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October 2016
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Why is it that when Arsenal goes for a player something always goes wrong?

By Tony Attwood

There is a lot of talk about what seems to be Vardy’s rejection of Arsenal.   “Vardy ’80 per cent’ certain he will snub Arsenal” says the Independent.   And to rub it in, “Arsenal transfer plans face disruption over Vardy delay” in another article in the same paper.

Typical bloody Arsenal, can’t even get a simple transfer right.

Except, actually we have done.  Granit, who plays today for Switzerland, has been signed, and by all reports, a very good signing it is.  And in January we got Elneny without any fuss, indeed without anyone in particular knowing about him.  The price was modest, it all went through smoothly, and just in case you didn’t notice he became our player of the month.  Twice, as I recall.

So two recent transfers did go through smoothly.  But still there is the feeling that if there is a cock-up waiting to happen, that cock-up will be Arsenal’s.

The trouble with this view of the world however is that the cock-up can be predicted so often that the cock-ups starting cocking up each other.  If you see what I mean.

For example, staying with the Independent (and to prove my point I will take all my examples in this little piece from that one website),  they have an article titled

Jamie Vardy to Arsenal: £20m move for Leicester City striker leaves Paul Merson ‘flabbergasted’

Merson, who made 289 appearances for the Gunners across a 12-year stay in north London, admits he was surprised by Arsène Wenger’s decision to move for Vardy, questioning his suitability for a switch to the Emirates Stadium.

The 48-year-old pundit told talkSPORT: “I’m shocked. I’m absolutely flabbergasted with it. Arsenal don’t get the ball forward quick enough for Jamie Vardy. No disrespect, but he plays at Leicester where everyone goes and has a go at them.”

Of course we might forgive Mr Merson for not remembering that Arsene Wenger has repeatedly signed players and turned them into something they were previously not.  Thierry Henry (whom Mr Merson might remember) played 141 time for Monaco and scored 28 goals.   He played 19 times for Juventus and scored 3 goals.  Then Mr Wenger transformed his style of play, and he played 369 times for Arsenal and scored 226 goals.

That’s what Arsene Wenger does – he develops and transforms players – although of course he did not transform Paul Merson, but instead allowed him to go to Middlesbrough.

So from the Mersonic point of view not getting Vardy would be a good thing, although that would not overcome the vision that we have tried to get our man and failed.

And there’s another such story doing the rounds just now in the same paper.

United ‘to rival Arsenal’ in battle for £25m Mkhitaryan

This is all part of the “hi-jack” theme so beloved of newspapers and bloggettas.  Arsenal do all the work to find and then bring to the club a player of merit, but at the last minute one of the big money clubs (Chelsea, Man C or Man U) come in and hi-jack the useless little amateur team – Arsenal.

This vision assumes two things – one is that the money teams don’t have a proper research department of their own, endlessly on the prowl for players, and instead simply wait for Arsenal to do the hard work.  And second that players will always be tempted by the three money teams and push Arsenal aside.

There is plenty of evidence to contradict the first notion – there are just as many scouts and researchers working for Chelsea etc as there are for Arsenal.  And although there is a feeling that some players might not welcome playing in front of a crowd who (as I suggested in the previous article) portrayed as being in constant revolt with the whole stadium rising up to boo Wenger and Giroud, there is, to counter this, the extraordinarily high esteem that Mr Wenger is held in by players worldwide.

Indeed it is not just the ability to find and bring through Coquelin, Bellerin and Iwobi in the last two years alone, it is his tactics.  Staying with the Independent, as I said I would, consider this headline

Arsenal vs Aston Villa: Four calls that make Arsene Wenger a tactical genius – Theo Walcott, Wojciech Szczesny and Olivier Giroud

That was from the Villa cup final in the Independent, and it does reflect what I believe is the way many people actually working in football (rather than being just pundits) see the manager.

So, many players do want to play for Mr Wenger, and of course when it comes to this coming season, the attraction of Man U and Chelsea is a little diminished by the fact of them not being in the Champions League in the coming season, and of their PR disasters.  Chelsea were humiliated in the legal case concerning their doctor which has just blown up in their face, and with their lowly position in the league this year, while Man U have been perceived badly by some for ditching their manager after he won the cup, treating him poorly within his sacking, and replacing him by a man who not only behaved so badly at Chelsea, but also took that team to the edges of relegation.

Arsenal, in these terms can look a safer bet.  So the Indy is hedging its bets by also running,

Mkhitaryan nearing Arsenal switch as Wenger continues summer plans

Now if you have a long memory you might remember Untold’s series of articles on vapour transfers – a phrase Untold introduced to the lexicon during the 2012 summer transfer window.  And looking at the way this market is shaping up I am wondering if we might be seeing some vapour transfer workings.

The notion comes from the software industry where it is a fundamental part of advertising and marketing, and I defined it in 2012 like this

It is the “rumour” (deliberately leaked) of a  suggestion that a player  might join a big club, when there is absolutely no possibility that he will join the club. 

Of course it is very hard to see what is a vapour and what not until it is all over.   Was Vardy a vapour, leading the way to disrupt all sorts of other activities and make this go through…

Arsene Wenger talks up Leicester’s N’Golo Kante, fuelling transfer rumours

The France international we are told, has a £20m release clause and so following on we get

Wenger fuels Kante transfer speculation.

But of course this is Arsenal so we not only get transfers that Arsenal mess up, we also get our players being lifted by other teams, normally Barcelona.   Thus within the headline (and I am still with the Independent web site today)

Arsenal ‘plan to offer Bellerin new contract’ to fend off Barcelona

But maybe this is just made up stuff by journalists without any of the sophistication that the vapour transfer has within it, because we have already had, from the Daily Mirror,

Arsenal starlet Hector Bellerin reiterates desire to stay at the Emirates …

And just in case you didn’t get that ESPN said much the same.

Hector Bellerin – I want to stay at Arsenal for a long time 

In fact even the Daily Star got in on the act…

Arsenal transfer news: Hector Bellerin dismisses Barcelona links …

So what’s going on?  Well, just the normal deliberate “leaks”  from clubs to mislead each other, but mostly the increasingly desperate and gullible journalists.

Just another normal summer then.

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27 comments to Why is it that when Arsenal goes for a player something always goes wrong?

  • geekaybee

    Wenger always wanted to sign Vardy but understood that Man U were going for him so he lost interest. I always get the impression that if the two Manchester’s or Chelsea want a player that we should go for then Wenger surrenders.

  • geekaybee

    I apologise, I did not realise with site I was reading. I will double check in future.

  • bushido

    like i said before’ the media journalists and bloggettas so desperate to make big team with no CL relevant and at the same time ridicule Arsenal to the highest order. in the case of Miki, maybe he will be tempt by big wage offer from Man U for example but does he really want to go to the team playing in Europa league next season. for sure Arsenal also can offer him attractive wage package and he’ll get the chance to play for his favorite team under the guidance of legendary AW. the manager that George Weah (the only African player to ever win the Ballon d’Or) gave his player of the year winning medal to and hailed the impact AW had on him as a mentor. i really hope Miki will come to Arsenal cos imo he can be the new Tomas Rosicky for Arsenal.(not on the injury side of cos)

  • jake

    merson was oh i can’t really say why i believe he was let go hic

  • Dex

    Blimey, you’re almost as bad as the wretched hacks: With your repetitive rants!

    Wenger fucked up last summer by NOT making any signings apart from Cech. Who knows what might have happened had we signed a striker and central midfielder?

    We all should be permitted to recognise both his achievements and his flaws, but just like le grove you only want a one sided perspective, nullifying any hope of interesting debate and discourse.

    By the way, banning me proves my point, but I still read the blog because I love the articles that take a wider view of football and politics, such as the brilliant FIFA stuff..

  • Ajay

    You know Wenger over the years have pulled some amazing transfers. We attracted the likes of ozil, sanchez, elneny, xhaka in the last three years. However there are several transfers that should have come our way but went elsewhere simply because they were cash rich and we were getting there. So I am inclined to believe that some of the other clubs are inclined to get arsenal targets because Wenger was always inclined to play attacking football. The prominent ones that come to mind are hazard, Mata. And since a hijack can happen again, arsenal may be using vapour transfers to mask their real targets.
    In the case of Miki, I hope he chooses to play for us simply on the kind of football we play.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    The yet to be confirmed transfer of Jamie Vardy to Arsenal by Arsenal FC which God’s willing will eventually be confirmed, has been over whipped by the media.

    I still strongly hold on to my positive thinking that Arsenal have already signed Vardy, despite the insinuation by the media that he’s yet to complete his medicals at Arsenal before he jetted off to France. And since Arsenal who doesn’t lie or decisive their fans have said that they are still confident of signing Vardy. That word, “confident” in the Arsenal’s reported comments quoted in the media, is what I am still holding on to and nothing else.

  • No Dex, you haven’t read the rules. You appear, at least according to our software, to be sending from an email address that does not exist. If you do post again, please check it is a valid email address, as we request.

    Name calling through describing the person to whom you are writing as writing “rants” though is never a way to endear yourself to anyone nor to open up a debate. There is no evidence that I have seen that further signings last summer of players who were available would have helped, and what this site tries to do is build on evidence rather than personal opinion. Please see the article on comments listed in the pages section.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Tottenham Hotspur have: Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Dele Ali and Harry Kane all 5 starting for England today against Russia. No one from Arsenal starting. After all, is only Jack Wilshere we have that could fly the Arsenal banner for us in the England games.

    I saw the Boss standing in the stands looking to his right & left before the match kick-off. Is he there to watch the match to enjoy himself or here there to monitor a player? Only God can tell.

    Still England 0-0 Russia as the 2nd half has just started. England had some good chances in the 1st half to take the lead but they did not seize those opportunities to convert the chances which fell to them. I am taking them to best Russia 2-0 @ the end of the match.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Eric Dier has just scored a stunning free kick for England after the Russian keeper had denied Wayne Rooney’s controlled low drive which could have been the opener for England.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Jack Wilshere is on and he has made a 1 2 moves that would have counted but for offside. Is Robert Sterling wasteful? Anyway he’ just been subbed.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Russia score with their only chance of the game.

  • Florian


    Raheem Sterling is nowhere near Robert Sterling. At least Robert Sterling was one of James Bond’s disguise names (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977). By all standards, Robert Sterling was kicking ass. Raheem Sterling couldn’t get one clean touch all evening.

    The ball playing that Jack Wilshere brings to the England’s team is simply incredible. None of his multi-million team mates comes close. Were it not for Kane’s lack of awareness when he got caught offside, Jack would have recorded an assist.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    All the England Untolder fans are apparently glue to their TV set watching the match leaving me to be the only one taking off my eyes from my tv set to follow this match and make comments on the match.

    And Russia have equalized in the injury time of the game to give England a hammer blow. The ref has blown for the end of the match just immediately after that. Poor defending by England has led to that Russian equaliser.

    Good night to every Untolders and have a pleasant sleeps.

  • nicky

    To return to the purpose of your post, Tony, I have always felt that unless Arsenal can keep potential signings totally under wraps, the Club will operate on an extremely sticky wicket.
    Whether funds are available or not, Arsenal does not function under the auspices of a “sugar daddy” where limit-less money, is freely ploughed-in in order to achieve a purpose.
    Arsenal FC has never subscribed to the theory that money alone can buy success and long may the Club continue this way.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Florian, I had to comeback after saying goodnight. I’ve watched most of the James Bond film. I think The Spy Who Loved Me was one of the Rodger Moore’s films and not those of Clean Connery’s, ones or were they? I can’t remember the episodes in that film. Mr Saramanga ( Christopher Lee) RIP, in the “Man With The Golden Gun” is one of my numerous favourite James Bond films.

    Florian, I am sorry for my mistake of using the wrong 1st name for Sterling.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I’ve just seen another bobo by my Android key board. I’ve typed Cean but after posting, I am seeing Clean. My key board chooses words for me which I don’t choose save if am vigilant.

  • Florian

    No worries Samuel. Roger Moore is one of the most humorous characters ever, I’m sure he won’t mind being remotely mixed up with Raheem Sterling. Although what Raheem Sterling did on the pitch would have been humorous had it not been pathetic.

  • Jammy J

    @ Geekaybee – “Wenger always wanted to sign Vardy but understood that Man U were going for him so he lost interest.” I’m just curious where you got this insider information from? Do you work directly with the Arsenal scouting network? You seem extremely informed. Perhaps you should start writing for the Metro; you’re footballing transfer information seems about on par with theirs.

  • Pat

    ‘He did not transform Paul Merson, but instead allowed him to go to Middlesbrough’.

    What a great line, Tony. I laughed and laughed.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Vardy to Utd…..for a start, reportedly, his buyout clause only applies to CL clubs. Then, the small matter of Utd next year having martial, rashford, ibrahimovic at their disposal.
    Could happen, but just cannot see it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is some sort of smokescreen going on, to respect Leicester, stop his wife getting grief during next few weeks, then Vardy suddenly decides to join us.
    If Vardy really is playing any form of silly buggers, he is taking a risk, as we all know Wenger will walk if he has to. Or maybe he really just wants to stay at LCFC as is his right.
    But we shall see., but have my suspicions he may well end the summer an Arsenal player.
    There was a time ,as we all know, when finances were not great, perhaps to the extent that has not really been reported, whereby necessecity dictated we would have to be a lot more wary of signing players than maybe the club are today, maybe a few years back, we would have waited to the end of the summer, or at least after a tournament with the risk of injury to sign him….and maybe losing such players.But recent signings suggest those days are in the past.
    Whoever Wenger is after, I am sure he stands a realistic chance. But until such signings are made, I am pretty impressed with the players we already have…..and some coming through.

  • Jambug

    Mandy Dodd

    “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is some sort of smokescreen going on, to respect Leicester, stop his wife getting grief during next few weeks, then Vardy suddenly decides to join us.”

    I was thinking something along those lines as well.

    The thing is Leicester gave him his big break. They love him and he loves them (in the footballing context of course), of that I have no doubt.

    But despite that I would be very surprised if he wasn’t majorly tempted. It is Arsenal after all, perennial also runs or not, and Leicester are Leicester Gary. But seriously that is not meant as an insult against City, as I understand when Arsenal players are similarly tempted by Madrid, Barca, Bayern, even City and United (at least up until recently) etc.

    Yes it hurts, but it’s life.

    But my guess, and it is only a guess, is that yes, he has made his mind up, and yes it is to join us.

    I cant see anyway that Wenger would of said to him, ‘okay, let us know after the Euro’s’. It’s too late. But I could be wrong of course. Wenger seems to be a very patient and understanding guy.

    I think if Vardy had said yes immediately, not only, as you say, would his wife of been getting abuse all Summer, but that would of been playing heavily on his mind whilst he needs to be focused on the Euro’s. Not only that, but the attention on him would of magnified 10 fold. Also he may of thought saying yes instantly could of been construed as disrespectful to the fans.

    Delaying his decision. Making it look like he really had to think long and hard about it.

    Basically, just a public relations exercise.

    That’s my best guess anyway.

    BUT, it could easily be any of the other theories.

    1) He really is 80/20 in favour of staying. Fine.

    -Guaranteed to start.

    -Might not be at Arsenal.

    -This could affect his chances at international level.

    -Our style might not suit him. (we can adapt, but it is not our prime way of playing)

    -He doesn’t have to move.

    -Wants to continue the fairy tale.

    I get it, and wouldn’t really blame him, or be that bothered for that matter either.

    2) Vapour transfer.

    Personally I’m not convinced about these things. I think that sometimes we make bids that are almost a done deal before there’s even a whisper of it. Other times it’s a bit more speculative. Other times it’s really left field and almost certain to fail, but a genuine approach none the less.

    Do we make interest known, even put in bids that we have NO intention of following through, under any circumstances? Well, it’s definitely a possibility but personally I don’t subscribe to it.

    So if I had a gun to my head, like you, I think that come the start of the season we will, for better or worse, see Vardy in an Arsenal shirt.

  • Andy Mack

    Dex, we ended the 14/15 season in 3rd and although we didn’t sign any outfield players that summer, the 2 teams above us did.
    So by your reckoning they should have been fighting for the top slot in the 15/16 season. How did that work out for them?

    It’s a lot more complex than a failure to sign an outfield player!

  • Andy Mack

    Sorry if this has already been mentoned but I missed it.
    I understand from Mr Birds fine Arsenal Youth web-site that Flamini has been release (according to papers submitted by the club to the PL).

  • Andy Mack

    We become an easy target for the media who are trying to make a story.
    Basically (from what I can see) the only facts available are that the club enquired about Vardys buy out clause which seems to have been confirmed by the tinkerman.
    Maybe we made an actual offer.
    Maybe we’ve discussed terms.
    Maybe we were told by Vardy (and his agent) he’d give an answer before the Euros, maybe not.
    With our clubs reluctance to make their ‘dealings’ public and their insistence that the selling team acts in a similar way, it’s a real field day for the hack to dream up new and/or inventive ways to make AFC to appear like the keystone cops….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Quite a few reports…..if they can in anyway be believed, that Vardy has been offered around a bit…..maybe by his agent rather than LCFC I would guess, if true. Liverpool and West Ham have been mentioned, tho of course they would not be eligible for the …reported…ECL club buyout clause.. So maybe , as many have said just a cynical ploy to get more money out of Leicester…..who knows.
    But still not convinced a clearly motivated and ambitious 29 year old would turn down Arsenal…..or not without a pretty good reason.
    But, cannot bring myself to be anything other than relaxed about the whole Vardy thing

  • Jambug

    Andy Mack

    “With our clubs reluctance to make their ‘dealings’ public and their insistence that the selling team acts in a similar way, it’s a real field day for the hack to dream up new and/or inventive ways to make AFC to appear like the keystone cops….”

    Spot on.

    It’s a sad reality that Arsenal/Wengers propensity to do things the right way often works against them.

    They vary rarely seem to get embroiled in tit for tat, no matter what the provocation.

    For example Liverpool’s lies about Suarez and the ‘what are they smoking down there’ jibe.

    I still haven’t read a word of rebuttal from Arsenal.

    I’ve given up counting the nasty little digs emanating from managers not fit to lick Wenger’s boots, yet he seldom, if ever retaliates, and lets not even go there regarding the odious one, and his endless stream of insults.

    It’s odd, because on the one hand I am proud of the way we deal with these things, but on the other it does get frustrating when such insults and lies are left to permeate unchallenged into the consciousness of the footballing public, as the truth.