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Arsenal sign new defensive enforcer

Is fourth good enough?   Well it depends on what you mean by fourth.

There was a time a couple of years back when Liverpool came fourth and I remember looking at the table with interest at the time and realising that they were so far behind the top that they were closer (in number of points) to being relegated than they were to winning the league.

OK a bit of a nerdie thing to figure out, and I wouldn’t have remembered it but that it happened twice.

Compare that with Arsenal’s fourth – obviously we are not winning the EPL but the distance is not impossible, and we all remember the period just 18 months ago when we were top.  It is funny how things like that get set aside – fourth becomes an absolute concept, and anyone who says “well just how fourth is this fourth you’ve got?” is considered a loonie, who immediately loses himself readers.

But it is one of those valid little points that lurks around and makes me think, not only do I see a real flowing young team on the pitch that I enjoy watching, even the stats show we are not that far off.

There’s no doubt that how we do (and this applies to the other clubs at the top) relates to how well the others do.  It didn’t matter how good Manchester IOU were in the Unbeaten Season, we had the season of all seasons, and no one was going to beat that.

The same point can be made about the efforts of Everton “Ignore the Law”, Aston “Hold your head” Villa and the Tiny Totts.  They might have a bloody good season by their standards (and the Villa just have) but still not get into the top four because not only do they have to have a season of a lifetime, one of the top four has to slip up very badly to let them in.

Which leads to the question – will Manchester IOU, Liverpool Insolvents, or the KGB in Fulham slip up badly?   It is a question that was raised in the correspondence column recently, and one that needs a moment’s examination.

Manchester IOU could be sold tomorrow.  If the new owner took on all the debts and guaranteed them then the current owner could just walk away.  Anything he gets is a profit, since the club cost him nothing.  Same with Liverpool.

But the new guarantors of the debts that are guaranteed have to be acceptable to the people owed the money.   So that’s one question: who would be able to impress the people owed all this money in the guaranteed loans that they could pay it back?

And add to that, who wants to get into a business like this where there is never any chance of earning enough money to pay back the loan.  (As I have mentioned before, Manchester are bankrupt because they cannot pay the interest on their loans, and so roll that money over into more loans.  Liverpool are uncertain of being able to refinance their loan this summer).

No one would do this for income because there is none – they do it either for glory or to sell the club on.

The problem is that very few people could afford to and would want to buy the club – the sell on market is dead.    Only a handful of billionaires have the dosh, and they have realised that buying football clubs is not what they used to think it would be because…

a) Even with the chance to buy every Karlos Kickaball  KGB Fulham end up universally derided, having flaming public rows with their managers, having out of control players (on and off the pitch) and are currently just a handful of points above the Arsenal Children’s team who cost an icecream and cream bun each.

b) Even with the trillions that Manchester Arab have, the club ends up a laughing stock as it meanders the globe trying to buy Kaka’s auntie, has managed to buy a £3 trillion flop who doesn’t seem to want to play, and can’t even get into Europe.

c) There is the risk of utter humiliation if you get bored with it and let the club go under.  The supporters will hound you for ever.

Which is why the super rich buy horses, because as a horse owner no one shouts obsenities at you  from the stands.

I have only watched a handful of games in Arabic countries but what I did notice was that the top dogs would sit in something akin to large armchairs with body guards all around.  I think the penalty for insulting the owner is having your right hand chopped off.

So the megarich don’t want to know about European and S American football.  Their first move when they realised that the big clubs were not worth it was to try and buy a little club.  QPR was bought – and… well they are a laughing stock in their dealings with managers.  Charlton were going to be bought, and the Arabs pulled out at the last moment.  Liverpool were about to be bought and then it all goes very quiet.

Thus when I argue that one of the big clubs is going to fall it is not just because of the insane debt levels and the utter inability ever to make a profit, it is also because those who could buy the club simply don’t want the agro from the rest of the footballing world.  Buy an F1 team – its safer.

The fact that clubs continue to go into liquidation (remember playing Southampton in the cup final?) shows that the rot is moving upwards.   Although I doubt any reader here worries much about Darlington, the fact is they are not only liquidated – they can’t even find someone to buy from the liquidators, and are about to go out of business.  They are going out of business because no one wants to buy a football club even for 50p.

West Ham are about to be owned by the banks to whom they owe their owner owes millions.

That is how it is, and the bubble at the top is already bursting.   There will be shock and horror, but then, as with the collapse of Leeds and Nottingham Forest, everyone will turn to the next day’s news, until someone says, “hey – what happened to Liverpool?  I can remember when they were in the EPL.”

Arsenal are not immune, but their position is much better.   There is a multiplicity of rich owners  (not as many as I’d like, but there’s a number of them) and the shares are traded.  (Shares in the other top 3 are never traded).   The mortgage on the ground is paid with crowds of 50,000 and Champs League games once every four years.   The scouting system is so firmly grounded that it will long survive the departure of the Lord Wenger.  The sale of the flats which will show up in next year’s figures will be a bonus.  The sale of the business premises which will come in 2011 or so will be another bonus.

And as was pointed out in correspondence by Terence McGovern the other day on this site next season we will have Mr Usmanov as our new defensive midfielder.   “I may be tough,” said Mr U, “but I have not personally killed any footballer for at least two weeks.”

Be very scared Manchester IOU, Liverpool Insolvency, KGB Fulham.  There’s a man in our stand who could eat you for breakfast.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

PS: I don’t of course mean that Mr Usmanov (who is I am sure a very nice chap) is actually guitly of doing anything nasty to anyone ever.  Of course not.   Not at all.   I’d be very happy to buy him a beer at the Auld Triangle (as long as he fights his way to the bar to get the drinks.)  And I don’t mean fight literally.  Of course not.  Not at all.  No.  Really.  No.

16 comments to Arsenal sign new defensive enforcer

  • Consolsbob

    It will be interesting to see who these clubs sign this summer. Will they spend? I’m sure that the chavs need to. Straws in the wind will be the number of Pounds that they strew about. Not many, then you are on the right track Tony. A lot, then the insanity shows no sign of ending.

    I would not like to see any club go under completely but I would love to see the response from, say, mancs and their arselickers in the media should there be a fire sale at the club. Although I suppose they would claim that they were being ‘financially prudent’, which would immediately become the sign of a great club.

  • sech

    whatever everybody says, we were so bad this year we could’nt beat totterham “cheap hooker” spurs, is there anything worse than that, DAMMIT!

  • Merlion96

    Excellent read.

    ManLeeds RIP 2003.

  • Jimmy

    I’d like to point out that of the big 3 competitions Arsenal have competed for this season (I’m going to exclude the carling/worthington/coca-coal/littlewoods/milk cup as its one for the kids team) we have finished in the top 4 in all of them. while admittedly this is not the same cause for celebration as, oh I dont know, say, winning them its still a pretty impressive achievement when you consider the facts. 3 trophys, competed for by:
    FA cup apparently 762 entrants this season,
    plus the 20 competing for the premier league,
    plus 76 teams who entered this seasons champs league…
    ok… so thats 858 teams, though counting only unique teams (ie counting each team only once in all competitions) its a marginally less impressive 834… so errmm… 1/834 = 0.0048 which puts us clearly within the top 1% of all teams in europe…
    Ok, pointless numbers or just silly statitics, but it should remind us of the perspective that there is no God-given-right to trophies every season, there are a finite number every season with many clubs competing for each one, and these trophy-or-out merchants need to realise that! No club has divine right to success, it comes and goes, and there are natural cycles to it. It doesnt last for ever!
    And the big thing, as Tony rightly points out, is actually (although he doesnt put it lke this) making sure you’re still around to compete!
    Did Forest fans celebrating their second european cup in a row in 1980 think that just 27 years later theyd be battling relegation from the second tier of english football? Did Leeds fans in the champs leagues semis 2001 think that within 10 years theyd be celebrating merely getting into the playoffs to get out of the third tier?!
    Arsenal are still competing for trophies year in, year out, without crippling debt, without being stretched beyond our resources. Each year we’re up there, and although we all want to win trophies we should still congratulate a very young side on coming so darn near!
    I was gutted on tuesday, cheered up on weds (thankyou Iniesta!) and now am positively chippper at the realisation that despite a season of unbelievably bad run of injuries we’ve been competing right up to the end.
    In Arsene we trust!

  • justin

    While I don’t think we’ve gone backwards, we certainly haven’t moved forwards and I find that a little disheartening.

    You can tell from the various player reactions after the game that they feel the same way. Kolo Toure and Cesc Fabregas was particularly distraught, Nicklas Bendtner hilariously drank his sorrows away, while Emmanuel Adebayor’s call for new players to be brought in indicate his feelings. Personally I don’t think he should be the one to say it – nor his recent comments about the interest of Milan, which have been hugely inappropriate – but it doesn’t necessarily stop him from being right.

    I get the feeling that Arsene Wenger knows it too. He mentioned needing to “step away” from this game and review what had gone wrong and if he doesn’t dip into the transfer market at the end of the season I would be very surprised. I know I said that at the end of last season but the impression I get is that the manner of the defeat will force the manager to ask some serious questions about the quality of his squad.

    It is, however, an issue to be dealt with at the end of the season. Before then we have three Premier League games to get through starting with fellow Champions League losing semi-finalists Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. Given the difficult week both clubs have had it’s likely to be a pretty ordinary game with nothing more than pride at stake. There’s not really much point in providing a preview because Wenger is likely to rotate his squad and I really have no idea how we might line up.

  • Terence McGovern

    Firstly, Whilst I agree that very few people hurl abuse from the stands at racehorse owners, I have vague (vague meaning that I wasn’t very drunk…honest!)memories of chanting ” Who are ya!” at Trevor Hemmings when my 25/1 shot took his odds on over-rated nag on the line at Punchestown a few years back.
    Certainly though it would never happen in an arab country. the penalty is propbably to have your offending tongue cut out like having your offending hand cut off if you steal.
    (Not too many flashers in arab countries I’m guessing)

    No doubt we are flirting with danger in even mentioning our new defensive midfielder/enforcer as he has been known to have offending blogs taken down but we laugh in the face of danger on this site! After all his signing was to say the least unusual.

    Firstly we didn’t pay tens of millions for him. He paid over £150,000,000 to play for us so nobody could call him a mercenary.

    Apart from demanding that his squad number is 666 and his name be displayed as Ooze, he has made no special requests as a player.(The FA initially turned down his name request but after a series of fatal accidents involving mid-level FA bureaucrats, they had a sudden change of heart.
    Arsene Wenger has already stated that once selected, Ooze will never be substituted because he wouldn’t ever want him to think that there was somebody we preferred.
    The Frenchman was quoted as saying

    ” It is not often that a club is lucky enough to sign a player with such a killer instinct, not just in front of goal but also in other areas of the pitch, the stadium, the boardroom and the planet earth in general. He brings special qualities that other players do not have.It is as if other players are afraid to tackle him.”

    When asked about rumours that Ooze intimidated referees, Wenger merely quipped “why should THEY be any different”?

    Arsenal Chairman, Peter Hill-Wood was quick to dispell such rumours as defamatory saying ” That is total rubbish! Ooze is the only player that I know of who leaves a welcome package for every referee that he meets. He gives them all a DVD of his favourite film ‘Scarface’,His favourite book ‘For whom the bell tolls’ and even enters them all in a free draw which could win them a visit to a concrete pouring at one of his building sites or even a trip to see how they crush and recycle cars at one of his smelting plants. He is a true humanitarian and has even committed to having his top people visit Michel Platini in order to help him reach the best decision regarding proposed new UEFA rules. He has given grants and funding to many worthy causes including £1 million to a local taxidermist”

    Michel Platini was unavailable for comment on this matter as he has not been seen for some time.

  • Terence McGovern

    Come to think of it….

    If Usmanove REALLY wanted to ingratiate himself to our fans, he could buy up the available debts of Manchester Utd(make the current holders an offer they couldn’t refuse) at a discount and then call in the debts.
    He could presumably get a high court injunction to prevent the club from buying any new players until their payments were up to date.
    Whilst they are wringing their hands and fighting a losing battle in the courts against him, he could apply for planning permission to turn Old Trafford into a recycling centre.

    All that just to help save the environment what a true philanthropist and great human being he would be.

    It isn’t often that I would disagree with Bob but I would absolutely LOVE to see Manchester “OMG! We owe Usmanov” go under and Liverpool right beside them. For years they have bought success at our expense and with money they didn’t have and natural selection is long overdue.

    Far too much lately of saving entities that brought about their own destruction. Car companies that have supressed new technologies for decades. Banks that have fleeced us at every turn and now ant our money to help put them in a position so thay can continue fleecing.

    I want to see the Breaking News banner on SKY announce that Liverpool has gone into administration and that the receivers have been called into Old Trafford.

    I have a bottle of Latour 1970 (my birth year) laid away and on that day I will open it and drink it like it was the arterial blood of my enemies, content in the knowledge that there is balance in the universe.

  • Consolsbob

    Well Terence. As regards clubs like manu and the ‘pool going bust. That would mean the redundancy of many hundreds of scousers and mancs wouldn’t it, along with mass deppression for millions of their twatty fans and the suicide of half the media.? Now I could wish that on them because they are a bunch of over inflated egos that have indulged wildy unsustainable ‘business’ plans over a long period who have no notion of fair play and have the FA and media in their pocket. Such an occurence would make me open a bottle of champagne and run down the street looking for mancs and scousers so that I could jump up and down and shout “losers, losers” in their faces.

    But that would be wrong. Wouldn’t it?

  • Marc

    I can’t understand why some of the so called perspective owners would be interested in buying clubs. People like Jack Walker and Dave Whelan buy clubs because they have a history of supporting them, Abramovich bought a club as a toy, but as an investment? As you say no chance unless you have a way of increasing the clubs turnover and profits in order to generate extra income to give you a return. We need FIFA/UEFA to introduce rules where owners can put funds into a club for ground improvements/expansion etc. All other expenditure should be limited to clubs income.

  • Consolsbob

    Well I assume the arabs bought man city as a vehicle to promote their country. Presumably manu would be a better vehicle for such an endeavour. What’s a couple of billion to a country? Nothing to do with football of course.

  • Terence McGovern

    Actually Bob I see absolutely nothing wrong with that course of action whatsoever. It might lack a certain dicretion and it’s not too subtle but it does have a certain brutally satisfying quality to it.

    Personally I think the best way would be to hire a camera man and travel to both Liverpool and Manchester for a couple of days. You could then interview people on the streets, at the club and even knock on a few doors posing as a reporter from an Irish TV channel(explains your ability to speak english) and get them to pour their broken little hearts out on camera.

    This way you could savour their misery again and again and yet again. It would never get old. In fact it would improve over time like a fine wine.

    Rental of camera £500. Hire of cameraman £800. Travel and expences £1100.
    There are somethings that money can’t buy but for everything else there’s Mastercard (C).

  • Consolsbob

    That’s a bloody bargain Terence. I’m in for half.

  • Nhan Le

    I’m hoping for a great game on Sunday against Chelsea. The two coming games can’t come at a better time.

    The worst scenario is we’ll lose both games and vindicate the likes of Tomy Smith: Arsenal are out of depth and need to understand it’s not about building flashy new stadium and growing young teams.

    I won’t buy that.

    To compare ourselves with MU, we started from a much lower bases. My time horizon is short, so allow me to refer to the 1990’s as a start. By the early 1990’s MU have become a world force in international marketing. That’s arguably a decade ahead of others in football. I remember they were the spearhead of a media campaign trying to sell the EPL in Asia. Now, a New Yorker with 0 knowledge of football will tell you that MU is the Yankees of “soccer” and Ronaldo is the greatest player on the face of the planet. They definitely succeeded in creating that image.

    Other English teams indirectly benefit from this campaign: As a 14-year-old, I was made aware by my football-obsessed classmates of an urbane French coach who plugged players out of nowhere and defeated the mighty god-like United. At the time, Arsenal were known to other parts of the world as, well, some other team in the rest of the league. (Tony, you got yourself another Wenger convert here. I hope this adds a percent to your good night sleep).

    Now we think of David Dein’s legendary “dead money” – his contribution to Arsenal’s rise in financial prowess and global popularity – as brilliantly forward-looking. In perspective, it’s only as brilliant as realizing a new trend and building an immaculate business model that fit in that trend. The trend itself had been set by others.

    Yes I want Arsenal to be financially healthy and become yet more powerful in the world of football. I want our team to be the best and win everything possible. I want us to be the trend setter of a new era in world football.

    But that is not the reason why I love the club. It’s the football that gives me joy. It’s the player we field that are my homeboys, not the ones we could have “potentially” bought. It’s their fighting spirit and the philosophy of football they represent that are most important for me.

    For me, the next two games against Chelsea and United are as big as any semi-final of the world. We are to play against extraordinary opponents in extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances because our boys are going to fight against, of all opponents, “a part in them that tells them to give up” – Arsene’s words, I think. They know that judgments are on the line, that their manager has admitted to possibly rethink his strategy. They’ll have to convince supporters to give them another chance.

    Official words coming out of the club: they’ll stand by their guys and the project thus far. If this stance survives the summer, who we bring in are not as important for next season as how we play the last games of this season. The core of the team, the ethos of teamwork, is the foundation on which any individual player operates. It’s up to the players now that they show the mental strength of their boss’s credo and show the vigor of this team’s foundation.

  • Nhan Le

    Item awaiting moderation:
    http://www.skysports.com/opinion/story/0,25212,12064_5298234,00.html

    I didn’t read this before I post my opinion last time. You can see I agree with the thesis: “It might not be the semi-finals of the Champions League, but this game is big believe, me. And it could go a long way to deciding what goes on at either club this summer.”

  • Terence McGovern

    Seriously good post Nhan.

  • Consolsbob

    I agree absolutely. Well said, Nhan Le.