Shiny new kit, but still the same old Arsenal. Time for Rafa…

Date published: Monday 1st July 2019 2:59

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New kit, same old Arsenal
A £300 million Adidas kit deal that Arsenal have signed over five years. That’s bigger than Man City and Spurs kit deal with Nike, and yet they offered £15m for a promising young full back?

Kroenke out.


Unai out, Rafa in
Arsenals main priority should be getting Rafa through the door.

No disrespect to Emery, he’s a very good manager, but even when they hired him I wasn’t sure he was the right fit, and considering the financial situation at the club, I think even less so now.

Benitez could come in, would do a better job of making the defence better (despite the dross), could work with limited resources but more talented players, and would be my bet to get us back into the CL, and maybe snag a cup along way. Given time, a league would not be out of the realms of possibility.
Néill, (won’t happen but hope it does), Ireland


It’s not Stan’s fault
…It’s all very well mounting protests and having a pop at Kroenke.

And while I would love nothing more than our silent owner selling us on to someone that actually loves the club, the fact remains – Emery stuffed it up himself and doesn’t deserve additional funds or a new contract.

The man gambled everything on qualifying via the Europa League and didn’t seem to care about our final few league games – the result is we’re about £50m down in terms of transfer budget. That’s all on Unai – NOT Stan.

Given the restricted budget, I’ve no doubt Unai would want to sign journeymen aged between 28 and 30, who we won’t be able to move on. That would just add to the mess we’re in so I’m pleased to see us linked with the likes of Saliba and Tierney.

Treat this next season as downtime, recruit young players and blend this with youth players and there could be better times ahead for Arsenal under a new manager next season.

Unai’s created this mess – it’s up to him to make do and try and make top four however he can to land a new contract – can’t see it happening though.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Juve’s obsession
Abner, Kenya, As a Juve fan I can tell you exactly what is going on with Juve’s midfield obsession. Last season the squad had just 5 midfielders for 3 starting positions, of whom Matuidi was knackered after World Cup, most had a few injury issues especially Khedira, and the wingers who could occasionally cover (D Costa and Cuadrado) were also injured for large parts of the season. The eventual lack of energy is April was the first main reason of the Champion’s League elimination to Ajax (Second reason was the individual defensive mistakes by Cancelo, I can’t believe Man City would pay around 50M to take him off our hands!). Juve are doing what any serious forward-planning organisation would do, which is solve the problems before they develop any further. That requires ruthless action, meaning one or both of Khedira and Matuidi (who are both 32) will be shipped out. Thanks for the good times, but now it’s time to go. Their replacements Ramsey and Rabiot are 28 and 24.

Regarding Pogba, I doubt that he will join a Juve don’t have the financial muscle for 2 huge signings a year*. The one that they are making, De Ligt, is facilitated by a new Italian ‘development’ law that gives tax breaks for employing young people and keeping them in the job for minimum 2 years – they wouldn’t afford him otherwise. And as to why Juve, who already have 2 world-class centre backs, are going all-out for De Ligt, the answer is same as with the midfield – generational replacement. De Ligt turns 20 this summer, Chiellini and Bonucci are 15 and 12 years his senior. The third reason for the elimination to Ajax was Chiellini’s absence through injury, which unfortunately has become a recurring issue. This coming season will probably be his last.

And why would De Ligt join Juve rather than Barca, PSG, etc? Why wouldn’t a young elite defender want to play alongside the best, knowing that he will be able to learn from 2 maestros (plus Barzagli who has joined the coaching staff)? Why not be ready to have a bedding-in year knowing that he will be the main man for years to come (and he has time for at least 2 more big moves if he wants to move on)? And why not play in Serie A and at Juventus, where defenders are particularly appreciated? (Not to mention, of course, the humungous salary).

*It is being rumoured that Juventus are trying to finance the Pogba deal through Adidas, which makes sense as he brings huge commercial value to the club as well as technical value to the squad. If that happens, great, if not, no problem. As Casillas recently tweeted, Juventus’ transfer dealers are magicians.
James, Switzerland


Happy with United’s plan
I am happy! I know you will all be pleased, as I am usually a curmudgeonly old git moaning about United.
So now we appear to be avoiding the big name player game, creating a team that we can support, enjoy watching and hope that they become a League winning outfit. Young players, who will love playing for United, who will not be prima donning it demanding that they get this and that.
And if that is the plan, then getting into the top four will be an achievement not the delivery of an expectation. Supporters will go to matches to help the team not just passively watch the “superstars” put on a show. And it might even be fun!


Open your mind
Not sure how buying 2 kids with a handful of first team appearances between them equates to buying 2 established players (Downing was 26 with 250 appearances, Adam 25 with 192) other than them being British. Yes, Henderson and Carroll are comparable, but unless I’m mistaken, Henderson is still at Liverpool, is the club captain, and has been a great servant to the club. If one of James or Wan Bissaka achieves what Henderson has done I’ll be delighted. Our recent policy seems to have been buying mega-expensive flops, so I for one am certainly willing to try something different in the hope that OGS knows how to build a team of players that are willing to play for each other. Just like Liverpool 2019.


…I’ve been largely silent in mailbox terms this summer – I figure you lot deserve a summer break just as much as the players do – but I’ve been roused from my slumber now that pre-season is fast approaching. Reading the article about Arsenal today, I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the criticisms levelled at the Gunners could also be added to the rapsheet for United too. In fact, between us, Arsenal and Chelsea, the race (if it qualifies as that) for fourth place – for that is the only realistic target for the aforementioned clubs this season – could just as easily turn into the battle to finish in the top six at all. Wolves, Leicester, Everton, and possibly West Ham and Watford are all looking to take the next step in their own ambitions. Certainly, Wolves and Leicester look like really strong contenders to muscle in on that fight, while Everton still have some work to do in achieving some consistency.

Chelsea have their transfer ban and, if the rumours are to be believed, a relative rookie (even compared to Solskjaer) manager at the helm. Arsenal are in an even worse state than we are, having not only lost one of their best players and their head of recruitment but also being supposedly constrained by a (relatively) meagre transfer budget. The upcoming season could be the time when the six becomes a three, with fourth place genuinely up for grabs and at least three other teams capable of taking advantage.

I know that we have at least managed to stumble our way out of the blocks with two (rather protracted) signings but there is still an unwelcome headless chicken feel to United’s summer business; especially considering the reports at the end of the season, and I’m sure a few quotes from Ole himself, were focussed on getting our business done early – some go as far as saying before July 1st. The problem is that there is a lot of uncertainty still looming over United; Wan-Bissaka are two signings with whom I am really pleased, but the work isn’t even half done yet.

Herrera has now officially left the club and there are still only vague rumours about any potential replacement, we are still in dire need of a senior centre-back and a right-sided forward, and there are still a number of players whose futures are far from certain. Darmian, Rojo, Smalling/Jones, definitely need to be moved on, while De Gea, Pogba and Lukaku are all potentially leaving, and then, of course, there’s Sanchez. Granted, now that 1st July is officially here, we might see more movement out of United; I understand that the new FFP rules might have had an impact there, now that you’re only allowed a net spend of £100m. However, if that interpretation is correct, it makes it all the more strange that we weren’t really pressing on with our incoming business – surely the time to go through a major spend was in the previous financial period?

And of course, there’s the disappointment which is the supposed recruitment of a director of football, or whatever they want to call it. That now appears to have been shelved, while even the public clamour for this position to be filled has died down. One can’t help but feel that, had that recruitment been prioritised during the close season, this summer’s business would have been rather easier. Still, we are where we are. Maybe we’ll bring in the remaining three to five players that we still need (depending on departures), maybe De Gea will sign a new deal, maybe we’ll flog Pogba and/or Lukaku and replacement them with suitable alternatives. But, whichever way you cut it, we’re now 12 days away from our first pre-season game so it’s unlikely we’ll have more than one of those issues wrapped up before then. Ah well!
Ted, Manchester


Pride Cup
Just some thoughts on Steve, Los Angeles’s mail on Megan Rapinoe’s comments…

Firstly, if we’re talking statistics, she’s (sort of) correct – around 2% of the population are LGBT, so in one in every two championship-winning squads you’d expect to find a player who identifies as LGBT. It’s not an essential requirement like having a goalie but proportionally, they will be there.

Secondly, if any girls or women don’t want to play football because they see it as a ‘gay refuge’, they should learn some tolerance, or piss off (and yes I am aware of the irony there – Karl Popper can explain further if needed). The idea that a ‘gay refuge’ is even required should ring some alarm bells.

Which brings me onto the third thing – when you’ve got Donald Trump running the US and gradually rolling back LGBT rights in a supposedly developed country, it’s absolutely right of Rapinoe to use any platform she can to fight against it. Things got a lot better in terms of LGBT rights over the space over a few decades but she can tell which way the wind is blowing – the far right has been gaining support across the world over the last few years (Bolsonaro, Le Pen, etc) and far-right administrations do not have a good record when it comes to LGBT rights. And it’s not just about legal rights, it can lead to some people changing their attitude towards the LGBT community too – for example, homophobic and transphobic attacks have increased in recent years in the UK.

Basically, Rapinoe isn’t trying to make football into a gay refuge, she’s trying to make sure there’s no need for gay refuges to exist.

Dan, (one guess where I live… That’s right…) Brighton


…In this morning’s Mailbox, Steve in LA writes ‘How many of those girls don’t want to play the game because Rapinoe has basically tried to make the sport into the gay refuge?’

What’s happened here, Steve, is that you’ve been made to feel uncomfortable and apparently weirdly angry by an outspoken gay woman and so you’ve made up a reason to dislike her.

There’s no evidence or real reason to think that Rapinoe is going to put girls off playing football. We have gay people proudly out in many other areas of public life and somehow straight people don’t get scared off.

She’s given a couple of quotes. The way you talk it’s as if she’s forcing the crowd to listen to an hour lecture on gay rights before every game.

So maybe try not to blow things out of proportion. It’d be good for your blood pressure.
John, London


…Steve, Los Angeles, I hope that now you have seen it written down you realise that you might be a little off the mark.

“You can’t win a championship without gays?” Please stop it. Whenever someone mentions a ‘protected characteristic’ (to use the HR term) try substituting another characteristic and see if you have the same reaction… Would you have written your mail if she had said ‘You can’t win a championship without black players?’

‘How many of those girls don’t want to play the game because Rapinoe has basically tried to make the sport into the gay refuge?’. No she hasn’t. She is saying that it should be a sport where gay people feel welcome. However, the answer to your question is none Steve, not a single one. I had a conversation with my six year old daughter about a little girl called Joseph on the TV the other day. I patiently explained what the potential background might be. My daughter just said ‘it doesn’t matter Daddy’. I can’t speak for Los Angeles but in downtown Dorset young people are growing up in a world where they couldn’t give a monkeys about differences in sexuality or gender identity. Maybe, just maybe, someone using a platform afforded to them to stand up for what they believe it might be ok. Someone saying, we need to be inclusive or we won’t get anywhere might be fine.

‘By the way, I detest Donald Trump but I put up a golf clap for him when he responded “you need to win first”’. Wow, read that back Steve. Win the world cup and then stand up for what you believe in. She was asked if she would go to the White House if the US won the world cup and she said no. What was she supposed to do, lie? You are happy to castigate a player for being honest but applaud a president (the actual President of the United States) with paper-thin skin for getting involved in an argument with the co-captain of the national team during a major tournament. You took the side of someone you claim to detest over someone being honest.

You could have saved yourself some time Steve and just put ‘stay in your box’ because that is what you appear to believe.
Micki Attridge (I wonder why no gay male players have felt comfortable to come out?)


…The Pride Cup? Oh Steve. To start by saying “I get it” and then suggest Rapinoe has designs on Women’s football being a “gay refuge” would be funny if you weren’t being (presumably) serious. Rapinoe’s joking first of all; I’m agog that that slipped past you. Second of all, I doubt she’s literally suggesting that gays are the difference between a team succeeding and failing but more that any championship winning team has a variety of people in it. To suggest that straight people and gay people would hear that message and understand it differently is pretty weird. Why wouldn’t straight girls AND gay girls find heart and inspiration in Rapinoe’s message that a team is made of up different types of people and join their local team? There’s nothing exclusionary about it and young people are far less bothered overall about sexuality than you appear to be. Maybe one day we’ll have out and proud male footballers and then we can stop pretending that the only gay footballers are in the women’s game but for now, just relax and stop looking for things to get upset about. Rapinoe is a great sportswoman, funny, principled and powerful and her making it clear (during Pride) that gay people deserve celebration within a team too is very, very welcome. I’m also “Go England” but for different reasons.


Shifting deadwood
It has been a relatively sedate start to the transfer window by most clubs this summer and it got me thinking about an under-discussed element to the economic shift that has gone on in the last few years and the accumulation of wealth by a small number of super clubs; it has become really, really hard to sell a player.

Obviously, the cases of Bale, Ozil and Sanchez have received attention owing to the astronomical sums they’re being paid, but they at least have star power and thus commercial value; maybe a big club, MLS or Chinese side will take punt and at least cover most of the wages. What about the squad players though? Look at Rojo at United. Been out with injury on a regular basis, has hardly sparkled when he has played and he’s on north of £100kpw. Ditto Phil Jones. City have had a similar problem with Mangala.

Back in the day, if a top club had a squad player they no longer deemed good enough, they’d be sold on to a club lower down the chain for a modest fee; invariably Sunderland in United’s case. There’s no way that Marcos Rojo is turning out for Wolves or Palace next season with them paying a fee and all of his current wages. The ability to claw back some of one’s outlay has gone and in many cases a club either ends up stuck with a player or accepting a deadline day loan deal that involves the buying club paying a percentage of their wages.

FFP has been much questioned, but clubs cannot afford to ignore it completely and it does raise the question of whether the structure of contracts will change in the future; perhaps with a greater emphasis on appearance and performance metrics rather than base salary?

The merry-go-round seems to be stalled at the moment as big clubs try and work out how to rid themselves of their respective stock piles of deadwood.
Lewis, Busby Way


Nev stepping out
I always felt a bit sorry for Phil Neville. Although both brothers were/are hideously disfigured Phil’s sickening and cruel deformities seemed more severe than his older brothers. Although a decent player he had to live in the shadow of Gary who was lots better. He may have been a better cricketer but where did that get him, and his twin sister was England’s Netball captain or something..

However Phillip is now the England women’s national team coach and they have reached the World Cup semi finals. Whereas Gary had both the appalling “man with fork in a world of soup” stint at Valencia (thanks Noel and yes I know Phil was there too) but was also a central part of the legendary Hodgson/Lewington/Neville lets get one of the best centre forwards in the world to take the corners, have a soft toy lion mascot and take Lewington on a trip down the Seine rather than watch Iceland debacle of a coaching team.

Who’s laughing now?
Dean WWFC,(still upset about that match) Butler


Worst CL winners
So I see Alex’s Champions League XI and I can tell it would be hard to beat his choice of players who won the trophy whilst being in the Premier League, so I am going the opposite, surprising players who won the trophy whilst playing in the Premier League, enjoy my make shift 4-4-2 formation.

GK: Ross Turnbull (Chelsea ’12)

LB: Alberto Moreno (Liverpool ’19)
CB: Mikaël Silvestre (Man United ’08)
CB: Josemi (Liverpool ’05)
RB: Djimi Traore (Liverpool ’05)

CM: Anderson (Man United ’08)
CM: Oriol Romeu (Chelsea ’12)
CM: Antonio Nunez (Liverpool ’05)
CM: Jonathan Greening (Man United ’99)

FWD: Djibril Cissé (Liverpool ’05)
FWD: Milan Baros (Liverpool ’05)

Honourable Mention: Daniel Sturridge, for winning two Champions League titles without having played a minute in either final.
Mikey, CFC


Together again
@Alex Best XI – Gerrard and Lampard together in central midfield? Sure to be a roaring success !
James, Switzerland


…I enjoyed the concept of Alex’s champions league team, and then I noticed that he’d shoehorned Lampard and Gerrard into central midfield and burst out laughing
Dan, Plastic LFC


Hi F365; Direct quote from this morning’s Transfer Gossip:

One of the other 263 players United have been linked with this summer is Philippe Coutinho”.

Is 263 the new 427?

Tim (still don’t know what 427 represents) CFC Ireland

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