By Tony Attwood
I’ve written a few times that although RVP left, we didn’t do as badly as some predicted, and our goal tally this past season was, in the end, quite reasonable.
But of course like most Arsenal fans I felt bad as good players left for pastures new. Nasri, RVP, Cesc… and then the inevitable “selling club” jibes, as if we were some sort of Premier League Crewe Alex (although actually that’s rather unfair because I rather like Crewe and admire what they have done with their production line).
It is interesting however that although the evidence is that most (not all, but most) of our players who are lured by promises elsewhere don’t manage to do as well there as they do with us (with the extreme examples being Hleb, Flamini and Song, but with many others taking the money but not playing all the time – which is what they like). The buy-buy clubs, it seems, do just keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.
Indeed I don’t quite know what Barce thought they were getting with Song, but whatever it was, what they got they didn’t like. I even heard one comment (I don’t say it is true, but it made me smile) that if we would buy Cesc back they’d throw in Song as well, just to get him off the pay-roll.
But this summer it all seems different. Which of our top stars are leaving against our wishes? Well… none as far as I can see. Theo, The Ox, Jack… all staying put. Which means it is a moment when perhaps we ought to pause for a second and reflect that DESPITE losing some top players who we didn’t want to lose, we continued with our run in the top four and thus Euro football.
So, I think we can be a little more relaxed this summer and turn our attention on other clubs to see how they will cope with handling endless rumour and pressure to remove their prize item.
I refer primarily of course to Liverpool and Tottenham who appear to be facing the same sort of summer as we have had, although I wouldn’t be amazed to see an outflow at Everton, Newcastle, and all sorts of other clubs. Of course maybe Liverpool and Tottenham won’t give in. Maybe they don’t need the money as much as we did, but still, with Real Mad stalking Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale it will be an interesting story to follow.
The Mad president, Florentino Perez, is seeking re-election, which is always a dangerous time for clubs with decent players. “Vote for me and I’ll buy them all,” Perez says, and of course he’ll have a new manager to manage whoever he brings in.
Marca, Real Mad’s spokesperson in the media, claims that a four-year contract with Suarez has been arranged, in the style that Barca did it with Cesc. Brendan Rodgers, perhaps not fully versed in life at this level, said “every player has their price”. So that will be £50 million which Liverpool also got for Torres. Helps pay off the debts I suppose.
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Suarez blames the media for his woes, which is a trifle dumb, given that everyone knows that the English media is about. He’s suspended for six more games, so Real Mad could be really mad and buy Edinson Cavani at the same time.
Andre Villas-Boas meanwhile is reported (so probably didn’t) to be asking the board to give Bale a new contract. £10m a year is being mentioned. Marca has said that there will be some negotiations yet.
In fact we may pause at this point to reflect just how clever the Marca operation is. Tapping up is illegal of course, but increasingly illegal in name only. The Barce DNA Campaign was tapping up by another name, and Marce will endlessly report that Bale is on his way, but because they are not officially part of the club, nothing can be done about it.
And if Real Mad decide that they don’t want Suarez and Bale, they will do enough unsettling for either or both to go to Manchester or Chelsea. D. Levy at Tottenham has made a lot of not selling best players to Premier League clubs as Arsenal did with Manchester U and RVP, but in the end it is all about the need for a new stadium and money to finance it.
And having mentioned New White Hart Lane, there is still nothing new on the club’s official site on the topic since the article written on 18 September 2012 in which they revealed with full scale razzamatz that they the “CLUB APPOINTS MCLAREN CONSTRUCTION TO DELIVER NEW SUPERMARKET WITH COMMERCIAL/EDUCATIONAL SPACE ABOVE”. (Their capital letters not mine).
The problem for everyone other than Real Mad is that buying is what they do. They buy players, and then when they are no good any more (or turn out to be one hit wonders) they dump them. They pay big wages, and offer a warm climate and mega-star treatement. And after the semi-final humiliation in the Champs League this year (not to mention 10 years plus without winning the thing) their supporters will demand big buys.
The one thing that might save Tottenham and Liverpool from losing their best players is not so much the lure of the money but rather that in a two horse race Real Mad come second rather more than first (only three in the last ten years in fact). Even Athletico are starting to catch up!
Which is a bit sad given the amount of state aid that Real Mad get (or should I say, will be proven to have got, once the EU manages to get the investigation into the land sale fully up and running).
But if he doesn’t go this summer, and if he doesn’t go to Madrid, where and when? He only needs one poor season, or one nasty injury sustained from an attack by a Shawcross type player, for his value to collapse. Madrid lose interest as quickly as they find it, and both Bale and Tottenham know that the number of times Madrid come calling is limited.
Barcelona kept the pressure up for several years on Cesc because they hit upon the DNA story, and found that all the media ran with it. Real Mad can’t run anything like that (unless Family Bale once took a holiday in Spain), so if they don’t get their man this year then they will move on. And that means Tottenham are likely to get a lot less than the figures being quoted this year.
Just one final thought; whenever I write a piece which brings Tottenham into the frame loads of Tottenham supporters write in saying, “why are you so obsessed with Tottenham? why don’t you focus on Arsenal’s problems…?” We usually publish a handful of these, but let me just explain. This site focuses on the wider world of football from an Arsenal perspective – and given the problems Arsenal have had with situations similar to that which Tottenham are facing this year, it is a subject that we cover among the 15 or so articles we publish each week. I hope that’s clear.
3rd June Anniversary File
- 3 June 1939 Jimmy Logie was signed from Lochore Welfare.
- 3 June 1939: Bobby Gould transferred to Wolverhampton
- 3 June 1988 Steve Bould arrived at Highbury from Stoke City
The most detailed study of Premier League Refs ever:The referees 2013.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches