Archive for the 'transfers' Category

30
Jun
09

The Last Day

A metaphysical dichotomy has forced this unit to overload and shut down ...

It’s an inauspicious sending off of the old blog, I must say.

Andrei Arshavin is all over the press because something he said 6 months ago was reprinted in the World’s Least Reliable News Source. Felipe Melo (L’Equipe) has reportedly renewed his contract with Fiorentina until 2013, all but ruling the player out for an Arsenal transfer. And, as you no doubt know by now, Amaury Bischoff has been released by the club.

As if I wasn’t nervous enough already!

In hindsight, I should have just gotten the damn thing up when I first bought the domain. It really wasn’t that much work and having your own domain, not a page hosted by WordPress.com, gives you so much more flexibility that it would have been worth it. For example, now I can install Google analytics and have detailed reports of where my hits come from, how long they stay on site, what pages they read, etc.

Not to mention advertisements, hey, I want to get a little back for all the work I’ve put in!

I get up every day at 4:30am and continue my research from the night before. If it’s a complicated article, like say one on the 39th game, I have a lot of research to do and sometimes I have to split it over three days. For the RSS feed + jokes articles I just need to make sure my facts are all straight — and even then some things get past me.

Then I write. Depending on the size of the article, depending on the wakedness of my daughter, and depending on the deepness of my hangover/distractions that takes usually an hour, maybe more.

The rest of the day I check the wires, put aside reprts that are important and dream of Arsenal signing some commanding central midfielder who will give big lumps to all the c*nts ooop norf — and the Chelsea c*nts too.

2-3 hours every day… every single day for nearly two years has resulted in 605 posts, 273,000 views, and 4,300 comments. When I started doing this I was getting just 20 views a day and I nearly quit — it was frustrating to have one guy (Matt!) read the blog and tell me how well I wrote and yet see that no one else was reading. Then I got picked up by Gooner News and everything took off. Now, I’m pretty sure I have a following, several folks who come by nearly every day and say something. Sometimes they like what I wrote, sometimes not, but they are always here and that I really appreciate.

Along the way I’ve been called a cocksandwich, learned what a middle fielder is, and banned a few pricks but it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

It’s just, I want more. I want more people to see the site, more folks to argue over what I said or what they said, more people to know what a cocksandwich I am, more folks from all over the world building this community of people who get up at odd hours to watch a team we all love: Arsenal.

So, I’m moving and it’s going to be good. First, I’ve spoken with Arseblogger and he’s agreed to a link exchange which is, well, it’s fuckin’ excellent. Second, I’m going to keep knocking on the door of NewsNow until I get in, the new site will let me make my pages more friendly for their reader and I’m hoping that will help. Third, we’ll be doing some targeted advertisements and promotions (by the way, today is your last chance to win a free shirt!), things that will get people here. Fourth, we’re going to experiment with some technologies that will help build the community around the blog. And lastly, and most importantly, Arsene is going to sign Lorik Cana and I will have 1.21 million hits on that day and can retire.

So, I’m inviting all of you to join me over at 7amkickoff.com tomorrow morning for our very first blog on my very own domain. Until then, if you’d like to share your favorite moment or your favorite article of the last two years, please do, I promise not to cry and take videos of it and put them on YouTube.

Promise.

Victoria Concordia Crescit.

29
Jun
09

Now you’re just Riberying me.

He's ready for his close-up

Have you heard any good jokes lately? No? How about this one? “Arsenal Set To Make £40m Franck Ribery Bid – Reports.”

LOL

Yeah, ok, let’s just assume that Arsenal are going to bid £40m, which, according to Bayern manager Uli Hoeness, is £60m short of his valuation and would get us just a leg. Even if we did bid £40m, BAYERN AREN’T SELLING, so this is a non-story and you have to wonder where it came from.

Wait, what if there is something to this story? If we could get Frank Ribery’s right leg for £40m and sew it onto Eboue, we could make a Frankeneboue! Then the boss could say that Eboue’s “like a new signing” and he could say to everyone that “Arsenal develop players, we do not just buy them.”

And then Wenger would sign Karim Benzema, 3 new goalkeepers, Fat Ronaldo, Felipe Melo AND Lorik Cana, steal E’to’o from City, and get Micah Richards and Brede Hangeland, and possibly bring in Xavi Hernandez and David Villa! All this after selling Frankeneboue for £75m, Adebayor for £93m, Bentdner for £6,999 (like a used car, get it???), Eduardo for a free transfer, and Theo Walgod for £1.2billion.

RIGHT???

That settles it, I’m changing the name of the summer transfer period from “interlull” to “interlol.”

InterLOL, wait this is serious

With Adebayor looking closer to AC Milan than ever before, now that Dzeko is off the table and Sevilla is asking £30m for Fabiano, it looks like Wenger might actually end up with the resources to buy Felipe Melo.  Last I heard, Fiorentina want £21m for Melo, which is more than Arsene was willing to pay last year for Alonso, but that Fiorentina are willing to accept Senderos as a makeweight in the deal. So, with the £15m or so Arsenal will get from Adebayor, a Senderos, and maybe even a little cash, we might be able to prise Melo from Fiorentina.

More importantly, this story is starting to look like it has some smoke to it: Melo reportedly asked former Arsenal skipper Gilberto what he thought of Arsenal. As in “hey, I’m thinking about transferring to Arsenal, should I?”

Well…

Gio said “yes absolutely” which is a bit of a surprise seeing how he was treated in his last year, but then simultaneously not a surprise since Gio has always been a class act and clearly still loves Arsenal.

What makes me feel better about the whole thing is that Gio also thinks Melo would be good for Arsenal. Each time I’ve watched him he hasn’t looked that impressive but if Gilberto says

He is exactly what they need – a powerful player with quality. If they got him it would be great because he is a player they need at the moment. I’m sure if they got him it would be a good signing. I have told him Arsenal is a great club and I am sure next season they will improve.

then I have no choice but to trust Gilberto. He was a top notch midfielder for Arsenal and he knows exactly what it takes to win trophies in the Premier League. If anyone in this world knows if Felipe Melo is ready to partner Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal and help win a trophy it’s Gilberto Silva.

So, I officially say “bring ’em on.”

Or Cana…

The other player that has been on everyone’s hit list is combative Albanian midfielder, Lorik Cana. His club officially said that he’s for sale and immediately Spuds made a bid. The link above says that Arsene tried to bring him over for a trial when he was younger but were denied a work visa, with him now firmly ensconced in the Albanian team the whole visa thing might work out easier. Though, I’m no expert on the British work visa rules.

Arsenal can offer Champions League football a great salary and a host of world class players, he’d be a fool to chose them over us.

Also, then he’d be a cunt, and we wouldn’t want him anyway!

Usmanov’s Millions

Just when you think it’s safe, Alisher Usmanov reminds us that he has his grubby little fingers all over our club. This time is no different than the last time he cropped up: he wants us all to make a deal with the devil and do a “rights issue” that would “generate” “£100m.”

The details of Usmanov’s proposal are unknown and will be discussed by the board this week but from what I’ve read the basic idea is to issue additional stock and generate fresh investment. Of course, Red and White are saying that this money could be used for transfers (that’s the devil’s bargain) and Gazidis is saying that the board will not do a stock offer and blow the money on transfers (hey, maybe THAT’s where the Ribery story came from!).

Either way, I trust the board on this one. It’s pretty clear that they are openly hostile to Usmanov’s attempts to use Arsenal as his personal piggy bank and will rebuff any proposal that would help him consolidate power. The board is committed to growing Arsenal the old fashioned way and while you might disagree with that because it means you have to forgo the instant gratification of spending big and buying  trophies it’s the only sensible long term plan.

Personally, I plan on passing Arsenal on to my daughter and if Usmanov had his way, I suspect that would be impossible.

28
Jun
09

If you’re going to lie, lie big.

First off, I hope this morning’s 3rd place Vuvuzela consolation cup match finds you well. It doesn’t find Cesc Fabregas well, or maybe it does find him well and he’s just not playing because his international manager is mad at him. I dunno, either way, there isn’t much to say about this game since there aren’t any Arsenal players on the pitch.

I do want to mention one thing: those Vuvuzela’s that everyone is suddenly talking about are not new. I distinctly remember them annoying me to no end during the 2006 World Cup and they are a mainstay at any MLS game. They are not new, in fact, I have railed about these things for years.  Standing at a match and making mindless noise is not “support” it’s anti-supporting  because they actually destroy the ability of other fans to support from the stands. The constant insufferable droning makes it impossible to chant a player’s name and thus to boost him, to cheer when your squad does something good, to boo opposition players, and they disrupt on-field communication between your own team!

Symbolically the fact that they sound like a pack of angry bees is perfect because if you’re sitting in the stands blowing one of those things then you are a mindless drone. If FIFA learns one thing from this pointless tournament, let it be that the Vuvuzela should be banned from all stadiums the world over.

How to make shiat up: 101

No sooner had the ink dried on my “hey let’s make shiat up” column yesterday than the links started coming in fast from a press brigade eager to show a small timer like me how it’s really done.

The News of the World said “I see your Tim Sparv and raise you a Karim Benzema!” Now, I know a lot of folks wish that this was a true story. Benzema is one of those players who occupies that rarefied air of “X-Box Heroes” — a player who pretty much everyone building a fantasy team first reaches for. But the brilliance of this story is that it hinges on another story and it’s a story that I’m not sure will come to pass; that Arsenal will use the funds from the sale of Adebayor to Milan to fund the purchase of Benzema.

First off, AC Milan is only talking up Adebayor because they want to sign Dzeko and have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to get Wolfsburg to the negotiating table. Second, if Adebayor and Benzema cost the same, and Adebayor is Milan’s 3rd choice target why would Milan not just buy Benzema? By all accounts he’s a better player, he’s younger, and he’s almost certainly had fewer disciplinary problems.

No, this Adebayor/Benzema talk is just talk.  HA! And now Real Madrid is involved, there’s no way he’s coming to Arsenal. Either way, that’s some world class “making shiat up” right there.

Right, that’s about it for today. I’m going to try to have a kickaround at 10:30 and then maybe watch a tape of the U.S.A. v. Brazil game — you know, a lazy Sunday.

See you tomorrow!

26
Jun
09

Adebayor wins third runner up in AC Milan beauty pageant

adekickoff.jpg

7amkickoff.com

Those of you who are using an RSS feed to read my posts should go ahead and point your newsreaders to 7amkickoff.com because on July 1, I’m switching to my own domain. You can go over there now and look at it if you want, some CSS bits are still being manipulated and then I have to export and import all my content (no small feat in a two year old WordPress account) and then I can start whoring myself out to advertisers!

Adebayor

AC Milan VP Adriano Galliani has expressed his interest in Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor.  And by “expressed interest” I mean, put Ade on a pedestal and draped the bronze medal around his neck:

We are only looking for a forward, and our aim is Dzeko. He is a Wolfsburg player, and they have a right to keep him – even though he continues to claim that his desire is to come to Milan. From experience, I know it’s difficult to keep a player whose wish is to leave. If we fail to get Dzeko then Luis Fabiano could be an alternative – as could Adebayor.

Owch.

I got a chance to watch Fabiano yesterday and last week and in my estimation, Adebayor is actually a better striker. That said, it’s a testament to how far Ade’s stock has fallen that AC Milan put him below Fabiano. Fabiano will easily miss as many shots as Ade but he’ll at least work on the pitch and I haven’t seen him get caught offside yet, so I can see why Galliani puts him above Ade.

Which is sad.

I’m not going to sit here and rip Adebayor because I really like him and I suspect he’s going to be with us next year. I just hope Wenger and Cesc grab him by the nape and shake him out of his vegetable torpor. If he plays like he did two years ago, every Arsenal supporter will get behind him, but if he puts in just one lazy performance, I think that Arsenal fans will be unforgiving.

The ball’s in his court.

Cesc quells the stupidity

I’m not sure how many times I need to talk directly about my commitment to Arsenal as I continue to say the same thing over and over again, but it appears that every time I have spoken to the Spanish media recently, my words have bounced back to England, leaving question marks about my future.

So, for anyone who is unclear or may have misunderstood what my position is, let me make myself absolutely crystal clear. I am wholeheartedly committed to Arsenal and my future lies with this great Club.

It is a fact that we have not won a trophy for four years and yes, I am angry about that, but that anger stems from the deep deep desire I have to win things with Arsenal. I care about this Club and believe in this team. I am proud to captain this team and proud to wear the shirt. It really upsets me when people express my thoughts otherwise. The spirit in this squad is fantastic and we have the ability and mentality to compete on all fronts for silverware. Make no mistake, we are focused and determined to show that we are capable of achieving great things together.

Maybe Cesc should consider being a little more circumspect with the interviews. Either that, or end every sentence with “I am not leaving Arsenal.” The interviews would go like this:

Interviewer: So, Cesc, how are you?
Cesc:
Good, I’m not leaving Arsenal.
Int: Excellent. So, what do you think of Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation?
Cesc: I enjoy playing and watching attacking football, like both Arsenal and Barcelona play, I’m not leaving Arsenal.
Int: Quite, I think we’ve cleared that up…
Cesc: Still not leaving Arsenal.
Int: uhhh…

etc.

Samir Nasri week ends with a bang

It’s been Nasri week over at the dot com owing to the fact that he was voted fourth best player of the season in their poll. To wrap up the week, the powers that be have granted us all a free video in great quality, not that crappy YouTube stuff, of his greatest moment of the season. Walk, don’t run, over to the site and check it out.

Only a few days left to WIN an ARSENAL 89 T-SHIRT


‘It’s Up for Grabs Now’…… And the rest is Arsenal history! Brian Moore’s match commentary as Michael Thomas puts away the goal that clinched the ’89 League Championship in arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever match is featured on Philosophy Football’s anniversary shirt. Plus, a diagram of the winning goal and match details. Available from www.philosophyfootball.com we have 5 to be won in our competition, to enter simply answer the following simple question:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 26 May 1989, name the two goalscorers.

Send answer, name, address and preferred T-shirt size to admin@philosophyfootball.com Entries close 30 June ’09, no purchase necessary to enter.

12
Jun
09

Real Madrid’s Magic Money Could Top $400,000,000

member... ship

It’s pretty rare, but occasionally I agree with Michel Platini. Maybe it’s the hangover I’m nursing, but I think I heard him on the Beeb this morning say

These excessive transfers are happening almost every day. It is very puzzling at a time when football faces some of its worst ever financial challenges.

and

These transfers are a serious challenge to the idea of fairplay and the concept of financial balance in our competitions.

I don’t want to make a habit of it, but I agree with Platini on this. The more I dig into this deal the more frightening it looks. At a time when unemployment is nearly 18% in Spain, one man is set to make £29m a year, over £500,000 a week! Of course I’m not suggesting that the money Real is spending on the team should be used to hire some Spaniards to, erm, do something. Rather that football at its best is about connecting to average people. Anyone can play football anywhere in the world. Short folks, tall folks, men, women, rich, poor, grass, dirt, concrete or sand, all you need is some space, a ball, and some feet (hence the name foot-ball) and you can play. I don’t know what they are doing at Real Madrid but it doesn’t really look like football to me.

More frightening than the distorting effect that Ronaldo and Kaka’s unrealistic lifestyles and the bizarro “team” that Real will put together is the inflationary effect predicted in all aspects of the transfer market. Basically, the market is going to get really crazy, really quick and with pretty much every team in the EPL already burdened with huge debts the only folks who are going to be able to afford anything will be the billionaires.

And, of course, Sepp Blatter sees it exactly the opposite. He sees it as a sign of a healthy market, you know, “damn the financial consequences! People need stars” and all that.

Meanwhile, the sickening money that Real is projected to spend may come to our beloved Arsenal. No, I don’t mean Cesc, he’s Arsenal through and through and has rejected a move to Real, again. No, I mean Clichy. It would depend on the size of the offer but with Vermaelen reportedly able to play the left fullback position I’m not sure how I feel quite yet. Despite scoring a goal, Clichy didn’t have the best of years, and with reports of Toure outgoing, Gallas outgoing, and Hangeland and Vermaelen incoming (not to mention the return of the Senderos) the boss could be looking at a complete remake of the back line. It would be a risky move, to overhaul 3/5 of your defensive unit, but given the deficiencies we saw back there last year it could just be the spark the team needs to push for honors. And if Clichy was part of a remake I guess it would be ok.

I don’t know.

I do know that Fabianski signed an extension, that Wilshere wants to follow in Walcott’s footsteps, and that the idea of a 17 year old looking up to a 20 year old is, well, unsettling.

It’s funny, when I first started watching football and Arsenal were the team that won me over, my friend here (an Everton supporter) said “no, not Arsenal, they’re like the Yankees, or the Red Socks, they just buy up all the talent in the world.” And now we have 17 year olds looking up to 20 year olds, how times have changed, eh?

Oh and hey, if you’re a red level member, now is the time to renew and make sure you’re eligible to get tickets next year. Get on it.

11
Jun
09

Man U could basically buy everything

The ink was barely dry on their one record breaking contract to snag Kaka when Real Madrid turned around and destroyed their own previous transfer record and purchased Christiano Ronaldo from Man U for £80m. No need to link to a specific article, it’s all over the news, hell, it made NPR this morning.

And of course it made NPR, it’s f*cking insane.

That said, the deal raises more questions than it answers…

What will Man U do with the money? If they spend it, it inflates the market, if they don’t spend some they’d be fools. How does this all play out? Will they go for Ribery? Cause a 4 way fight for him, between Chelsea, Real, and the other Manchester?

How does Kaka feel? Like second runner up in the Miss Football pageant I imagine.

How long before Ribery joins them and for how much?

Where does Real Madrid get the money for this and will Sepp Bleater and Michelle Platini decry them for their financial doping?

What will Man U supporters do with their CR7 shirts? I recommend a bonfire.

There is one thing I know will happen: the English can go back to hating Christiano Ronaldo. There were at least 5 or 6 guys out there who were conflicted about Cron, just a few men who had yet to completely genuflect at the altar of the steppy-overy cheating diver. They were genuinely conflicted. Here was a guy who had raped their beloved England team, a man who disgraced English football pretty much every time he set foot on the pitch, but a man who scored goals and won medals for Man U. WHAT TO DO???

Well, most of them would privitely confide their dislike of the player or say things like “yeah I wish he wouldn’t do that.” But when he was up on the dias, cheekily biting the gold medal, all oiled and muscles rippling, they were there clapping along with all the other mindless Man U supporters.

And now that he’s gone, I am fully prepared for the deluge of Man U supporters who “never really liked him” drowning out the 5 or 6 genuine football fans who knew something was wrong all along. They will be there, at your local boozer, filling your ear with nonsense about how much they hated his cheating. Or how this is good riddance, because he was a cancer on the team. Or how he’s just a mercenary. Or my favorite, “he was overrated.”

No, asshole, that’s what WE say. YOU say “thank you Christiano Ronaldo, please may I have another?” Because we’ve been saying he was a mercenary, tart, diving, cheating, steppy-overy, take 20 free kicks to score one goal, overrated, chump, asshole, cunt, for 8 years and your sudden conversion stinks like rejection. Like a teenager rebuffed. It’s unrequited love.

Now, go crawl up inside your CR7 jersey, spread out all your signed pictures  of him on the bed and wallow in it. Have a good cry, because tomorrow you get to pretend to be a real football fan again, until the next steppy-overy, overrated, diving, cheating, seal dribbler comes along.

Poop Scoop

Ok, so we basically got nothing. There’s a report that Arsenal are after 16 year old Luc Castaignos, with his agent publicly saying that he only has eyes for Arsenal, but only if he stays at Feyenoord for another year. Yeah, Ok, another kid! At first I thought “isn’t 16 a little old?” and then I saw the picture in this link and I’m starting to think there might be something to this story.

I have some sad news to report, it’s looking like The Hoff is ending his long and glorious Arsenal career. A testimonial is the least we could do for him.

UEFA to FIFA, STFU

Ha! Tired old xenophobe and known Arsenal hater, Sepp Blatter has been told to shut the f*ck up by tired old xenophobe and known Arsenal hater Michelle Platini. See, as it turns out their collective idea to trot out some tired old xenophobic nationalism under the guise of a “6+5 rule” which would give England a world cup,  is a violation of European law.

Which I have said all along.

So, we can put this one to bed.

10
Jun
09

Setanta to fold, make football more watchable for America

With the company seeking £100m in “fresh investments” it’s looking increasingly like the world’s dumbest football-content provider may fold.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t call it “shitanta” without warrant. They were horrible, even unbearable at times. Like when they would have an hour preview of the matches where they would have some monchichi coiffed fucktard (Paul Dempsey) babbling on about all the shit he’d heard about on other tee vee programs. Inevitably he would spout one of the following before every Arsenal match:

Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in 4 years

Arsenal’s defense is a mess

Arsene and Arsenal are bad sports

blah blah blah Arsenal’s middle field need to bust their guts out won’t sign anyone don’t make me luff

That guy losing his job is the upside to this whole sordid affair. I think I can sum up their entire broadcast enterprise thus; their most popular segment, by every measure, was their puppet show. A puppet show. A show where grown men stick their hands up the asses of a doll and crack childish jokes while making ridiculous voices.

It will also be a relief to the rest of the world to put their “bloggers” and “reporters” out of their collective misery. No longer will drivel from the likes of Pat Dolan fill my RSS feed! In fact, the only reason why I subscribe to their feeds at all is that they usually re-print stories from other news sources and they allow comments, which sources like The Telegraph do not (or require registration to read the comments). Through the comments I can get a sense of what my fellow Gooners are thinking on a topic, so that little value-added bit will be missed.

Oh well…

Honestly I don’t know what they were thinking with their business model. They wanted people to pay for a subscription service to watch football. Why would I pay $2o a month (or more, some folks would have to upgrade their television service just to be able to subscribe) to watch football when I could take that same $20 and buy beer at the bar that’s showing the game? You know, hang out with my friends, watch the game together? Oh, I nearly forgot to add that even if you subscribed to the channel you would still have to pay-per-view some premium games.

Maybe the $20 paid for the puppet show and the thoughtful commentary.

I say all this knowing full well that as an American I have been very privileged. Because of Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel, I have been able to watch nearly every Arsenal match, including Carling Cup early round stuff where I’m the only one at the bar, over the last 3 years. Before Setanta, I would have to pay-per-view big matches and I would have to settle for watching some other crap and hoping to get live scores for Arsenal at half time.

But here’s the thing, because Setanta gave fans the ability to watch every single match, when they sell off the rights (which they will do) someone like ESPN will step in and broadcast games. Setanta built the demand, they did it stupidly, but they have built the demand. We all knew that ESPN was trying to get in on the EPL anyway so Setanta’s collapse just accelerates that. Moreover, the fire sale of rights means that it will be profitable, right away, for ESPN to broadcast these games.

Win-win.

Thanks, Setanta, for bringing us the world’s sport, now step aside and let the big boys have their time.

The Poop Scoop

If yesterday’s transfer rumors were dead, today’s are deader-er. There’s one article about Yaya, with his agent saying that Yaya is unlikely to come to Arsenal because they won’t pay him enough. A lot of people are looking at this as the death knell of the Yaya saga but to me this sounds like an agent trying to put pressure on Arsenal to up their offer. Everyone else is making up negativity about this, me, I’m making up positivity. In my world, Arsenal talked to Yaya’s agent and said, “we’ll pay him £40k.” Yaya’s agent said, “hmm, not enough, let me embarrass you in the media and see if you’ll up that to £60k.”

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie is preparing for his future as a Setanta blogger and has given us his analysis of Vermaline: he thinks Vermaline is the perfect signing for Arsenal. YAY the RvP seal of approval! Just what Arsene needed, rumor has it that this signing has been hung up waiting for RvP to give his approval. With that hurdle cleared, the deal should go through at any moment now.

And finally, the deal we’ve all been waiting for the press to break; Arsenal are selling William Gallas Agbonlahor.

William Gallas is now truly a #10

FAIL.

09
Jun
09

Kaka in Blue, they needed the money

It’s strange being a football fan. One day we’re arguing over whether it’s right to even argue about whether it’s right to criticize players, the club, and the boss and the very next day Kaka is sold to Real Madrid for a world record £59m making every football fan pause, take a breath and assess their club’s situation.

As Arsenal supporters we are used to the constant speculation linking our players out of the club: Fabregas has supposedly been going back to Barcelona now pretty much as far back as I can remember. If anything, this is an odd year for Gooners because we haven’t seen the ubiquitous “Cesc to Barca” summer story; perhaps Iniesta and Messi winning the Champions League has something to do with that. But whatever the case there hasn’t been much speculation about Arsenal players at all this season, really. There was a brief moment when Adebayor mentioned the word “Milan” which was spun into a tragicomedy about Milan “keeping tabs” on Ade and there is some speculation that Inter might go after Robin van Persie, but that’s it as far as any transfer speculation for Arsenal players. Maybe that will “hot up,” as the Brits say, now that Kaka has made the move to Madrid.

I kind of doubt it. After this season where he clearly wasn’t motivated to play his best, I think Arsenal are stuck with Adebayor. No matter the brilliant goals, potential buyers are going to wonder if taking a chance on this once brilliant player is worth the risk. Similarly with Robin van Persie, even though he’s had arguably his best season with Arsenal teams will have to look at his injury record and wonder what the return on their investment is going to look  like. Both of these guys are capable and I like both players when they are on, but both are going to be risky investments.

You also have to take into account the global financial climate, Kaka evidently did when he made his move, and ask what kind of money teams are going to be tossing around. Even after netting nearly £60m in the deal, if AC Milan are having as much financial troubles as Kaka says, then what are they going to be willing to splash out in transfers? After all, Milan, he says, are run like a business. Maybe they will take a look at Adebayor and maybe they will take a look at Dzeko, the player is certainly star struck by the prospect of signing for Milan. Either way, I expect Milan not to use all of their cash.

Meanwhile, the “financial crisis” at Liverpool is sparking rumors of a mass exodus of midfielders from Anfield. Last week Liverpool basically said that Alonso was only available for £23m+ and sensing blood in the water Mascherano and his agent are now putting out feelers for a transfer to Barca. Who know what crazy Liverpool would do with the money they netted IF they sold both of those guys, spread some around, pay off some debts, who knows.

And, of course, we shouldn’t rule out the insanity that will occur when City make some serious bids for world players. Or what happens when Ronaldo goes to Real Madrid for a new, new, world record? Maybe that will loosen everyone’s purse strings.

It’s not just transfers that are going to distort the market, England passed a tax increase raising the taxes on top earners to 50% and that too could have a deleterious effect on our favorite league. Already Arshavin has had to deny rumors that he was unhappy with the pay cut he felt he was going to take. What effect will this tax increase have on contracts and the ability for clubs like Arsenal to woo potential signings? Again, I’m uncertain.

In fact, if there’s anything I’m certain of, it’s that I’m uncertain. Unlike last year where I foolishly proclaimed my certitude about Arsenal’s future and that they wouldn’t be signing a defensive midfielder, this year I have no clue what Arsenal are going to do. It’s looking like we are going to sign Vermaelen for nearly £11m, but no one knows for sure. Vermaelen is either a defensive signing and will take the place of Toure or Gallas, or he’s the defensive midfielder that we’ve all been looking for, again no one knows. Hell, no one can even agree on how to pronounce his name!

I guess I’m just going to embrace this unknown. Hmmm… it’s a bit exciting not knowing what’s going to happen, like Christmas when you’re a kid. Hey is Barca really are after Mascherano, maybe we will get the Yaya that everyone put on their Christmas wish list.

Who knows?

07
Jun
09

Vermaelen close, but no cigar

unfortunately van Persie scores here

Bit of a flurry of news today on what the Dutch press are calling the “imminent” transfer of Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax to Arsenal and what the Brit press are calling a done deal.

The original report is from the Belgian, Dutch language, Sport newspaper, HLN. Maybe Setanta translated the page differently but according to Google Translate there is no mention that this is a done deal. It looks like Arsenal and Ajax have agreed to a fee (depending on your reading a fee between £10-12m) and that Vermaelen’s agent is in London negotiating salary.

I wanted to know a bit more about the player and there are some famous photos of Vermaelen and van Persie getting into a bit of a scuffle, so I looked into it and that’s from the 2007 Amsterdam tournament where Arsenal won 1-0 and lost van Persie to injury at the end of the match. You will draw your own conclusions about his ability based on that link, but I’m advising caution. Yes, he was brushed aside rather easily by Eduardo in that video, and yes he’s pretty much directly responsible for van Persie’s goal but that was two years ago and as you can tell from this video he’s beefed up quite a bit.

You can also see from the above video that he’s pretty damn good in the air, beating Gareth Barry and Klaas Jan Huntelaar to the ball.

If Arsene buys him I’m sure he’ll be quality. After all, he is Ajax captain and some of the comments I’m seeing from Ajax fans are that he will be greatly missed.

What isn’t being discussed, so far, is which of the two Arsenal center backs he will replace. If you asked me earlier in the year I would have said Gallas, hands down, but now I’m not so sure. Wenger has spoken glowingly of Gallas since he stripped him of the captaincy and I really do think Cappy is our best defender. Toure, on the other hand, has had a pretty rough season and famously handed in a transfer request because he couldn’t handle whatever was happening in January. Frankly, I think if (and that’s a big if) Wenger gets rid of one of them, it will be Toure.

What’s really strange is that if Toure leaves it will be the latest in a long line of Arsenal defenders who basically had a mental breakdown and left the club at the end of the season (Campbell, Senderos, and now Toure). Being a defender at a big club takes a lot of mental strength, and being a defender at Arsenal, where the tactics constantly expose defenders, must be absolutely maddening.

There really isn’t much more going on, Arsenal are still linked with Edin Dzeko (striker) and Yaya Toure (defensive midfielder). The latter has reportedly rejected a Barcelona contract offer which may give some of you hope but I think is just his agent angling for a bigger contract. Another supposed Arsenal target is Joleon Lescott and between Moyes saying his players aren’t for sale and Manchester City reportedly offering Everton £18m and the player £80,000/wk I’m thinking that Arsene would either have to move a big name player or convince Lescott that a Champions League campaign will increase his England chances.

Well, I guess he could sell Robin van Persie for £25m.

05
Jun
09

More fun with statistics, plus Arsenal in for another Toure?

He's ready for his close-up

Lies, damn lies, and Arsenal Stats

The blogoshpere is all atwitter (see what I did there?) about the dot com’s article detailing Arsenal’s supposed statistics.  Ahhhhh, I’m calling bullshiat on this.

I don’t trust statistics that are so obviously false. Denilson completed 164 passes all year? What the hell? Here’s a chalkboard showing that he completed 117 passes… in two games. 164 passes all year would equal less than 5 passes per game. Now I don’t know what kind of fools they take us for, but everyone knows that every Arsenal player completes more than 5 passes per game. Almunia probably completes more than 5 passes per game.

Or how about the stat that Song supposedly had only 17 tackles all season? Hmmm…. Here’s two games where he made 21 tackles and won 17 of them.

So, I have no idea what’s up with those stats, where they got them, who compiled them, how they were defined, or anything. I just know that they are utter garbage.

I mean, who would believe that Adebayor was offside only 43 times?

Lies, damn lies, and football economics

The other day I put up that “transfer anatomy” handout, you remember, the one with the little bit in the corner that shows how much teams have spent over summer transfers?

Right, well yesterday the folks who audit football clubs’ accounts released their findings of last year’s accounts and we got two major stories out of that research. First, Chelsea spent £172m just in wages in 2007. And second, the accountants found that Liverpool lost £43m during the 07/08 fiscal year.

These three things are related, I swear!

What this shows, to me, is that a club, that isn’t Chelsea, has to make a choice: they can either pay high wages, or they can spend a lot of money in the transfer window.  Which, in my mind, utterly destroys the simplistic “Arsenal need to spend” argument.

So, look at the first link there where you see that Tottenham spent £47m in transfers from 2004-2007. I’ve always wondered how they could afford to do that and still report profits, considering the much smaller fan base than Arsenal, the fact that they don’t have a billionaire owner, no European football, and they have a mediocre sized stadium and don’t charge much for tickets. They can afford to do that because they basically pay half the salary that Arsenal pay. Arsenal paid £100m in salary in 2007 and Tottenham paid £50m.

Now, ignore Chelsea and Man U — they spend what they want irregardless common sense, I mean Chelsea is coming close to £1bn* spent over the last 6 years.

A BILLION.

POUNDS.

So, ignore them, they are a reality distorting black hole of a cunt.

Instead look at Liverpool and you can see a serious problem. Liverpool have spent nearly £100m in salary every year and nearly £90m in the transfer market. The other lode stone is that they have a £300m debt that Hicks and Gillette piled on the team when they bought Liverpool.

The point here is that Arsenal and Liverpool have a very similar financial situation; both clubs have large debts (albeit for different reasons), both clubs have large wage structures, and yet Arsenal have saved money every year and Liverpool have borrowed and spent.

And now, the crows are coming home to roost and Liverpool’s debt is due, evermore. I’m not suggesting that Liverpool won’t find someone foolish enough to become a partner with Hicks and Gillette and then they’ll fail. Instead, I see this as a test case. See, Man U has a huge line of credit that they can’t even make the interest payments on due, I believe, next year, and I think what happens here, this year, with Liverpool will be indicative of what will happen with Man U next year.

The second thing I’d like to take away from this is that yes Arsenal are being fiscally prudent by not spending large sums in the transfer market but what I wonder about is the huge wage bill. Who, exactly, are we paying all this money to? Sagna? Clichy? Almunia? Bendtner? Song? Denilson? Nasri? Walcott? Those are the majority of our starters there folks, and they must be making damn good money if our wage bill is £100m.  Furthermore, I have to wonder if any of these players would be willing to take a modest pay cut in order to bring in some more players? They all talk about bringing someone in, but I’ve never once heard them say “I’d take a pay cut if it would help, because I want to win a trophy for the fans.”

And the last thing I want to bring up is just how important Wenger is in all of this. Yes, he’s set this wage scale which is stifling our transfer ability but just the fact that for four years he’s kept Arsenal at a very, very high level of play, all the while helping to manage the books and keep Arsenal fiscally sound for the long term is, I think, going to go down in history as one of the all-time great managerial feats. Compare these 4 years to Rafa Benitez, who’s constant clamor for transfers makes me wonder if he won’t get lumped in with Hicks and Gillette as the three reasons why Liverpool’s future is so uncertain.

I think this gives us all a bit of perspective on why Arsenal spend the way they do and what is likely to happen this summer with transfers. Which is to say, very little. Given our history, what I’ve shown you of the finances,  and the fact that Wenger is increasing our wages yet again (I mean, van Persie did have 10 goals this season, that’s worth another £1m or so a year) I would expect there to be just a little left over in the kitty for transfers. In fact, selling before buying is very likely.

That said, what I’d like to see is the point where the board feel like they are comfortable with the amount of cash in the reserve (at last count over £100m) and they start spending some of these annual profits that you and I are generating for them.  Maybe this year is the year? All signs point to an even bigger windfall over last year, when they netted more than £20m in profits. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

Daily Transfer Rumors (The Poop Scoop)

Ah, I love the smell of last year’s rumors trotted out as this year’s signings! Supposively**, Arsenal are again interested in Udinese defender Christian Zapata, which is probably a bunch of crap considering that the player is both confirming and denying that Arsenal are after him.

Meanwhile, the perennial “Yaya to Arsenal” story has risen again.  The player himself has insisted, repeatedly, that he does not want to play for Arsenal. But that isn’t stopping the World’s Least Reliable Newspaper from printing quotes from Yaya saying

It’s true that it would be great to play for a big club with my brother,that would be fantastic but you never know.

Well, if the Sun is reporting it, it must be true.

Meanwhile, in the “Players who are not leaving or coming in” department, Stephane M’Bia is heavily linked to Everton now. I will update the Players Who Didn’t Sign For Arsenal page if there’s confirmation of him signing for Everton. Also, I want to be the first to break the shocking news report that Andrei Arshavin IS NOT re-signing with Zenit St. Racistburg, it turns out that he just likes practicing with his old teammates. This is really a remarkable story, it’s one of those X player is not signing for Y team stories but it’s at the level of ludicrisness that the only equivalent would be Science News printing a story like “Scientists refute the notion that the sky is brown.”

Finally, the Vermaelen saga drags on. I’m starting to think there might be some truth to this story and Vermaelen is the “commanding” center back that Wenger seeks.

Ahem…

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow!

*add up their wage bill at an average of £150m from 2004-2007 = £600m, then add in another £150m in transfers and you get £750m, so sue me if I add a bit of hyperbole.

** unlike irregardless, supposively is not a word




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