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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Where has the money gone?

Arteta - very good, but not top class

I've finally got time this morning to sit down and write some thoughts on the frenzied transfer activity we saw at Arsenal in the last two days of the window or, more specifically, the last hour. I have to admit that I am pretty underwhelmed at what I've seen. 
Some areas of weakness have certainly been addressed to a certain extent. As I said the other day I am extremely happy with the signing of Mertesacker, but I still think we are short of one top centre-half. It seems that Bolton were really looking for some ridiculous figure for Gary Cahill as even Spurs wouldn't sign him on deadline day - this will come back to haunt Bolton who will now have to sell him cheap in January, or lose him for the square root of nothing in May. Whatever the case may be we are still not strong enough in the middle of the back four. One injury/suspension and we effectively are back to the status quo before the Man Utd game.
We were definitely in need of a left-back, and have been since before Gael Clichy was sold. Will Andre Santos be any good defensively? Time will tell. He has to be given the chance to prove himself, but I just can not understand why Wenger wouldn't just go and get some proven Premier League quality like Leighton Baines. Having said that, with the sale of Traore and the arrival of Santos, we are seemingly stronger than we were this time last week in that area of the pitch.
A new striker was also a key signing with Chamakh in such dire form. I see that our new Korean number nine got a hat-trick for his country this week, so let's hope he's in the mood for goalscoring if/when he makes his bow against Swansea on Saturday. I do not understand the logic, however, of signing a player who we know will be off in two years as he has to do his national service, but I think I should give up trying to work out what Arsene Wenger's strategies might be. I still believe Walcott would be a far better player in the centre, playing off another striker, but Wenger's promises to Theo can never be fulfilled all the time he persists with this flawed system. Meanwhile, Nicklas Bendtner has moved on to Sunderland - but only on loan. Bendtner's comments this week about how he "will never return to Arsenal" are disappointing to me as I've always defended the big Dane from unwarranted criticism. Now he can rot at a s**t club as far as I'm concerned - if he doesn't get goals he will find himself back at Colney next July with no prospect of getting a move anywhere (but he'll still be getting £52k a week!)
So we come to our midfield. This is where I am really at a loss. We have sold two top players for over £50m. We have brought in an injury-prone player from Everton for £10m and another injury-prone squad player from Chelsea on loan. What on earth is going on? I have to say that I do rate both players, especially Mikel Arteta. I think Arteta is a quality Premier League performer. But he is being expected to replace a World Class player in Fabregas. To me he is a poor man's Fabregas, "Fabregas-lite" if you will. I expect that, if he can stay fit, Arteta will do well for Arsenal, but he is no replacement for what we have lost. Then there is Benayoun. I mentioned the other night that I thought such a signing would be reminiscent of George Graham bringing in Chris Kiwomya - desperation, and simply not Arsenal. Benayoun, when he signed for Liverpool, was just the sort of squad player Arsenal required. Four years on, and at least one serious knee injury as well, I just don't understand what he is doing at our Club - he certainly used to be a good player, but now? And, while I'm at it, what the hell are we doing getting players on loan? We are Arsenal for God's sake. One other thing to bear in mind with the Benayoun signing - why are Chelsea willing to loan a player to Arsenal if he is still capable of playing at the top level? If we had signed Arteta and a World Class midfielder I would be happy with that. But we haven't done so. Mikel Arteta has become our major Summer signing. It's not exactly inspiring to the fans.
The other thing that has puzzled me greatly is the fact that Scott Parker has gone from West Ham for as little as £5m and yet Arsenal weren't interested. Alex Song is off to Africa in the New Year, and may well yet be followed by Frimpong if he chooses to play for Ghana. We are weak in defensive areas in midfield, especially with a work-horse like Jack Wilshere out injured (reports are suggesting today that he is out for at least three months, which would not come as any surprise to me). Make no mistake, we needed Scott Parker, and yet Wenger has allowed him to go to Tottenham for an absolute bargain-basement fee. At the same time we have effectively released Henri Lansbury, loaned to West Ham (why are we helping scum like Allardyce?) for the final year of his Arsenal contract. Given that Denilson played over 150 times for Arsenal I would be grateful for an explanation as to why Lansbury has been given not one opportunity to play for the Club. I'd rather have him in the squad than Yossi Benayoun, that's for sure.

The thing that sticks with me is that we have made a significant profit once again on our transfer dealings this Summer, even before you count the £30m+ we were told was available before anyone was sold. We have lost our best player, our Captain, and yet have clearly failed to replace him. The supporters are paying 6% more per ticket than last season to see a team which is palpably weaker than it was last term. The question that clearly needs to be asked is, where is all this money going to? The more you think of it, the more you have to believe that the Club is in financial difficulty, or is being drained of its resources for other reasons. We have been told there is money available, but even Wenger must realise the players he has signed (been allowed to sign?) are not of the required quality to challenge for honours. It seems to me that, right now, the Club is being run in to the ground by the powers that be. Kroenke remains silent about things. I believe he has been ploughing money in to some of his American sports franchises - where is the money coming from for that? Perhaps we are all being conned by our American owner. The AGM this year will more of a whitewash than it has been in recent years, and that is really saying something given the pre-screening of allowable questions etc. I see serious protests enveloping Arsenal Football Club as we progress through this season. These are dark times, and the fans require answers.


  1. I agree with almost all you are saying, you seemed to leave out Gervinho, other than that I agree as i think he has showed some promise. The spooky think is the hordes of Gooners in chat rooms who believe that problems are solved.....I think they have only just begun and I so want to be proved wrong!

  2. is the signing of Benny similar to when King Kenny began to lose it and signed David Speedie. Who was never good enough for them then.

  3. We cant underestimate the effect of the late business and lack of time in choosing midfield replacements. Yet there was no excuse for not buying the defensive cover earlier!

    I think the criticism of Per is a little harsh considering his international experience. Dos Santos has to be an improvement on Gibbs - who's defensive positioning and injury record are questionable..

    I expect us to do more activity in Jan, i feel the penny has finally dropped about the project or current squad being overrated and overpaid in the cases of Bendtner and Denilson!!

  4. Re Song, don't assume we will lose him to African Nations duty in Feb/March. Senegal have already won Cameroon's group, and DR Congo and Cameroon are closely matched for second place. Even if Cameroon finish second, only the two best runners-up out of ten go through to the Finals, and Cameroon are (with one match remaining) currently a long way down the list. So, the chances are we won't lose Song to the ACN.

    Real Gooner's right re Gervinho: we've sold Fabregas and Nasri and replaced them with Gervinho, Arteta and Benayoun, with Wilshere (as Cesc himself has said) now being the one to develop into Cesc's heir. We're weaker right now, no doubt about that, since Cesc is irreplaceable. But I think we've more than replaced Nasri, and overall are in fairly good shape, despite the transfer window having been mismanaged in terms of the timing of doing most of our business. The trouble is City and United have moved on again, and there is little to no prospect of catching them this season.

  5. The thing about Per is that he is just as quick or quicker than most players. His top speed is faster than Rooney. (fifa world cup stats) he is in the top 5%. He may not turn as quick as others due to size but positionally he doesnt have to.

    The reason people are worried about his speed are the same ones who would be worried about Cahill's lack of Champions league football. Lucio's lack of premiership football or Vidic's discipline etc

    You get the drift. Per may be good signing, he may not. It will have more to do with the players (& tactics) in front of him than his ability.
    As the defended has been exposed by our midfield for the past 12 months.

  6. i find it hard to understand why Kroenke remains quit- he paid a lot of money for a team that keep on lossing every big asset it has, unless he is the man responsible for it. anyone understands that arsenal lossing there power in every possible way and rebuilding the team again will cost more money then required in order to keep us storng and again it will take a few more years.
    as i see it big players just dont want to come to arsenal- we are not attractive enough for big players. even man city with all there big money spending had to pay big money in order to bring good players{see how the quelity of players changed every transfer windows until they brought "kun"}.
    and for our new players- arteta is a great player when not injured but....how long will we deal with injured players??
    yossi could have been a world class players {had he came to arsenal ten years ago- i saw him "walk" in the israeli natinal team for the past few games and he is a great "walker" on the field but he is no longer can be called a football player}
    matsacker- he is a great defender but hardly a world class one- cheack the stats on werder for the past 2-3 years and you will understand he is the leader we need at the back!!!
    i am sorry to say but we need to prepare for the last season in the champions league and hope we will make it to the europa leage for next year

  7. You are clueless !!!! Do you bother following the real situation with the clubs finances !!!!! We actually made a small loss in the first 6 months last year. That includes the Toure and Adebayour money. When you take the profits from Highbury Square out of the last few results, we barely break even. Our dept for the new stadium is under control, but as you can see our wage bill isn't. The average premiership player earns £38k a week, we pay £70ish on average. We have had too many average player like Denilson, Betender Almunia and Diaby on above average wages. This means that when they do not live up to their potential, as they normally don't, not many clubs are interested, those that are, are put off by their insane wages. The players that do live up to their potential, then leave to join the clubs like Barca, Utd, Chelski, or City who's wages structure blows our out of the water !!!! If we paid average players average wages, it would free funds to pay exceptional players better wages !!!! If Wenger had moved to tie Nasiri on a really long contract when he first arrived, say 8 years, and he didn't live up to his expectation, we would have had another over paid average player.
    When you look at teams that have recklessly chased the dream, and have broken them, teams like Leeds and Notts Forest, you cannot seriously want us to do the same !!! You can not want the board to gamble the very future of the club, in some short sighted GLORY HUNT !!!!!!
    We need to compete with the likes of Barca Real and Utd on commercial terms. City and Chelski are short term playthings of rich egotists !! My beloved Arsenal HAS to be run so that I am sure that my Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren are ASSURED of its survival. Idiots like you just don't get it. You turn up to matches thinking that we have got a "GOD GIVEN '" right to success !!! So we didn't sign Messi !!! In your expert opinion the players brought in are not Arsenal quality !!!! Well I have got news for you !!!! Arsenal have NEVER bought Stella signing !!!!!! Player like Bergcamp and Henry were big money signings that had FAILED at their previous clubs.
    Get behind your club mate !!!! All your negative moaning will change nothing !!! You do not pick the team !!!! You watch it !!!!!!! Accept nobody in a position to change things gives a F**K what you think !!!!

  8. Rickthegooner. What a knob you are. In serious need of a slap. I doubt very much if he has been around The Arsenal that long.

  9. Mick
    Cheers mate
    Season ticket holder 40 years
    Away Sceme 23 years
    Was at Old Trafford
    Perhaps you can tell me exactly what you disagree with !!!!!
    See you in Dortmund You can come up and introduce yourself.

  10. Love to see you in Dortmund. No armchair here.

  11. Mick
    No answer to what you disagree with either.
    Prove it mate What pub do the away boys drink in before the match at Man City or Newcastle or Sunderland or Bolton ????
    You din't say if you were at Utd . If so what block were you in ????

  12. Oh rickthegooner is a super fan, because he goes for a beer before the game. I forgot that knowing the "away pub at Man City" was what made you a supporter. What a fucking tosser.
    So I'm clueless because I want Arsenal to spend money on quality players. I'm also a glory hunter, apparently.
    rickthegooner is also a super fan because he has been, and I quote, "Away Sceme (good spelling there) 23 years". In my World it's difficult to have been part of a scheme for 23 years when it has only been running since 2006, but there you go.
    Anyone else smelling a twat here?
    By the way - Mick has been going to Arsenal for over 35 years, so I think he might not be the "ARMCHAIR DICKHEAD" he's being accused of.
    If rickthegooner is the fan he claims to be then he should probably know exactly who Mick is, and Tim, and Keith, and Woody, and Jill, and Lizzie, and Maria, and Baso, and Teo, and the late Eugene (because surely such a super fan will also have been to pre-season for the past 10 years like those named above) - the list goes on, but does rickthegooner know them?

    Don't post again rickthegooner because I'll probably delete it - I like a bit of honest debate, but not from idiots like you.

  13. You know what I was saying, don't split hairs, I've been going away for 23 years !!!
    Interesting you didn't answer any of my points either.
    I put my opinion out there and was offered a slap.
    I don't care if your mate Mick goes away or not !!!
    If I want to meet up in the pub before the game with my mates, what of it ???
    Because you don't, I don't see the relevance !!!!
    The point was that you want the board to risk bankrupting the club for short term gain !!! I want the club to carry on growing and catching the giants of the game.
    We are going down the correct route. We are growing, we are developing. We are not Real Madrid or Man Utd, but equally we are not Rotherham or Crewe Alexander . We need to live within our means.
    If the new Ueffa rules clip the wings of the cash rich clubs even 50%. It will benefit us. It's hard seeing City buying success!!! But it is short term success !!!!! We have started down a route that in the long term will help us compete. Lets be patient with it.
    You lads have been following my beloved Arsenal long enough to have seen some average team pull on the shirt. The group of player we have now are not the worst. The squad is a bit better than before the match at Utd. We CANNOT compete with certain clubs, financially or on a attraction basis.
    You could delete this or you could join the debate. I hope it's the latter.
    It's not a debate when a couple of your like minded mates pat you on the back, and tell you what to hear.
    The choice is yours.

  14. Very glad to join an intelligent debate on this without the bullshit of who is the better fan! Firstly I want to say that I love Arsenal Football Club and that no player, manager or board member can ever be bigger than the club. There are a few points however, that I would like to raise. I work in the finance industry and am well aware of how any set of accounts can be dressed up by the author to prove or disprove anything they chose by way of an array of smoke and mirrors. We can call this operating profit, pre tax turnover, profit before sale, turnover etc etc etc. I am also aware that as humble Joe Public we will never actually know what Arsenal FC has available to spend. I would however like to say that just because we have a large debt (albeit under control in a strauctured way) and minimal 'operating profit' it doesnt necessarily follow that our reserve accounts are not available for transfer funds.
    As is rightly pointed out we have been around long enough to have seen poor Arsenal sides as were possibly best exemplified through the mid 70's and early 80's. There is no doubt that the players now are light years ahead of the ilk we saw then. the difference between then and now is twofold - firstly the weight of expectation bought on by a number of factors including the move to the 'E' place. The second more worrying one is the cost implications. In the 70's and 80's our season tickets were a fraction of the amount of our disposable income than they are now. I cant deffinitively quantify it but i would suspect in real terms that they cost about 1/3 of current prices. No of course wages have increased and the game is a different product, but this is offset to a large part by TV and off field activities. I agree that we should not be chasing a short term dream but we are a big club and it needs to be examined as to why our off field activities are so far behind Man U (i accept that they are a global brand) but why are we not in clear blue water from teams like Tottenham? My belief is that this is down to mismanagement at board level and an acceptance that the paying fans will just accept pretty football and an annual sojourn into the champions league without actually winning something. In my opinion the Fair Play rules are an absolute falicy and if anything are pushing the super rich clubs towards a break away league (which I do not want) on the basis that any sanction attempted by the governing body will be met with an 'up yours'. I agree that we should live within our means but at the same time we should also take advantage of assistance should a russian oliagarch (not sure if thats how its spelt) wants to help us out. I made a prediction that I really hoped would never come to light when we lefyt Highbury and that was that within 5 years we would see gates of less than 35k at the new place because long term fans had become disaffected and the Johnny Come latelies have buggered off due to lack of silverware. I am still hopeful of this not happening but unfortunately I see this car crash looming more and more as the weeks and months go by.

  15. Part 2
    This takes me to my final point of our esteemed manager. From what i am about to say you may find it strange for me to start by saying that i firmly believe that he is the greatest manager the club has ever had,even above the likes of Chapman, Whittaker, Allison and Graham. However my concern is that he will be forever remembered as a failed genius who set up a dictatorship that was unable to tame his ultimate madness in the belief of a failed ideaology. His back room staff are merely puppets of himself. For example nobody can doubt the service to the club of Pat Rice. He has been seen however to be merely a limb of the manager, and although we are not of course privy to private conversations, it is clear in my mind that he has never once challenged the tactical ineptitude of Wenger. Bora Primorac has a role that i really cannot see the relevance of. He has followed Wenger around the globe for much of his non playing career. The final person in the inner sanctum is Paul Johnston - yes the same chap that not too long ago was running the travel club, yet as I have seen with my own eyes on many occaisions takes and participates in first team training! Where would any of these find alternative employment of a similar ilk were they to rock the boat too much? We play great football until we get 30 yards from goal. Again, i find it difficult to disagree with this but also in the final 1/3 we are ineffective. I believe that the Wenger players have over achieved as I do not believe that they have been good enough to punch the weight they have over the last 5 seasons. I do however really think that enoiugh is enough and Wenger must now depart. If he has had the money available and has chosen not to invest in quality then he has shown dereliction of duty in his role at a great club. If he has not had the money then unfortunately his position is also untenable as he has lied to the fans by saying that it is him who makes the decisions and not the board.

    Finally I really hope that i am wrong on all counts and come March we are celebrating a league cup win followed by the premiership, FA Cup and Champions League in May. I wont hold my breath but I will dream and believe and follow my club over land and sea (and Leicester)