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Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, and everything that can go wrong when money men own clubs

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If you think you know your Arsenal, it is time to think again. Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.

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By Tony Attwood

Remember that series we did a little while back on Billionaires running football.  I’ll put a link to the series at the end of this.  But first I am going to make a total prat of myself by reprinting part of one of the articles: the article on Málaga – the club that holds the registration of Santi Cazorla.

Here it is

Malaga.  The club was bought in June 2010, by Qatari investor, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani.    Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini, was brought in, having  previously been at Villarreal and Real Madrid.  They have been revived and moved from relegation threat upwards.  It is a gradual climb, but this seems the new approach.  Not, buy everyone now and win the league next year, but a three year plan.   Old players out new players in.  This last season they qualified for Champions League qualifiers for the first time ever.  The system works.

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“The system works” indeed.  The reason we are buying Cazorla is because the system doesn’t work.  Cazorla has let it be known that he is ready to leave Málaga and would be happy to sign for Arsène Wenger.  The asking price is said to be €20m.   And this is because, he, along with others, haven’t been paid.

According Cazorla and the club negotiations have taken place.  So what of the man, and what of the team?

He is a winger who can play left or right.  He played for Villarreal but a year ago almost to the day he went to Málaga CF for a fee of €21m. But with the club now doing a Barcelona and not paying people in the summer, he wants out.

And if  Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani does not inject more money yesterday (or today at just about the latest), the sale of Cazorla would represent the swiftest way for the Spanish club to survive without punishment from the league.  For if Málaga do not pay what they owe by 31 July they will go down to Division B and lose their place in the Champions League participation.

Since the owner has put over €150m into the club across two years this seems odd.  Journalists speak of “sources” who claim that he is a one-off individualist who does things his way, and expects everyone to jump.  Money after all, talks, (except when it swears as Bob Dylan reminds us).  Since no one knows if the money will be in place on the last day of the month they have to take steps, and that is why they will sell.  Besides, while the debt is outstanding, the Spanish league will not allow them to make any signings.  With debts paid they can keep their champions league slot open, and buy other players in the hope of a return of the money man.

Incidentally Cazorla is not the only one not being paid.  Ruud van Nistelrooy hasn’t been paid either, which I find rather amusing, droll, funny, laughable, exquisite, etc etc.  Sorry, I shouldn’t, but you know…

A meeting is scheduled today between the AFE, on the players’ behalf, and the LFP (La Liga), on behalf of the club, to reach a resolution.

Villarreal claim Málaga owe them €3.5m for Cazorla, and the Spanish tax authorities are demanding almost €7m which is not clever news as the Supreme Sports Council in Spain introduced a new zero-tolerance policy on debts in April which says clubs with outstanding debts other than previously accrued debts for which payment plans have already been agreed, face automatic relegation.

Neither the owner nor the vice-president of Málaga have been seen in Spain for a while.  José Carlos Pérez who ran the club day by day tragically died a few months back, and Fernando Hierro, the manager, has resigned saying he is not “comfortable” with his role or the situation.

Arsenal have talked with Cazorla’s agent and other hangers-on, but Mr Wenger said the club was still working on the transfer.

Cazorla has played 45 times for Spain scoring six goals, and played 38 league games for Malaga last season scoring 9.   In his last spell at Villareal he played 127 league games scoring 23 goals.

Mr Wenger has also hinted that other transfers are in the pipeline.

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The Billionaire files…

40 comments to Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, and everything that can go wrong when money men own clubs

  • Gunner4evr

    According to the Daily Mail,Wenger wants to keep RVP.In case he doesn’t or elect not to know,he must pay the market rate for the Dm .
    If not RVP will probably leave and my greatest fear is he will end up at OT. He could probably help red faced to win more trophies. That is why Arsenal must show money doesn’t talk so much by getting the lowest bid for him eg 12 or 15 million from Juventus.
    If not the systematic weakening of Arsenal will continue
    because the board want to wait for ffp. I believe the ffp will probably be toothless. I hope Platini can prove me wrong.

  • Heci

    You shouldn’t pay attention to anything Wenger says. It is designed to mislead (not only us fans but other clubs as well) and it has proven to be a good transfer tactic.

    Cazorla was the one we were in for but Malaga did outprice us. Then we went for Mata and Chelsea outpriced us..

    I think this deal will only happen if we manage to shift out RVP (preferably out of the country but at a nice price).

    Gunner4evr, did you expect to hear Wenger say he wants to sell RVP? That would just lower his price more (and it was lowered pretty much by his/his agent’s statement anyway. Also it does not look good when a manager says he wants to sell particular players. Just my two cents.

  • Stuart

    Yeah I’m with Heci.

    I expect there are others on Wengers list but he is just saying that to put pressure onto Malaga to sell.

    With regard to RVP, I don’t think it matters where he goes to be honest. He’ll not have the same season he has just had next season or any after that. He can join the rest of the crocks at Old Toilet.

  • Asif

    @Heci…agree with you mate!

    Can anyone help me understand, how does this system work, say Juventus Bid 25mn and Shitty 15mn, however Shitty are willing to give the player 4 times the money that Juve are willing to pay and the player is keen on signing for Shitty but the club are willing to sell to Juve. How is a situation like this mitigated?

    As far as Cazorla is concerned, i think the club did a fabulous job of keeping it under wraps!!! He will be a good signing, we are missing that little bit of flair…

  • Asif, in simple terms, all sides have to agree. The days when George Graham was able to sell Rocastle to Leeds when Rocastle didn’t want to go are long gone.

    So if Juve offer more but RVP wants City, then it is up to Arsenal – do we sell to City or no? If no, then we say to Juve – you can have RVP if you sweaten the deal. We’ll give you a week, for you to offer him more money, a nicer house, a guarantee that you will win the league because the league is fixed, a holiday on the moon,…

  • Gunner4Evr I fear you have no real understanding of the way in which these things work.

    Take a look at http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/23485

  • CharlieG

    As far as i am concern, RvP is RiP.
    , meaning he is gone. The manger is just saying things to get the most out of the deal, which he shoud do and its great. Story finished.
    The next question is who does he brings in and what formation next season. There is no peplacement for rvp, period. System and formation will change as we did last year, and when Henri left, as so on and so forth. I am just hopeful that he brings in a skilful and creative mufielder, like Cazorla. That will complete the team. If one more, maybe a fit Kaka. Kaka when fit is great and he will be interim, helping the likes of Wilshire, Ox and other like Gnary mature.

  • Rog b

    Tony, don’t see how you are going to make a complete prat of yourself by reprinting one of your articles on Malaga,sorry did I miss something? Seems to me you are actually just reminding others that Untold have been stressing the actual implications such as malaga’s present situation in articles for ages. Lets also not forget that it was the Everton’s (another club in debt) bank who instructed them to sell Arteta once we had put in a decent offer and what now turns out to be an absolute steal. Seems to me that due to Arsenals fantastic book keeping, one of the biggest benefits from that enables us to prey on the clubs (in real trouble financially) real talents and obtain them at a drop down price. In one of my recent comments I mentioned how Untold leaves nothing Unturned (same thing I think I said). Keep this up Untold/Unturned and it cannot go Unnoticed. Well done again

  • HR

    Wenger at today’s press conference in China, in relation to transfers, said, “We are not at the end of it. We will still bring players in.” (Yes, it’s a quote.)

    And we know, or think we know, AFC:

    (a) will probably put in an improved offer for M’Baye Niang

    (b) is “… not close to signing Cazorla. We are still working that out.” The important part is the second sentence. No denial that Arsene has an interest. (Which, incidentally, he also had last season.)

    And (c) still wants to keep RVP.

    So, there are two strands of thought to keep Arsenal fans optimistic. The first is that Santi Cozorla is a first class player. Better than Nasri, a combination of Cesc and Silva.

    If RVP’s discontent is all about ambition and not money, then seeing the Spaniard at the Emirates (plus OG12 and LP) ought to satisfy his wildest requirements.

    The second is that there is a real chance that Cozorla might actually be acquired by us. It’s all a bit cloudy. But even billionaires have cash flow problems at times. And Spain’s banking system is in tatters. And Malaga CF’s finances is in tatters. And Sheikh Abdullah is ‘angry as hell and might not want to take it anymore’.

    Add into this Financial Fair Play (Malaga’s income is truly paltry). Add into this that Sheikh Abdullah thinks that Spain’s football is so heavily skewed in favour of FCB and RM. Add into this Malaga’s astronomical monthly wage bill.

    And you can see why, even though they’re in the Champions’ League now, there are huge complications and issues to resolve.

    My thinking, for what it’s worth, is that Cozorla (and others) have realized that signing for Malaga was a huge mistake. There was never a way that Malaga CF could ever compete in a league dominated by two clubs. The financial model was fantasy. And like Valencia, the only way to sustain the club is by selling. (Though, for slightly different reasons.)

    Remember Cozorla when he was courted by Real Madrid. He said that it was more important to be at a club that valued him and that it was possible to say ‘no’.

    He definitely doesn’t feel valued at Malaga right now and personally wants out. Which is why there may well be ‘personal terms’ in place with AFC even though no bid has probably yet been made.

    (There’s a goodly chance that his agent hasn’t been paid in a while either.)

    This is far more complicated than the average transfer. But by the end of the month (just a few days really) we should know more.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    As long as Cazorla doesn’t turn out to be Reyes Mk2 then the quoted prices are damn good in the current market.
    You can’t blame a player for wanting to go to a club that will actually pay his wages!

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Also Cazorla for £16 million puts our transfer spending up to around £40 million this window – only Chelsea have spent more in England. The Manchester twins are showing a serious lack of ambition in the transfer market and one of them won as much as we did last year despite being in more competitions!

  • Rog b

    Woolwich P – despite being in more competitions than us…nice one I never thought of it like that

  • Rog b

    Woolwich P – despite being in more comps than us…nice one I never thought of it like that

  • Timmy

    The way the cookie crumbles – Hardley Chase

  • nd

    @Tony….if we do sell r.v.p and we get cazorla say we make a 5 million profit arsenal will still have to buy another forward because i dont recall a forward(Giroud) coming from the french league doing well in his first season….so what do you think

  • HR

    Woolwich Peripatetic.

    Cazorla may not be bid for until we lose someone (a slot) from the squad. There’s the possibility of Arshavin, Bendtner, Park, and Squillaci leaving. Maybe just one, maybe more. None are on tour, so maybe there’s some indication in that. (Park is at the Olympics, of course). Chamakh is another possibility.

    We’ll not know how the transfer balances work out until the final reckoning on September 1st. Plus, it may well be that all this is expected to be balanced by RVP leaving. Maybe even Theo (as a Cozorla – Theo direct swap) though I find that doubtful.

    As Facebook says: ‘It’s complicated.’

  • jubril

    Tony,left to me,getting a player like carzola or kaka will b d icing on d cake for us and am sure d carzola deal is for real.for d manager to let dis top secret out d bag means we re in for the player.d malaga owners dont no dat d survival of la liga depends on the 2 top clubs if not he would have borrowed a leaf or w2 from th owners of getafe who re also is fellow arab money dat u dont pump ur money into a business dats made 4 a certaiin of people…i dont care wear dat our judas will going cos all wat am concern abt is d money we gun make from d deal.if he likes,he can go play in the mars league,i dont care.f……betrayal

  • HR

    @Woolwich Peripatetic.

    One final point about transfers. The 2012/12 season squad numbers have just been release by AFC.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/squad-numbers

    The point of interest is that no number has yet been confirmed for Lukas Podolski. I think it can unsafely assumed that he’s waiting until someone relinquishes the one he wants.

    Right now it’s either 13 or 30.

    The bad news is that at Koln his number was 10. (And, I think at BM he was 11 – which is taken by Santos.)

    So, maybe he’s waiting on RVP or someone else.

  • In terms of players coming out of the French league and doing well in our league straight off, yes I agree that is difficult. But not impossible.

    And we have a wide range of players to choose from who were not with us last season. (I prefer “not with us” because that gives a truer reflection of how different we will be this season.

    When I print this list someone usually pops along and says, “If you think Diaby will do anything you’re a fucking idiot” or charming words to that effect. But my point is that with the squad that did so well in the later part of last season, all we need is a few of these to shine – even just part of the time – for us to have a really strong force.

    I have included Ox-C in this because last season he was very much an occasional player – but this season I really do see him being central to our cause.

    Eisfeld is the last name added to the list, not just because of the goal but because everything that seems to have been said about him looks to be true.

    Santi Cazorla
    M’Baye Niang
    Podolski,
    Giroud,
    Wilshere
    Oxlade-C
    M’Baye Niang
    Ryo
    Frimpong
    Coquelin.
    Thomas Eisfeld
    Abou Diaby

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @HR,
    Even without bidding for Cazorla, we’re still 2nd in gross spending but with Chelsea having blown £32 million on Hazard we’re some way behind.
    United have bought two players (one extremely unproven) but spent less than us, City are busy trying to flog half their squad. Yes, they’ve bid for RvP but realistically they have to even if they don’t want him, if only to make sure they don’t miss out if they do, if that makes any sense?
    If our players want to use lack of ambition as a negotiating tactic, the only club they could look to at the moment is Chelsea. That may of course change in the next few weeks.

  • Wooby

    @HR, it is very likely that Poldi will end up with no. 10. Between RVP and Park, it is more likely that RVP will go as I don’t see how there would be demand for Park.

    I am pretty sure we will end up adding at least one more attacking player before the end of the transfer window with the news that Rosicky has undergone surgery and will be out for 2 months: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1126972/arsenal%27s-tomas-rosicky-goes-under-the-knife?cc=5901

    Cazorla makes sense. He is someone Wenger has been interested in and Malaga is in a precarious position with respect to its finances. Further, I have read that Wenger has been experimenting with Gervinho playing in the middle which means we may need a wide player to take his place – assuming Ryo will be loaned out for another season of development and Arshavin will be sold.

  • Asif

    @Thank you so very much! This question was bugging me for long…so that’s done.

    Also, I have read in certain quarters about the salary that RiP is demanding…so when he says that the financial aspect of the deal was least of his concerns then simply put he is lying and money is the key factor here!

  • Asif

    *@Tony…thanks for explaining the logic!

  • bob

    A practical matter:
    Yes we bought early (happily), and are still in for another purchase (happily) and can draw on your list (happily). It’s all very exciting.
    However, this is my concern: As I have not been in favor of the current Asia Tour (in the main to show our strategic partner’s Emirates Airlines flag), how then are our early purchases – Podolski and Giroud – currently and by season’s start going to be integrated withing the squad and our style? Is there actually enough time for them to train with the squad and hit the ground running? What coaches are behind to work with at Colney? Was this trip really necessary, as opposed to focused training with our new signings on board?
    Is this a discussable matter? Does anyone care to chime in?

  • Ong Bing

    If Santi come, it is good, if he is not come, no problem.

    I still believed with current squad, but anything that can make us stronger always welcome.

    I think (and hope) we can start this season much much better than last season.

  • bob

    p.s. Btw, on the plus side of the Asia Tour, is that it is not being covered by David Hytner of the Manchester Guardian football department – who accompanied the side in last season’s tour with glowing reports – and who, on his return, then tried and destabilize us (or had his head turned to the proper Guardian football way). I hope that AFC made the conscious decision to leave him behind. At the moment, this vulture’s beat-down is to cover and influence public perception of the ins and outs of what goes on with RVP and Theo. Lots of unsubstantiated pronouncements based on no cited sources, all covered over by an intelligent writing style. That’s the way of the Guardian’s football department: good writing to perfume shite. It may or may not have been a matter of cost, but ‘m really glad that, for whatever reason, he doesn’t get his paws into the mix with unsubstantiated reports of “dissension” in Asia. Nor do we find any “exclusives” from Podolski or Giroud being given to this lens crafter. Surely he and Williams and Wilson would crave the “exclusive” RvP interview to stick the studded foot into our prospects.

  • sen

    if we sign cazorla and if we manage to keep RVP then the formation would be something like this

    szczesny

    sagna/jenkinson koscienly TV/Mertaseckar gibbs/santos

    song/diaby arteta/wilshere

    walcott/AOC RVP Cazorla/Gervinho

    Podolski/Giroud

    so its pretty much clear that we need a player who can play in the hole unless Wenger uses Cazorla or Podolski there. Another option can be sign Mvilla and push Arteta up there. But honestly Arteta is more of a DEEP Playmaker just like Xabi Alonso. May be AOC can play there. But if we can retain RVP and sign Cazorla seriously we can get a silverware. What to you all say????

  • Wooby

    @Bob, I think it is absolutely necessary that we go on some type of pre season tour, whether it be Asia, Africa or the Americas. A lot of the money in the BPL is driven by TV contracts and the popularity of the league in other parts of the world help increase that figure. My personal opinion (granted, without any evidence) re: why ManUre continue to get the “benefit of the doubt” from the refs (to put it mildly) is that they are popular in many parts of the world and there is a need to ensure they finish consistently near the top of the table for the BPL to continue to demand top dollars for TV rights.

    Another benefit of these tours is that they may lead to additional sponsorship deals. One of the facts I have learned from following UA is that ManUre does have a lead on us in terms of sponsorship dollars. I think it behooves us to ensure we really increase our global profile as some of the deals signed in the past are set to expire and be renegotiated.

    I am afraid this is one time where pure sporting reasons (i.e. training, team building and preparation for a season) are secondary to the business of running a sports team.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Suppose, just suppose: Juve or Man U or Man C returns with a bid of 20m pound for Arsenal and 190k/week for RvP and, having completed negotiations of all those whose contracts are outstanding (Theo, etc) Wenger turns around and offers RvP 160k/week. Do you think RvP will agree to this? Is it feasible or realistic to suppose such a possiblity?

    On Cazorla, I think because Wenger is going for him a 2nd time, he rates him very hghly and will go for him if need be, BEFORE he is able to sell those players he wishes to sell. After Cazorla he may then wait until he sells most of the players he wishes to sell off.

    In an ideal world, you will prefer he is able to sell all those he wishes to sell first but it often doesn’t go that way.

  • Ong Bing

    @Wooby, I am agree with you.

    Asia tour is about popularity, digging markets (fans). If you have a lot of fans in one area, you can get sponsorship.

    A few years ago, Luis Figo and Madrid gets sponsorship from Indonesia peanut company, and now they replace Figo with Xabi Alonso.

    Cesc also gets sponsorship from biscuit company when still with Arsenal, but only Cesc no Arsenal in the deal, I don’t know why. Thats why Cesc came to Indonesia this year and last year.

    And one news make me sick, the biggest airline in Indonesia just puts commercial adds on Anfield! Because of the old time glory, Liverpool has a lot of fans in Indonesia, I don’t know the number, so I don’t know Pool or us have the bigger fans.

  • Adam

    squad numbers announced but still up for grabs for me are 9, 10, 18, 21, 23, 29, 52. Why podolski has not been given or accepted a number yet is a bit weird. Maybe he is waiting to see what is happening elsewhere?
    Good read by the way. Thankyou.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Gunner4ever: If not the systematic weakening of Arsenal will continue….where did you come up with this nonsense? What ¨weakening?¨ Last season – Nasri and Cesc out; Per, Arteta, Benayoun, Santos, Jenkinson, the OX and Gervinho in…that’s called improving mate!
    This season: Almunia,and maybe Arshavin, Squillaci, Bendtner, Vela and Fab or Mannone out – Podolski and Giroud in, maybe Cazorla and one or two others….that’s a big improvement even IF RVP leaves. Therefore you’re talking nonsense!

    Heci …Very astute observation and EXACTLY how AW and the Club manage any transfer dealings….the mushroom principle: keep everyone covered with manure and in the dark! The days of quietly scouting someone and bringing in a bargain are almost over. The lazy,rich clubs sit like vultures and wait until AFc have identified a potential target then swoop with a diamond-filled safe on their backs and sweep away our targets.Yet Aw is such a skilled managers that he finds two of Europe’s best strikers within a few months and signs them up at very affordable rates!!! How the AAA’s must be shitting themselves trying to justify their pessimism and whiny negativism even when Usmanov provides them with all the ammunition they need!!! What a bunch of losers and cry babies!
    Tony, great article and right on the money….

  • Zgooner

    So many people underestimate Wenger when it comes to the transfer market.. great article.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Hope we can get the spaniard, if reports are to be believed , he is ours to lose…..but we have been there before. Cannot say I have seen to much of him but he sounds like he would fit well into a wenger team. Unfortunately, if. We do not get him for whatever reason, the issue will become yet another aaa beating stick for wenger, another who got away…..whatever the actual truth of the matter. If he does end up with us, could he be a replacement for theo……or could theo end up in a more central position if vp departs? Just mindless speculation of course.
    But whoever we lose, a signing of this guy, along with our earlier signings and the appointment of Steve Bould impresses me at least.

  • bob

    Wooby,
    With all respect, I wouldn’t say ABSOLUTELY in valoring business reasons over sporting reasons. Did you actually see AW’s lack of affect when he was trotted out for the announcement of Le Grand Tour this summer, with the Air Emirates stewardess flanking Gazidis and the Emirates suit? It was a farce. He showed he was being dragooned. What’s the point of not being able to practice with our new wonderful acquisitions when it cannot start until AUGUST. It’s too late now, of course. But your point of view is rational, but reckless, with foreseeable consequences – as the side will not be ready, when it could be. The tour is in the way of chemistry – the next article’s focus – it’s chemistry that matters – that would be chemistry on the pitch.

    The chemistry that is essential for style and victories that together will give us the worldwide following that you crave. It’s ManUre’s victories that got and continue to get it their global following. Your absolute valorization of business over sporting reasons does not work in the absence of style and wins; and it’s not travel that gets you that, its the chemistry that takes time to develop. You can’t flip a switch and mesh so many new parts. Sorry, but imho, you have your priorities so on the til that your feet are not on the ground. We’ll see how the season gets off the ground, and I hope I’m wrong.

  • Stuart

    Domhuaille,
    Following on from what you said, maybe Wengers next transfer technique will have to be to make it known he wants someone to put the Man Citys of this world onto them and then switch for his real target whilst they are distracted and offering silly money, or is something like this already going on with the Tottenham saga over Lloris?

  • Goona Gal

    @ Tony – Malaga really do serve as another warning of what can happen if a club relies on external finances to stay solvent. I am pretty sure that there are still some people demanding that Arsenal spend, spend, spend regardless of concequences!

    Also if there is any truth in this transfer deal, then I suspect that the club might of run out of patience with Theo as they are on paper very similar players, though Cazorla is older and a slightly better player. I think that this would be a replacement purchase rather than an addition. Theo would be very stupid to leave Arsenal at this stage of his career, but maybe he’s been influenced by other departee’s. It really should’nt be such a drawn out contract negotiation with Theo, but heay, it is what it is. I would even be happy to sell Theo to Chelsea for the right price if the Cazorla deal went through.

    I think Le Boss is changing gears quickly now and assembling a real title winning squad.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wenger has been accused by many of basing his whole tactics around his best player….and maybe with good reason. If vp goes, he will maybe look to goals from,a greater variety,of sources? We have several decent strikers, maybe a creative mf/ wide man does make sense as part of vps replacement. If we really are interested, and from what I have heard about conditions at Malaga, I am sure he would be delighted to join us. As for theo, loads of pics on the official site on tour looking very happy…..not sure what that means, maybe he is just enjoying the tour. But agree, he would be a bit silly to leave us now….but he would not be the first.
    Wenger does seem to be changing gears, he has to, there is now too much at stake. Deals to be renewed in 2014, will be more lucrative the better we do. Other clubs are spending, we are no longer in a three to four horse race for the CL. We will soon see if sustainability is the aaa version of bland corporate spin induced mediocrity or the wenger version where we compete. We have always under wenger had a first eleven who could beat anybody except a dodgy ref, it looks as if we could soon have the squad as well

  • william k

    if RVP goes then i will be disappointed, hes not the fan of Arsenal that i am, and in time I can come to terms with that. But if he goes to MU something inside me will die, I cant really explain but any other solution would be better.

  • Wooby

    Bob, hard to disagree with you re: chemistry leading to style and victories, which are fundamental to achieving success (in any way one cares to measure it).

    I suggest though, that more than going away on pre-season tours, the movement of players in and out of the club has a bigger effect on team chemistry. That is not to say we should never sell or buy players, but that we must have a core group of players to build around and make additions to or subtract from. Further, such changes should take place as early as possible to give sufficient time to build up for the start of the season.

    Last season, our team chemistry was absolutely shot to bits in August with the departures of Cesc and Nasri, injuries, suspensions of Gervinho and Song, new players brought in at the end of the transfer window etc … all of which were independent of our Asian tour in July. (I do not mean to criticize AW with the above as I think many of things that happened last season were outside of his direct control – what he was able to subsequently accomplish was simply outstanding)

    This season, I think the pre-season tour may turn out to be a boost for team chemistry. We have only one core player intent on leaving (RVP) and he is not travelling which means the team does not have to revolve around him in training, matches, or other team activities. Meanwhile, it appears none of the players that are travelling have designs on leaving us in the near future so new leaders may emerge (here’s looking at you Arteta).

    Yes, the new 2 boys are not travelling but they have their friends with them to help them acclimatize to their new surroundings (Poldi has Per while Giroud has Kos). The tour concludes in another week or so and with the Olympics pushing the start of the season to August 18, the team will have a number of days to come together before the season kicks off. The number of days may not be ideal but we will have time. We can also be thankful that we do not have to travel and play CL qualifiers this year.

    I think the key is to keep a core group of 6 or 7 lads healthy and together to develop the chemistry you speak of. As much as I dislike Farca for their blatant tapping up of Cesc, I do have to acknowledge that part of their success has been that a group of their players have played together for a few seasons. Hopefully the group we have now has a sense of wanting to stay and play with/for each other rather than the biggest pay cheque they can snag — that is how great teams are built.