cares?  Lampard will go to Inter and flounder around in the overly defensive, boring, divey Serie A.  Away from the protective cocoon of the almost cult-like worship of English fans, his private life will be under constant scrutiny and his many dalliances will be the subject of daily columns.  Or as Arsenal great Denis Bergkamp put it

The problem for an attack-minded player in Italy is that you can never play your own game. Their fans are happy with a draw. Some times they consider a draw like a win. It is all about the result… There were also intrusions into my private life I did not like.

And that’s just the tip of the garbage heap: corruption, greed, toxic waste, the mafia and the garbage strewn streets of Naples are the wonders that await Fat Frank in Italy.  Not to mention playing in 3/4 empty stadiums in front of the world’s least forgiving fans.

Yeah, it’s a dream move for any professional.  Have fun, Frank, and say hi to Adebayor for us.

Certainly Chelsea’s distorted business practices are a problem.  I hear fans nearly every day calling on Arsenal to be “less stingy” and we’ve all read the quotes from Robin van Persie, Adebayor, Flamini, etc calling on Arsenal to break their wage structure and “pay.”  But Chelsea aren’t alone in this with clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid able to pay higher wages as well.  So what’s the solution?  Should we all run out and sign on to Platini’s “Salary cap + Indentured Servitude + The Kitchen Sink” plan?

No, please, thanks.  I’m not anti-regulation but I’m for sensible regulations.  Forcing young players to sign professional contracts with their academy clubs is far closer to the “slavery” that Sepp Blatter supposedly decried last week.  And if you add in the idea that they have to be homegrown players well, it’s just getting plain batty.  But why stop there?  Why not limit television broadcasts, punish teams who go into debt, and force clubs to pay fielty to their new lord and master by having players carry the bust of Platini out to mid-field and genuflect properly before each game?

No, please, thanks.  There are problems in football: greed is running rampant, agents are out of control, debt is threatening to kill the biggest clubs in the world, diving, cheating, off field antics, on an on and on.  But most of these problems will sort themselves out: Chelsea can’t keep paying the crazy salaries that they are paying, agents can be regulated with some very simple measures, if teams don’t want to lose their academy players they can sign them to a contract, and if debt kills a club so what?

Football is bigger than all these problems.  Frank Lampard disappointing a few starry eyed Chelsea fans isn’t going to destroy football.  Adebayor’s greed isn’t going to ruin Arsenal.  Arsenal signing Cesc Fabregas isn’t going to ruin Barcelona.  And cutting off television broadcasts isn’t going to fill stadiums.  Just ask American football fans.

Football is bigger than all these problems.  Football will still be here when they have gone away and we’re all wringing our hands about something else.




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