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Why £1 is always an insult

By Tony Attwood

On 27 January 2002 a coin was thrown onto the pitch at Highbury from the crowd during the FA Cup match with Liverpool.  It landed near Jamie Carragher.   I don’t know if the perpetrator of the offence was caught, but I hope so and I hope he/she was banished from Arsenal games forever.

Carragher then picked up the coin, and threw it back into the crowd where upon it hit a woman in the crowd.  There was much made of the fact that he was interviewed by police and faced possible legal action, a long term ban and punishment by his club.  The woman received treatment from medical staff and was interviewed by the police.

The ref sent Carragher off, and he got a three match ban, nothing more.

So while the person who threw the coin (if caught) would get a lifetime ban, Carragher who performed a much more dangerous act, was let off with a three match ban.  And I say “much more dangerous” because he was certain to hit a fan, and almost certain to hit a fan in the face, because of the packed nature of the ground.  Throwing a coin on the pitch is of course awful, but the chances of hitting someone are considerably less.

Thus one law for players, one for fans was once again re-established, and the incident is one that many of us remain annoyed about.

Fast forwards to last summer and the Arsenal bid of £40,000,0001 for Luis Suárez.  The Liverpool line these days is that they looked at the bid and laughed.  It is portrayed by Liverpool as a sign of their class and strength in turning the bid down, and of Arsenal’s ineptitude at thinking that Arsenal could be so ill-informed as to believe that the £1 addition to the bid might make any difference.

Insults by one club owner to the world about another club are not commonplace in football – owners tend to keep their mouths shut.  But John W Henry, the owner of Liverpool, is made of different stuff.  Insults, it seems, are his game.  He sent out a public message saying, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”

But the notion that Arsenal, and Pere Guardiola, the agent of Suarez, might actually have made a balls up of the whole Suarez episode (a view that is now perpetrated by the press on a regular basis) is only one possible explanation of what was going on in the summer.

A second explanation is that Arsenal were starting to do to other clubs what clubs had been doing to them for years – making life difficult in the transfer market.  We’ve talked here before about Vapour Transfers, stealing players at the last second, and everything else that happens now that the transfer dealings are all pushed into a very short spell each summer.

In short, in this theory, Arsenal were disrupting Liverpool, and messing with a player who himself is clearly not always quite there, and who specifically at that time was talking about leaving.

But a third explanation is that Arsenal were reminding Liverpool of the coin throwing incident.   When there was talk immediately after the game about Carragher receiving a long ban for his actions, rather than a short ban, Arsenal stepped in (most noticeably through Mr Wenger) and proclaimed that Carragher should not receive a further punishment.  For once I didn’t agree with Mr W. but then I reasoned, he can’t get it right every time.

While it is possible to argue that Arsenal didn’t want to buy Suarez but were showing Real Madrid that they were going to do a big deal in the summer and they they should make their minds up about Ozil quickly, it is just possible that Suarez was seen as possible contender for Arsenal.

But with Liverpool’s owner not recognising the positive relationships that there had been between the clubs in the past and not even being courteous to Arsenal in rejecting the overtures for Suarez, Arsenal decided to remind Liverpool of what they had done for Liverpool and Carragher in speaking up for the coin thrower.

If that’s the case it was a very cleverly organised message.

As it was matters deteriorated, and Suarez accursed the management of Liverpool of breaking a promise.  He was ordered to train away from the first team squad, so if Arsenal were after disruption, they got it.

Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, who after the defeat at the weekend was courteous about Arsenal’s performance, said of the bid that, “It was never going to succeed but of course you do have to chance your arm. At the time we certainly saw the bid as derogatory. The two clubs have historically had class, it has been the hallmark of both clubs, but whether it was £40m and one pound or £40m and one pence our fight was always to keep him here because he is a top player.”

The notion that it might have been a bid for £40,000,000.01 is a bit disingenuous, and it was that sentence that made me think there was an attempt to do a bit of re-writing o history.  And with some success.  The Guardian ran a piece at the weekend about Carragher being hit by the coin in the Cup match, but made no mention about him throwing the coin at the crowd and being sent off until the end when they said, “Liverpool are a stronger club and team for, like Carragher 11 years ago, throwing the pound back in Arsenal’s direction.”  Really!

Arsène Wenger, speaking of the summer bid had a word of warning for Liverpool: “It was one of the transfers that did not work and, in every club, you have two or three but there is no need afterwards to speak about it.”

Personally I am still very glad we didn’t get Suarez.  Yes he is clearly a brilliant striker, but equally he is clearly not completely ok in himself.  And if we had him we’d not have developed this sensational rotational football approach in the midfield, because everything would be aimed at Suarez.  Likewise, with Suarez the chance for Ramsey to move on and become our top scorer would not have happened.

I prefer it how it is, to how it might have been.

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24 comments to Why £1 is always an insult

  • dan

    Great Article, Tony.

    However, I feel LFC were holding out for £40 mil + 1 and a mud flap, but, thats just me!

  • Andrew

    So easy to write this article after a win. Would have had more respect if you had written this before a win. Knee jerking, whether it be over praising after a game or slandering after a defeat, is still the same.

  • Gooner S

    If as you say the £1.00 over the £40m mark is a reminder to Liverpool then hats off to the chap, loaded with irony, whose idea it was.

    I don’t think Arsenal lost any sleep or were too concerned about the reaction of Liverpool to this bid and why should they? As they bidder they can bid what they wish. As the seller, Liverpool can reject or accept again according to their circumstance and wishes. Liverpool’s reaction was the interesting one; they made the bid public and they created the scene. All designed to put Suarez under pressure to stay or drive the price up if Suarez really did throw all his toys out of the pram.

    Arsene Wengers comment last week on this matter was very interesting..”it was not the most subtle thing we have done”. A critique of somebody at Arsenal or just a statement of fact because the bid was not meant to be subtle?

  • ARSENAL 13

    I think this 40 mills and 1 pound thing was a consciously played out act by ARSENAL. They knew Liverpool wont let go at that price, and may be they had anticipated it to become public.

    And Ramsey is into double figures…..I predicted Ramsey and Wilshere to score 20+ goals this season for ARSENAL. On the right track. Hope Wilshere returns fully fit and have a superb end to the season…..

  • I don’t think this was anything other than Arsenal trying to trigger what they believed to be a buy out clause. The reference to the Carragher incident is a bit far fetched.

    That said, the only team that showed a complete lack of class was Liverpool and particularly their manager and owner. It was them that started the war of words and they quite clearly forced Suarez to stay on a technicality of a contract. Suarez believed he would be allowed to go and I believe that at the time of signing that contract that is what he thought also.

    The fact that Liverpool have used contract law to keep a player that does not want to play for them is something that will bite them in the future – what happens if the drop out of top 4 contention and finish 5th or 6th – and Suarez faces a career out of the CL???

    Liverpool are not a top club anymore by virtue of the fact they cannot offer top players the highest platform in European football. The fact that they can’t accept it and prefer to entrap their players through poorly communicated contract processes is a choice they make, but it shows them to be utterly classless. To be honest it is just another episode in a series that has shown Liverpool to be the scum of world football. No need to drag up the other sordid episodes here – we all saw them.

    Beating them convincingly gave us the last word on the subject and showed Suarez what he is missing. Brendan Rodgers will have to deal with that and he had no choice but to stick his tail between his legs and admit that Arsenal were the better team.

    Finally, of all the fans out there, Liverpool’s are the worst. They make any excuse to justify their teams and management actions. The decision by their players to play on with an Arsenal player down injured was no surprise. Just more classless behaviour (of course in their minds it was Sagna’s fault for being angry about it).

    Let’s hope they fall off the pace now – no club is more deserving of failure than Liverpool, the poster boys of racism, cheating and deceit.

  • nicky

    Can’t understand all this furore about Arsenal’s offer for Suarez. Whatever the amount it was merely an offer to trade, nothing more. In the world of modern football it’s all big business now with all the muckiness that implies.

  • alex

    @jayramfootball
    You nail it.

  • Tom

    I think it’s the second explanation Tony. Wenger has been messing with other clubs pretending to be interested in their players just to teach them a lesson.
    He faked interest in Higuain to either drive up his price for Napoli or take attention off Ozil just to swoop in last minute and claim him.
    Faked interest in Suarez to disrupt Liverpool as clearly he knew they would be our rival to the title this season.
    And faked interest in Ba as he again wanted to fuck with Mourinho because clearly Arsenal didn’t need another striker and he wanted to get even for Ashley Cole.
    And lastly we mustn’t forget, Wenger also is just messing with Bendtner who was almost out the door to a new club but kept put last minute to teach him a lesson for saying he would never want to play for Arsenal ever again.
    Wenger also wanted to sell Giroud (but his valuation of 20 M and one pound wasn’t met) so Arsenal could rotate their midfielders all over the pitch.
    Whether you would want Suarez to ever play for Arsenal or not is your personal opinion and you’re within your right to voice it but the fact remains Suarez is a complete player( if you can get past his antics) and he can play any attacking position on the pitch . He could’ve slotted seamlesly into Arsenal system and Wenger knew it and that’s why he tried to get him.
    Like you said, nobody gets it right all the time.

  • elkieno

    All academic now Suarez didn’t come so if he a real pro then he will just kick on with it avid do the best he can.
    I think it’s a tough decision to get another striker cos who do u get? Another Giroud? A Suarez type? I likd Aguero but who doesn’t want him in their team?
    Don’t want to disrupt the side but we do need another forward to help HFB right? I don’t know what we need or who we need thank god it is up to the great man…
    We got Dortmund then UTD and then a week off!!! To rest my sore legs and arms from fist pumps and karate kicks of course!
    COYG!

  • Junkle1

    Classless action from arsenal.

  • Andy, maybe you should read our earlier articles on the issue of Carragher and the Suarez bid. If your comment had said, “oh come on why are you dealing with this subject yet again” it would have had a point – which I could have answered. But this… I don’t know where to start.

  • elkieno

    Jayram there are far worse clubs out there than Liverpool. I don’t like them in a football rival way just like all other clubs out there, not like your hatred. But each to their own, I probably have to say Glasgow Rangers and not cos of Tony articles. But as soon as you meet fans that are friendly how can you then hate them?
    It’s just football in the end.

  • Mick

    @Tom
    You said
    “Faked interest in Suarez to disrupt Liverpool as clearly he knew they would be our rival to the title this season.”
    and then in the same post
    “Suarez is a complete player etc etc………Wenger knew it and that’s why he tried to get him.”
    A bit of a contradiction isn’t it, did he want him or didn’t he?
    Furthermore how do know Wenger wanted to sell Giroud, and even for how much? Sources please because it’s the first I have heard of it.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    As someone who had wished that we succeeded in landing Suarez, my take then and now is unchanged. We were interested in the player; were led to believe that a bid in excess of 40million would force serious negotiations to commence and we were looking to close the deal at as close to the 40million clause as possible.

    But alas, Liverpool pulled a fast one in the contract they drew up and signed with Suarez. Brendan, knowing how devastating to the Liverpool agenda Suarez loss would be, got the backing of his club to fight the threatened departure tooth and nail. And, most crucially, Suarez didn’t have the stomach for another public spat in England.

    In the aftermath, I very much doubt it that Suarez will renew with Liverpool whether or not they get UCL. Both parties are just being professional and civil to each other as the contract winds down.

    What I don’t get in all this is why Arsenal fail to sign him from Ajax in the first place. As at when it was obvious that he would leave, Wenger knew of him and we were very seriously linked with him.

  • Mick

    @Shakabula Gooner
    Maybe the money wasn’t available to Wenger when he was sold by Ajax.

  • Tom

    @Mick
    I was just being sarcastic my friend and I thought I laid it on pretty thick but in case some missed it , allow me to clarify.

    Unlike Tony who’s articles I enjoy immensely , I don’t believe in Wenger’s nefarious motives in his transfer dealings. While it’s true that Arsenal had been linked with dozens of players in the past and most of them were just rumors designed to sell papers or generate hits, some others were well documented and acknowledged by Wenger himself to be true.

    Higuain , Suarez and Demba Ba were all attempts to strengthen our front line and not to create unrest and turmoil at other clubs. Neither one came to fruition but that’s life and we move on.

    Tony seems to think that we don’t need another striker and he might have a point . Barca have done it without an out-and -out striker and when they bought Ibrahimovic , it upset their balance .

    Whether one thinks Arsenal need another striker or not is a matter of opinion but the fact is Wenger tried to get one but it didn’t work out.

    Suarez bid was a legitimate attempt to buy the player and Wenger thought he activated the release clause, end of story.
    Suarez would fit in Arsenal system effortlessly , that I wasn’t sarcastic about.
    Sorry for any confusion Mick.
    Take care.

  • Mick

    @Tom
    Apologies Tom, I am a bit slow today, been up all night.

  • TommieGun

    I totally agree with Jayram. It seems a bit too much to believe that this had anything to do with things that happened more than a decade ago, and it is probably down to bad legal advice given to Suarez, and as a consequence, to Arsenal. For that matter, if he did have a real get out clause, a 40 mil. + 1 penny would have sufficed. As it was, he didn’t and the whole affair turned up to be silly.

    In the end I am not happy we did not sign him as I believe in Wenger’s ability to tame and get the best out of, well lets put it frankly, absolute shit heads (anyone say Anelka or Adebayor?). I am convinced that after a few months Suarez’s behavior would have improved.

  • colario

    Do we need a player’s skill plus his problems?
    It seems we did put in a bid that clearly we knew would be rejected.

    The fact that there was no follow up bid suggests it wasn’t too serious.

    However my suggestion is flawed because if there were more than one bid we would only know of the successful bid or the rejection of the highest.

    For all we know there could have been an agreement with both clubs to make this bid public to give the media something to chew on. The two clubs then going about doing their transfer business without the media following them.

    However 40 + 1 for the reason Tony has given sounds a good idea. Will we ever know the truth from either club? I doubt it.

    I have since heard the interview Tony referred to given by Brenden Rogers after the game on Saturday and I too was impressed. I think Brenden Rogers should have our respect.

    I for one will be watching out for further interviews given by him

  • jambug

    Colario.

    I did like Rogers until that stupid documentry. Just came over as a bit of a prat I thought. All that envelope crap!! But I must admit he went up in my estimations big time after Saturday. He could easily of jumped on the Quick free kick incident. Despite the fact it would of broken the rules to of allowed it, he still would of got the full backing of the media, had he wished to go down that route, but all credit, he didn’t, and I thought he gave a very fair assessment of the game.

    Good on him.

    Even Moureens been relatively tame.

    Mabe now that that shit stirrer fergies out of the way the managerial snipping might ease up a bit. Lets hope so.

  • Pat

    We offered £40m + £1 for Suarez.

    We got Ozil for £42m.

    Seen in that light, how can our offer for Suarez be regarded as derisory, as the Liverpool owner appears to make out?

  • Mandy Dodd

    On the subject of attacking players, anyone else glad we did not sign jovetic? Think citeh paid something like 24 to 28 million for him, he may yet come good, but not really seen him yet, and look who he competes with for a starting place. Think giroud is a lot better than many signed by others for far more, or many linked with us, convinced wenger will stick with him as the main striker with others in a support cast as they regain fitness

  • Stuart

    I’m still waiting to be convinced about Jovetic although I don’t think we were really in the hunt for him. Vertonghen also is another one who has not lived up to the perceived expectations created for him when we “should have signed him”. It’s easy to see now why Giroud is an Arsenal player.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Verthongen is becoming a serial cheat