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12 reasons why next season will be so good


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12 reasons why next season will be better than the last.

By Tony Attwood

For a number of years now the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal, with their negativity, predictions of disaster, and downright depressive natures have dominated much of the commentary about Arsenal.  Amusingly a handful of them have even been putting up comments about the forthcoming catastrophe of next season on the Arsenal History site against an article that explores the origins of the AAA in 2000.

Anyway, as an antidote to their inevitable (and repetitive commentary), here’s twelve reasons why I’m looking forward to the new season

1.  Czscesny / Fabianski

We have two really classy keepers in the squad.  Quite a while since we had that.  Since 2011 was the year of the broken goalkeeper we ought to be ok on the injury front.  One of them in the league, one in the cups.

2.  Vermaelen

What a fabulous player he was in his first season.  His return after nearly a year out is so eagerly awaited, by me at least.  Command, control, goals.  Perfection.

3.  Frimpong

I’ve only caught glimpses, but those glimpses and the way he has been talked up of late makes me feel good about the guy.  The key thing is that he is a backup to Song, who clearly played too many games last season simply because there wasn’t anyone else.  If he can play in the cups, and be there for the times when Song is suspended or injured, we are in for a treat.

4.  Ramsey

Another talent we lost, but his return last season was worth the wait.  No wonder Wales made him captain.

5.  Wilshere

He won the vote on this site hands down last summer for the young player who would make it in 2010/11, but I am not sure any of us realised just how far he had come, and how central he would be this coming year.  And that was just his first season.  Just think what he will do this year having been excluded from the insanity of the under 21s fiasco.

6.  A loanee

One of last season’s loanees will make it this year, although I can’t tell you which.  Kyle Bartley who was at Rangers is a strong possibility, and Francis Coquelin who was at Lorient looks another good option.  But if not then how about one of these

  • Benik Afobe
  • Botelho,
  • Traore
  • Galindo
  • Gilles Sunu
  • Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

I only predict one – and maybe not with the impact of Jack, but just one, and that one will make a difference.

7.  Ignasi Miquel.

OK he only got a couple of games last season, but I was impressed.  We want a backup centre back who is going to come on through and really make a difference?  Here’s the man. Hopefully he will play in every cup game, and maybe get a few league outings too.

8.  World-wide marketing starts

I find it amusing that there are often complaints about the way in which our marketing has been impoverished and how far ahead of us the other clubs are.  And yet this is Arsenal’s huge advantage.  Just how do Man U, Barca, Real Mad go any further with their marketing?  They can’t, because they are already out there big time.  But we’ve hardly started.

This coming season’s matches in the Far East give half a clue as to where we are going, but it is not the full answer.  If you want to know where Arsenal are going to move into you just have to look at the readership of Untold.  We (this site) has a significant following in India, and that is where Arsenal will be pitching itself.  The income from India is going to be huge, and none of the other clubs are knocking on the door.  It’s ours, all ours.

9.  The Refs know we are on to them

Of course the match fixing involving EPL refs won’t stop, but what happened this year with the revelations of Walter and Dogface show those involved that we are on to them.  As our critics have said, we don’t have tapes of a club chairman saying to a ref, “Use my villa in the Bahamas any time you want, no problem,” but they know we know, and they know that each month that goes by adds to the pressure on them.  Walter’s latest investigation and the utter refusal of the associations even to have the courtesy to reply to his request for information suggests that we have got at them.

I had reached the conclusion that the refs were taking around 15 to 20 points off us each season because of Calciopoli. Now I suspect it is more likely to be 10 points next season because they will have to be less flagrant.   We still have to be 10 points better than Man U to stay equal with them, but at least it is only ten.

10.  3 new signings

Christopher Samba, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain  plus plus plus.  I don’t know for sure, but they will be here, and they will add something to the squad.  Besides, watching new players is always fun but out of them all will be one star, equivalent to signing Pires, Henry, Vermaelen or someone of that ilk.

11.  Fewer AAA

For the last couple of years the negativists of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal have been telling us that everyone is so pissed off with Arsenal that they are not renewing season tickets – and then the stupid buggers have gone and renewed their season tickets and I have to put up with their moaning and bitching and complaining and sneering.

But this year I get the feeling that some of the stupid buggers will actually have not renewed, and that does mean a bit of peace and more solid support.  It will be nice to know they are not there.

12.  Companionship

Ian, the son of Roger to whom my book “Making the Arsenal” is dedicated, will be sitting next to me this coming season, having moved his season ticket.  That is something special for me.  Roger and I went to Arsenal games together for over 20 years, until his tragic death from leukaemia.  It is a really warm feeling for me to know that Ian will be alongside me for the coming year.  I’ll enjoy that even if the stupid bugger gets so nervous when we are 1-0 up with 3 seconds to go I think he is going to fall off his seat.

There’s also the fact that Walter and the gang from Benelux will be coming over for some games and there will be the meetings at the pub along with Dogface of course and other contributors.  Plus there will be meetings with readers.

I have to say I really love meeting up with readers of the site – and the only thing I ever regret is that some readers feel that coming up and saying hello is an intrusion.  Time and again people come up, check that I am who they think I am and shake my hand and then say “I won’t interfere with your day, just wanted to say thanks…”  OK, that’s nice, but it is never an interference.  I love meeting readers, and am always delighted to have a chat.

That’s it, I’m looking forward to it already.

109 comments to 12 reasons why next season will be so good

  • Leo

    “We (this site) has a significant following in India, and that is where Arsenal will be pitching itself. The income from India is going to be huge, and none of the other clubs are knocking on the door. It’s ours, all ours.”

    Good point, that. For some reason, the English clubs have always preferred to ignore the Asian market. India has a HUGE Premier League following. Clubs like Sheffield United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona already have training academies here, and India was also identified as the hotbed for the future footballing talent.

    Arsenal already made their move when they organised a football competition on school level, in partnership with the TATA company throughout the country.

    If Arsenal make further advancements in this country, they’ll be reaping the rewards soon.

  • walter

    Is this just on my computer but there seem to be 2 articles on one page for the moment?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Okay Tony, I corrected this unles you wanted 2 articles on one page??

  • Shard

    @Leo

    Where are these academies that Sheffield Utd, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have in India? I’m not sure that is correct. I do know that Sheffield Utd had tied up with an Indian club (Can’t remember which now) to provide some coaching to the coaches, and having a look at some of the young players here. Wolves had a similar tie up with JCT football club, who have just disbanded saying that the Indian league isn’t viable and that they were losing too much money.
    Arsenal as you said have tied up with TATA and we do bring some people to the Emirates (Colney most likely) for training and tournaments.
    ManU a few years ago offered to build The ManU-Indian Football academy. As in something like Clairefontaine for India with the ManU brand associated with it. Bhutia called for greater transparency and on examination their offer was deemed more self serving than helping India in any way. So I think their official involvement ended.
    Chelsea were making noises about India being a great market, but after some survey said that it was felt that it wouldn’t pay to be in India for at least another 10 years and left.

    Apart from these, u-17 teams from AC Milan and Bayern Munich (with Thomas Mueller) have come to participate in football tournaments here as guest teams.

    That is all that has happened here in that sense, as far as I know. A bit of a long post, so apologies for that, but I’d love to know if Barcelona etc are actually involved in any way and if they have set up academies here.

  • BobbyP

    Tony

    ‘I had reached the conclusion that the refs were taking around 15 to 20 points off us each season because of Calciopoli’

    Taking the 20 point figure, this means that you think Arsenal should have won the league for the last 4 years, including getting 103 points in 2007-8 and winning the league by 16 points (both massive EPL records). You honestly think the 2008-9 team deserved to be champions???

    If you extend this to 2004 then we would have only dropped 4 points all season and won the league by 31 points – although I guess coincidentally your ‘match-fixing’ conspiracy claims only started when we stopped winning. Funny that…

    You’re such a good writer on Arsenal’s history, it’s a shame you feel the need to drop the ‘match-fixing’/’corruption’ claims into as many articles as possible, despite ZERO evidence that this is the case. Trying to link Calciopoli to England just sounds weak and desperate, and the idea that bureaucracies not answering letters is proof of anything is even more desperate.

    And your ‘the refs know an internet blog are onto them so they’ll stop doing it’ claim is frankly laughable. If there was such a multi-million pound conspiracy, why would one internet blog make any difference?

    I came to this site looking for good quality Arsenal journalism from a different angle, but all I find are a bunch of consipracy theorists, who can’t take losing or bad decisions, and believe the world is against us (despite not having a shred of evidence). It’s a shame, as you’re clearly capable of so much better, as your Arsenal history pieces show.

  • Gooner S

    What a breath of fresh air. Thank you. I just read another well known blog and it was all moans, moans, moans. I’m still not convinced by #9 in your list but at least you try to be objective and reasoned.

  • Matty

    You know I know some really talented Indian and Pakistani english players in London but I can’t think of any in the prem or the championship, in spain, france, Italy, anywhere. Am I wrong? Are ther any or Is ther a trend of ignoring or keeping them out of football!!!

    Also gotta say it’s great to hear some positivity for the coming season, and I really we’ll hear more of it in the stands this year, c’mon wer supposed to be the 12th man!!

    In Wenger we trust!

  • sweet article as usual..
    quick question.. reports have surfaced that arsenal have signed ricky alvarez.. is it true????

  • venky

    Yeah, I am positive as well Tony. India is a huge market, right time to grab, Blackburn Rovers tried to do so but they are jokers. Every one in India knows where they are in the league – fighting relegation. Last season at least 13 points were robbed from Arsenal in day light . IMHO we need a centre half and keep cesc and Nasri, thats enought o win the title

  • Shard

    @Tony

    Marketing in India is something I think I can speak on with some degree of confidence. In terms of football at the grassroots level, I think Arsenal have the most involvement, apart from possibly some lower league clubs like Sheffield Utd, Wolves, and perhaps Leeds (not sure about that one).

    However, in terms of marketing, ManU are streets ahead. They have an official ManU cafe/bar in Mumbai (Bombay). the first of it’s kind in the country. They have a tie up with the largest cellular provider in India which advertises with Shah Rukh Khan (if you’ve heard of him at all, he’s an actor-a big star) talking about Nani being his favourite player (along with a pun about Nani meaning grandmother in hindi) and so subscribers can download wallpapers, highlights etc. There were also ManU shoes available at Puma. Nike stores are dominated by ManU merchandise. Even Chelsea and Liverpool get more exposure than Arsenal since Adidas gives both exposure equally.

    There are more ManU fans in India than there are Arsenal fans, with Chelsea and Liverpool fighting for a distant third. So far, I think there isn’t much of an existing market for shirts and other merchandising. (Though a black market in it thrives) But I expect that to change soon.

    That was just to give some (a lot?) information. mainly I think that ManU are actually in a better position than us to exploit the growth potential in the market. But, I think what also has to be considered that ManU and Arsenal represent different things. Our marketing styles throughout the world are different. ManU market everything to the point of overkill. It is all in your face. It does grab eyeballs, but it can also put some people off. (It puts me off with other products and brands also) Arsenal tend to take a more softly softly approach and actually build ties over a longer period but with a more meaningful foundation. I think what we will see is a clash in marketing strategies though we might need to adapt a bit to get the most out of the Indian market. I do also think that if we are to make an impact in the market, we do need to start winning again, and stop the negativity that the media perpetuates. If we do that. I think we have some unique attributes that with the right marketing can grab us a large share.

    Jeezz. i didn’t know I had so much to say on just that subject. Sorry about that, though i hope you won’t find it totally meaningless.

  • RedGooner

    I can think of a few more reasons this season will be better than last.

    No Birmingham in the EPL.
    No fat sam, owen coyle or phil brown.

    Walter I only see one article on this page.

  • Shard

    Oh and Tony. No Lansbury in that list of loanees that might get a chance? I think he has more chance of being in the first team next season than Galindo, Sunu or Afobe.

  • Danny

    Despite some of the worst refereeing displays I have ever seen go against us this season, it is only some of them, with plenty of other poor decisions going against LFC CFC and even man ure! I think it points more towards low refereeing standards than corruption!

  • mike in Atlanta

    bobby p should realize that no true friend of the beautiful game likes to see a match decided on a vacuous refereeing decision. if the average ref is only scoring 60% by Walter’s estimation you can only chalk it up to one of two things: gross incompetence or gross negligence. if you can’t recognize how self-destructive the lack of technology in football really is, perhaps you should watch a game of cricket and wait for the lbw decision. what was once a guess that left umpires looking suspect, is now a matter of science.
    if football does not embrace technology, the refs will continue to look suspect and trying to pretend they don’t look that way is tantamount to gross incompetence or gross negligence.

  • shehryar

    hmm.. i don’t know about talent in India, nor do i know about academies there. Don’t think so. but yes they have a huge following and that is great. Other Asian countries are the same (Nepal,Bangladesh,Pakistan,Bhutan,Afghanistan). But yes India far outweighs these countries as far is money is concerned, due to the high population. I’m Just making a point about fan following. Me and my friends have been following Arsenal in Pakistan since the Dennis Bergkamp days. EPL is huge there.

  • jayj

    Have we signed Ricky Alverez?

    or just paper bullshit.

  • BobbyP

    @mike

    I agree about the use of technology, but once again the leap from bad decisions to ‘anti-Arsenal match-fixing conspiracy costing us 20 points per season’ is ridiculous. Why Tony feels the need to make it in every article is beyond me

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    You are right that it doesn’t need to be in every article. I can see the point you are making. In a way (as I see it) it is the same as why every article on Arsenal in the papers says that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in x amount of years.

    Now even I made an exaggeration there, and Tony and Walter do it at times. But it is only meant for the message to filter through. If you are always logical, always absolutely correct, it is very good, but it isn’t always very effective.

    All of the above is only my take on it and perhaps Tony feels differently.

    And about the 20 points a season. i think that is an exaggeration maybe, but not a gross exaggeration. But it doesn’t apply to every season. Suppose there was a conspiracy to stop Arsenal from winning the title. The seasons where we weren’t competitive and close. Those seasons the referees would not resort to any unfair means to prevent us from winning. (Which might have made a great statistical study actually)

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    Thanks for seeing my point – it’s very wearing for every single article on this site to contain a conspiracy reference somewhere, even if it’s completely unrelated to the subject matter.

    However your ‘it doesn’t apply to every season’ runs counter to Tony’s specific claim ‘the refs were taking around 15 to 20 points off us EACH season’. In other words, the 2008-9 team (4 goalless draws in a row…) were robbed of a glorious title victory, with more points than the Invincibles…

    Just out of interest, was this conspiracy going on during the Invincibles season, or did it coincidentally just start to take place after that team started to break up?

  • To say Asia market is up for the taking without winning something for six years will be leaving in a fantasy world.Man UTD is popular because they remember to win something each seaoson,their fans have bragging rights .At a time like this to be talking of business of prospects in the Asian market with no trophy in a magnificent stadium would be an insult.Are we all the same fans who have been frustrated for some time now or you are just Wenger`s P.R manager..?
    I`ll give you a practical example that i did with my friends and their kid at a 3 year old` birthday party.We asked the kids which team they would choose….most kids said,Man utd, some said Barcelona and my lil kid said Arsenal.Shockingly most of these kids knew Arsenal has not won anything in recent history.How is that for marketing??I come from Zimbabwe,got the original ARSENAL KIT FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS WAITING TO GET MY HAND ON THE ANNIVERSARY KIT BUT ….PLEEEEEEEASE tell the powers that be that we need a trophy!

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    this discussion would then have nothing to do with this article 🙂 I’ll let Tony talk about why he said each season, since I have already stated my stand on why it might be.

    I do not think it is an anti Arsenal conspiracy by the way. I think there are many factors that lead to a bias against Arsenal that are unique to our club, but that if there is a conspiracy (that sounds like such a big word) then it is directed more towards ManU winning than anything else. If you’d like to know when I think it started, i;d have to say that I first noticed something wrong when we lost the title in 2007-08 but I put it down to mistakes then. However I think it began perhaps sometime in 2006 or 2007. Arsenal had gone a season unbeaten and then Chelsea had won the title 2 years running. I think manU only had a league cup in those 3 years. Also with Chelsea on the scene and Arsenal moving into a new stadium ManU’s financial advantage was gone/going soon. So something needed to be done to protect the ‘face’ of the EPL brand.

    One angle I would like to mention (only as a possibility) is that we should try and see if there is a link with the referees being made full time professionals which happened I THINK in 2001. I remember I supported it at the time, but the standard of refereeing only seems to have gone down since then. Employing someone full time also means you have more clout over them you know. But that is something I can’t say I even think is true. I just wonder.

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    Appreciate the quality of reply, and also that you don’t buy into the whole anti-Arsenal conspiracy. (I use the word because they clearly state that there is match-fixing and corruption going on, not just incompetence/bias).

    Although if you were a conspiracy theorist a la Tony and Walter:

    1) Arsenal win nothing for 3 seasons up to 2001. United win the league each time, twice by double-figure margins
    2) Refs made professional in 2001
    3) Arsenal win the double next year – United finish nowhere

    That’s just as compelling a case as anything posted on here about the anti-Arsenal conspiracy…

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    Sorry but it isn’t. there has been detailed statistical work that is not based only on results, nor just on gut feelings and thoughts (the idea of when it started is just my take on it). I think even you accept bias. For what it’s worth, I think it is apparent that there is corruption in the league. I don’t understand why people have such a hard time accepting that it isn’t just a possibility but a probability with the way the sport is governed.

    Seriously, if your media told you that those points I made about lack of transparency, accountability, media being manipulated or exhibiting clear bias, with many suspect decisions and huge amounts of money involved, say in Libya, and that it is how the government is run there. I don’t think you’d have any reservation in expressing the view that the Libyan government is corrupt.

  • bob

    @Tony: Lest Walter’s Season Report turns to dust, how about featuring a box with a link to them at the top of the website home page, so that the tired-of and confessed-agnostics have their short term memory jogged as to a lot of what this site has been about – which, in part, is an ongoing investigation of whether or not there are patterns of anti-Arsenal bias on the pitch. I’ve seen nothing that says you or Walter are no longer on that trail, so why not feature the most thorough to-date, if flawed analysis – as are the counter-claims that demand absolute smoking-gun proof – of that point of view. Is it not? Why not feature it in a box of its own, if only for newcomers who may wish to consider what Walter has put together? Or, is it now time to let bygones be bygones?

  • i’ve been waiting like forever for Arsenal to come to Malaysia…i bought the ticket after it was opened 5 minutes online…my wife and I will be there along with my Gooner friends 🙂

  • Ah..and if you know anyone coming along to Malaysia, feel free to contact me using the email…at least I can help to accompany or give directions and such when in Malaysia 🙂

  • walter

    Bob,
    I can tell you that there is serious work going on behind the scenes about untold ref for next season.
    But as we all do this in our spare time it is not that easy to have it all done fast. In fact better we take the time needed and come up with something complete and not with some half work done.

    I for one will not let it go.

  • bob

    @Bobby P: How about joining up with Untold Media and doing a week to week analysis of The Sun – Anne’s proven source of so many of the Cesc/Barca tapping rumors – as to how it covers our matches these seasons? Of course I lead with my chin, and surely my positions are not your cup of tea, but I think you’d be a bulldog when it came to detecting a few (dare I say, biased) patterns in the Sun’s manner of reporting our matches?

  • bob

    Walter, your posting is pure music to my ears. (And I can quantify “pure music” = 100% pure.)

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    Fair point, DogFace’s statistical analysis was properly conducted and of significance. All that shows is bias though (in a limited sphere), which could be caused by any number of factors. Why that makes corruption ‘apparent’ is still beyond me, but I guess we’ve been down this road before. To me something isn’t apparent unless there is at least some evidence to support it…

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    There is plenty evidence. just not the legal evidence which I think you mean. And I wasn’t referring to DogFace’s analysis when I said it is apparent. I meant the evidence that is right there in front of us week after week. Maybe we also differ in our definitions of corruption though. It does not have to involve brown paper bags full of money changing hands for it to be corruption for me. Any deviation whether it be through coercion, conscious bias (as opposed to subconscious which everyone has), nepotism and favouring some old friends, or for material gain, it is all corruption.

    Going back to my example of Libya. why I brought it up is because I do think that a lot of reluctance to even discuss the possibility of the league being corrupt comes from the fact that there is a sense that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in England. (more an unconscious bias I would suggest) And I agree that cases of corruption are less likely in the UK than they are in my country. That is not because of any inherent difference in the morality of the people of the two countries. it is because the UK has more developed and well adapted systems and processes to act as a check and to punish such acts. It is however, exactly these processes and systems that are missing in the structure of the FA and of football in general. Add in the huge money that has come into the game and I do not see how it can be clean.

  • bob

    @Shard: I’m sure we’d agree that analysis should not be all or nothing, black or white. That said, on your two postings above: one says its apparent that there is corruption in the league; the other says that you don’t believe there’s an anti-Arsenal conspiracy. With regard to last season, would you agree that some part of the corruption in the league has touched Arsenal matches? I’d guess you would agree (perhaps Newcastle, some others come to my mind). If so, is your position, to date, that there is no systemic anti-Arsenal bias but that there are some corrupted/biased individual operators who do stick it to Arsenal at (at least some) pivotal moments? I think it’s worth our pondering: can we not consider a continuum in which we might perceive the refereeing of Arsenal games as follows: not-bent at all, situationally-bent, somewhat bent, mostly bent, to systemically-bent? Anyway, in the spirit of better models and nuanced thinking, how do you see it?

  • Shard

    @bob
    I’m not so sure about that scale at the end. But, I think the primary motive of the corruption is to preserve the global brand of the EPL so as to make a larger than life superclub that can compare with the product of the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. So basically, the league is manipulated in a way so as to make it geared to ManU winning. The Old Boys Network might play some part in it so that Ferguson gets his way. In relation to Arsenal I think there are many factors that count against us. Northern bias, perceived foreignness, changing the way football is played in England, changing the way clubs are run in England. Does all of that relate to an anti- Arsenal conspiracy. In a sense yes, since all those factors play their part. But still, that is not what the aim is. If say manU were to stop existing. We are probably the best club to then be the face of the EPL and would probably enjoy the same exalted status. So it is out of no special love for ManU and no special hatred of us that the manipulation works. All of those are only additional factors.

    That is my contention. Too muddled a response? If so, then consider that it is 3.30 am here so I can try and clear it up tomorrow 🙂

  • Great stuff, I was only wondering why you didn’t mention Lansbury with the loanees? I can’t wait to see him start with the lads

  • bob

    Either way, Lord (to be) Ferguson will be there on the morrow to contend with. Sleep well!

  • BobbyP

    @bob

    Appreciate the offer re. Untold Media, but have am going to have to pass if it means reading the Sun on a regular basis…

  • The best article I’ve read on the Arsenal sites for a while. Great to read some positivity and some optimism. I too am looking forward greatly to the coming season, and feeling optimistic.

    Best wishes,

    Michael.

  • Aussie Jack

    Chris.. please confirm you are still editor of `Untold. Reading the mixed up critical comments of `bob` I`m not sure if he`s after your job or on the piss.(or both)

  • Aussie Jack

    Did I say Chris? I mean Tony, of course…my apologies.

  • T2T

    Next season will be very difficult for all the top teams in EPL. Why? Because the usual Top 4 iHas become Top 6 with 3 teams using enormous amounts of money on new players, ManC another year of settling the team and the “second tier” will likely take more points off the top teams.
    I so hope Arsenal will win this season to show everybody that it is possible to be successful without buying expensive players but instead base their success on youth development.
    Read “Why England Lose” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Some of the chapters are really interesting.

  • Dark Prince

    Since Tony gave a very optimistic view, allow me to give a more realistic view of things….

    12 reasons why this season can be so bad-

    1. Szczesny/Fabianski

    The biggest problem in our recent years has been in this controversial position. But eventually our goalkeepers are only as good as the defence standing in front of them. Can Szczesny or Fabianski do some miraculous saves when the time comes?? I doubt it. Unless the defence becomes good, the goalkeepers will be exposed time and again.

    2. Vermaelen/defence

    I dont think i need to tell you that our best defender is Vermaelen. What would happen if he gets injured?? Plus the departure of Clichy, who i think comes in the top 5 best left backs of the world, can we suitably replace him?? Its again going to be upto the defence to win us the championship this year.

    3. Frimpong/Defensive Midfielder

    Another young player with lots of potential. Can he fill Song’s shoes during African Nations Cup?? Hey wait, isn’t Frimpong too gonna be gone for that competition?? So who will fill the Defensive Midfielder position for that month??

    4. Ramsey/Wilshere

    Without a doubt, the 2 best young midfielders in EPL. But has Ramsey returned to the form he was in 2years ago?? Is Wilshere been out of form since last 3 months?? Are we overloadin these youngsters??

    5. Cesc/Nasri

    The biggest question for us this summer is- will we be able to keep Cesc and Nasri?? If not, who do you think will be as effective as them?? Unfortunately no one…atleast not for another couple of years…and if god forbids they leave, then we would again take a couple of years to actually train someone to handle their position. A vicious circle i say….

    6. Loanees

    Lets be honest. Is there any loanee out there who can make into the starting 11? Yea, maybe they can get carling cup matches, but is there anyone like Wilshere who can come up and replace any of our starting 11 players permanently?? I dont think so…

    7. Ignasi Miquel

    Seriously?? Is he the answer to our defence?? Is he better than Vermaelen or Koscielny??
    Infact i wont be surprised to see him get loaned out…

    8. Our Marketing department-

    Like it or not, but India is been targeted by ManU and Barca. Though have to admit, ManU are way ahead in marketing in this country. But the best way for any club to market itself is by being successful on the pitch. Lets face it, new footballing fans usually tend to support teams who are successfull. And thats the reason why there are many ManU and Chelsea fans in Asia. Though Arsenal too hav a share, but the newer fans will mostly support the recently successful teams. So to engage in a better successful marketing method, we have to win trophies.

    9. The refs

    Do you seriously believe they wont repeat their same so cald bias this season too?? I dont think so….infact it may even get worse….its eventually for the players to learn and perform rather than complain.

    10. 3 new signings…

    Lets look at our possible 3 signings. Gervinho, Samba and Alvarez. Does it evoke confidence in you?? Lets compare them with what ManU are gonna sign – Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea….hmmmm…or maybe with Chelsea – Falcao, Kaka n maybe Lukaku….
    See the tilt in quality??

    11. AAA (Anti Arsene (Wenger) Arsenal)

    Well if you think people will be fewer who oppose Wenger will be fewer this season, well then it will all depend on what we achieve this season. Or believe the number of people to increase.

    12. The emergence of City and Liverpool.

    We already know that ManU and Chelsea will be the top rivals for us. But this year, we’ll also have to contend with City and Liverpool who also will try to fight for the title. I dont wanna name spurs, bcoz frankly i dont think they have it in them. But City and Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with. And this year the top 4 will be all the more hard than ever before. And all these teams are filling up their teams with quality signings. Lets jus hope Wenger can out do them on the pitch if not in the transfer market.

  • Kentetsu

    Dark Prince, do you get any satisfaction from watching football and “supporting” Arsenal? Your view is not a realistic view, it’s a pessimistic view. You expect Arsenal to fail to win the title, you presume that our signings will be up to no good and already have waved Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri goodbye, most likely based on reports in tabloids created to fill the long summer.
    That’s not to say Tony is right with every point he mentions, but at least it’s a lot better read and uplifting.
    Like last season – and many seasons before that – I believe Arsenal can have a successful season and win a trophy or two (or three or four) and I can’t wait for the season to start again.

  • Shard

    @Naren

    Thank you for that link. Still, right now they are not involved in any academy here. Until it translates to actually having an academy or an academy tie up I think it is mostly just a marketing ploy. They claim interest and want to capture market share, but I remain doubtful that they are serious about investing in grassroots level football and building up a fanbase.

  • A Casual Observer

    Talking about Match Fixing:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/sport/football/2011/06/201162417473084795.html

    I would urge you to read that and re-read that as I would say that it is the same template in the EPL…. despite ‘ZERO’ evidence.

    So how many European leagues does that make that now?

  • Naren

    Shard,
    I agree with you. Anyways, even if they do all that they declare to do, it is only to serve their own purposes. With the country’s population, they can get ten Messi*s from the country, at least statistically and most importantly, on the cheap.
    But to be honest, at least till Tendulkar is alive, I don’t see football having a considerable presence in India. But again, the population is just too much for even minuscule percentages to be be insignificant.

  • Shard

    @Naren

    I’m not sure that is true. There is a change occurring in terms of how Cricket is perceived. At least in the metros. No longer do people sit through entire days to watch the game. They do it if they can, but don’t make a special effort for it, unless it’s high profile matches. Yes of course cricket will retain top billing, but there is increasing space for games like Football and Basketball (sadly not hockey it would appear). Given a choice between India winning the Cricket World Cup and Arsenal winning the Champions League, which would you pick? I would (perhaps unpatriotically) pick Arsenal to win. If there are others like me, it probably shows that there is a passion and thus a market for the game here. And not insignificant.

    More and more I think people want to compare ourselves with the best in the world. The support that the CWG had, despite athletics, boxing etc not being fashionable sports, shows as much. Cricket is hardly a world game.

    Football offers the best opportunity for that, but of course football needs a huge boost in terms of infrastructure, training, and exposure. The exposure (and hence the money) will come automatically if the other two happen. That is where European clubs can play a role. How to get them to initiate though is something that is tough to answer. In that sense I think teams looking for immediate gains will be disappointed. But teams that look to build from scratch and have a long term presence might benefit. Arsenal seem to be doing this, but it remains to be seen how we can capitalise on it, and create a win-win situation.

  • Shard

    @A casual observer ; All

    Just came across this. Is there something to it or is it just a ‘rant’?

    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/930293/hearts-hierachy-issue-amazing-%27mafia%27-rant?cc=4716

  • Excellent stuff Tony. And yes, Arsenal is HUGE in India, and I (on behalf of 11Gunners), give you a word that we’ll try our best to ensure it stays that way, if not more!

  • Gooner Gal

    Tony, I like your 12 suggestions and it got me thinking. Here are mine:-

    1. We will win silverware.

    2. There will be no serious injuries to our players.

    3. Theo will continue to develop his great understanding with RVP and they will become an unstoppable force.

    4. Nasri will stop faffing around and sign up.

    5. Ramsey will score a hat trick at Old Trafford.

    6. Fergie’s underlings will go rogue and try and beat Man U. At least one of his ex players should be capable of taking 3 points off him.

    7. We will celebrate St Totteringham’s day even earlier.

    8. The Emirates atmosphere will be better. It makes a difference to the players and intimidates the opposition when we raucously cheer them on.

    9. When the ref makes a bad decision, booing loudly will become mandatory as I think it force it to become a talking point and focus in general.

    10. Cesc and the mid field in general will score more goals.

    11. Jabba the hun will liquidate and find so other cleaning service.

    12. Arsene Wenger will show his critics why he is manager of the decade (despite not winning anything for 6 years haha!).

  • Gooner Gal

    Oh yeah, ACO that was a very interesting link you posted. That’s Italy, France and Greece now….but it’s still inconcievable that it could ever happen in England…nah that’s Arsenal being bad loosers, weak, sloppy and not hearing ref whistles, not having football brains or whatever else is said.

  • bob

    Thanks to A Casual Observer for his timely link. The Greek scandal is a major one that threatens to delay their season. Reading it (originally souced to Agence France Press) might give at least a nano-second’s pause to the knee-jerk reaction that blurts “it can’t happen here”. For reference purposes, here’s what the current words of scandal read like: “Kavala football club owner Makis Psomiadis…was one of 10 people arrested on Wednesday over involvement in the latest match-fixing scandal to rock Greek football. The total number of people reportedly involved has now risen to 83 and includes club owners, players, referees, other football officials and a chief of police. Among the charges were involvement in criminal activities, fraud, extortion, money laundering, illegal gambling and illegal possession of firearms. Heading the list of those charged were Super League club owners Achilleas Beos of Olympiakos Volos and Psomiadis, along with Kavala coach Giannis Papakostas.”

    Greek tragedy

    Greek judicial authorities began the investigation after a list of 41 suspicious matches were submitted to the country’s football federation by European football’s ruling body UEFA

  • vivek arulnathan

    I am from India and a huge Arsenal fan. I write for gunnersphere.com and to be frank, there is so much untapped potential over here. Any club ready to invest some decent money will be rewarded. Business scope is high too. If there isn’t one good player among the 1.2 billion people of India, surely it is the lack of a productive system. Arsenal- the door is open for you!!

  • bob

    And keeping the above working and quiet is what the C-word (cospiracy) looks like. And it cannot go on for 41 matches without some degree of media collaborators to perfume the stench as well as some referees, as noted above. If any can read Greek or follow their press, there will be further revelations that may or may not be useful. What I’d love to know, out of idle curiousity, is whether that CL Ref (who saw no choke holds by Barca but smeared Red all over RvP’s after-whistle shot) was implicated in any of the 41 matches that UEFA reported to the Greek FA, or (who knows how many) others that were not reported out by UEFA. Then, again, all this will probably turn out to be COINCIDENCE!

  • bob

    @Gooner Gal: Just curious, would you consider all this adding up to a lucky 13th on your wish-list: No Rednose 20th!

  • Naren

    Shard,
    I think I did not make myself clear. I was saying that with the population being so much, even minuscule percentages will not be insignificant. Actually, the population of the five metros(60 millions approx) which constitutes around 5% of the total Indian population, is alone more than the entire population of England(51 millions approx).
    Yes, there is still a long way to go in terms of infrastructure, which is why I said it will not happen at least in Tendulkar’s lifetime. 🙂
    By the way, Arsenal over Indian cricket team anyday…I stopped watching cricket long time ago. I supported South Africa when I was a kid anyways. 😛

  • bob

    @Walter, Tony: Any connections you might have/know of with insights into any UA-relevant aspect of the unfolding Greek/CL football corruption tragedy would be golden. (Hint: Like a guest posting.)

  • Naren

    Tazz,
    I don’t think the word huge can be used for football, let alone Arsenal or any other club in the world. There is only one sport in the country, cricket. Everything else is limited to handful of people scattered around the country.

  • Naren

    Gooner Gal,
    Though your optimism is almost infectious, saying all that ‘will’ happen is really going overboard. We ‘will’ win silverware? Nobody, no single team on this planet can guarantee you that and that applies to every other point of yours. I would like as well for all that to happen, but they are just totally unsubstantiated, unfounded and fanciful notions.

  • Shard

    @Naren

    Actually it was me who probably didn’t make myself clear 🙂 I did not really disagree with your entire point. In fact i pretty much agree with it. The only thing that I disagreed with was that football won’t have a significant presence. I agree that cricket will remain at the top spot, though I feel that cricket has reached a saturation point. All the advertisements that don’t let you watch the entire over, hear none of the commentary or get any feel of the match around it, will probably kill the popularity. Tendulkar and maybe some other stars retiring might also make it less appealing for some. Basically it’s not just that a tiny percentage is still enough for football, but I think cricket will also concede some space to football and other sports.

  • Shard

    @Gooner Gal

    I agree with Naren’s criticism of your points. But I think they are all the more beautiful for that. What’s the point of a new season if you can’t dream? 🙂

  • bob

    @Naren: Yes, the demographics are stunning. If you could, would you advise Arsenal FC/business to consider a 5-game football exhibition tour to the five metros? More specifically, at this stage, is there any credible all-India (or mixed India, or South Asia) side of any substance and/or appela that could be mustered to help publicize the event? Is there a top Indian footballer with any fractional (and therefore, significant) following that would draw even a fractional (and therefore, significant) interest within/across the five metros which could attract media attention? That said, would there be any particular TV network or newspaper chain that might, in turn, be likely in covering (and thereby publicizing) such a tour?

  • bob

    @Naren: sorry, meant the word “appeal” above

  • bob

    Gooner Gal put out a wish-list. No more and no less. It’s an oasis of hopes and dreams. Let it be, and let it flower. My inner child hugs you back, GG.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Next season will be better because the project will have been running for another year. If there is a long term plan, it will have been based around our academy, which has a huge headstart on all the others in the Epl. Firstly, because our academy players are given consistent coaching in ‘the Arsenal way’, something Barca have shown is critical and secondly, because our academy players have had to play with/against champions league grade players for ten years.

  • Naren

    Shard,
    well then, I take it that we are both saying the same thing but in different ways. As for cricket, I really hope people patronize something other than cricket and cinema…as you say, it is almost saturated but more than that, I am sick of it!

  • Shard

    @Naren

    LOL. I wholeheartedly second that. I don’t watch cricket (though Test Cricket still retains some charm for me) and I watch very selective movies. Also as someone who has more than a passing interest in music it annoys me that the music scene is dominated by the stupid movie industry. So you picked one of my annoyances there 🙂

  • Dark Prince

    @kentetsu- well, i cant much disagree on what you said except for the part where you said that i dont find satisfaction of watchin football or supporting Arsenal. Jus to be clear, i find it satisfying when our team plays and frustrating as well when we lose. Plus i dont expect Arsenal to lose or win the title. But i can only say that our probability to win the title this season is much less than last season.

    Other than that, i completly agree on whatever you hav stated.

  • Naren

    Bob,
    many questions lead to a long answer.
    Firstly, in those five cities, there are only two football stadiums that may provide the minimum facilities that Arsenal will expect.
    Secondly, there is no credible team in India to play against Arsenal. India is ranked 145 by FIFA. You will have to get teams from the Far East to play against Arsenal.
    Thirdly, there is only one Indian footballer who is a household name-Bhaichung Bhutia. Right now, he is 35 years old. By the time, Arsenal might come around, he will have retired for good.
    Fourthly, there are no Indian television channels for football. There is one actually but that relays Eredivisie, German Bundesliga and I-League matches, so nobody watches that. ESPN Star will have cover the tour if any viewership is to be attracted.
    Lastly and most importantly, the per capita income in India is about 3%-9% of that in England, depending on which estimates you consider. Given that whatever little dispensable income to be spent towards recreation will be definitely spent on cinema and/or cricket and the presence of a thriving, unchecked parallel fake merchandise market, there is no way Arsenal or football can earn anything comparable to the amount that they earn in the west.
    Oddly, Indians don’t support ‘clubs’ as such…most football fans up to the last generation support Argentina or Brazil national teams. Even in this generation, only a handful watch the Premier League regularly with a real passion for the sport and those who do, support Man Utd or Chelsea. Otherwise, it is just during the World Cup when India watches football.
    That may change in a decade or two, perhaps the change is going on right now…Bayern Munich played the Oliver Kahn testimonial in Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata circa 2006. Argentina is scheduled to play in the same venue on Sep 2, 2011 against Venezuela. So Arsenal might try just one match there in a decade or so, but anything more than that, I am not going to take responsibility.

  • Shard

    @Naren

    No tv Channel as of now shows the I-League. Zee had their contract cancelled and a new deal was signed for 700 crore for 15 years with RIL/IMG. I think they will launch a new channel and promote the I-league from next year.

    I think you meant the Neo Sports channel..there is also Ten Action which is an exclusively football channel (though they did show some NBA matches last year)It has the Eredivisie, Serie A, SPL, Champions and Europa leagues, and last year had the La liga rights (which have since gone to ESPN Star)

  • Naren

    Shard, Bob
    Oops! Apologies for outdated information. Being away from home most of the time with only my laptop in tow has severed almost all contact with the TV(thankfully).
    Thanks Shard, for the update.

  • Gooner Gal

    I’ve been off line for a few hours so I haven’t had a chance to respond.

    @Bob – thanks, your comments were almost poetic. 13 is considered unlucky in some parts of the world you know.

    @Naren – Yes, I start the season believing we WILL win silverware and at the start of every match I believe WILL win it. You see I have a very positive outlook on life that extends to my support for the Gunners. I don’t apologise or accept critisism for it.

    @ Shard your entitled to your views.

  • Gooner Gal

    To me supporting Arsenal isn’t just an abject specticle to be analsyed and debated once, twice or three times a week if the powers that be are trying to screw Arsenal over. It’s not just a mild passing interest or about making somber and cautious statements or overly negative judgements.

    No, it’s about passion, belief, involvement, emotion and red and white tribalism. When I see a fellow Gooner on the street wearing the shirt, I will nod or smile. It’s about spine. It’s about having the guts to make big positive declarations with a serious face at the start of the season. It’s about supporting the club through thick and thin, even if at the end of the season you get stick, abuse and laughter.

    Don’t get me wrong, debate and discussion is great and good. The problem is some people out there think that constant critical evaluation is akin to support.

    It isn’t.

  • Naren

    Gooner Gal,
    Having the positive outlook in life has nothing to do with predicting Ramsey will a hat-trick at Old Trafford. You could say that Ramsey might have a good season, as Tony did in the article, but you are childish. Will Ramsey even start at Old Trafford? Even if he did and after just one minute into the match, he has scored two goals already, he could have a greater chance to score the third goal, but still you can never say he ‘will’ score a hat-trick.
    As for having guts and spine, you have very immature notions about life. If that is guts, that is outright insulting to people in Northern Africa who are protesting against despotic governments at the cost of their very lives.
    Well, the very fact that you replied and in the second post, criticize ‘some people out there’, tells me you accepted my criticism. In future, if you don’t want criticism, don’t post prophesies on a public forum.
    I really don’t understand what your predictions have to do with supporting through thick and thin. We all support Arsenal and Arsene, come what may, which is why we are here at Untold rather than the AAA sites.
    Don’t get me wrong, fantasia and romanticism is great and good. The problem is some people out there think that constant unfounded , fantastic muttering is akin to support.
    It isn’t.

  • Shard

    @Gooner Gal

    My views in regard to that post, were in agreement with yours. Not the points per se. But the overall message in them.

    @Naren

    I don’t see why you are getting so worked up about it. It was obviously not meant as a serious analysis. And while the talk of spine etc is potentially problematic, but still the fact remains that if football (for a fan) were to become overly realistic, it would lose much of its charm. At times, we should be a little mad, a little bigoted, and a little romantic about our club.

  • Adam

    Experience has tainted my optimism I do admit. I just cannot see Arsene sgning the players we need simply because he hasn’t done so for the past few years and our needs are essentially the same. Anyone who actually goes to the games and that excludes most blogs I read, knows that Denilsen, Bendtner, Rosicky et al have been rubbish for years and not just this season past. They also know that the goalkeeper will continue to make mistakes, that, even if Chesney is good enough and I am none too sure of that at the moment, that Fabianski is not good enough. They will know that the Cesc/Nasri thing will likely end in tears and that no really significant signing will be made. They will certainly know that our central defense and left side are weak and that Arshavin is a lazy genius who places enormous pressure on his left sided full back and that Clichy, despite his strengths, is weak defensively. I could go on but people who watch the team know these are all legitimate concerns and not sensationalist ravings. The major question, it seems to me, is fundamental in the extreme. Everyone knows that Arsenal are at a crossroads and that big changes must be made. Wenger has dropped the ball in recent seasons by not addressing the issues and this has meant those problems have mounted and bought us here. Is Arsene Wenger the man to make the changes and take the team forward? Simple as that. If there is going to be more tinkering and inadequate replacements bought for inadequate departures then we will be treading water for another two seasons. We must not be afraid of change nor base our feelings on what happen 6 or 7 years ago. I fear that, if we dawdle through this transfer window and get a bad start to the season the pressure on Wenger will become intolerable by Christmas. And no-one wants to see that.

  • Gooner Gal

    Haha Naren, you start your post by saying ‘having a positive outlook has nothing to do with predicting Ramsey will score a hatrick at Old Trafford’. Hmm sound like you didn’t think through this bit.

    Anyway you then some how tried to illogically introduce the Northern African uprisings into your argument. Hmmm again very strange. Surely you could of gone a little further to include Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe if your going to broaden the argument beyond belief. What about the millions of displaced people in Haiti that are trying to rebuild their lives after tragedy?

    Although I didn’t limit my point to you in my second post @12.12am , I am glad you were able to recognise and identify yourself as one of those I was talking about.

    What is most evident from your posts, is the fact that the premise of this article and the essence my hopeful wishlist is beyond your understanding. Sadly, your lack of comprension didn’t stop you from making pointless idiosyncratic comments.

  • bob

    As I am no angel in these matters, my vote is that we stop focusing on each other’s flawed styles (obviously me too), and re-focus on issues that matter. We all have a wish-list of these. Mine are: transfer window advocacy (like getting a clinical striker and swarming (yes wolfpack! as AJ aptly puts it) type defender(s)); possible implications of the unfolding major Greek corruption scandal; drawing/applying and not forgetting lessons from Walter’s Season Ending Report, thinking – in advance – about how to pressure for any reforms on the pitch (video technology, 48 hour pre-match referee-draws, publishing PGMOL ref reports, post-match ref press conferences, umpire-in-the sky a la tennis, mic-on-the-ref, etc. etc.); committing to a weekly Untold Media monitoring of one media outlet’s coverage of each week’s Arsenal matches; doing a Vidic/Dowd Watch, etc. Why not consider these (above) – list yours – see where there are overlaps, and focus on specific ways of improving our team and leveling the pitch (as it tilts towards Lord Ferguson’s Rednose 20th). The silly season is truly when we focus on each other instead of on our specific advocacy for this, our beloved team.

  • Naren

    Gooner Gal,
    Actually, I thought it through very well, unlike you, who has so far resisted from any cerebral activity. Having a positive outlook is looking forward to Ramsey and contribute to the team, not ‘predicting’ him scoring a hat-trick at Old Trafford.
    I am very surprised that you of all should talk of logic…you, who are arguing with me to defend your illogical post in the first place. I maintain that you do not need guts to do the silly things that you have listed. Thanks for mentioning the other brave people who are doing something else than prophesying fantasies with their bravery.
    Well, please do not do my thinking for me…Tony’s article gives reasons that might make our season better, not fantasies like your posts. He says Ramsey is back, which I too look forward to, not that he WILL score X goals at Y stadium.
    I went through your first post again and I am sorry to say, I should not have engaged in conversation with you at all in the first place. My mistake. Every single point of yours was total rubbish. So now that very conveniently you have pointed out my limited discerning capacity, I would be a bigger fool to continue with this.
    Very honestly, I would love every thing that you said, to happen. My only problem is you saying it ‘will’ happen.

  • Naren

    Shard,
    Just look at those points…Nasri signing! Is Gooner Gal his agent? No serious injuries to any players? Ramsey scoring a hat-trick at Old Trafford! Has Gooner Gal fixed the match? Usmanov(Jabba) selling all his shares! Has Usmanov agreed to sell all his shares to Gooner Gal? This is a joke! I thought I could come to Untold and think and ponder over some serious issues…not rubbish prophesies.

  • bob

    @Naren,
    Saying something “will” happen in the context of a wish-list is just a long-standing, everyday way of expressing a wish out loud; it’s saying a wish as if it were true. A manner of speaking, colloquial, idiomatic blah-blah. It is the strongest way to say a wish: as if it were fact. There’s at worst no harm done by it. Please, how about we all move on with our best wishes and otherwise stronger analytics to less draining, more productive interchanges.

  • bob

    @Adam: I admire Arsene and don’t think that he alone brought us to today’s fateful crossroads. I don’t think he alone has that power. Then again, we are kept in the dark and really (by design, for business reasons) can’t and don’t KNOW anything. As July 1 approaches, AFC/Arsene may choose not to take substantial action; or they might. Anyway, if you’re still reading, what I take from your principled and strong analysis (without endorsing it all, mind you), is that the manager on the pitch should not also be part of the administration. I think there needs to be a creative tension between the on-field manager and the business management. I don’t believe that any one person can embody both sets of values and interests and do much more than come up with a tepid compromise. When Usmanov told us that he likes Arsene because he makes money for me, well that’s fine. But is this loss of creative tension between business management and the coach really to the best interest of a team? I don’t think so, and I thank your analysis for helping me think further along these lines, rubbish or not.

  • Shard

    @Naren

    You are right that those points aren’t serious. bob says it well. It is a wish list. It wasn’t an analysis in any way. And it wasn’t belittling anyone else. I’m not passing judgment here. Just saying that it does no harm to dream about the possibilities at the start of a season. Football is about that too.

    @bob
    I disagree that the manager should not be part of the administrative outlook. The manager’s job is not just to win but to secure and build for the long term growth of the club. That cannot be done if he is not privy to and doesn’t concern himself with the overall outlook of the club.

  • bhalu

    The departure of Fabregas seems inevitable but if the loss of his playmaker persuades Arsene to adopt a more direct and less predictable style of football, then it may well turn out for the best. Also AW appears to have given up on Nasri: it seems more a question of how much money he can get for the guy. Without them, Wilshere and Ramsay (and even Diaby) may well blossom. The crying needs are two or three defenders, an out and out left-winger and a proven goal-scoring striker. To get the best, AW will have to spend big money, and to acquire enough he will have to sell a lot of players, probably Fab, Naz, Bendtner, Clichy, Arshavin, Denilson, Djourou and Eboue.

  • Anne

    @Mike in Atlanta:

    I’m in Atlanta too. Just thought I’d point that out 🙂 Where do you go to watch Arsenal around here?

  • Anne

    @Gooner gal:

    Personally, I for one have absolutely no problem with your optimistic opinions 🙂 In fact, I’ll even add one to the list: Arsenal will knock Barcelona out of the CL next season if they meet again, unless Barcelona are able to make some serious tactical adjustments (or the ref intervenes again). Considering that no other club has actually forced a tactical adjustment on Barca in recent memory, it really is an open question as to how they’ll respond to such a challenge.

    What I’m talking about here is the way that Arsenal proved that they can get in behind Barcelona’s press on a consistent basis. That one little bit of tactical genius by Wenger proved that Barca’s notorious “suicidially high” back line can in fact become, well, “suicidal.” I really think that Arsenal would have eliminated Barca this year had it not been for the intervention from the ref. But Barca has some work to do in the off season if they hope to prevent the same from happening next year.

    We’ll see if they’re up to it. Personally, I’m happy to see someone presenting a football challenge to Barca, as opposed to just trying to beat them up. So best of luck to you, and we’ll see if Barca can prove themselves equal to the challenge 🙂

    I’ve always said that very few Arsenal fans appreciate exactly how good Arsenal is RIGHT NOW. It might not be next season that Arsenal proves me right on that, but I know that they will eventually.

  • Nick Lee

    It’s funny how our Indian readers are doing the Bollywood. Arsenal ‘huge’ in India? Lol

    And the market potential is huge…zzzzz
    Heard that years ago when MNCs were going into China. The ubiquitous sales pitch goes like this “..if only so and so % were to buy our product..”

    And let’s be honest. For Arsenal to be “huge” in India, it has to be winners, and that’s if soccer will take off in a big way.

  • Nick Lee

    And talking of corruption, as clearly suggested in the numerous articles from this site…

    I have a question. Why aren’t the Stoke, Blackburn, Wolves et al complaining about the biases like we do? Or are they resigned to that? Did u guys watch enough of these teams to say that Arsenal is targeted or that refereeing in EPL is generally poor rather than “corrupted”?

    @bobP
    I see your rationale and concur on most

  • Shard

    @Nick Lee

    Try finding Stoke blogs.

  • bob

    @Nick Lee: Full disclosure – I am not from India. As I read their posts, the Indian readers who you say “are doing the Bollywood” do NOT say that there is massive immediate potential in India, but quite the opposite. You might have another look at who you think is saying what about the ‘India Market’ Someone the other day suggested on UA that there was a gold rush to be had; but not the self-identified Indian readers on UA who have analyzed the prospects. You tempt me to ask what dance you are doing, but I’ll leave it be.

  • bob

    @Shard: I have no problem with a pitch-manager being ABLE to take on an “administrative outlook” as you say it. My problem is with making that manager part of the management structure itself. Isn’t Arsene part of the structure? If not, I’m wrong about Arsenal. But if he is, I’d say of him as anyone, that something important is lost if the manager is part of the structure whose sole reason for existence and responsibility is to ensure the Return on Investment. I believe that is not the pitch-manager’s primary calling and that it would cloud a clear analysis of what is needed and the wish list that gets submitted to the business management for approval or not. Why should the pitch-manager – and even worse, the fans – tailor a prescription of who/what is needed to the business management’s declared budget. If there is push-back from the pitch-manager, then perhaps business will find other ways to accommodate that request. If the pitch-manager is too close to the business, or actually part of the business management and its ROI, then, I would think, there is not likely to be a push back. I know you’ve argued that we have this “self-sustainable business model” BUT, I think we have both (and perhaps not, but I’m happy to speak for myself), reached the point where we acknowledge that no one really knows or can know ANYTHING about the actual finances. Also, I/we/no one really knows exactly how Arsenal goes about making the purchases we do and don’t wind up making. All I can really say is my preference that the thinking and behavior of the pitch-manager (whose primary concern should be with winning, and player-development that serves winning) should not be identical to that of a business-manager (whose primary concern is with the bottom line).

  • Shard

    @bob

    You are correct that we don’t know the internal structure at Arsenal. I also agree that the pitch-manager should not be identical with the business manager. Yet, they have to be closely aligned and in some harmony, despite the contrary pulls. Liverpool had a clear distance. both professionally and personally between the manager (benitez) and the Executive (Parry/Perry?) which had fairly disastrous consequences.

    I’m sure there will be many examples of clearly separate positions bringing success to a club too.

    However, as you briefly touched on, we are in a bit of a unique situation. If you saw the Gazidis Q&A, he mentioned that since we don’t have the kind of money that other clubs do, we have to be more efficient with our spend. I think efficiency is promoted if you have a close linkage between different parts of an organisation. Yes, roles and spheres of control need to be properly marked out, but there cannot be a barrier between the two roles.

  • bob

    @Shard: To my lights, Gazidis is a master of smooth humility. There’s no way to know what he, the Arsenal fan’s true friend, is saying because we don’t have access to the actual numbers. I don’t think we should be naive re. the business side, but maintain our own creative tension with it. Otherwise we’re lemmings and there’s no point in pressing for a single dream. It’s not only the bad guys that need to be confronted; but also those with the keys to a vault with both our money spent and our emotional capital (- not that I love that term, but one must translate deeper truths into the business vernacular – without ever fully surrendering to it – to get a hearing these days).

  • Shard

    @bob

    I agree with the spirit of your post, but I don’t understand in what way it applies here. a) in what way are we supposed to confront the guys with the keys to our vaults and our hearts (haha)? b) Do you disagree with any of the statement that I mentioned Gazidis as saying? Is there any part of that statement that makes your confrontational emotions rise and focus in a specific direction?

  • bob

    @Shard: Gazidis says we don’t have the money the other bigs do – fine, that’s true. But how much we do have is left to the imagination and we are effectively told to just go along with whatever is decided because well, we don’t have the money the other bigs do. I don’t see much room for independent thinking which we owe ourselves and our team if we simply buy this line of reasoning. If we don’t have 50M to splash on one player, fine; do we have 15, 20, 30, 40? No way to know. But whatever is done is ipso fact just fine. Why? Because we don’t have the money the other bigs have. Ok, I’m reducing it to absurdity, but that’s what I fear that putting too much stock in Gazidis formulations. So I guess I would like to know that you don’t.

  • bob

    sorry, meant to say: “that’s what I fear ABOUT putting too much stock…”

  • Shard

    @bob

    Do I take what Gazidis or anyone else says at face value? No. Do I expect Gazidis to tell us everything? No. Do I want him to? No. Do I believe that we are being lied to and cheated? No.

  • bob

    On Gazidis press conference as we face the x-fer window, we all live in hope and a fact-free zone.

  • Shard

    bob

    I think you dismiss it too readily. Sure there are things he will not tell you, there are things that will be spun to best reflect the club. Other times he said he can’t tell you because the media will spin it to poorly reflect the club. All of that is granted. But show me another sports franchise whose Chief Executive comes out and faces the fans and their potentially awkward questions, give them a formal forum to participate in, and posts the entire one and a half hour interaction online for the fans worldwide to see. I swear we as Arsenal fans don’t realise what we do have. As a club, Arsenal are more open to fan participation than most.

  • bob

    It’s formal democracy, but nothing is revealed. You and I have different thresholds of comfort with that scenario. The Barca chief, who I would hardly trust, tells those fans that they have a 45M budget to spend in the x-fer window. Is he telling the truth? I wouldn’t trust it, but can’t refute it. Again, it’s a fact-free zone. Fans don’t have any facts to go on, as we both acknowledged a few postings ago. Like I say, we live in hope in a fact-free zone. Pressuring for one’s wishes is the only respectable way out. Same with bureaucracies like the FA, which I agree with Anne is the way forward. Power means the power to withhold information; and power concedes nothing without pressure. That said, if you come up with practical ways to incentivise bureaucracies to divulge information – not in principle, but with practical strategies – then, of course, I’m all ears and shoulder to shoulder.

  • bob

    As for practical measures to bring pressure to bear and to bear witness, I’ve proposed a media watch, a vidic/dowd watch, a league-wide fan petition for referee accountability via video technology, post-match press conferences, mic-a-ref, published PGMOL match reports, etc. Putting a microscope on those who withhold information offers pressure, self-respect and the occasional victory.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I’m all for that. Ideally speaking Arsenal should be able to reveal their budgets and their plans. But in a competitive industry, that simply isn’t going to happen. If it does, Arsenal stand to lose. The losses outweigh the benefits. What do we get really from knowing? More discussion, probably more wringing of hands that with such and such amount of money we aren’t buying so and so player?

    Would you rather Arsenal DON’T have that interaction? They aren’t obliged to, and fans do overstate their importance. Yes, it is because we are not one united entity that clubs know they CAN ride roughshod over us. But, Arsenal show more willingness to engage than most other sports enterprises I can think of. Instead of unrealistic expectations maybe we can be a little proud that our club does make efforts to make fans feel included.

  • bob

    Shard,
    You do like appearances of inclusion, and you’ve got them. I won’t be a straw man and make unrealistic demands for budget enough that I do know are not forthcoming and that are easily knocked down in debate. I don’t have energy for that debate, so I’m switching off on that thread, as I don’t suggest the impossible. I’m for practical measures that may have some chance.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I was just suggesting that we should, along with being vigilant and demanding more from our club, also appreciate what we do have, and get from our club. And I wholeheartedly back the practical measures you suggest. Especially the petition. Who all should we approach for it? Any ideas?

  • bob

    Shard, On the petition idea, for my two bits, like-minded fans could approach say 3 Arsenal blogs who would be joint launcher/sponsors – UA, Desi Gunner and a third to be named – and then identify the most fair-minded blog or blogs for other teams that anyone hereabouts knows of, and invite them to join in. It can’t be or be perceived as Arsenal-only for obvious reasons. A basic text that proposes all/any of the practical measures to bring about/ensure (probably ensure is the best word) a level playing field. I’d say that if 1-3 blogs from a minimum of 3-4 sides launched the petition, it could get around and create real buzz around EPL fans. So, starting here, let’s ask our fellow/sister UA readers if there’d be interest in such a measure; ask Tony/Walter if UA would be interested in such an effort; ask everyone to recommend one or more other kindred (fair-minded) blogs to approach on this; and, of course, a common, minimal set of demands/requests/strong suggestions (whatever the active verb) to set forth in the petition. Anyway, that’s a start – it would be great if readers/visitors, UA itself, would weigh in on this. In fact, there could be an argument to broaden the appeal beyond the EPL to other fans, but not sure if that would dilute the appeal or not? Anyway, have a think….

  • bob

    p.s. one argument toward making a petition broader than epl only is because there is a current massive UEFA/Greek FA scandal based on 41 identified “suspicious” matches and arrests made of refs, owners, police, etc. – all this to say that an appeal to ensure a competent and un-bent pitch throughout football could draw energy and momentum from the Greek Tragedy and not single-out the EPL per se, but definite include the EPL and other top leagues to come together and fulfill the fans desire for practical measures to be implemented at once. Anyway, EPL-only or all-inclusive is a choice to be thought about for anyone interested in a possible reform-by-petition effort.

  • bob

    Shard,
    I also think we might think about bringing this up again in a very-near future context as either people are already on to the several later UA postings; or don’t really seem to care, or at least not right now, as it’s just you and I figuring this out just now. I’d say it’s worth our bringing this up again in a near future thread and offering a link back to this discussion here.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I think it is a good idea, and it should not be an Arsenal centric thing as you say. Finding fair minded blogs might be a tougher thing to do than it appears. Even if they are fair minded, it would be easy for THEM to ignore us as ‘whining Arsenal fans’, unless they feel the same frustrations or the same determination to reform some of the ills of (English) football. From what I’ve seen people are either dismissive of anything being wrong, or just simply accept it, sometimes adding stupid things like it adds to the fun of the game stuff. But yes, we should keep looking, and re post this.

  • daokta

    Manchester United are already making forays into India – sponsoring, coaching etc but they have just dipped their toes in the water. Good opportunity for Arsenal to make a big push next year