By Tony Attwood
I’ve made the point a few times that the media is not very good at asking “why?” questions when it comes to football debate. One might also say that they are not very good at asking “what happens next?”
In the immediate aftermath of Mr Wenger’s announcement about his resignation rumours about transfers continued unabated, before being switched to rumours about who will be the new manager. Since then the two have oscillated as the topic of the day in between the “all you need to know” stories about each game, and the “what we learned” stories after each game.
But few are considering the order of things to come.
Quite clearly we can’t do any transfer market deals until we have the new manager signed and sorted. Now it is possible that on the day after Mr Wenger says his farewells the new man will be announced. That would be good because it would give the summer for him to work with the transfer team to try and bring in the players he wants. Indeed it is possible that the deal for the new manager is genuinely already in place, and that new player recruitment has already started, but no one is saying anything until Mr Wenger has left.
However there’s a problem with that approach because no big name player is going to sign for Arsenal until he knows who the new manager is going to be, because with top players the manager and his reputation is part of their consideration of how they will be treated.
So there is every reason to get the new man named within a few days of Mr Wenger leaving – if that is possible.
Then there will be the work on doing the transfer deals which are never as simple as the news media like to make out. And this year that is going to be harder than ever because of the world cup and a whole series of decisions already taken, which for the moment the media is ignoring. But when we look at the timetable we start to see something rather weird… The end of playing days is….
Last Arsenal League game: 13 May
Uefa Cup Final: 16 May
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Mr G Southgate, the manager of England, has magnanimously announced that those players who are not involved in subsequent games (like the FA Cup Final or a European final) will be allowed one week’s holiday before joining the England team, meaning that he will probably get everyone together around 22 May.
Other countries will probably do the same, and will also probably endevour to ban chats with agents and the like during the world cup.
Traditionally England go out of the competition quite early, but it is more likely that most of the players Arsenal want will not be English. Some will have the bonus of not being registered with a country that is in the world cup, so they will be easy to deal with, but for the rest there will have to be a delay.
All in all what this means is that if Arsenal do not have the new manager ready to roll and take over immediately after Arsenal’s season ends his transfer dealings will be restricted to non-world cup players for a while.
Of course different countries leave the world cup at different times – the full competition runs from 14 June to 15 July. The group stages are over by the end of June so quite a few players will then be coming home. But then…
Arsenal’s first pre-season fixture, under two weeks after the end of the world cup: 28 July
But this summer the Premier League has voted to fix its own transfer window dates, with clubs not allowed to buy in any new players after 9 August. They can, under these new self-imposed rules, continued to flog off unwanted players until 31 August, but they can’t buy in anyone new.
The new season starts on August 11.
So let’s pull this together
May 13: Last Arsenal League game for Mr Wenger.
May 16: Uefa Cup final.
May 22: England players get together. Other countries in the competition will probably observe a similar call up date.
June 14: World Cup starts.
June 28: Group stage of world cup ends.
June 30: Players for countries knocked out in group stages return home.
July 15: World Cup Final.
July 28: Pre-season fixtures start for Arsenal, but without any players who were in the World Cup, since all are guaranteed one month’s rest at the end of their season before they start pre-season training, and even those with countries knocked out at the first opportunity will not be back yet with the club.
July 30: Players involved in World Cup but knocked out after first group stages return to club for pre-season training.
August 9: Purchasing of players for Premier League clubs ends.
August 11: New season begins but without any World Cup players unless they were with countries knocked out in the first group stages and are rushed back after just two weeks pre-season training.
August 15: Players involved in World Cup final return to clubs for pre-season training!
August 31: Selling of players stops.
Of course players who are not with countries in the world cup will not be tangled up in this mess, but there are 32 countries involved each with 23 players which makes over 700 players tangled up in the WC. I rather fancy Italian players will be at a premium this summer.
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Today’s anniversaries follow shortly.
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