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Calling football chaotic gives chaos a bad name

By Tony Attwood

There was a lovely moment in the debate about PSG in which a rather annoyed reader wrote in and told me in no uncertain terms not to write about PSG (whom, he implied, no one cared about, despite their being the richest club in the world) and instead talk about real clubs – such as Real Madrid.

It was an unfortunate choice really since their start has been awful – a draw to Valencia and a defeat the Getafe, Madrid’s third club.   Given that Spain has a two-club league rather like Scotland (before Rangers went to the 4th division) this is crisis time in Spain.  After two games.

Moving back home, I’m beginning to lose track of all the clubs that have been taken over by millionaires and billionaires.  Nottingham Forest slipped under the radar for me, but apparently they are now owned by the Al-Hasawi family.   They have made eight signings this summer, and are now making their ninth.  Henri Lansbury from Arsenal for £1m.

I noted that with sadness, as he has been with Arsenal since he was nine, but football is a ruthless game, and no one it seems is safe.

Still, anything that Spain can do, Italy can do twice.  Milan are in trouble after just one game having lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Gattuso, Inzaghi, Seedorf, Nesta, Zambrotta and so on.  They have been refunding on season tickets sold before the big two left and overall sales of seats are really down.  Indeed they played their opener to a very small crowd.  Watching the game on TV there seemed to be more spaces on the terraces than people.

Meanwhile half way around the world Drogba and Anelka are finding China a little less welcoming than they expected as Shanghai Shenhua is now engaged in a civil war with the chairman demanding more say in the club before he hands over any more money.   Part of the problem in China is that some of the clubs are owned or part owned by the state, and the state is not paying its dues.   But if you were in China would you argue with the People’s Republic?   Anyway the chairman is saying he won’t pay out any more, which means players won’t be paid.  A bit like Barcelona when the banks stopped funding them.

The fact that Shenhua are also suffering a sort of PSG-Milan moment being 10th out of 16th in the league they were supposed to stroll through has nothing to do with matters.

Speaking of which we might pause to remember Rangers, who are currently under a transfer embargo and instead of being top and unbeaten are actually fourth out of ten in the Scottish League Division 3.

Meanwhile Tottenham fans, who thoroughly enjoyed our discomfort last summer are now having to face it themselves, selling a good player who demanded to leave, late on in the transfer window, and desperately trying to fix up deals for replacements, while the prices rocket minute by minute as other clubs recognise a team who desperately need to buy when they see one.

Man City seem to have created their own civil war between the part of the company that arranges transfers and the part of the company that actually puts players on the pitch.  And it is all the more unnerving for them to notice that Chelsea have finally given up all attempts to get their FFP in order.   So what should City do – think that FFP will hold and Chelsea will be reigned in, or think that FFP is dead in the water and there is no need to worry about it?

What makes it even more odd is the fact that the clubs are playing Vapour Transfers more and more (you might remember I wrote about this a few weeks ago and suggested it was becoming more of an activity within football.)  Vapour Transfers come in many forms, but much of their existence is down to trying to mess up the attempts by other clubs to buy and sell.

Daniel Agger is an example.  Man City made a £20m bid for the Liverpool player, until Mancini said “Agger was never a target.”    Liverpool were annoyed about that bid, since it distracted from their desire to sell Joe Cole, Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing.

Arsenal are said by everyone to want a replacement for Alex Song – and it is quite possible that Arsenal themselves are playing games here.  Indeed I have heard it suggested that the whole Nuri Sahin saga (which I fell for, as much as anyone) was a vapour transfer to distract Liverpool from the essential re-building of their club and allow Arsenal to sneak through for the player they really want.  The next few days will tell.

In fact the transfers that are not happening are more important than those that are.  Liverpool have Carroll but seem to want to sell him at a cut price.  Problem is everyone else knows what Liverpool didn’t realise last year – he’s ok but not worth that much money.

There’s even complaints going on.  Clint Dempsey thought Liverpool had bought him, and Liverpool announced this, but then found they didn’t have the money for the deal unless they sold Carroll whom, as I just said, no one wanted.  Liverpool were just creating a smoke screen for another transfer they were trying to pull in on the cheap.

It is in short, chaos.  And it is chaos caused by 10 separate factors – which makes it all the harder to reign in.

First there is FFP, with some clubs trying to pull back the finances to ensure they are OK under the rules while Chelsea and PSG just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Second, there is the growth in the billionaire and millionaire owners, as men with money to burn look further and further down the leagues to try and find a club worth taking on and bringing up to the highest level.   Both Nottingham clubs have faced this.  County’s deal ended in chaos.  As for Forest’s, we wait and see.

Third, some owners seem utterly out of their depth.  Venkey’s at Blackburn are the most obvious, but there are others.

Fourth, players, being simple souls, tend to believe that when someone makes a promise they will keep it.   China is proving to be a different proposition from that which was anticipated.

Fifth, the scandals run on and on.  Juve won their opening game, but their manager is still banned for a year.

Sixth, simply buying all the best players around does not make a team, but that is what the owners think and want.   Think PSG and Real Mad.

Seventh, owners a often like little children.  They want success now.  Malaga is a perfect example, with an owner seemingly saying, “I didn’t spend all that money to come fourth”.

Eighth there are crooks around, and telling the good guys from the bad guys is tough.  Just watch the clubs that get to the very edge.

Ninth, as Rangers show, coming down four leagues is no guarantee of being able to win every game 6-0.

Tenth, there are some very strange things happening in the world of refereeing.  If you want to know more just read the Ref Review series as it develops day by day.  Read the piece on Mr Foy and be very afraid.

In a world like this, just having a football club next season is going to be a major achievement.

———————–

Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football

 

31 comments to Calling football chaotic gives chaos a bad name

  • AND SECOND!

    Excellent post, Tony.
    Big thanks.

  • colario

    Good post. Some points to think about. Some obvious points that the mass media wants us to ignore or are so busy grinding their subjective take are unable to see them. Keep them coming, please. Thank you. Untold Arsenal is rapidly becoming the voice of the true Arsenal fan.

  • Goona Gal

    Like it Tony, like it. Ten informative football observations.

  • Tony your utterley fixated with Billionaires and the AAA.
    Get happy, life is to short- it”s only a game all said and done !

  • rusty

    Shame about Lansbury — you never can tell who’s going to make the leap and who isn’t, I suppose. And the £1m fee will undoubtedly come with sell-on clauses, so maybe someday the Totts will be cutting us another check.

    Speaking of which — Real Madrid often sells their young players on with a “buy-back fee” (possibly instead of a sell-on clause), with the idea being that they can step in and take a player back at a pre-arranged price if his stature grows with regular playing time. I believe this happened with Granero, Arbeloa, and Callejon. Is there an advantage to sell-on clauses as opposed to buy-back fees?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Lansbury has always looked good when he played for a very defensive side as the guy who sacrifices defence for offence.
    I’m surprised Lambert didn’t go for him, he obviously rated him when he loaned him at Norwich, using him as an impact sub to great effect.
    I think Wenger just decided that he didn’t seem to offer enough to be worth keeping him on, which is a shame.

  • Shard

    With the 25 man squad rules, there will be a lot of youngsters who will have to be let go. 21-22 is hardly the age to judge whether a player will make it or not. At the same time, they aren’t likely to be good enough to replace some more established pros.

    In essence, this rule promotes more transfers and dropouts, as well as wasteful expenditure since if you make space in your squad for your up and coming homegrown players, and aren’t able to sell the players you want to, you’ll end up paying players for only appearing in some cup games. Not good for clubs, not good for players either. Of course if you are a ManCity or Chelsea you’ll just buy all the young talent and keep them on the books. regardless of whether they get to play or not.

    It is a silly rule, and it might actually end up hurting us more than other teams since we’ll be having to let a lot of youngsters go, who might otherwise have contributed to us if they could get a little game time.

  • Legweak, as a theory of behaviour and the mind your analysis leaves quite a few stones unturned.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    A bit childish I know but whenever I see a two line post that wants to get off the subject, I always imagine the poster as a small child being accused of something embarrassing and frantically denying everything.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Legweak has misunderstood and misinterpreted your astute post Tony but that’s why his nom de plume is ¨legweak¨…since he doesn’t have a leg to stand on…they are all too weak,like his blogs.

    There is an additional element that will begin to influence the Football experience in Europe and that is the impending collapse or deflation of the Euro and subsequently the Eurozone. When the Euro is abandoned (likely sooner than later) and the European economy shrinks by up to 25% in one year, then the profligates will have to pay the piper bigtime. Debts will pile up, banks and rich owners will start to withdraw financial support and reclaim their investments, Clubs will have to tighten their belts and supporters may be unable to afford to buy tickets like they were in the past….Wenger, being not only a genius manager but an economist as well has forseen all this and armoured AFC in anticipation.
    As the profligates begin to weaken, the Arsenal will strengthen and it will become a buyer’s market again so don’t be surprised to see some old names returning to the EPL with their hats in their hands…..

  • Wooby

    @Shard, I think this is where you see Wenger make good use of loans. Where and when he needs time to better judge a player in his early 20’s for the first team, he sends them out on season long loans.

    I, too, am saddened to read Lansbury is moving on. I was quite excited about him a few years back but he appears to have not developed at the rate we had hoped. Here’s hoping he finds his footing at Forest and become a good player for them instead of becoming the next Bentley …

  • Wooby

    Tony, good observations. It is quite a crazy time amongst football clubs. This is where I am thrilled to be supporting AFC – our prudence in years past has ensured we are on solid footing and can take advantage of clubs dealing with financial uncertainty (e.g. our purchase of Cazorla).

  • Shard

    Wooby

    Right about the loans. Not just for sending players out to gain experience, but also for filling gaps in the squad till some players become ready to be included in the 25. Otherwise we’ll sign players on 4-5 year deals, and then be forced to choose between them and upcoming youngsters. I think we’ll see more and more loan deals in the seasons ahead.

  • GodWoreTen

    Wooby (+ others) agree I too thought lansbury might make it for us. But all the best henri you never dissed the club that was your mentor

  • Zigzag

    Brilliant stuff, as always and can’t wait for more.

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Tony – but don’t forget the parasites (agents). These guys do not help anyone, except themselves – factor 11?

    Sorry to here about Lansbury, I always hoped he would come good.

  • Goona Gal

    ****Off topic, I am watching ‘little Barca’ Vs ‘The Arsenalista’s’ (Udinese Vs Braga) and it’s not a bad game, despite the sloppy passing. It’s a shame that both won’t go through to the CL proper but the Arsenal connection won through and I found myself slightly leaning towards the team in red & white.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sorry, off topic, but All the breaking news is that theo has rejected a final offer….Hope this is not true and that he is not joining generation let down?

  • bjtgooner

    Is there any chance Dein the Lesser has a connection with Walcott?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not sure on that, but would not be surprised if he was involved. If he is, this could be the last of his influences……for now. Gut feeling, like song, if Theo goes, it is because wenger wants him to. Like song, I just hope …if he goes…we get or have an adequate replacement. This summer marks the departure of generation letdown, who leave wanting trophies, but have fallen down in their quest to win them at the club who made them. Yes, the pgmol and other factors have not helped, but nor have some of their egos, attitudes and agents. This lot have been a serious disappointment at the end of the day, some have payed more attention to dein jr than one of the best managers going, who will now prove his status having rid himself of certain players. We have now signed older experienced players dein mk 2 cannot really get Theo is far from the finished article, if he stays, wenger can work on him, if he goes, we can do far better than he is now, I hope he his people realise that. Hleb, flamini, ade, song, theo..there could be a pattern there, lots of money earned….but…

  • bob

    bjtgooner, Mandy Dodd,
    Not sure about the Dein Factor and Theo, either. I’m pretty sure Theo’s with a different agency from Song/RVP, but DDD doesn’t have to be the agent to be on the scene as an advisor. That said, I’ve been thinking that his situation is linked to RVP. In football terms, I’m remembering how last season Theo and Song fed or fed off RVP goal production. So, did RVP’s slithering off take away a synergy that actually made Theo and Song more than they were as players (talents) without him? That is, without RVP, were they both more expendable in the club’s eyes and, more important to Theo, of lesser quality (exposed?) in his own eyes? Not that it’s actually his fault [I don’t say that at all], but, absent the gel among the new group, Theo seemed somewhat directionless. Anyway, my two cents on the Theo contract issue, with 3 days to go in the tense end game of this window.

  • Sav from Australia

    Let me start by saying that your articles are always good, but Tony, this one is brilliant as a concise summary of so many issues. Really appreciate the hard work you and the guys put into this blog.

    Yeah I read that Walcott rejected a new contract – if you can believe the news.

    Transfer deadline is a bit like Xmas, isn’t it?
    You don’t know what you will get, and if you don’t get anything you feel let down, even though you know that maybe it was unaffordable to buy presents and it is selfish to expect them out of hand – but if you get something good…you are buzzing.

  • Damien Luu

    I found the funniest part in your piece, Tony, is the part about “Chinese promises”. As their very near neighbour, I have seen and known enough to LOL :))))

  • Good post, Tony. Big thanks.

    @Mandy Dodd at 12.32am (lines 2,3,4) – I agree with you.
    Wenger no longer wanted Song, for sure, and I was very happy for Song to leave. What surprised me was the speed of the bid through to sale.
    We’ll need a VERY quick deal to be done regarding Theo!

    An obvious positive (no-one’s mentioned) is: if Theo goes… more game time for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

  • @ Sav from Australia

    I always knew what you would get, because I would tell my parents: “All I want is a “Topical Times” football annual, or when a tad older the “Charles Buchan Football Annual”. That was good enough for me, and I was buzzing each and every year.

    So what would you like for the Transfer Deadline, Sav. A brand spanking new Defensive Midfielder, or maybe a ready-made replacement for Theo?
    Not a new manager, I hope.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Well, Theo is a Liverpool fan, he’s never denied it. But I suspect this is all posturing to get the best deal possible. City might be interested but it’s hard to see him starting for them on a regular basis. His best chance of getting regular England call ups is to play alongside the nucleus of the England attack for the next couple of tournaments. Which is JW10 etc.

  • Goona Gal

    I would say at this particular point in time Theo is more likely to go, than stay. I am not going to keep harping on about Theo’s limitations, because it may seem like I don’t like the lad, when I do. Though for me I have been more than fine with his eminent departure for a year as the reality is that there are a number of other players coming through at Arsenal who can do his job on the pitch. Like I mentioned months ago, Theo is trying to cash in on his English premium rate and popularity, which is really connected to him getting the nod from AW and playing for a club like Arsenal.

    Though awkward because of the other new ins and outs of the squad, this is the right time to sell Theo. If we give him the big wages he is after, he will be very difficult to shift in future and 18 months he will have a massive fight on his hands for his starting spot in the team because of all the other talent coming through, which would make him an expensive bench warmer. I don’t even think there is a need to buy a direct replacement for Theo as mentioned months ago Cazola (bought as insurance for this departure), Alex OC & Gervinho can all do the job there. In future there is Ryo, Gnabry and though strikers Afobe & Campbell can also play there too.

    Yes Theo is improving, but the rate of improvement would be quite costly if we gave him the contract he’s asking for. He isn’t passionate about Arsenal and I am not even sure he is passionate about football to be honest so an amicable parting of ways really is’nt a bad thing. Even if Theo wants to stay and a great offer comes in for him, we should take it. He has taken far too long to mull things over, Arsenal is an amazing club and has provided him with a great opportunity. It’s a shame he does’nt see it that way and offers over £15m would be great.

    In a way I am glad to be rid of the ‘2010 nearly men’, all talented, but weren’t good enough to finish the job. Despite the lack of silverware, they wanted to be rewarded with contracts of champions and this has never sat well with me.

  • Goona Gal

    I would say at this particular point in time Theo is more likely to go, than stay. I am not going to keep harping on about Theo’s limitations, because it may seem like I don’t like the lad, when I do. Though for me I have been more than fine with his eminent departure for a year as the reality is that there are a number of other players coming through at Arsenal who can do his job on the pitch. Like I mentioned months ago, Theo is trying to cash in on his English premium rate and popularity, which is really connected to him getting the nod from AW and playing for a club like Arsenal.

    Though awkward because of the other new ins and outs of the squad, this is the right time to sell Theo. If we give him the big wages he is after, he will be very difficult to shift in future and 18 months he will have a massive fight on his hands for his starting spot in the team because of all the other talent coming through, which would make him an expensive bench warmer. I don’t even think there is a need to buy a direct replacement for Theo as mentioned months ago Cazola (bought as insurance for this departure), Alex OC & Gervinho can all do the job there. In future there is Ryo, Gnabry and though strikers Afobe & Campbell can also play there too.

    Yes Theo is improving, but the rate of improvement would be quite costly if we gave him the contract he’s asking for. He isn’t passionate about Arsenal and I am not even sure he is passionate about football to be honest so an amicable parting of ways really is’nt a bad thing. Even if Theo wants to stay and a great offer comes in for him, we should take it. He has taken far too long to mull things over, Arsenal is an amazing club and has provided him with a great opportunity. It’s a shame he does’nt see it that way and offers over £15m would be great.

    In a way I am glad to be rid of the ‘2010 nearly men’, all talented, but weren’t good enough to finish the job. Despite the lack of silverware, they wanted to be rewarded with contracts of champions and this has never sat well with me.

  • Goona Gal

    x2 again, I think there is a glich in the system!

  • bob

    A new financial chaos factor to “complexify” this transfer window is the sudden indirect infusion of potential cash into Liverpool’s spending coffers. This comes from the just-completed massive sell-off of US Baseball Boston Red Sox players to the LA Dodgers. The Red Sox owner, John Henry, is (as many here know) the zillionaire owner of Liverpool. Liverpool will be able to splash and rumors in the media about them being able to rival ManShitty for Theo’s services are not fanciful. It will also allow Liverpool to play fast and loose with FFP, and not dependent on FFP having teeth enough to be enforced.