Cue pictures of Arsène as a young manager and suggestions it is a doddle

By Tony Attwood

It’s Arsenal v Monaco – “after the draw was incredibly kind to the Gunners” according to the Independent.

The games will be

  • Wednesday 25 February: Arsenal vs Monaco
  • Tuesday 17 March:Monaco vs Arsenal

Arsène Wenger made his name in Monaco, and won Ligue 1 with them in 1987-88.  But as the table below shows, although Monaco won their group, they didn’t exactly set the house on fire.  Indeed they only scored four goals in their group and got 11 points.  Arsenal got 13 points and scored 15.

  Pld W D L F A GD Pts
Monaco 6 3 2 1 4 1 3 11
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 6 3 1 2 7 4 3 10
Zenit 6 2 1 3 4 6 -2 7
Benfica 6 1 2 3 2 6 -4 5

But let’s not get too carried away.  Jérémy Toulalan, Geoffrey Kondogbia and João Moutinho in midfield and Layvin Kurzawa and Fabinho at full back should not make us think this is going to be a doddle.

However since we are here let’s consider what Monaco are up to in the league.  Last season they came second after rampaging through the transfer market, following promotion the year before that.  But this year….

  Team P W D L F A GD Pts 
1 18 12 2 4 36 16 +20 38
2 18 10 7 1 32 13 +19 37
3 18 11 3 4 35 17 +18 36
4 18 9 6 3 19 12 +7 33
5 18 9 4 5 26 22 +4 31
6 18 8 5 5 22 18 +4 29
7 18 8 4 6 20 21 -1 28
8 18 7 6 5 17 16 +1 27
9 18 7 4 7 21 19 +2 25
10 18 7 4 7 22 29 -7 25

Like Arsenal this season they are sixth but only nine points behind the league leaders.

However they have FFP issues being one of seven clubs facing a fine or an enforced squad reduction if found to have lost more than €45 million between 2011 and 2014

But Monaco are anxious “to clarify that this announcement is normal and that it had anticipated this measure,” read a statement on the official website.

“This once again justifies changing the club’s investment strategy to respond positively to the standards required by FFP.    AS Monaco will deliver additional information to support compliance with the rules set up by the European body.”

Radamel Falcao and James Rodrigue who caused the ripples have both since departed, the former joining Manchester United on loan and the latter moving to Real Madrid.

Now this is interesting, and it raises all sorts of issues for FFP.

When Monaco signed Falcao for around £50m in 2013, they would have written the loss down at £10m a year for each of the five consecutive years of the player’s contract. So, logically in August this year he was on the books £40m.

But, if Manchester Utd take up the offer to purchase Falcao next year for £50m, his value will then be £30m and Monaco will report a ‘profit on player trading’ of £20m. So now we see the point of the loan.  Had they sold him this season they would have got a £10m profit.  Next season it is a £20m profit.  Always assuming Man U want him for £50m.

An interesting way of getting rid of £20m of FFP debt while having a top player for a year.

Part of the reason for Monaco’s trouble is that their crowds are so small.  Here is the table of crowds in this season’s first division in France…

    Average Capacity
1 Olympique de Marseille 51 605 67 354
2 Paris Saint-Germain 45 728 47 929
3 LOSC Lille 35 650 49 834
4 Olympique Lyonnais 32 976 41 044
5 AS Saint-Etienne 30 249 38 458
6 FC Nantes 25 643 38 004
7 RC Lens 21 226 28 764
8 FC Metz 19 524 26 661
9 Girondins de Bordeaux 19 434 34 694
10 Stade Rennais FC 18 749 31 127
11 OGC Nice 18 096 35 624
12 SM Caen 16 242 22 177
13 EA Guingamp 15 064 18 378
14 Toulouse FC 14 543 24 092
15 Stade de Reims 13 373 21 628
16 FC Lorient 13 288 18 110
17 SC Bastia 12 375 16 078
18 Evian TG FC 11 089 16 109
19 Montpellier Hérault SC 11 045 23 979
20 AS Monaco 8 398 18 521

Yep – that is right.  While getting into the knock out stages of the Champions League the club’s average gate for league matches is just over 8,000 – under half the capacity of the ground.

At the same time Monaco has seen off the attempt by the League and other clubs to force it to move its headquarters out of the Principality.  It has done so by agreeing to make a contribution of 50 million euros to the French football league – paid over two years.  In this way its players don’t have to pay the new higher rate tax for high earners.  And as far as I can see it means they don’t have to pay tax at all.  Which means Monaco can attract players of quality even with their low crowds, by offering them tax free income.

Rather bizarrely the French league now has to pay corporation tax on its donation from Monaco.

As far as I know Monaco is still owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire, who took the club over while it was languishing in the second division.  In the summer after their promotion they spent 170 million euros on players last summer.

Elsewhere Chelsea also play in France, against PSG while Man City play the transfer banned Barcelona just as last season.   Barça won 4-1 on aggregate.

Real Madrid v Schalke also played each other last season, and it ended 9-2.  Bayern play Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine – but they have the problem that they can’t play in Donestsk, so are playing 750 miles from home.

The Ukrainian champions were impressive in the group stage and Luiz Adriano is the competition’s top goalscorer with nine goals – but further progression will be difficult, especially as Shakhtar must play home matches in Lviv, 750 miles from home.

Borussia Dortmund will play Juventus.   Juventus have won Serie A three years running but don’t do so well in Europe, which might leave a nasty minded person to suggest something is wrong with the Italian league again, but that would be pure malice and said without any evidence so we’ll have none of that here.

Elsewhere, Atlético Madrid play Bayer Leverkusen and Porto will play Basel.

So there we are.  After several years of facing rather troubling opposition, this one looks a little easier, but of course it totally depends on how many players we have available on the night.  If things go on as now, it will be the youth team we’ll be putting out.


33 Replies to “Cue pictures of Arsène as a young manager and suggestions it is a doddle”

  1. I really have no idea why a dodgy Russian tycoon would even consider buying a football club in a tax haven?

    Beats me…

  2. Great article Tony. Hopefully we will have a few players back and will be close to full strength squad wise. This could be the year!

  3. Even if we do progress to the next stage, some Pundit will find a reason to ‘BLAME’ Monsieur Wenger.

  4. That very nice man Adrian Durham from Talkshite and hero of the AAA has proclaimed Wenger must tender his resignation if we fail to beat Monaco.

  5. if we had not drawn with Anderlecht we might have won our group, and drawn Juventus. Maybe the players knew?

  6. Referee appointments:

    Saturday 20 December 2014
    15:00 Aston Villa Man Utd Lee Mason S Burt A Halliday K Friend
    15:00 Hull Swansea Mark Clattenburg S Beck A Holmes S Duncan
    12:45 Man City Crystal Palace Phil Dowd P Kirkup D Bryan N Swarbrick
    15:00 QPR West Brom Craig Pawson M McDonough M Scholes M Dean
    15:00 Southampton Everton Jonathan Moss S Bennett D Eaton G Sutton
    15:00 Spurs Burnley Mike Jones R West E Smart K Hill
    15:00 West Ham Leicester Martin Atkinson A Garratt S Child S Martin

    Sunday 21 December 2014
    16:00 Liverpool Arsenal Michael Oliver S Long L Betts C Pawson
    13:30 Newcastle Sunderland Anthony Taylor M Mullarkey D Cann K Friend

    Monday 22 December 2014
    20:00 Stoke Chelsea Neil Swarbrick S Ledger M Perry A Marriner

  7. Durham is just a ‘shit-stirrer’, I believe the technical term is.

    Of course the Italian league is nothing like it used to be. One Italian team in the last sixteen.
    3 English teams.
    3 Spanish.
    4 German, from the ‘one horse league’.

    Last season again there was only one Italian team, and four German.

    The Italian League is probably as strong as the Portugeuse, no wonder Gervinho looks like the ‘African Messi’ there.

  8. Won’t be easy but I think that most will take that draw. Some probably highly unreliable reports suggest we covet a couple of their MFs, guess we won’t be signing them now then!

  9. It amazes me how after 17 years making arsenal at least 1 of the 4 best teams in the premier league the best league in the world according to sky. Yet some people fail to see this an achievement and call for him to resign and i dont support arsenal (although they my 2nd team and hav been to see them twice) and belive he would have won at least 4 or 5 more leagues if not for dodgey refereeing and financial doping

  10. @Gord
    Yea, they are going to “make it so” that manu gets it. The propaganda starts now. I don’t think it will work this time though.
    This year i think we will progress further(and that’s before the draw), and we’ll have to meet any of the “big boys” at some time, so let’s enjoy the CL ride again.
    Imagine if Arsenal managed it. I notice a lot more care of his players by AW this season, taking no chances with injured or tired players. At the moment no one(or mostly no one) in the squad knows who will be called for a game, and this is good so, keeps them on their toes.

    We’ve got the dreaded xmas run, (does it look a little less gruelling this season?) and i hope we get through this without any more injuries.

  11. Back again.
    According to Adrian on the breakdown, we have a “dozen” first team players out. That’s a full team. And look how the rest are playing, i hope they make it really hard for the others to get back in the team by delivering some cracking performances.
    Arsenal fans want/need a good XMAS present.

  12. Moronic headline of the week:

    Richard Keys: “Cazorla’s penalty was disrespectful to a young goalkeeper”

    Perhaps it would have been more sporting for Santi to have booted it wide or over the bar?

    WTF is wrong with people these days?

  13. LOL Kenneth, naughty Santi….

    Maybe next time we get a penalty (two in a row now!!!! ) we might first ask the goalkeeper his age, if he would feel comfortable if we would score or not and if he would break out in tears we might consider to give him a break and hoof it over the bar…

    Indeed, what is wrong with people these days

  14. Off topic but Thierry Henry has officially announced his retirement from playing football. I sniff an article coming along in the not too distant future.

  15. @ Mick – AND he is joining the SKY commentary team, which means, that for a first time, we might get some fair treatment.

  16. @Tommie – Indeed.

    And Thierry is far too big a beast to toe the party line. Sky will be paying him very well – so he will have free rein.

    This is really welcome.

  17. Hah Kenneth,

    Interesting question.

    ESPN has this show, Football today, and they thought it was clever from Cazorla. Young keepers are likely to dive and scoring a Paneka is safe bet when facing them, as per their analysis.

    Thats a surprise, for a change. They didn’t hop on to this ‘disrespectful’ bandwagon Whats wrong with these people!!!!…..

  18. Gunner Joe – that made me laugh, thanks!
    strictly off topic…i have supported Arsenal since 1965 and always will. But i am so fed up with SkyPremier LeaguemediaUEFAFIFA-shite, i just look at the scores now and smile ruefully when they fluke it and win dirty.
    i watch the goals on the Internet, and then, log off.
    untold is the only site i have found, where enjoyment of thought and wit seem to be the guiding principles and it has given me continuity since moving back recently from 15 years in Queensland, to Cornwall. Keep up the good work guys, all of you clear, positive types out there. BTW in my days as a youth on the North Bank, i would cheer and celebrate but also curse and excoriate the referee, opposition players who scored against us and also, our own players who momentarily displeased me. I am afraid i would be prosecuted these days for some of the things i shouted in a quiet moment towards Alan Skirton.

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed this, along with the comments. Thanks to Walter for that link and your comments. My convictions are reinforced that Arsenal are headed in the right direction. Let’s see what happens in a few weeks when our boys start coming back.
    TH14 now a Sky pundit? What is wrong with them? What are they smoking over there in the dark recesses of the Sky studio? Dont they know he has Arsenal DNA in him, and that he will upset the apple cart? Oh no, those guys have certainly missed it! Good for us gooners though. Henry is bound to offer a different perspective to all torture we’ve been subjected to.
    Looking forward to seeing us go all the way to the CL final next May? Wont be surprise one bit. It’s okay to dare to dream. I happen to know that dreams come true. Do you?

  20. Just Skirton Ando ?, what about Fumbling Jim , Willie Young , Gus Caesar , There have been so many players that made you blurt out a few choice one liners but usually there was a degree of humour in the jibes due to expectations being lower I suppose . Only the much maligned Jon Sammels caught it in the neck with real invective , I could never understand why.

  21. Kenneth.

    It wasn’t disrespectful to the keeper. Whenever I had to face penalty shots, I told myself over and over, do not move until the ball is struck, and act (not react) in the indicated direction. Too many penalties are taken which are within easy reach of the goalkeeper. If the shot is taken hard and just inside the post, it is likely a goal. Of course, there is the chance it is wide, or that it hits the post.

    During regular play, penalties should be caught. After regular and extra time, penalties taken to decide a game should probably not be caught.

    But, Santi provided a learning opportunity to this young keeper.

  22. @Walter – good link. There is so much of this ‘we know it all’. Truly Wenger has delivered such beautiful football in such great infrastructure that it is shameful to be close to those who abuse him. I hope he knows that he is loved by the rest (99.9%)of the fans.

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