Cesc wants his Hlebby back

After the Spain v WhoCaresIt’sAnInternational match Cesc Fabregas gave an interview in which he stated his concern that Arsenal lack both the experience and the flair to win anything this season. Predictably the pundits are spinning this as either “Cesc criticizes Wenger” or “Arsenal has lost its flair” but for me it’s really neither of those two. Cesc statement is revealing, not about Wenger but about the character of Cesc.

Here’s the quote in question:

Our squad is a bit short on numbers and we are very young. Behind me there is Denilson, who is 20, or Alex Song who is 21. Theo Walcott is 19 and Samir Nasri 21.

It’s hard to imagine a midfield where I am the oldest member.

We find it very hard to win matches, as we do not possess enough experience.

I scored 13 goals last season but then I had plenty of allies. Tomas Rosicky (injured) was around, Mathieu Flamini (now at Milan) covered every blade of grass and Alexander Hleb (who went to Barcelona in the summer) was like a brother to me out there.

The team played with a lot of skillful touches, we were as solid as a brick wall and our opponents would not get a look in.

Now none of those players are in the side and I feel like a rare being. We are more defensive-minded and sturdy as a team but we don’t play so much skillful stuff.

First, I understand that Cesc would feel a sense of loss because he can no longer play with his close friend (Hleb). I also understand that he’s feeling more pressure on him to perform because, as I said and was criticized roundly for last year, he’s lost the cover that Flamini provided. But what I don’t understand is why he has decided to denigrate the contributions of his current teammates and himself.

As good as Hleb was (at not shooting) in his last year of playing with us he was shockingly bad for the two years previous. He wasn’t creative at all, he was more likely to dribble into a dark alley than to put in a proper cross or otherwise open up the opponent’s defense. And then, of course, there was his chronic inability to shoot when presented with open chances. No, I’m sorry, but Samir Nasri already looks a more than apt replacement for Hleb. Why Cesc is slagging off Nasri I have no idea.

On the Flamini issue? Yes. We need another Flamini. But given the rise of Ramsey and Wilshere and Wenger’s desire to play those two and bring them up rather than buying a player, I can’t see him spending the money on Yaya or Alonso this January. Unless Cesc threatens to quit or something.

But more than just the individuals, what’s really troubling with this statement is the way that Cesc sees himself. The team lacks experience? Wait, what about Cesc? Isn’t he experienced? What about all those finals he’s been in, the trophy he won this summer, don’t those count for anything? I disagree with him here, Cesc possesses the requisite experience, and it’s his job now to pass that on.

What I think we’re really hearing from Cesc is that Arsenal lack the leadership that someone like Flamini provided. We’re hearing, moreover, that Cesc lacks the leadership to transfer his own abundance of experience over to the others.

I guess that’s why Arsene didn’t make Cesc the captain: he’s too busy looking for others to provide the leadership and experience. I almost feel like someone should give him a “leadership coin” and say to him “Ok, Cesc, put that magic coin in your sock and it will magically give you the leadership qualities that you’re looking for in others.” Then, you know, he could lose the coin and show some leadership and we’d all say “that was just an ordinary coin! The qualities you sought were already within you!” and there would be a rainbow and birds chirping and a fucking trophy and Spurs would be relegated.

That’s my fantasy anyway.

I hope the manager has a couple of words with Cesc, at least, and tells him that he’s a leader now, that Denilson and Rambo and Nasri and Theo all need him to step up and play that role. Oh, and also, don’t slag off your teammates publicly, jerk.

Does Anyone Miss Seaman

Miss Seaman (lol)…

Anyway, David Seaman is having a hard time containing his schadenfreude over Spurs recent “drop” in form which is nice and interesting and all. But what’s REALLY cool about that article is that there’s a YouTube of Seaman’s greatest saves and if you can watch that video and not miss Seaman, well then you’re no Arsenal fan.


WordPress has included some kind of poll function and I thought I’d test it out!

Tomorrow there will be a match preview and square pie. See you then.


13 Responses to “Cesc wants his Hlebby back”

  1. 1 Stu
    October 16, 2008 at 6:05 am

    if cesc feels this way he shouldn’t be saying it to the media. if i was walcott in some good form or nasri or whoever i’d feel a bit disappointed that my inexperience was bothering him so much. whilst it’s not an unfair point, it is a bit harsh on them to be told it, especially indirectly

  2. October 16, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Cesc is what, 20? I kind of emphasize with the lad. He’s always been thought of as the boy-wonder (emphasis on the “boy”), who could rely on the oldies when things got tough. Even if he’s taken on a influential leadership role within the club (he’s social director, remember), he probably still thought of himself as the baby of the side. Now, his two best mates are gone and he’s left with a bunch of kids to nurture. That would shit anyone off, and it’s going to take some time for him to come around to the idea that he’s the papa of the Arsenal midfield. Plus the fact that we were so close last year, and now we’re back to square one.

    Even Kaka at twenty wasn’t expected to lead the team.

  3. October 16, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I disagree, 20 years old isn’t really a boy anymore.

  4. 4 barnaby
    October 16, 2008 at 8:47 am

    What cesc is saying reaffirms what many fans believed was opportunity lost over the summer. Very politely cesc is saying the squad as it is isn’t up to winning anything and he’s not happy with the clubs diminished ambitions. Do you really think if Arsenal we’re playing well he’d be missing his buddies that much? Tosh, brother this is the price you pay for losing perspective and objectivity and spouting endless bias….you stop making any sense. Let cesc’s words speak for themselves, there are issues in this side that can only be adressed in January, should wenger not act he must at least explain fully why he has the money and won’t strengthen as wenger’s pr ability as head of a major organization is deeply flawed.

  5. 5 barnaby
    October 16, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Stu, the fact that cesc made it public should tell you something.

  6. 6 T-town Alex
    October 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Cesc is 100% right. I may not have said it like that in public, but the point is valid. And regardless of experience as a footballer, leadership needs a level of maturity and responsibility that nobody has (or can be expected to have) at 20 years old. When he is 24-26 he can be a great captain, but not now. The solution is very simple and it is in Wenger’s hands: We need one (not zero, and not two) JUST ONE experienced midfielder. If Wenger doesn’t make this happen in January, it would be a huge mistake. Not only it will not go against the strategy of growing our kids, it will give them more support to get there faster.

  7. 7 T-town Alex
    October 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

    One question: What is the latest on Rosicky? Can we count on him at all this year?

  8. October 16, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Rosicky is officially slated to return before January.

    There’s your experienced midfielder, who will take Theo’s place!

    And see, that’s the problem and I’m sure what Wenger will say when he doesn’t buy in January is:

    1) any purchase comes at the expense of building this young squad.
    2) he is opposed to January purchases on a moral basis (he’s already called for the window to be closed) as it allows super rich teams like Citeh to disrupt the league mid-way through the season.

  9. 9 barnaby
    October 16, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Tim, at this point it’s a given what Wenger says regarding the youth policy. Unfortunately, one of his prized youth and one of the teams’ most important players is saying the youth policy isn’t working and it’s discouraging. What’s exasperating is that the situation with the team is entirely retrievable. I think it invovles at least two seasoned signings of high quality, not necessarily high cost. Forget this nonsense of killing youth, who is playing so well they are untouchabe – ROTATE THE SQUAD, what law is there that states a new signing has to supplant one of our youth who will never see another game? As for who to sign, it probably should have been alonso, if pool win the league it will be down to his super form thus far this term, but perhaps that ship has sailed, there are others. When a plan isn’t working there comes a time it must be changed, I hope it’s wenger but that is far from certain. Who is better placed than cesc to make this assessment? ‘We need experience’.

  10. October 16, 2008 at 11:57 am


    You make some good points and I think we simply disagree over some issues: first, I think “the plan” is working spectacularly. From what I’ve read, my understanding is that the plan is to build a team with players who have come through your academy system. This will save tons of money and afford Wenger an opportunity to shape the players into the type of team he would like: a team with players like Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas, Sagna, Clichy, Vela, etc.

    From a game perspective, the team is beautiful to watch. So that part of the plan is working.

    From a monetary perspective Wenger is buying low and selling high. So that part of the plan is working.

    From a trophy perspective. It’s not working but my feeling is that we don’t “deserve” trophies we earn them within the confines of our resources.

    Thus we have to stick with Wenger’s plan (as he is one of our resources) or we have to ask Wenger to step down. I will never ask for Wenger to step down for football reasons. Personal reasons? Maybe. But if he thinks it’s best to run the team this way, I think we all need to take a step back and let him run it. He has, after all, been the most successful manager I have ever seen.

    My main criticism of Cesc is that if he sees a leadership gap he should fill it. That’s what leaders do. They don’t look for someone else to fill the gaps, they do it themselves. And yes, he’s a very young man. But he’s a man and he’s played well over 200 games for club and country against the best competition in the world. I mean, Cesc has played more Premier League games than Alonso has and almost as many total games.

    So, while he may be young in years, he’s a very experienced midfielder who has started for one of the best teams in the world, played at the highest level, and even won trophies with and against the best competition in the world. To say he’s inexperienced is just not true.

    What he obviously lacks is maturity and this outburst proves it. What good could possibly come from saying he’d rather be playing alongside Rosicky and Hleb than Nasri and Theo? If his point was that we need to replace Flamini, then say that directly, don’t slag off Nasri because your buddy sucked and didn’t deserve to be at the club and was a whiny little shit and hide it under the guise of “experience.”

    Arsenal don’t lack the experience to win the league. They have a very experienced squad from front to back. What they clearly lack is leadership and maturity (for which I blame Gallas and, ultimately, Wenger) and it’s a very sad day that the guy I pegged to be captain this year (Cesc) showed how very clearly he doesn’t deserve it.

  11. 11 T-town Alex
    October 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    All I was saying is that the current plan is great, and is working at 90%+. It needs a simple tweak with an injection of experience in midfield. Nobody in their right minds is saying drop everything or fire Wenger. That is ridiculous. Just inject some experience and stick to the plan. You will get both long term and short term rewards that way. And no 20-something year old since Napoleon Bonapart has provided the kind of leadership Tim expects out of Cesc :-) Give him a few years, come on now!

  12. 12 Anonymous
    October 16, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Have to agree with T-Town and Barnaby, if our youth strategy doesn’t work this year and we drop out of the CL we stand to lose over 30 Mill just from the CL alone, and untold losses from fair weather fans who only support a winning team.

    Like it or not, success breeds success. When Arsenal is winning, and winning in style we attract a lot of fans who buy our merchandise and in fact this open advertisement attracts other fans who buy our merchandise. Arsenal has reached this pivotal point in it’s history because it has had success. For us to lose this because we didn’t purchase 1 or 2 players so as not to restrict the development of 2 players for the next year or so is absurd.

    What Cesc said is absolutely correct in what he said and the unfortunate situation is that Arsene somehow does not or is unable to see the big picture at this time.

  13. 13 barnaby
    October 17, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Tim, as I’ve said we’re far from becoming a wrecked club in real trouble, but when a key player calls out for it, it’s time to listen. It’s only experience, we don’t need to be afraid of it. At this point I think it can only help. Cheers.

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