Archive for August 19th, 2008


It’s a team, stupid

Oh Thomas…  just shut up already.

The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper ™ has reprinted a story from some Czech newspaper which quotes Arsenal’s ubiquitously injured Thomas Rosicky as saying

I hate everyone on the team.  Especially Gael Clichy because he lacks talent.   But also William Gallas because he is a huge baby.  Oh and Arsenal would have won the quad had it not been for those two.

…or something like that.  I don’t know what he actually said because A) I don’t read The Sun (not that I would trust their translation) and B) I don’t speak Czech so even if I were to see the original quotes I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

The important thing here is that Rosicky get on with rehabbing his knee/groin/thigh/calf/whatever and play some football and shut his pie-hole about the team and what went wrong last year.  It’s not his job to complain about teammates, everyone knows that’s why God invented bloggers.

Of course, this whole story could also all just be made up stuff from The World’s Least Reliable Newspaper ™ or a mixture of truth and fiction or… well, Rosicky is sort of denying it without really denying it.  If he were an American he’d just use the old “quotes taken out of context” canard.  Either way, this story is a non-story.  It’s not like Rosicky is actually part of the team, I mean, I haven’t seen him in an Arsenal uniform in a dogs year.

Speaking of injured players, Samir Nasri has been ruled out of the France friendly this week with a thigh strain.  What are the odds that he’ll be fit for Saturday against WoeFulham?

Transfer Speculation

After a summer where the press, literally, went alphabetically through the list of every decent player in the world and linked them to the team, the wire has suddenly and auspiciously gone dead.  This means one of two things; either Wenger is close to spending some of that pot of money he keeps promising us that he has or that he’s ready to stand pat because performances matter more than signings.

I have to admit that this whole juxtaposition of two equal and opposite stories on the dot com is a bit surreal at first glance but if you tease it out you can see what the grand scheme here is; that Arsene recognizes the fan psychology behind wanting a big signing and he’s trying to use that psychology to let you down easy.  In other words, there won’t be a £30m signing before the transfer window closes on September 1st.  There may be a small signing (>£5m), there is very little likelyhood of a medium signing (£5-10m), but there is absolutely no way that Arsenal are putting pen to paper with any team for any figure over £12m.  Here’s the relevant quotes to support my argument, they come out of both articles so bear with me.

Manchester United are in the £20-30 million bracket of the market, Chelsea are in an unlimited bracket, and we have to be in our own bracket – reasonable, but shrewd.

Basically, we balance the budget in the way we run the Club, I have the money available to buy the players, but we go into the competition with that target.

I think you always want to buy the players at the right price.

We have gone three or four years into a different policy [of bringing on our own players] which we have to see through.

Big signings reassure the fans, but performances are better.

And frankly, I agree with the man.  Football isn’t about wealthy patrons running around using the team as their personal prestige pot, outside of Chelsea that is.  For better or worse, Football is a business and it needs to be run as a business.  Right now, Arsenal’s business is in lean times, because they have just used a lot of capital to nearly double their capacity.  In a few years time, that condition will likely change and Arsenal will have bags of money (maybe) but until then, frugality is the name of the game.  Bringing in young men, molding them into team players, challenging for a trophy, and then selling them on for a profit if they ask to leave is what Arsenal is going to be about for the next 5 years or so.  In short, Arsenal are a selling club.  And so what of it?  Everyone says this like it’s a bad thing.

If Arsene Wenger’s talents lie in spotting a good deal and his nose for talent, then it behooves the business side of Arsenal to take advantage of that talent.  Just as any business uses the talents of thier best employees to maximize profits.

We, as fans, need to acclimitize ourselves to this shift in Arsenal because no, Arsenal cannot compete in the transfer market or salary wise with Chelsea and Man U.  That’s not the same as saying they cannot compete on the pitch: this is a solid team and though we lost two very important pieces from last year’s title race, we’ve replaced one (Hleb) with a player who’s not afraid to shoot and score and can put in a decent cross and we’re trying to find a replacement for the other.  Either that will come from the existing squad or from abroad. Either way it’s not going to cost the team £20m to do it.

And I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if next week we see the “This squad is big enough” story.  After all, if the squad were in need of bodies, would the team really let Hoyte and Nordtveit go?

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