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Why we don’t sign every player some think we need

By Tony Attwood

Of course, whether we need more players or not is a matter for debate.  I look at Giroud’s 40 goals for Arsenal and think that signing up a new player to replace him would be silly, given that it takes players a year or so to bed in – especially if they come from abroad.

Others disagree – and we’ve debated that before.  So let’s try and think of some other reasons why we don’t necessarily buy everyone cited in the press.

1.  Good players want to play not be squad players

One of the first things a player’s agent will ask during the preliminary enquiries is, “are you seeing him as a regular first team player?”   And if it is clear that the player is being seen as a squad player he won’t come.

Now that has an implication for players as they move along their contract.  If you say to X and his agent, “yes you are to be a regular first team player,” and then you want to move him to being a squad player, or worse as just a back up to another new player, he will want to leave.

It might be argued that this ok because he’s not as good as the next man – but let it happen too much and you lose your squad players.  But squad players are important with four competitions to play in, and the inevitable injuries.

Thus a club that develops a reputation among agents for bringing in players with promises about first team selection that are then broken, finds recruitment hard.  Players look for club integrity.  Agents don’t want their clients on their backs complaining all day long.

2.  The youth system is beneficial

Young players don’t always work out, but we need a youth system in order to keep bringing young players through.  That’s a truism… but worth saying because without a youth system we would be at the eternal mercy of the market place in buying in new players.  And when you are at the mercy of the marketplace, the market will screw you.

Just look at the players we have developed from scratch, or brought in, in their teens.  From Brady to Bellerin.   Buying and buying means the squad is packed and even brilliant youngsters don’t make it in because they are not quite ready.

3.  It is easy to make mistakes, then the money is gone

A year or two back I was asking people to name me some of the flop transfers of other big clubs, and most found it hard.  Yes some supporters could tell me all the flops that Tottenham have bought, but found it harder to do the same with Chelsea Man C and Man U.  They quickly get forgotten.

A lot of fans tend to remember our club’s errors and then think Arsenal’s mistakes are unique.  Indeed we see a top player go to another club, and ask why Arsenal didn’t buy him.  And some of course make it.  But many others then fade away and never become top players.  So they drop out of the news and we forget about them.

Chelsea and Man C, until the advent of FFP, were able to keep doing this – buying as a gamble and not worrying, but I think that will slow down now.  Some clubs are continuing to spend “creatively” as if FFP doesn’t exist, but not too many, and like Man C before them, I think they will get a surprise.

4.  Clubs don’t always want to sell 

Most clubs want to hang on to their players – Southampton is one of the few exceptions in recent years, it seems, and even they seem to have woken up.  It is utterly obvious, but you do need a club that is willing to sell as well as one willing to buy.  Of course the player can edge it towards selling, by making it clear he won’t sign a new contract, but early on, the club has to take a view.

I was told that when Ozil was reported to have been taken off at half time in the Champs League game there were immediately clubs sniffing around in the view that Wenger had fallen out with Ozil.  In fact Ozil was injured, but that didn’t stop clubs snooping.  Arsenal said no of course, but it just shows the speed of imagination.

5.  Development over time is important.

Clubs can buy success with short term actions, but then suffer the consequences.  So the purchases and arrangement of the team is done not just for this week, not in response to one defeat (or in Arsenal’s case a couple of Wembley wins, a league win and a Champs League away draw).

A perfect example of no long term planning is Man U’s last Ferguson season.  Ferguson was revealed to have lied to RVP when he bought him, promising he would not resign.  There was no long term consideration of the squad because Ferguson was off, and in a way didn’t mind if he successor failed – all the more credibility to him if that happened.  Because of the lie to RVP there could be no early announcement of retirement, and so no proper search for a replacement manager.  The squad was not refreshed.  All for the vanity of one man.

Clubs like Arsenal do plan – they look to do as well as possible not just this season but next too.  So they don’t buy a player in January, just for a short term fix.  For not only is it wasteful of resources, it also alienates other players.  And players who might come in the future.

Why are Man U having difficulties recruiting?  Because they have lost some of their credibility.

6.  The cost is not just the transfer fee but also the salary – if the player is no good we just have to keep paying

Liverpool have been lucky with the vampire.  Although he has had spells out of the team for his own problematic behaviour he delivered big time last season.  And then Barcelona was there to buy him.  But that was only because Barcelona put in an appeal to Fifa to have their transfer ban suspended.  That was a ploy – for the appeal was based on the same moral stance as Man C’s appeal against their FFP infringements – “look at all the good work we do”.  It doesn’t win in court.

Fifa rightly threw out the appeal, but not in time to stop the signing of the vampire.   Had Barca not been there he would have been unsellable.  Had Barce not been faced with a year long transfer ban they would never have paid that much.  Had Qatar not starting funding the club, the bank would never have cleared the cheque.

7.  FFP is reducing clubs desire to keep changing players around 

The reasons is simple: the fear of being stuck with an over priced luxury that no one wants when they need to balance the FFP books

We are still seeing the implications of FFP, but it is clear that it is slowing down much of the market, as clubs are less willing to take risks and so get a player that they don’t want on their books, unable to move him on.  We see the big money transfers, but not the slowing down of the smaller but still important transfers.

8.  Some players do flop – and just because Man C or Chelsea buy a player does not mean he’s going to work out

Not every transfer is a success but the AAA have been very successful, with their allies in the print media, in putting around the story that only Arsenal buy duds.  Follow the fortunes of other big clubs and you will see mistakes.  I’d say at a greater level than errors Arsenal has made.

9.  Wenger is too mean

This is an AAA favourite jibe.  But in the end there is no evidence of this at all.  It is just a throw away statement.  If we had this list of ten reasons for a failure to buy a transfer that we were supposed to see through, generally half a dozen of the above have more chance of being true than this, on simple logic alone.  It is just a libel along with the accusations that Arsenal’s buying organisation is no good.  It is hard to argue either of these in relation to Alexis or Ozil and in the face of the greater likelihood of all the other reasons for non-buying.

10. 99.999% of the transfer chatter is made up.

I’ve written a lot about phantom transfers and vapour transfers – both of which are related to the clubs involved, although are not real transfers.  But most of the stories that appear in the blogs and papers like the Express, Star, Metro and Standard are pure inventions coming from the befuddled minds of fevered journalists.

But they still leave some saying at the end of the transfer window – “why didn’t we see that through?” when there was no transfer ever possible.  It’s just fairy stories.

.

Next up: Bulldog Drummond on Everton.

 

The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

18 comments to Why we don’t sign every player some think we need

  • Mad Eye

    An eleventh reason is the Premier and Champions League squad rules. It is not for nothing that Wenger keeps saying that, in order to buy he has to find better quality than in the existing squad.

    We have been ‘linked’ with various players in the press in the last day or so – Reid , Manolas, Carvalho, Khedira, Cavani and several more, most of it likely to be rubbish – but the reality is that adding more than one player to our current squad is going to mean selling or loaning a player out to ensure we don’t have ‘squad’ players who can’t actually play.

  • At last, someone has the common sense to state the obvious !.
    However, there are so many “Pratts” who think we could sign-up 10 new players every season and can`t understand why we don`t.
    Wenger will say, for example that we are not looking at a central striker and straight away all the “dimbo-blogs” will start to name a striker we “should” be signing.
    This of course starts to cause discontent among the “illeratti”, who can just about manage to count the fingers on one hand. If they have to count to 20, often they have trouble undoing their shoelaces
    Now a “Spurs” fan having such a problem I can understand, however with the advent of the internet an appalling number of Arsenal, so called fans, have the same problem. The name Piers Morgan seem to come to mind, can`t think why
    I should have learnt, just stick to Untold Arsenal.
    I may not agree with all you say, but at least it`s logical and well written
    Thanks for maintaining my sanity ( I think)

  • Sgora

    Good one in a see of garbage articles. Thanks

  • You display the real reasons why my club of choice is Arsenal. The principles guiding the running of this unique club appeals to something inside . Yes, you have so consistently, eloquently,echoed the root of my love for Arsenal. Someone said, “success by inch is a cinch, success by the yard is hard”. I believe we are at the beginning of an era of sustainable success in the club. Other clubs should watch and learn. May your tribe increase.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great points. Wish I had your faith in FFP, but you are right, it does seem to be having some effect. You are of course correct about other clubs and duds, as mentioned, the Spuds have a post bale team of them, perhaps eriksen excepted. The Utd list is endless, recent players like nani, Anderson, smalling, jones, young, Valencia, and who can forget the bebe kleberson bellion demba x 2 , and Veron for starters…..who except the media and aaa that is. Lucky that lot at Utd got so much help from above, starkly illustrated on fergies departure.
    Then City……the aaa howls of derision over not signing jovetic……hasn’t done much up there really.
    But Chelsea are exempt, according to the media and AAA, they have the greatest player this league has ever seen, forget Thierry, Dennis, Gianfranco, paddy, they have Matic!
    Must take a closer look , this player is lost on me!
    As for the aaa/ media, I am very glad they don’t run this club, with the players …..and managers they have suggested for us over the years. We would have Scott Parker and Lee cattermole running our MF with Dann and Samba in defence, Wayne bridge at lb, Micah Richards RB, Schwarzer in goal, Carlton cole leading the attack, all managed by Owen Coyle. Frightening.

    Off topic, but anyone know why Poldi has not travelled today?

  • Matt montgomery

    Yeah buying top players has done Chelsea, City ,Bayern and Real Madrid a lot of harm in the last 9 years . And how can you say stoping our academy players coming through apart from Jack all the other plays have been bought. The fact is if we bought 1 top play every year in the last 10 years and not 3 our 4 players not good enough for arsenal we would have been in a better position

  • And the end result is going ten years trophyless

  • Mick

    @wilson
    Sorry but your comment makes no sense.

  • para

    Strange feeling we may see some more players leave Arsenal, but I think this depends on what deals ore offered/accepted by both clubs and players in the next week.

    Looking forward to game today. I put my first ever bet on to win 1-3.

    Hope we do not lose Giroud, he is one facet of our play now and not just THE striker, hope he is happy with this. We have Alexis, Sanogo, Cambell and of course Walcott who can ALL play as striker too. We can play lone striker, or two strikers, or even three if needed. This thrills me as we were not this variable in the last 5 seasons.

  • jayramfootball

    I think point 10 is the most relevant. At this time of year the complete hacks that masquerade as journalists are so lazy they just make everything up. If they say that Arsenal (or other clubs) are buying every player possible then one could be correct and come true. Then the ‘as reported exclusively in the ‘.

    The whole transfer window has become an entertainment business in itself, like wrestling. Everyone knows it’s made up but still the mental titillation is consumed with relish. The actual game of football is becoming more like wrestling too – fixed matches galore, made for TV fixtures, ridiculous OTT punditry. Ultimately its about TV audiences and money, much less about sport these days.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Mandy- I asked some Köln fans on the street today and that were also interested and nobody knows.Das Bild reckons Wolfsburg are interested, I was kind of hoping they were happy enough with our cast off.
    Certainly if he came back to Kölle I wouldn’t be surprised the man is literally a Prinz(hence the nickname)to them,it has to be seen to be believed.
    Many of the Cologne fans think that Wenger doesnt know how to play Poldi(and being an Untolder I tend to fight Wengers corner),and they think thats at the root of it,if he goes anywhere its because he’s sick of being a sub either coming on or off, look at his reaction in the Cup Final to being called off.But as a player he can be a bit hot and cold, certainly against Bradford he looked like he would rather be in the Altstadt drinking Kölsch.
    Plus one doesnt know what been said to him by Löw(or higher up),he was a kind of spare part in actually playing time in the WM, and you can gauge how tough the German FA is on their players after the pasting Per got after the Algerian game.Funny that the virus happen so quickly…anyway thats their business, but perhaps hes been told more playing time or expect to not play at National level, thats speculation but not so left field.
    I hope he doesnt go, much of the spirit of the team at the moment is down to him in my opinion.
    COYG! Aha(for a bit longer) and Amen!

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Soldiers can demand to leave the barracks or be asked to go. New soldiers could be recruited into the barracks if needed. The Barclays Premier League is a global football outfit. People pay a lot of money globally to access it on pay TV and on the Internet, like I am doing, due of our addictions to the BPL-Cocoa Cola. I for one, became addicted to Arsenal brewed-Coke. I don’t know if I can be cured of this addiction which I have been suffering from, since 1970 when I first sipped-in the Coke. Now Terrry White, you calling us the Arsenal global fans appalling and so called? Is that how you deem us. To me, you might just be another Sami Nasri. Apart of the replacement of TV5, I think the boss could strengthen our main striker position buy getting another top quality striker to complement our stricking position and thus, relive Giroud and others goal scoring players of overworked burden that often lead to picking up injuries as the team becomes desperate to score. I had dearly wanted the boss to sign Bolotelli because of his huge talent, skills and being black couple with his low selling price. Besides, I am a big fan of Bolotelli, I hide it. I would have loved to see him stars for Arsenal. But alas! Liverpool snapped him up. Now problem. Let the boss sign any top class quality that can efficiently do the Arsenal job. For us the addicted fans of Arsenal-Coke, ours are satisfactions and that’s what we want.

  • Genorm

    Very interesting info, Kenneth. I would be very sad if he left. He offers much for Arsenal in the striking department. The contrast between his ‘happy face’ against the rotten spuds and his ‘being subbed face’ many times, is stark. He cannot go without a replacement, I feel. Young Sanogo needs a year out on loan, after all Jack and Szcz did. Overall I would like to keep his superior finishing here this season.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Soldiers can demand to leave the barracks or be asked to go. New soldiers could be recruited into the barracks if needed. The Barclays Premier League is a global football outfit. People pay a lot of money globally to access it on pay TV and on the Internet, like I am doing, due of our addictions to the BPL-Cocoa Cola. I for one, became addicted to Arsenal brewed-Coke. I don’t know if I can be cured of this addiction which I have been suffering from, since 1970 when I first sipped-in the Coke. Now Terrry White, you calling us the Arsenal global fans appalling and so called? Is that how you deem us. To me, you might just be another Sami Nasri. Apart of the replacement of TV5, I think the boss could strengthen our main striker’s position by getting another top quality striker to complement our stricking position and thus, relive Giroud and other goal scoring players of overworked burden that often lead to picking up injuries as the team becomes desperate to score. I had dearly wanted the boss to sign Bolotelli because of his huge talent, skills and being black couple with his low selling price. Besides, I am a big fan of Bolotelli, I won’t hide it. I would have loved to see him stars for Arsenal. But alas! Liverpool snapped him up. No problem. Let the boss sign any top class quality that can efficiently do the Arsenal job. For us the addicted fans of Arsenal-Coke, ours are satisfactions and that’s what we want.

  • Samuel
    I am not saying internet users are appalling, per se, I am saying that many of them are appalling because they read the stupid blogs and believe them, then they complain because Wenger/Arsenal do not do as these blogs suggest.
    On many, many occasions Wenger has said about a so called super star that he was supposed to be buying that at no time did he have the slightest interest in buying him.
    Now, if you want to put yourself in that category that is your choice, but the mere fact that you are reading this blog (Untold) makes it highly unlikely that you are appalling

  • Quincy

    Chelsea: Victor Moses £10m; Demba Ba £7.5m; Marko Marin £7m; Torres £50m; Zhirkov £18m; Shevchenko £40m…

    Man City: Jack Rodwell £13m; Scott Sinclair £7m; Stefan Savic £11m; Adebayor £26m (hahahahaha); Robinho £38m; Jo (yes, that Jo) £21m…

  • omgarsenal

    Wilson and Matt Montgomery, here are a few realities for you:

    1)We haven’t gone trophyless in 10 years….we have won 2 trophies in 8 months!

    2)Which among these transfers were NOT good enough for Arsenal?

    RAMSEY
    WALCOTT
    SZCZESNY
    SAGNA
    KOSCIELNY
    MERTESACKER
    OZIL
    PODOLSKI
    CAZORLA
    FLAMINI
    ARTETA
    GIROUD
    MIYACHI
    ZELALEM
    GNABRY
    SANCHEZ
    OSPINA
    ROSICKY
    CHAMBERS
    SANOGO
    OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN

    Frankly you two don’t make one….do your thinking with your other head next time!

  • Nelson Wong

    People get used to computer games where they can do A and get B in response.

    Transfers are easy to come that way as long as you bring the money and fulfill what is needed.

    Things don’t work that way in the real world.