Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday June 26 2008
It must be that time of year again because the Republic of Arsenal has got itself in an almighty tizz. As ever, with this crazy new fangled internet invention everybody has a voice. Even plebians like me. That is a great and empowering thing, at elast it will be until the establishment REALLY gets its claws into it and it becomes yet another way of modifying and monitoring us. Unfortunately, it also means that the shit scatters gracelessly towards the fan rather more quickly than the days when the 3pm edition of the Evening Standard was at the forefront of innovation. As ever, I feel it is correct to shatter a few myths and try and provide something of a voice of reason.
I know I have commented on many occasions at my apathy surrounding the whole transfer chebang, but I won't attempt to make people see through my eyes here. Personally, it doesn't concern me, whether or not Hleb, Adebayor or the reincarnation of the Queen Mother turn out for Arsenal next season, I couldn't really care less, because my season ticket is renewed and I will be there next season. Everyone else can please themselves. Over the last six or seven summers, we Gooners have become accustomed to stories of our better players leaving, the British Press playing our supporters like a cheap tambourine. Often this fuels panic amongst supporters and the truth and the rumours all become jumbled into one big melting pot of confusion. After all, for all the furore that surrounded the always imminent departure of Vieira, the guy only actually left the club once. If you were to amalgamate all the summers of innuendo and hear say you and assume them as gospel, the guy would have to have left on May 31st every summer, only to resign for us on August 31st every year.
The sale of Alex Hleb looks very likely this summer, the guy has betrayed his manager, his team mates and the supporters in a way that makes his position untennable at the club. Basically, he's a few poorly constructed, verbally confused chapters away from being another Ashley Cole. Now we have persistent speculation surrounding Emmanuel Adebayor. This has led to frustration from the gutter snipes who have already began to lament our standing as a selling club and as whimps in the transfer market, all too willing to be bullied by the Barcas and Madrids and their media lapdogs. Firstly, the rumours surrounding Adebayor have gathered pace ever since he went home to Togo on holiday. This is a trick the press repeat time and again. I'm not telling you there is nothing in the Ade transfer rumours, to be honest I haven't been following very closely. But bear such facts in mind when reading the latest tittle tattle. I remember the summer of 2001, some comments were attributed to Vieira who was said to have lamented Arsenal's summer signings. Just coincidence then that these entirely fabricated chunkets appeared whilst Paddy was in Florida.
I seriously cannot believe those who attest that we are bullied in the transfer market. Seriously, Anelka for £23.5m. Sold by Madrid after one season. Chelsea tapped up Ashley Cole, we took their best central defender and a nice £5m in the deal. Petit and Overmars for £30m? Petit had one season in Catalan after it became apparent Barca prize Presidential votes over thorough medicals and realised that the reason we were eager to sell was because Manu refused to undergo much needed knee surgery. Overmars enjoyed three trophyless, injury ravaged seasons (one of which was spent toiling in the UEFA Cup) before retiring. Lassana Diarra was hell bent on leaving to the extent that he refused to play in a Carling Cup fixture in Janaury. We still got £5m for him. Last winter, Barca's Joan Laporta raged that Arsenal had ripped them off with the £16m lay out for Henry as Thierry continued to sit out with a recurrent sciatica problem. Like I said, maybe next time you should perform a more rigorous medical, eh Joan? (Just don't use the guys we used for Rosicky's medical. I think they were from Claims Direct or something).
I get the point that profit margins are not really what supporters want to hear about in the quest for trophies. But those above transfer tales were worth recounting for the headless chickens who are having their tales wagged by the likes of Marca and AS and believe that we are bullied in the negotiation stakes. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's also worth pointing out that we are by no means the only club to suffer the whims of the rumour mill. Cristiano Ronaldo anyone? The appointment of a certain Portuguese coach in Milan to stoke the fires? Really, if you're that stressed about it, ignore it. There are those that get themselves in such a state that they demand the club kick its PR machine into overdrive and issue frank denials. Why? Why let useless rags like the Daily Telegraph set the agenda? Why let the lunatics run the asylum? The tale wag the dog? The club do not have a duty to whisper sweet little nothings into our ear every other day to assure us that our players love the club blah, blah, blah etc. We'd probably only dismiss it as spin anyway.
The trouble is, as Adebayor has found out this summer, when you start issuing denials, the press usually forget about them days later and crank into overdrive anyway. We then begin to expect said player to assuage every single gossip column mute whisper. The best entrepenuers never comment on investments until they are signed, sealed and delivered. (Stan Kroenke anyone?) Read Arsenal.com, the same line is always trotted out, 'Arsenal FC never comments on signings until they are completed.' It's a good line to take I feel. We all know where we stand. Ignore newsnow, the whailing screech of bloggers humming like static as they rage at Wenger's weakness in the transfer market. Or as they scream for the signing of some Russian fella who's had one decent international tournament, so apparently is the best player ever. (Karel Poborsky and Jordi Cruyff anyone? After Euro 2004, A.C. Milan signed Greek centre back Dellas. Do you know where he is now?)
Two more quick nuggets. Those that infuriatingly trot out the old line that Arsenal are too stingy with wages. Our wage bill is on a par with Manchester United's. And for the sour grape merchants, who have already seen Adebayor sold through their crystal ball (was said crystal ball called tribal football or caught offside.com?) and trotted out the 'he misses too many chances anyway' nugget. Adebayor scored 30 goals from 104 shots, giving him a conversion rate of 23%. That is infintely better than Roque Santa Cruz's and much, much higher than Cristiano Ronaldo's. Torres, at 25% was the only striker in the Premiership with a more accurate touch in front of goal last season. IF he is sold, he will be missed and not just for his goals. But for the meantime, unless it's on Arsenal.com, don't worry about it. Or if you can't help it, please at least get your facts straight before you regurgitate the propaganda.LD.
Date:Thursday June 26 2008
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