Posts Tagged ‘Alex Song


Bracewell yourselfs, we’re headed into the maelstrom

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

‘Not long ago,’ said he at length, ‘and I could have guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to mortal man — or, at least, such as no man ever survived to tell of — and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?’  — E.A. Poe “A Decent into the Maelstrom

Huge news yesterday has many an Arsenal fan staring into the gaping maw of uncertainty. The first salvo was the sudden restructuring of the Arsenal board and the second shot came in the form of an interview with Arsene Wenger.

To the first, the facts are that Gazidis has joined the board as CEO, Richard Carr is stepping down from the Holding Company board but is staying on at the Football Club board, and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has resigned completely and immediately and is no longer a participant in the lockdown agreement.

Obviously, the only story here is Lady Nina resigning and subsequent breaking of the lockdown agreement. If you didn’t know, when Alisher Usmanov appeared on the scene and started buying up Arsenal shares the board instituted a lockdown agreement that basically gives board members the first right to buy any shares that any other board member wishes to sell. This agreement, it seems, was only a sort of a “paper tiger” in that the only teeth it had was that as long as you wanted to be a member of the board you couldn’t sell your shares. It prevented people, like David Dein, from siphoning off shares here and there for Usmanov but if someone was so inclined they could sell all or part of their shares — if they quit the board.

Which is exactly what Lady Nina just did.

Now, no shares have changed hands yet but I’d be shocked if she resigned from the board over a minor disagreement. Her family has a long and proud history at Arsenal and really the only reason to leave the board is to cash in on that history and cash in is exactly what she will do: in the 4 years that I have been following this story, Arsenal shares have gone from £1,500 a share to, reportedly, £10,000 a share. To put it another way, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith owns 15.8% of a company worth somewhere around £800m or roughly speaking she’s got about £125m worth of Arsenal stock from her initial £20m investment. The temptation to cash in, especially now, must be very powerful indeed.

What happens next is a bit murky, Peter Hill-Wood indicates that some board members want to aquire more shares (Stan Kroenke) but it remains to be seen how much they are willing to pay for them and if they can match Usmanov’s offer — he has been known to pay well over value to get these shares. Also, if Usmanov buys just 5% of Lady Nina’s shares, he would be obliged to make a hostile takeover bid, which the current shareholders could just refuse but would still cause a major disruption.

Both Kroenke and Usmanov surely have taken a hit in the economic turmoil of the past few months so how much of their personal fortunes that they have left and want to risk on Arsenal is unknown. But the one thing that is certain is that if Usmanov does acquire a good portion of Lady Nina’s stocks he would want himself or a representative on the board. Not David Dein I don’t think, Usmanov has enough sense to know that that appointment would be pure poison. But there would be changes at the board level no doubt; Usmanov has publicly stated that Arsenal shares should pay dividends, for example.

At the same time that that Maelstrom was developing, Arsene Wenger was causing a stir of his own in giving an exclusive interview to a group of fans that was broadcast on the interwebz. Gunnerblog has a transcript of the interview and you should check it out if you have questions about Diaby, Denilson, Song, and whether Arsenal will be buying in January.

SPOILER ALERT ——————————————————————–

Wenger likes all of them and he won’t be buying in January.

The one thing that surprised me in the interview is how much he likes Alex Song. When asked who the most improved player has been of the season, he answered Song… Song and Djourou. Man, that’s a real shocker. I don’t know anyone who thinks Song is a good player — oh wait, except me!

My conclusion after reading Wenger’s interview is that he is fully prepared to drop out of the top 4, sure he wants to instill belief in this team that they could win something, but I think deep down he knows that they need more experience before they can win anything.

This is a rebuilding, folks, a rebuilding in Arsene Wenger’s image. He wants to build a youth team that will win trophies for several seasons, and is not going to risk that by bringing in someone in order to win a trophy this year. That doesn’t mean he won’t buy in January, but if he does, it will be a player for the future. And if this is a rebuilding in the image of Arsene Wenger, then I want to be the first to throw my support behind the man. Who better to lead this club through this economic and leadership turmoil than the greatest manager in the history of the club?

Of course, what future the club will have is up to a lady and a tramp. Will they drag us into the Maelstrom?


Sign me a Song (reprise)

Alex Song in last year\'s pre-season tournament

Arsenal announced today that they have locked Alex Song into a long term contract. He’s just 20 years old and in his three years with the club he’s yet to really win over the skeptics, but he rates very, very highly with Arsene Wenger who last said of him “I could show you all the (news) papers who slagged him off, but I’ve always liked him, he will be an Arsenal great” or something like that. I’m convinced Song will start for Arsenal next year at either holding midfielder or (more likely) as partner to William Gallas in central defense. Now, we know that Wenger is bull headed about decisions that he makes so you lot that love to hate Song ought to just go ahead and get yourself used to the idea that he’s going to feature for Arsenal. Let it sink in… own the anger… there, isn’t that better?

We’ll see where the boss puts Song during the pre-season tournaments, which are set to kick off with the traditional friendly against Barnet on the 19th of July. Also set to feature there is Mexico starlet Carlos Vela, who scored a goal in Mexico’s 4-0 thrashing of Peru. I know nothing about Vela, except that he’s 19, he’s got a very slight build, he’s “highly rated,” and he’s competing for a spot in one of the most congested positions at the club; striker. Good luck little buddy!

Adding to that congestion up front, Eduardo is rumored to be ready to play in July. On the one hand I would be shocked, people just shouldn’t be able to recover that quickly from having both tibia and fibula broken. But on the other hand, this is how far medical science has come for the people who are fortunate enough to afford it. Let’s hope the Boss proceeds with great caution, the last thing we need is another van Persie type situation.

In a totally unrelated article, Gilberto has publicly asked the kids to stay together and achieve something great. I don’t know where this agitation is coming from but someone in the squad is clearly agitating the others. Maybe it was the departure of Flamini and the imminent departure of Hleb that’s causing this uproar? I don’t know, but good for Gio to stand up for the squad and warn the kids that the grass is never greener. One guy who learned that lesson the hard way was Patrick Vieira and now the rumor mill has Pompey looking to re-form Arsenal 2000 by signing him for £4m. You know, I jokingly have referred to Portsmouth as Arsenal South and as the Island of Misfit Former Arsenal Players, but this latest rumor is just bizarre. What the hell is going on at Portsmouth? I fully expect to see a “Pompey in for Henry” article at any moment now. PICK ANOTHER TEAM TO SIGN FORMER PLAYERS FROM, HARRY.

And finally, it’s ladies week over at and I think that means drinks are half off and there will be hundreds of skeezy single men hanging around asking “do you come here often?”

Ok… one more thing… I thought it was funny to see an article that reprises England’s international glory days. You know, like 1988, when there were quotas and top flight football had tons of Englishmen to choose from — England must have done well that year right? Because we all know that the only thing that will “fix” football is affirmative action quotas for Englishmen!


Sign me a Song

Following his rearguard defense of Eboue, Arsene Wenger is pulling an “I told you so” in regards Alex Song.

I can show you articles in newspapers which said that [he] was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal.

So, you saved the clippings did you? Well then, smarty pants, where will Alex Song achieve this greatness?

Trust me, if I make a decision it is because I know all the characteristics of the player whether they are physical or mental characteristics. When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club. In Song’s case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced

So, wait a second, is this story about Arsene or is this about Song?

First of all, it’s a bit early to start saying that Song will be a “great player” for Arsenal. Hell, it’s a lot early. I’m still unconvinced by the guy in any position — much less in central defense. I’m sorry, but central midfielders can make mistakes but central defenders cannot. Alex Song has made a lot of mistakes at center back and frankly they come down to a lack of vision and defensive awareness. To some extent, those are two things that can be taught, but if vision and awareness don’t come naturally to a player and the chips are down, he/she will revert to their natural state and goals will be conceded.  I am not knocking experience. Experience is the second leg of the tripod that makes a great defender. I’m just saying that he has looked shaky in defense because I don’t think it’s his natural position. I think he’s naturally a central defensive midfielder. Besides, the guy has a talent going forward.  Isn’t that talent wasted having him play in front of goal?  That’s my bag on Song.  Play him in midfield or don’t play him at all.

But then, I’m just some guy on a blog.

“Trust me” Arsene says. Ok, you’re rarely wrong. Here I go, closing my eyes and blindly trusting you…

Wait… I really wonder what his motivation is for this latest outburst. It seems to me that this is more about him and people respecting him and his judgment than about Song’s ability. It doesn’t make any sense any other way. “If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.” Yes, just like you knew that Flamini would be a great left back, Theo a great right wing, and Toure a great right back?

You are a great manager, Wenger. Your ability to spot players and get them to shine in new positions is unequaled. Are you wrong about Eboue and Song? I’m not going to presume to know. I do know that even if you are wrong about them, it won’t matter, your track record is so solid that even a colossal cockup like starting Alex Song at CB couldn’t tarnish it.  But please, do it for the right reasons and not out of some pig-headedness.

Ok, back to closing my eyes and trusting Arsene Wenger.

The Poop Scoop:

The British press seems to be too busy with the Christianochester Ronaldited controversy to speculate about Arsenal’s transfers. Personally, I really hope he does go to Real Madrid, because United would go from title contenders to 4th place contenders if that happened. And what with the planned exodus of Chelsea’s “galacticos” Arsenal would have to be press darlings and at the very least predicted by the media to finish second place, to Tottenham.

Regardless of their busy schedule with the Ronaldo story, there’s some team news to report: Vieira has warned Arsene not to strip Gallas of the captaincy or else Gallas might not be motivated enough to give 100% next time he kicks some advertising boards and has a midfield pout. My take? Strip him of the captaincy. A real captain will take the demotion and dedicate himself to overcome that set back.

Vieira goes so far as to warn that Gallas might quit if stripped. Good. There’s no room in the squad for a player who has his friends make threats for him in the press.

Meanwhile, Wenger is saying that a big player is better than a big name. I agree. We need a 7’10” monster of a player who can squash tiny little Man U players under one foot. In reality Wenger is simply saying “I am not paying more than £8m for anyone just because they are a household name.”

I guess that means Veloso’s £24m price tag is right out then. I nearly choked when I saw his valuation that high.  £24m for Veloso is just plain irrational: he doesn’t even have a decent YouTube video yet, just a bunch of sappy love songs put to pictures gleaned off the intertubes. Even Chelsea doesn’t spend money like that. Now, Tottenham, on the other hand.

Or how about £14m for Nasri? On the one hand, he has a YouTube compilation of his greatest moments.  On the other, they’re all a bunch of dribbling attacks that end in saves.  But hey it’s a video, break the bank! Judging by the video, he’d be a natural replacement for all the goals that Hleb didn’t score.

So, that’s the poop scoop for today. Another day, another NOT signing.


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