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October 2016
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Who you can buy depends an awful lot on who you have got.

By Tony Attwood

The aaa spent much of the early part of the season saying that we should have gone out and bought more players.  My answer was the same: it ain’t that easy.  You have to ask

  • Does the player want to come
  • Does his agent like the deal
  • If non-EU can we get a work permit
  • Does he or would he fit into the Arsenal system
  • Does his club want to sell him
  • Is he liable to settle in England if he is not English
  • Is he temperamentally stable?

and various other questions like that.  The fact is that if you find a player like that the chances are they won’t want to sell him or clubs with infinite wealth will mop him up for fun.

It’s a bit like looking at the  Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini who has “confirmed” Arsenal are bidding for Paulo Dybala.  But here’s a thought, maybe Palermo want to sell the player and only have one bidder, so to avoid selling him for a cut price they invent a few more possible buyers.  Think of a name.  Arsenal? That will do.

You see, what makes all these stories seem so silly is that they come from places like the Daily Express, and contain inside news, which tell us that Arsenal will bid £25m for this or that player, before the bid happens.

Now if I were a top bod within Arsenal, and I was involved in making a bid for a particular player at a particular price, and I had been pretty damn sure that only my close team at Arsenal knew about it (given that the bid had not yet been made) I’d be going apoplectic if the actual details came out.  There would be an enquiry, I’d find out who done it, and they’d be out the club.

And all that for the simple reason that you really can’t have the press knowing what you are up to in a deal before the deal actually happens.

Of course Arsenal have a lot going for them at the moment.  There is money, there is a manager of the highest repute (the aaa may hate this fact, but players do want to come and play for him), and there is the constant Champions League presence.  OK fourth is not a trophy, but it is certainly a way of attracting players to your club.

The stability of the club helps, the presence in the cup final two years running is now helping, the wonderfulness of the stadium is helpful, the brilliant training facilities is helping, the lack of pending legal action by the EC over illegal state support is helping.

And then there is the big factor: who else is already there?

At this point compare Arsenal with Liverpool or Tottenham, both of whom want to be where we are.

Rodgers has never really had the sort of support this site, and many others like us, give to the manager.  The level of transfer activity there has not helped him, and the decision to buy some of the guys he has bought suggests to those looking on that Liverpool might not be the most interesting place to go.  After all, only four go into the Champions League which means Liverpool not only have to rise, and raise their salary structure considerably, they have to work on the stadium, and watch one of their rivals fall.

Last year that fall was obligingly provided by Man U.  This year it is Liverpool themselves who have slipped back.  Perhaps not Merseyside as a place to go.

What I am trying to get at is that supporters and anti-team supporters tend to think only in terms of their team and the manager.  We are going up in the world so we’ll be at the top so the manager can buy anyone.  But in reality in the Premier League that invariably means one needs also one of the top four to slip back quite a bit while having such a strong basis of a team oneself it is possible to imagine the club back up at the top.  Without that, breaking into the top four can be difficult.

Indeed even when it happens, like Liverpool last season, and Tottenham for a couple of years under Arry, it doesn’t always last.  It takes a lot to get there, and a lot more to stay there.  And a trip to the top and another slip back can be worse than no trip up there at all.

And besides Balotelli was signed by Liverpool.  What sort of signal was that? Players don’t want to wait to see what happens.  Think of the players at Arsenal who ran away because someone else offered them more money.  That is not just something that happens to Arsenal, it is a pressure on Tottenham and Liverpool too.  The chairmen of those clubs might consider themselves to be the toughest negotiators in the league, and maybe they are, but that still doesn’t help if the club is not winning because it means if you sign for them.  Being tough (and in Liverpool’s case and outright but not very accurate storyteller while not winning a place in the champs is a two edged sword.

As the Independent said recently in a moment of unlikely insight, “The truth is the Liverpool squad is not as deep as those of their rivals for the Champions League,” and that stops top players wanting to come.  A thinner squad and a chairman who is “tough” means you can get stuck there, until you become Adebayor, so unwanted they will pay you to go away.  Which is ok for the money, but by then your career is over.

These days, the Telegraph does player by player lists and rate each player.  Chris Bascombe did Liverpool recently and it didn’t make exciting reading either for the fans or for any player thinking of going to Liverpool.

Here’s the bit for Mario Balotelli, £16m from AC Milan:  “They had a party at the San Siro when Mario vacated the premises.”

Dejan Lovren, £20m from Southampton: “The Kop hold its breath when Lovren makes a tackle. Erratic, unreliable and a lot of money.

Lazar Markovic, £20m from Benfica: “The soundtrack of Liverpool’s season could be agent Pini Zahavi laughing at the £10m he cashed in for this dud.”

Victor Moses, LOAN from Chelsea: “He came from Stamford Bridge and managed to play like he was bothered on at least two or three occasions.”

Iago Aspas, £7m from Celta Vigo  “Yet another deal that made little sense at the time and looks even more perplexing in retrospect.”

OK, I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  I’m not saying I agree with the Telegraph on that list, nor on what they recently did about Arsenal but here is what Alan Smith said in the same paper doing the same analysis.

Laurent Koscielny: Hugely underrated. Very quick and tenacious and reads the game much better now. Has cut out the misjudgments that once blighted his game.

Nacho Monreal:  After sharing the duties with Kieran Gibbs for a spell, the Spaniard has now moved ahead of his fellow left-back. A determined defender and now a more confident figure.

Francis Coquelin: The revelation of the season. Content to hold his position to protect the back four. Snuffs out danger efficiently before passing the ball simply. Has made a huge difference.

Santi Cazorla:  Operating in a slightly deeper position, this wonderful little midfielder hovers around Coquelin. Once in possession, he rarely wastes the chance to move the team forward.

Aaron Ramsey: Though not entirely happy about playing out on the right, the Welshman’s growing maturity enables him to do a good job. Always a goal threat.

Mesut Ozil Divides opinion but you cannot deny his silky skills and unselfish eye for a pass. Very clever with his elusive positioning, even if he sometimes seems to coast through games.

Alexis Sanchez:  What a debut season. 22 goals do not fully tell the tale of a born fighter who never stops running. Even better, that never-say-die attitude inspires those around.

Olivier Giroud: Enjoying a fine campaign that is changing the perception of this talented centre-forward. And that would change even more if he can shine against Terry and Cahill.

Like I said at the start, who you can buy, depends an awful lot on who you have got.  Imagine you were a player and looking to come to England.  Where would you go?


On Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Two anniversaries…

  • 24 April 1907: Jack Humble’s wife presented with an item of furniture (a tradition in England at this time) to thank Jack for his years of work as he stepped down as director.  He had played for the club, and had been Woolwich Arsenal’s first chairman.  He returned at Henry Norris’ request in 1910.
  • 24 April 1915: Arsenal 7-0 Nottingham Forest.  Arsenal’s last game in second division and the last league game under Punch McEwen. Arsenal finished 5th but were wrongly given 6th place in the league table.  It was the last game for Joseph Lievesley, and Percy Sands.  Harry King scored four goals to make it four hat tricks in the season – a record.  He got 26 goals in 37 league games – at the time a record for the club.


22 comments to Who you can buy depends an awful lot on who you have got.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Interesting article.

    Some other things:

    The way Arsenal treat players like Diaby resonates with players. They know that at any moment they could be on the receiving end of a Dan Smithlike tackle. They know it could take years to rebuild their bodies…They know that at Arsenal they would be treated as a human being and not just discarded.

    Although we, the supporters, are capable of the most childlike grudges against players, M. Wenger has never, NEVER, badmouthed a former player. He understands that every player, no matter how misguided he may be, has the right to make up his own mind about contracts and the like. I would suggest that M. Wenger tries to persuade those he wants to stay, to stay but he wouldn’t stoop to blackmail or worse (lying about contracts). Players respect this and understand that they will a fair shake at London N5.

  • goonersince72

    Tony, thanks for publishing this. Your first seven bullet points should be included in EVERY post regarding transfer windows. How the trolls and aaa can continue to ignore these factors is baffling. Maybe they are as ignorant as they appear. Any time something ridiculous regarding transfers is posted we can just cut and paste those seven points as reply.

    GoingGoingGooner @ 9:02 pm reminds us of the integrity of AW. Never publicly criticises a current or former player. Who wouldn’t want to play for a Manager who respects players like that?

  • goonersince72

    Also, in terms of what Arsenal have got, the need is small in the upcoming window. I’ve posted earlier and repeat: if AW can sign Peta Cech and add cover for Coquelin the team should definiely contend for the PL title and progress further. Other bloggers think I’m denigrating Ospina when I say this, but Cech is one of the top keepers in the world – he’s won the PL, the UCL, etc. If he’s available you have to get him. His impact on and off the pitch will be felt immediately.

  • Nonny

    The complexity of a transfer makes it impossible for any well runned club to just point a finger at a player and the player will become theirs. Even as big as Madrid, Barca and Bayern are, there are players who are not aspiring to play for them no matter what they offer.

    Before anybody begin making assertions, you need to understand that football is a business and should be treated as such. So many fans are ready to point at players they want the club to buy and if these players don’t work out, sell them at a loss and buy another until you archive your aim. What is the essence of spending money that is not sustainable. Does anyone remember a Russian club Anji Makashkala (hope I got the spelling right) some 3 years ago that spent so much to get into Europe buying Eto’o, Chris Samba and a whole lot of other players at hugh prices and hefty salaries. After 2 years, the owner realised the project was unattainable and pulled his funding. It became a waste.

    I asked some persons, if a club is your personal business and you had no personal money to invest in the club, how will you run it to make it profitable and viable.

    Until we begin to understand the complexity of the tansfer market and football tactics, I personally detest from making suggestions on who to buy or what system to play. I may admire certain players and wish we acquired them but that’s where its ends. I just want to enjoy my football and support my club.

  • Al

    Interesting points raised. What the as a fail to realise is how hard it is to stay at the top. Spurs lost one player and they never recovered even though they’re supposed to have replaced him with 7 players. Liverpool lost one player too and suffered a similar fate. It’d lost their manager and fell down to 7th the following season. Yet Arsenal had been losing their key players, usually two per seadon, every season and never faltered. And thsee key players were not being replaced with 7 new arrivals. Give the man the credit he deserves.

  • Al

    Damn auto correct. Meant what the aaa …. utd lost their manager….

  • Far East Gooner

    As my job involves bidding and contract negotiation, projects and it related information are always kept secret as any misstep would cause havoc.

    Tony clarified my doubt as I wouldn’t believe that Arsenal is so dumb to share our targeted players to media which would have cause unnecessary transfer fee inflation etc.

    I wonder why the media always try to stir things which I find ineffective .

    Players are not commodity and they need Tender , Loving and Care too. I applaud Wenger-san approach in managing Diaby . It’s about being fair ; Diaby was trying to win things for arsenal; Wenger-San reciprocated by taking care of Diaby when he was injured and offer morale support and rehabilitation . This is noble Andy this is what a big club must do.

  • para

    My wish for Sunday?
    That Arsenal embarrass Chel$.

    That would make my year even better.

  • ARSENAL 13

    my wish for Sunday….

    Olie scores a hattrick. His first. And against the Terry-Cahill partnership, which is supposed to be the best (hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha) in the league.

    And one chailesque tackle on Morinho by Coquelin. More awesome it would be…

  • Gord

    I seem to be operating in a vacuum, which doesn’t work.

    Maybe you need a reason? Maybe Arsenal needs a reason?

    I assume most fans have certain games they would watch over and over. Volume up? Do you want to listen to the commentary?

    Let’s say that Arsenal produces a video feed that is synchronous (no gaps, no slow parts, no fast parts). And the video feed comes with a raw audio track that has no commentary, it is just the audio recorded (ground level?) at the game. N o pudnits or commentary.

    And Arsenal provides a RSS feed along the lines of the N comments I have starting:

    A person can download/purchase audio/video feed and play it, Or, a person can run a program that analyses the RSS feed, and produces subtitles to run beneath the video in a line or two.

    This program more or less starts from the time-series of which player has the ball: including how they receive the ball and how they pass it on. What commentary gets down to the describing every change in possession? Wait a minute, people can only read so fast. We may need to slow the audio and video feeds, so that the subtitles can describe the game. The data in the RSS feed knows if the offside is correct or not, how close the officials are to the foul, and what not.

    Hey, if you can produce a text stream, you can run it through a text to voice converter and make an audio stream out of it. And you get to control the relative volumes of the raw stadium audio and the subtitle audio.

    I think we might start to see people who would prefer to wait hours/days for Arsenal to process the video footage (and as a side effect produce the RSS stream), so that they can watch the game in real-time or slower, with a realistic stadium audio feed and unbiased commentary (subtitle or mixed in audio).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    My wish would be for us to outclass them with class .

  • Gord

    Sorry for interrupting Para and Arsenal 13.

    I have no doubt that Arsenal is capable beating Chelsea, at home or away. Whether the PGMO decides to decide the game or not, I have no control over. I want to see Arsenal be competitive. Chelsea is probably going to park the bus, and I would like to see Arsenal win with a clean sheet. I can’t imagine all Chelsea players playing fairly, and so I hope that all Chelsea players who do try to cheat end up hurting themselves, instead of us. And with the crew Mike Riley 😈 has assembled, even if that was to happen I could see us receiving fouls, bookings or dismissals for receiving Chelsea shit. I don’t normally wish injuries on anyone, I’ve spent too much time patching players up. But what does one do when you can’t expect the officials to provide a level playing field?

  • Va Cong

    I’m the same Gord, new training methods to accidentally on purpose of arsenal players to get away from stupid tackles and injure the opposition like jumping on them when they do a two footed challenge! But you know arsenal players aren’t like that! 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well for me ,if Bayern turnover Barca ,and provide the Catalans don’t win their 2 horse league , maybe a bid for a certain Sergio Buscquets ?
    I think that he would make a great addition , provided he meets all the above criteria .

  • Jammy J

    What i find infuriating is that on websites like justarsenal, only a couple months ago they were all slating Wenger constantly saying hes past it, he doesnt do tactics, hes too stubborn ect ect (about 80% of the comments and thats not to mention slating about 30% of our team) and now we’ve won a few games apparently anyone in the WOB is a moron. Not only that, but they all take credit for Arsenals recent success for putting pressure on Wenger to change his system.

    AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!! Sorry had to get that out haha.

  • Sav from Australia

    A very nice article indeed. Far too logical for most on the internet.

    @ Jammy J

    Don’t bother getting angry at the toddlers and fools online who have the delusion to believe they affect tactics at a professional football club. Its not worth your blood pressure mate.

  • Jammy J

    Yeah i know what you mean Sav, but i/we get lumped into the same category as these fools because we all support the same great club and thats the most annoying part. Online it would seem that these fools are the majority as well which makes it all the worse.

  • Jammy J

    Argh even our ex-players seem to be part of this fickle bunch. Now Ray Parlour is saying we need to sign 2 or 3 “big, big players” to challenge for anything. So, so extremely frustrating listening to these absolute fuck-wits.

  • Jammy J

    UA really is a safe haven compared to all these other places and i just wanted to say thats its really appreciated to have such a place where its not just a bunch of idiots frothing at the mouth over their apparent contempt for Arsenal.

  • Andy Mack

    It also helps attracting a new player if he knows someone else in the squad who he knows will give him the inside track on the club, other players in the squad and management/coaching team. It’s not obligatory but really helps.

  • omgarsenal

    What amazes me is that Wenger gets it right so often: Kos, Monreal, Gabriel, Chambers, Debuchy, Ozil, Cazorla, Ospina, Bellerin, Coquelin, Giroud, etc.

    One MUST ask oneself a few questions;

    1)OMG does he actually KNOW what he’s doing and the axis of evil (aaa/media) NOT?

    2)HOW does he seem to get it right so often when he has so obviously lost it?

    3)WHAT did he have to do to make such excellent and successful transfers,promotions…black magic, sacrifice virgins (mostly aaa),diabolical contract signed in blood, whatever?

    4)When will he finally admit that the axis of evil is right and he must be wrong, despite all evidence to the contrary?

    Here are my answers:

    1) Absolutely

    2)He hasn’t lost anything but his critics have lost their ability to reason.

    3)He spent 30 years learning his trade and has mastered it to near perfection.

    4)Never…he ignores the gutter dwellers with an elegant disdain.

  • Micheal Ram

    Every Arsenal will hope for a stupid Terry-Cahill mess on Sunday like they had against PSG. But then again, we also know that these thugs (voted as the worst behaved team in EPL) will kick and smash Arsenal players and counter with Hazard. However I can see an Arsenal victory if all players play their best no matter what Chelsea has in store. COYG!