Have a great weekend, all. Watch some football and send mails to email@example.com
This Arsenal mess will take years to unravel…
As the transfer window trundles on, I think all Arsenal fans are seeing the true impact of our inertia under Wenger in his final years. After being told that we should be careful what we wish for etc, we are now seeing the damage truly done to Arsenal due to paralysis. Wenger is the architect, along with Ivan, of the current financial travails that see us losing talent on frees, while being lumbered with players on exorbitant wages like Ozil. They are responsible for us losing Ramsey while signing Mustafi for £35 million. That we are now broke, and no closer to getting into the Champions League tells me we, as fans, need to recalibrate our expectations. We were never a top-tier club, even when we won the league, we were still prey to Barca, Real, Bayern etc. We are now slipping down the second tier too, and I can foresee years of spinning our wheels in the league. This may just be new year fatalism, but how do you undo over a decade of mismanagement? It is going to take years, and probably Emery’s successor (because of the short-termism of football fans) to break through and fix things.
My only hope is that the work done behind the scenes, in moving on substandard players, and creating a new ethos happens, and happens quick, lest we see ourselves become an irrelevance.
John Matric AFC
…Following Emery’s ‘bombshell’ that Arsenal are only looking at loan deals it seems a lot of Arsenal fans have lost their collective sh*t, (rightly) asking where all the money is for a club that is supposedly the sixth richest in the world. Well the short answer is don’t expect Arsenal to be flashing any sort of serious money while Kroenke is the owner. Whilst he may not be actively taking money out of the club , save for the strange £3m ‘consultancy fee’, he certainly isn’t pumping it in and is certainly requiring the purse strings to be tightened.
The bigger issue for Arsenal has been the way the club has been run over the last 5-8 years. The failings of Wenger and Gazidis and the failure of anyone else to stop it or take some of the decision making and power away. I’d also add in Dick Law in that who has negotiated some terrible deals in that time.
When Emery took over many people have likened it to the rebuilding process Klopp and to a lesser extend Poch had to do. The reality is that this is very different because both of those clubs could make a relatively clean start and had some valuable assets that could generate money for the new manager to shape the club in their image (Suarez, Coutinho, Walker – plus getting good money for average players to boost the coffers)
Emery is going to have to wade around in the mess that was left him by his predecessor. There is a long list but here are some highlights:
* Not selling Sanchez for £60m to City when he had 12 months left on his contract, instead swapping him for Mkhitaryan and paying Mkhi £200k per week only six months later.
* Losing countless players on free transfers. This one stretches back to the break-up of the Invincibles culminating in losing Ramsey for free effectively writing off £50m. Some players who have left on a free are Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck (probably), Sagna, Campbell, Debuchy, Fabianski, Denilson, Arshavin, Edu. I reckon there is over £150m of players there if sold at the right time.
* Wenger’s socialist wage structure. Meaning average players are paid way too much and are impossible to shift off the books and the best ones weren’t paid enough so sought better wages (and trophies) elsewhere.
* Bad recruitment. Mustafi for £35m!
* Bad selling. Losing players like Szczesny for £10m when Juve deemed him good enough to replace Buffon – Danny Ward and Angus Gunn went for £12m. Signing Perez for £17m, playing him in a handful of games and selling him for £4m. Part of the reason Arsenal sell so low is the socialist wage structure mentioned above. The buying club can only afford the wages if the initial price is very low – it is the only way Arsenal can rid themselves of players deemed not good enough.
* Giving Ozil £350k per week looks like a millstone around the club’s neck now. It is a barometer for other players and no one can suggest we’re getting value for money and it is going to be very difficult to move him on.
* Leaving an unbalanced and aging squad (Man U fans can probably relate to this one) Lots of players aged 30+, lots of big signings with little or no re-sale value, and a squad that Emery inherited with no wingers and no proper holding mid a shambles in defence.
* Losing ground on other clubs in commercial deals and using the academy and loan system to generate cash for the first team. Zouma has earned Chelsea £15m in loan fees and he’s still their player.
So, you can see there is a huge amount to unpick for Emery and the backroom team. We need to get the wage bill down quickly. We need to shift the deadwood quickly. We need to recruit cheaply and wisely (Mislintat needs to pull off some magic). Hope that there are some bright young things in the youth team who could progress through to the first team. Hope that once Emery has more of his type of players he can get them playing in a more organised fashion at the back.
That is a lot to do on very little budget. When Wenger left I braced myself that it could be eight years before Arsenal could challenge again simply because of the mess that was left behind. Emery might end up just being a bridging manager who can steady the ship for 3-4 years before we can start to move forwards again.
Rich (depressingly realistic) AFC
On Spurs’ injury problems
Having read Klopp’s comments indicating Spurs haven’t been as ‘unlucky’ with injuries as his poor side has been I wondered about the typical ‘Oh but Spurs don’t have depth’ bs that get thrown about every now and then.
Although Klopp and rival fans might not notice because Poch doesn’t really moan about these things but we probably have had the worst luck with injuries so far this season. Not just with the sheer number of injuries which was partially expected to be honest because of so many players missing the whole pre-season after participating in the latter stages of the World Cup, but injuries to all players in a single position.
Right now we have all three of our DMs out injured together. Previously we’ve had two goalkeepers out together, two right-backs (against Barca) and four CB out together. We had to play Ben Davies as a CB for couple of games last month. This puts Klopp crying about injuries to two CBs together into perspective doesn’t it? We also negotiated a lot of matches with two of the three missing from Son, Alli and Eriksen.
Since 2015, we’ve constantly faced lazy accusations that we’d struggle without this player or that player. Guess what every time a certain player was called our most important cog, he got injured soon enough but we still maintained our position without him. Even F365 are guilty of it. Then again I won’t blame you because I myself had bought into some of those articles. In the last four years one out of Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dembele, Wanyama, Dier, Alli, Eriksen and Kane have been called our most important player several times (where would they be without him?). However, other than 2016/17, when we struggled for a while without Alderweireld, we haven’t really missed any of them too much to hinder our progress.
We actually have excellent depth. Yes we’re a bit light in the CM department with the injuries and I believe we’re going to get couple of reinforcements in that area either this window or the next. In almost all the other areas, especially attack, we’re fine. Is asking the journalists and pundits to do a bit more research and be a little less lazy too much to ask?
Nabil, THFC, Bangladesh
Coutinho and offside: Both not needed
I would like to second the opinions of Jon and Will, Pittsburgh in this morning’s mailbox. Firstly, I wholeheartedly agree with Jon, in that a) Coutinho to United is such obvious hogwash, and b) that we don’t need him specifically anyway. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to see a right-winger come in – that is one area I think we need a bit of competition – but I would be much happier with someone with a more modest signing with good potential. While there would be some comedy value in seeing Coutinho come to United, that’s not enough to make it a good idea. Jon is dead right when he says we don’t need any more galacticos right now; the Mourinho reign has already highlighted a number of issues with player egos, so the last thing we need is to exacerbate that by adding more.
And Will, Pittsburgh is also spot on with his assessment of VAR use for offsides. It really should be much simpler than it is right now; we’re talking about such fine margins that surely they make very little difference in practical terms. If, as Will says, if it takes more than a few seconds to decide whether it’s offside then it obviously isn’t offside enough to give the player a noticeable advantage. In the Kane example, even if he had been stood a foot further back, I would wager that the end result would have still been the same (i.e. Kane getting into a shooting position, not the penalty necessarily), so whether or not his head was offside so far from goal is pretty irrelevant really. The only issue with the VAR was the time it took to sort it out, but that is easily fixed by putting time limits on the review for each type of infraction. Maybe 15 seconds for offsides, 30 for penalties/goal reviews, and mic up the referee/video referees so the fans can hear the conversation.
If you look at the evidence that Sarri presented, the bigger issue in this incident is that the entire Chelsea backline has been caught ball watching. Kane has made an excellent run having positioned himself well, and Alderweireld has delivered a great long pass. If you’re wanting to assign blame here, it should be to the defenders who didn’t track Kane properly, rather than the linesman and video referee who made judgement calls based on the best information they had available at the time. In this instance, it seems more likely that Sarri and Chelsea are probably just trying to deflect attention from a lapse in concentration, than any credible issue with VAR itself.
Speaking of which, this leads me on to a personal gripe with the offside rule. Why should a player who is coming back from an offside position (i.e. running towards his own goal to collect the ball) be given as offside if he ends up with defenders between himself and the goal when he touches the ball? I always thought that the point of offside is to stop goal hanging, so if a player was stood offside but runs back onside before he gets the ball, isn’t that fine?
Personally, I think the entire offside rule is anti-football anyway; any rule which favours the team that is actively running in the opposite direction to that of the ball is just daft in my book. In the Kane example, if the Chelsea players didn’t have offside in mind then perhaps they would have been watching the man to whom the ball was being played, and they would have defended that particular attack. Maybe I’m on my own here, but I would rather see defenders actually have to, y’know, defend instead of running away from the problem. That said, if this weekend United get a positive result because of Spurs having a goal ruled out for offside then I reserve the right to be a total hypocrite.
I have to say, I concur entirely with Will on the offside law.
So many times pundits say things like, ‘his head was offside, so it’s right’ when in reality, if it’s that close, are they not level?
I remember Fabregas equalising at West Ham a few years ago, and it was disallowed. Ian Wright concluded the linesman was right as his knee was ahead of the last defender. Really? The lino worked that out?
The offside law exists to stop players goal hanging and the goalkeeper just punting it from one end to the other. Surely a body part being offside is no big deal? In the Kane example, did he gain an advantage by having his head ahead of play? It didn’t really change anything.
Let all the tight offsides go, and review after if a goal is scored, and only if it’s clearly off, do you bring it back
Willian, it’s really something
Another day and another incredible offer from Barcelona for Willian (£50m + Malcom apparently) and yet Chelsea reject the offer, a 30-year-old with 18 months left who will from now be offered one-year-only deals, I’m convinced Barcelona could offer us Messi for Willian and we’d still turn it down.
Mikey, CFC (That Peter Goldstein has convinced me to watch the Burnley v Fulham game now)
Football club owners owe the clubs nothing
First a prediction that I can be pilloried with at the end of the season: City will win the league. Liverpool are playing above their optimal because of the manager but that will fade, at 100% City have a better (id even say much better) squad.
Okay now to the real issue. After reading your Blackpool article I wanted to write in because I was annoyed, but thankfully in the comments section Andy Kuz outlined all the problems with the writer’s argument:
Nothing will be achieved unless commentators at least attempt to have an objective conversation.
Take a step back from it and actually think.
Football stadia need protection as community assets? Where does funding for football stadia come from? When that majority of stadia are funded out of the public purse, then is the time to talk.
Football fans need protection as community assets? What?
Football clubs need protection as community assets? Why? In the grand scheme of society, what is special about a football club? Why does it deserve protection over and above, say, Blackpool Bridge Club?
The cold, hard (and yes heartless) facts are that the Oystons, as business owners, are well within their rights to invest their money as they see fit, within certain bounds that an authority (The EFL and the FA) are comfortable with.
Why do you pick out numbers at random? Why don’t you tell us that Blackpool’s average league attendance never got above 6,000 between 1979 and 2002? Did numbers not matter in Blackpool then?
Nobody has been forced to do anything. It’s a choice.
Why do I bring this up? Well for one because I wasn’t sure many people would see the comment and I thought it was a damn shame it should go to waste but also because once upon a time this is exactly the type of article that I would agree with and praise.
I know this because I went through an ownership change when the Glazers bought the club I support. I was very angry, but now I think they, but mostly Ferguson, managed the situation remarkably well considering the restrictions that were imposed with the way they did it.
Did I blame them for every transfer failure? Yup. Did I have any right to demand the FA force them out of the club? Absolutely not.
You can have a girlfriend who you buy gifts for and love with all your heart but that does not mean she belongs to you. If she tomorrow chooses to seek someone else’s attention you don’t go to the government to forbid that type of woman from going out with men.
This same ‘argument’ is repeated everywhere. Newcastle have an owner that does not want to spend. Now whatever his reasoning it is obvious that the club is making him money because he is refusing to sell it and you don’t make enough money to buy Newcastle if you keep hold of things that are losing you money to spite some people. So enough fans are attending games and buying merchandising. If you want to say hey Ash what you are doing is not acceptable then a large enough part of the fans should abstain from doing such things. I actually think the Newcastle situation is a lost opportunity because they already have a great manager in place and with a bit more investment could be doing a lot better than they are. But hell Mike probably knows better because he made ALL THAT F**KING MONEY TO BUY IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
But to get back to my original point – the fans aren’t owed anything. What someone does with a football club is not a democratic decision where each fan gets a vote. It’s the person who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to buy said football club’s decision to do with it as he likes. This sort of article is both uninformed and dangerous because it creates the illusion that some things are public properties when they plainly are not and it’s high time they stop. Imagine if I wrote an article about how the government should take away Tom Reed’s car because CO2 emissions are on the rise and i’ts his fault cos he can’t afford a Tesla and isn’t remodeling it with the latest parts available that help protect the environment?
Let’s see the football and not the managers
I can only assume that Big D has overdone it on the peanuts that also bear his name. For starters, he has undone his own argument by equating Japanese gameshows having a small box of someone reacting alongside what they are watching to constant shots during play of coaches and managers. The point is you can still see the main programme at the same time as the reaction. Similarly, it’s rare that if you watch stand-up comedy on television you see the audience while the comedian is performing a routine – again, it tends to be during the reaction/laughter.
This almost seems like too obvious a point to make but the whole point of televised football should be to bring the live game experience into your home. It can’t replicate everything and also offers different things. However, what I would say is this. When I go to a game, I watch the game; I hardly pay any attention to the dugouts, though from my seat I can see them and hear the coaches. Like most fans, when the ball is in play I’m following the action, and when it isn’t (such as for a goal kick or, more likely at Grantham, a wind-induced throw-in), I’m still watching the players to see how they’re lined up and what might be about to happen. These are all things you don’t get on television if the cameras are showing the managers.
It’s an entirely modern thing. Moments such as Bob Stokoe dashing up the sideline or David Pleat dancing on the pitch stick in the memory because they come from a time when you didn’t see the managers on television much. People may remember that in 2016 I wrote a piece about the 1990 FA Cup Final for this site, for which I watched both the original game and the replay. Aside from when they lead their teams out, you hardly see Steve Coppell or Sir Alex Ferguson – only when they are making substitutions or at the end of the game – you don’t see either’s reaction to any of the goals or big chances either way. Most of the time, when the ball isn’t in play, the footage cuts to an aerial shot. This is brilliant, because you can see how the teams are lined up and form an idea of what’s about to happen. Yes, this is more of the ‘chess’ approach that Big D dismisses but it is far better viewing than a replay of someone on the sideline reacting: imagine my shock that Pep Guardiola is delighted his team has scored, or that Neil Warnock is seething at a refereeing decision. Predictability is not always entertaining, so yeah, show the game.
On a different note, when it comes to whether Burton Albion v Manchester City was a debacle, I’d say Shrewsbury Town, Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough should be more ashamed of themselves than the Brewers.