Wingers' World 15: Money-Go-Round
Morning my Vital Arsenal Chums.
First of all, sorry about my prolonged absence the past week or so from article writing, I've had one of those mother-of-all-mother-of-all-weeks at work, and it's all been more mentalist than a caravan full of Marco Boogers(es) (what is the collective noun for a group of Marco Boogers? Oh, i think I just answered it myself, it's a caravan of Marco Boogers). For those of you who DON'T know who the hell I'm on about, Marco Boogers (last time I say it, I promise...) was a dutch striker who Wet Sham signed in the 90's, who was a bit 'unhinged' shall we say, and who subsequently lost the plot, buggered off somewhere else and went to live in a caravan. There, now you don't need to go to Wikipedia to sate your desire for information about Marco Boo... had you going there, you thought I was going to mention him again, didntcha.
So what's been happening since I last posted? Well, I became another year older and closer to senility. We sold some bloke and brought in... well, we haven't brought in anyone. Yet. The usual 'Arsene to Real/Barça' tripe has been popping up on newsnow about thrice a day. And of course, the 'lazy journalism predictable story generator' churns out the 'Arsenal to Implode' story about once a day. Always substantiated by a 'close friend' of someone or other...
God I hate the summer! Well, that's not strictly true. As a season, i love it to bits, it's full of sun, women wearing less clothes, long balmy evenings spent drinking pints of london pride outside a pub, even the rain is better in the summer, because rain isn't sop shitty when it's landing on you, and it is a little warm to the touch, as is the air around you, and it has a pleasant cooling effect on your person.
But what I DON'T like about the summer is the fact that, as i am one of those saddos who checks newsnow on average about once an hour throughout the day (and if I'm at work, click on any tasty-morselesque-links and save them for lunch, to gorge myself on... or I write this column instead, for you good folk - apart from this week, where lunch hasn't happened til 5.30pm on some occasions...), that there is such a dearth of Arsenal news. Take this morning for instance, there were a grand total of two stories posted on the newsnow Arsenal section in the 8 hours that I'd spent sleeping. Most Frustrating.
But whilst we have been by and large inactive in the transfer market (like a snail shell you see in your garden, that NEVER moves, and eventually, when you turn it over, there's NO snail in there - spooky!!!), some big transfers are beginning to trickle through.
It looks like Liverpool will finally be clinching the signing of Fernando Torres, for a fee close to his £27m, which, whilst I like what I have seen of Torres, still seems an awful lot of money for a guy who has scored 43 league goals in 108 league games in the past 3 years.
Not an appalling record, but surely for £27m, You'd be demanding a player who can bang in 25 goals for you in a season - it's hardly an inconsequential sum. This is not to say I am ridiculing Torres, I am sure he is being bought for qualities other than just his goalscoring record, but Liverpool's need is surely for an out-and-out goalscorer, that 20+ a season man, as they have in crouch, kuyt and bellamy, 3 forwards in the 10-12 goals-per-season mould.
Of course, nobody can truly say how a player will perform at a new club, for instance who could have predicted the phenomenal start Ian Wright made to his Arsenal career, and how Thierry Henry, whilst not hitting the ground running in the same fashion as Wrighty, developed into one of the most feared and deadly strikers in the English game. It could be that Torres at Liverpool will become a much more feared player, in terms of a goal threat, than the player at Atletico. Liverpool will hope so.
Whenever I have seen him play, he is a player of no little skill, with rapid pace, and seemingly with a good footballing brain. Indeed, I've seen suggestions of a neat ability to finish. And he's pretty tall too, so could be useful in the air. So he would appear to have all the components needed to be a top top striker.
So you would think that by signing Torres, and with us losing Thierry, Liverpool will have pulled away from us in terms of quality. Two teams that finished level on points last time out would appear to have seen a bit of a gap open up between them.
Whilst behind, we have a team who would chase us down and replace us as one of the four teams in the Champions League spending big also. For Totteringham Hotspurts have spurted £17m into the coffers of Charlton Athletic on the 23 year old England striker, Darren Bent.
Where oh where do they get all this money from? Year after year they spend larger than we do, and year after year they finish behind us, without the same gates, without the champions league football (and television revenue that it subsequently brings), and without the same gate receipts (last season is the main one for that, admittedly...).
Yet they continue to splash the cash. £17m on Darren Bent. OUCH!!! I'm not going to compare and contrast with the Thierry fee, but you all know what I'll be thinking about those two fees, it's what every gooner is thinking.
So where do they get all this money from? They either have a very generous board, or have been reading the 'Leeds United Successful Business Model' manual, from the reference section of haringay library. Not a good idea, if you ask me, reading that book. And if they have been reading it, how long have they got before it comes back and bites them in the backside?
Perhaps it won't, but to me it just seems that the numbers just don't add up. I mean, if we have been underspending them for quite a few years, and bringing in more than them, yet we've always been perceived as a club who was punching above its' weight, and who was almost maxed out financially (and i mean 'pre-grove'), how are the spuds doing it?
I'm not saying this in an envious fashion. I mean this in a 'I'd-be nervous-if-I-was-a-spud' manner. If they want to break into champions league football, this season might be the now-or-never one for them.
Now they won't do it at the expense of ManYoo or Chelski, nor 'Pool for that matter, so that would mean that the logical team for them to overtake would be us. But even without Henry, I can't see them usurping us either. As much as they've spent, this season and previous. Dimitar Bobba-Fett is the only player from Spurs I would take. Bale is good, but not as good as Clichy (though a few years younger..). Bent a good striker, and a proven goalscorer in the prem, I do not rubbish his achievements here, they speak for themself, yet I would rather have RvP, who has so much more to come from his game.
Robin has had bad fortune with injuries in the past, and suspensions have taken their toll too, breaking up his run in the Arsenal team when he seemed to be building up a head of steam and playing himself into the team pattern of play, and into scintillating form. Yet, we were also worried about Gael too, and he has come out the other side of his 'injury nightmare' (© random tabloid story generator - its like the one i mentioned before, but different, slightly), so Robin is due an injury-free season, and given what he showed last time out, there could be fireworks in-store of he does so.
He's been reeling in his wild side, which to be fair has hardly been seen anyway (if it at all existed... as while he has been here, Robin has spoken as a model professional and Arsenal player, á la cesc), and elements increasingly creep out onto the pitch in his game that in this player we hold a rare and precious jewel, possibly a player who, whilst less pacey that Thierry, could well become more explosive than our record goalscorer.
I see elements in his game of Denis, obviously, but also of Marco Van Basten, and quite frankly, RvP is, along with many other Gooners, now my favourite Arsenal player. He excites me greatly, and I think that there could be no ceiling to how good he could become, it is all down to him, he really would appear to be that precocious a talent. Time will tell.
I don't think that with Thierry leaving that all of a sudden we are dead and buried, as neither do the vast majority of you gooners. As the saying goes 'The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!', and it is true, as one hero leaves, the door opens for another hero to be forged in the fires and the furies of battle. Cesc is already a hero and a little gladiator, my money is on the next one being RvP. And I think that the spuds will need a few signings more yet before they are in a position of equality to us. That's if we stand still of course - if the young players kick on and progress, then they will need to up their ante even more to stand on a level playing field with The Arsenal.
It all makes for an interesting coming season, and the games have not been fully played out yet. ManUre have most likely done the majority of their work already, as have Chelsea seemingly, Liverpool look set to do their BIG signing in Torres, it all points to Arsene waiting for the other major players in the English game to make their moves and play out their roles before revealing his own strategy. The names have been mentioned, I think if the Torres move goes through that we shall then see the Arsenal transfer machine swing into action fairly soon thereafter. And if this has been Arsene's strategy, then it's been a risky one, but may well turn out to be a masterstroke, if we assume that Arsene has not seen one of his prime targets already snaffled up by one of our rivals.
I think that's about it for now - If you're still with me here and have made it to the end, thank you for reading my own football version of Lord Of The Rings. It's not, strictly speaking, an edition of Wingers World as you'll have come to know it, but it's been a while and I've missed writing for you, and there were some points I wanted to go into in more depth. Rest assured, I'm sure the arsing about will resume in the next Wingers World, some time net week.
And once again - heartfelt congrats to Rocky and his good lady wife on their new arrival. A future Arsenal star, he'll be raised on dvd footage of Bergkamp, Thierry and RvP, Vieira, Cesc, Kolo - we'll have a marauding, leaping, tackling, barnstorming warrior of a player who can pirhouette, do dragbacks and 360 degree turns, lollipops, before unleashing a curler into the top corner, or an exocet low in the the farside of the goal, in about 17 years time. The countdown starts now....
Have a good weekend, y'all, and thanks for reading...