Best/Worst of 2008 #1: Flamini out, no one in? Plus, transfer news!

On the face of it, one player leaving a team shouldn’t be a huge deal. If the player is a superstar, maybe it’s a team changing event. But in this case, Flamini was a talented role player but not a superstar by any stretch. Certainly, a club like Arsenal could overcome the loss of one role player, right? The problem is that when Flamini left, the club changed radically. His departure signaled the end of the “Henry” era and the start of what I call the “Wilshere” era.

Changes had been brewing at the club for a few years before Flamini left. We may not have known what was going on but when Wenger started fielding a squad of 17 year old’s for the Carling Cup matches we all sort of knew something was up.

Up until about 2005/2006 Wenger fielded a pretty full squad for the Carling Cup matches. Sure, he used the early cup matches to give the young players a chance to show what they could do but when the cup was in sight, Wenger would put first team players on. There was certainly no talk about a “youth movement” and no sight of fielding 16 year-old academy players in cup quarter-finals.

Two years ago, that all changed. Players like Flamini were rested and players like Denilson were given a full run at the Carling Cup and as I look back on it, I’m pretty sure it was all intentional.

All the press at the time was about how Arsenal didn’t want to break their wage structure and that’s why they let Flamini go but the reality is that Wenger had this all planned from the start. In his pre-Plymouth interview yesterday, Wenger revealed that when he signed his latest contract he knew what financial restrictions the new stadium would bring. That means that as far back as 2004 Wenger was planning this transition.

So, while Flamini’s position is the one we all most wish Arsene had filled he’s just symbolic: Flamini represented the old era. With the loss of experienced players like Flamini, Gilberto, Hleb, and Senderos Arsenal are seeing the rise of players like Song, Denilson, and Diaby.

You need look no further than who he fielded in thre FA Cup today: Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela, Fabianski and Gibbs — all players from this year’s Carling Cup run. Where at one time the Carling Cup was used to introduce young players (Fabregas) it is now the place to get them experience, and where at one time the FA Cup was one of the targets for the first team it is now the place where 17 year old’s (Wilshere) are called upon to play.

The fact is that Wenger did replace Flamini: like it or not, at the start of the new era, Wenger replaced Flamini with Aaron Ramsey.


I watched the Arsene Wenger press conference yesterday (I broke down and subscribed to Arsenal TV Online)  and was prepared to write a piece about how my interpretation of that interview was vastly different from the mainstream press but then I read Arseblogger’s breakdown and well, I couldn’t really add much more to it than what he said, so go on over there if you want to know what Wenger talked about yesterday.

The only transfer story this morning is that City have officially offered £8m for Kolo Toure. After watching Wenger’s press conference, I’d be surprised if Kolo moved on. It’s not impossible, mind you, but it would be surprising. Hey maybe we could get Micah Richards in exchange? Everyone wanted him at Arsenal this summer, you’re all still rating him super high aren’t you?

Anyway, Arsenal held on to beat Plymouth in the FA cup today 3-1 and I had to listen to it on BBC5 because the dot com was down. I can’t give a proper match report tomorrow since I didn’t see the match. I guess I’ll just have to make something up!

5 Responses to “Best/Worst of 2008 #1: Flamini out, no one in? Plus, transfer news!”

  1. 1 Stu
    January 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

    not too comfortable with anything named a wilshere era when he’s as talernted as he is but hasn’t done anything yet. he’s just 17 and has amazing potential but there’s a very genuine possibility that he wopn’t turn out incredible at all. look at walcott, at southampton he was scoring lots of wonder goals with incredible finishing, ever since he’s rarely ever scored even years later. he’s started to look better now but still isn’t the finished article and may yet disappoint.

    and i really don’t see how you can link flamini with the henry era. he wasn’t an henry era style player for us. the henry era never had a player who would just run and run and scare people into making mistakes. he was far more direct than any high level henry era dm we had and other than looking not really incredible in midfield and having a very impressive cl final year run in at lb, it was only after henry left that flamini even looked that good in cm.

    so i really don’t see any real connection between flamini and the henry era, he was very much the new arsenal last season and not the old. and last season flamini wasn’t this vastle experienced first-teamer. he’d been very much the bit part player even sometimes playing on the wing and largely at fullback. although he’d played plenty of games before last season, the only reason why he was a total revelation was because for what experience he had he still looked very much the young, unfinished article who we all were comfortable with being sold. flamini was still pretty young and only even became a big name player last season, he wasn’t this highly established arsenal figure who’d been playing in the first team for ages, he was a young guy, with some talent, some games to his name and no real reputation. that basically describes denilson at the start of this season. and like i said the thought of even just wilshere and era being put next to each other make me cringe. how about we let the 17 year old play a couple of league games before we talk of his era….

  2. 2 dubdee
    January 3, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Coquelin will be the next Flamini

  3. January 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Flamini was only a “revelation” to people who weren’t paying attention. Similarly, he was only someone who people thought could be sold if they didn’t respect his contributions; you need look no further than the struggles of Fabregas this season to see why Flamini was so important. And yes, he was part of the Henry era. The Henry era that saw Arsenal go to the Champions League final.

    But crucial to my argument is that Flamini, Gilberto, Hleb, Senderos, etc. are all gone, not just Flamini. Like I said, Flamini is symbolic.

  4. January 3, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Difficult to get too excited out Flamnini. I think he’s been found out. That’s why he’s languishing on the subs bench at ACM. With Beckham’s arrival, Matty is likely to do even more watching from the stand. I’ve watched several ACM games in which he’s played. Very average stuff. I also took some time to look back at last season’s games. Some good stuff, but also some terrible mistakes along the way (the likes of which Alex Song is barbecued for).

    I wonder if AW ever thinks of doing a Flamini with Gael Clichy? They are both good (not spectacular) full backs. They both like to run and hassle. Maybe Gael should be tried in the DM role? Or would he be too much of a liability there? I wonder too if he may still be interested in Salomon Kalou. He spends most of his life on the bench. Would be a good add to our squad and very much in the young, very good, huge potential bracket.

    Refreshing for me to hear AW talk so maturely yesterday about Arsenal from a bigger picture, business perspective. It may bea game, but it’s alo a very BIG BUSINESS. Competing from a firm business base makes every sense in the world to me. Better no silver than no club. Building the Wilshere generation is something I’m excited to be associated with. Much, much, much more than I wuld be if we’d just bought Berbatoss for $32M++

    Timothy, I’m going over for Bolton game next weekend. Sunderland is also a possibility. If I go, let’s have a beer before the game.

  5. January 4, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Every player makes mistakes, especially the defensive midfielder. I can’t tell you how many mistakes Vieira made in midfield.

    Physical mistakes are perfectly acceptable. What you need from that position is smart football, tireless chase, good positioning, good tackling, heart, leadership, and smart distribution.

    Song gets ripped because he doesn’t seem to care and seems like he’s just trundling around on the pitch some times. I hope people aren’t down on him for a few turnovers.

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