By Tony Attwood
I have mentioned previously that the Guardian newspaper in Britain, although never Arsenal’s best friend, has through the course of this summer, taken a sudden and dramatic turn towards the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal movement.
This is odd since basically the Guardian is a middle-class intellectual paper – and these are attributes that I don’t normally associate with the AAA. Indeed the Guardian is also known for having at least one pro-Arsenal journalist on its books, and to me she has looked extremely uncomfortable not to say illogical, putting out the new Anti-Wenger line.
Anyway, in common with many newspapers, the Guardian has been producing reviews of Premier League clubs ahead of the new season, and this of course was a chance for the paper to reconsider its position. In taking its Anti-Wenger pro AAA line it is aligning itself with the Sun, Talk Sprot, and BBC Radio 5’s “606” – not normal and obvious bedfellows for the Guardian. Perhaps the dear old paper would recognise the oddity of its new standpoint.
So how did it write up Arsenal in the coming season? It began…
“The reference point for Arsenal’s pre-season preparations was provided by the official Robin van Persie website on 4 July. The double Footballer of the Year’s declaration of independence, though, was not what any Gooner had wanted to hear.
“The striker tried to sugarcoat his “update for the fans”, which appeared under a burst of the motivational-speak that dots his site and is surely best vocalised in a Dutch ac-shent: Enjoy every moment, it can be your best!”
So, not much in the way of a look at the future. Rather a very clear message: RVP is off, Arsenal in another terrible mess. It went on…
“Van Persie talked about the “respect” he had for Arsène Wenger, his team-mates, the fans and their opinions but the bottom line was that he wanted to win trophies and it was clear to him that he and the club “in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward”. He would not be extending his contract, which had one year to run. The Manchester clubs and Juventus are circling.”
I quite like the comparison of Billionaire clubs to birds of prey, but here we are, three paragraphs into the Guardian’s take on Arsenal next season, and all we have is some news that has been mangled through the media 86 trillion times already.
Worse, by the time the article appeared it was clear that 66% of the circling nasties were not circling at all. The manager of Juve was on the edge of being banned for a year (which he subsequently has been), while the manager of Man City was launching a series of attacks on his own director of football for not signing players. Indeed that 66% could be seen as 100% given the way Sir F was moaning about not getting anywhere with the transfer as his paymasters sought to cut the asking price for their new New York shares. Maybe no one wants poor Robin (although by the time this is published I’ll probably find the young lad has just signed for Bolton).
What does it all mean? Well, it means…
“The sense of deja vu was sickening and, once again, it shone a blinding light on the question of ambition at Arsenal. Is it enough to finish the season in a Champions League place? Why do the club’s best players keep wanting to leave? The departures of Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri had scarred the build-up to last season and contributed to what Wenger described as “the most disturbed pre-season” he had known. “When I go to hell one day,” he said, “it will be less painful for me than for you, because I’m used to suffering”.”
Sickening eh? That deja vu thing over again. Although if I may pause for a moment, the Guardian, normally so good with its use of accents in foreign names and phrases, insists on deja vu, rather than “déjà vu”. Maybe accents are just to show us that people with accents in their names are foreign and thus not quite top drawer. Not to be trusted. Names like, oh I don’t know, like “Arsène” perhaps.
So “it shone a blinding light on the question of ambition at Arsenal.” Did it? I mean, really?
We live in a world in which a little bunch of billionaires are buying up clubs and using them as play things, marketing devises, and (in the case of Man U) sources of cash. Those billionaires come over here, rape our clubs and try to stop us doing that old fashioned capitalist thing of making a profit and that old fashioned Victorian thing of living within your means.
It seems from that “question of ambition” statement that the left-leaning Guardian, betrayed by its political ally for 100 years, The Liberal Party (now for the first time in coalition with the far-right Conservative and Unionist Party in the UK), is actually moving its own political ground.
So, let’s consider the Guardian’s question: “Why do the club’s best players keep wanting to leave?” And the answer is:
Because the Billionaire clubs offer them more money. RVP wants a £10m signing on fee and a five year contract at £200k a week. Total £62 million. Walter admitted in an article recently that he’d personally take it if on offer to him. So would I, although if it included working for bankers, the Conservative Party, racists, fascists, UKIP, homophobic morons, the Glazers, or anyone with the surname Murdoch, I would want to ensure that I could undermine everything they were doing while simultaneously taking their money.
I don’t know why the press don’t get this. People change jobs for money, and by and large people are not loyal. Only a tiny percentage of the population of Britain, and probably Europe, and possibly the world, are actually loyal, when it comes down to this sort of money. What’s loyalty ever done for me? (Well quite a bit actually, but that’s not the point).
If it were not a case of the money, players would notice the Flamini Fallacy through which virtually every player to have left Arsenal in the last 15 years has done worse at club level with his new club than with Arsenal. And the really clever trick within the Fallacy is that quite often these players have not only seen their own career go downhill (and Flamini’s descent over the time of his contract with Milan was so vast that at the end Milan wouldn’t offer him an extension of his contract, and he couldn’t get a job anywhere else – so he returned to Milan on a far worse contract than before) but also they have put the club they move to, in difficulties. One might think of Hleb and Barca’s unpaid players.
Or think of Henry whose move to Barca cost them £447,000 per game he played for them. (Incidentally my inclusion of Cesc among the Fallacy men is often questioned. We’ll see, but coming second in a two team league after leaving Arsenal couldn’t have been exactly what he had in mind when he went).
In losing players to the Billionaire clubs Arsenal are no different from everyone else. Where Arsenal are different, is that…
a) Arsenal lose players at an incredible profit, which is reinvested in the club. The money has been used to build the stadium, enhance the youth programme, and bring in experienced players over the years and keep us on the coat tails of the billionaire teams themselves. If RVP is going for £20m to Man U, that is an amazing deal for us, given his injury record, age, and instance on playing internationals.
b) Arsenal’s dealing with the buying clubs helps bring them into increasing debt – which as FFP comes to pass can’t help them one jot
c) Arsenal generally sell players who have over-performed at Arsenal and who rarely reach the heights Arsenal have gained from them – so having them moving on is invariably a good move for Arsenal and a bad move for the selling clubs
d) Arsenal invariably have replacements arranged. Last season was an exception – but the purchase of Arteta was inspired, and the development of Oxlade Chamberlain was something to behold. Even the unheralded loan of Beny from Chelsea was an inspiration. In fact we came third after losing our midfield of Nasri, Cesc and Wilshere. Not a bad survival pattern.
e) Arsenal are a leading part of the exploitation of the mindless stupidity of billionaires – which is in itself a service to humanity. Most clubs hardly noticed last year what is happening to Spanish clubs as the billionaires lost the plot, and the local governments lost the money it put behind the clock in case of a bit of a dip in the currency markets. The Arsenal were there, saw where it was going, and moved in for what is probably the purchase of this transfer window.
It is sad to see previously liberal to left wing minded papers like the Guardian moving over to supporting the notion of billionaire football clubs and the unacceptable face of capitalism, combined with a total overwhelming idiotic inability to recognise that people leave their places of employment for money. But they are, after all, journalists, and journalists tend to ignore the simple stuff.
But that is where they are, so let me spell it out for the Guardian: footballers play for money, and we have clubs in Europe who can and will pay anything for players. That’s why they leave. Just look at what PSG have done this summer. Why is that so difficult to understand?
So, anyway, The Guardian joins Talk Sprot, and 606 in supporting the Anti-Arsenal agenda. Repeat after me, “I have been supporting Arsenal for 40 years and this is the worst team I have ever seen”. “The season tickets waiting list has gone – they can’t give them away”. “I’m not going to Arsenal again until Wenger leaves.” “Spend some fucking money”, “This is OUR WORST player in the last 20 years.” (That last was actually written on this site on Friday).
Ah well Guardian writers, just remember. In the end you are always known by the people you mix with.
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