By Tony Attwood
In the article Is Arsenal a dysfunctional club as Mislintat suggests? I tried to look at what Sven Mislintat had said about Arsenal after his departure. He came to the club as an acclaimed talent spotter and recruiter, but left after 14 months full of very bitter talk about Arsenal and how, “The very structure of the club is in question with problems mounting for head coach Mikel Arteta as he bids to return them to where they believe they belong.”
He was a member of Borussia Dortmund’s recruitment team before joining Arsenal and brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. All three have been said to be leaving this summer. Does that tell us something about what was going on with him?
It certainly seems a sad coincidence that the players he brought in are the players who are likely to leave. Did he make ludicrous promises and then get found out? Are Arsenal still trying to unpick what he set up? Or is it all Arsenal’s fault as the media will always say?
One of the things that one has to note about Arsenal is that dysfunctional club or not, they have got an amazing collection of young players coming through. So amazing in fact that clubs across Europe are desperate to get their hands on the lads. Some have already left and others are about to leave.
So again whose fault it that?
No business likes to wash the dirty laundry down the laundromat so we are unlikely to get any real statement from Arsenal, and anything Mislintat says is going to be shrouded in his own propaganda. After all, he won’t want to be known as the fixer who brings in players and then edges them out again when he falls out with the club’s admin. Although that’s what it looks like at the moment.
At the heart of Arsenal’s problems is the fact that while in other countries reserve players can play for a top club’s second team in a competitive lower league, this is not the case in England, where the only options are either the Under 23 team played in front of tiny crowds, or a loan, where the manager of the loan side has absolute discretion over whether to play the player or not.
The former doesn’t meet the desire of the player to experience the full match experience, the latter quite often doesn’t meet anyone’s wishes as the gnarled and determined lower league club manager seeks to knock the fancy ways out of a talented player and tells him to get stuck in, because “you’re not at Arsenal now son, you’ve got to man up here.”
All this comes at the time when we are going to lose Folarin Balogun, who is not renewing his contract – which of course allows the crowing crowd at the Toppled Bollard (home of the journalist drinking elite) the chance to blame Arsenal.
But as one or two sources have pointed out, players of Balogun’s age can only sign two year contracts and that is what he did. Arsenal offered him an extension based on performances, but he turned it down for a chance to play for a club where he is more likely to get games.
Chelsea of course tried to get over this sort of problem by having vast numbers of young players loaned out across Europe and playing regularly for their teams, but Uefa put the lid on that one, and Chelsea ended up with a year out of European football as a result.
But it is not just an Arsenal problem. Jadon Sancho left Manchester City and went to Borussia Dortmund and he’s earning huge money and playing regularly. They are struggling with England’s unusual rules about young players. Liverpool as we know, also fell foul of the rules and were banned from signing youngsters for a year.
Balogun is unlikely to get too many games at Arsenal because of the number of forwards at the club – how would fans react if Aubameyang and Lacazette left and we have a new forward line made up only of youngsters? It might work, but more than likely it wouldn’t fire up immediately, and habitually the Arsenal crowd is very short on patience these days. And the three managers in two years problem does not make young players convinced that anything the club says will be kept to. Who knows how long this management team will last?
The one man who could make it work was Mr Wenger, who could put out League Cup sides made up of 17 year olds and beat the lower league teams without blinking. Sadly he was hounded out by the card carrying turnips.
But it would be wrong to argue that Arsenal are going to lose “another player for nothing” as I saw written the other day. There has to be an agreement between Arsenal and wherever he goes, and if there is not then Uefa’s panel steps in and arbitrates. The deal invariably involves not just a fee, but also a percentage of any sell-on fee.
Things are not perfect at Arsenal – but part of the issue might well be simply that we do have rather a large number of youngsters coming through at the moment, and with no chances of playing them in a B team as would happen in many European countries, the attraction of being in England lessens.
And that is before we start talking about whatever regulations the FA are going to want to impose as Britain leaves the European Union at the end of the year. For the first time since the 1990s, European players won’t have an automatic right to be employed here: which is exactly what the FA wants, in order to bolster the chances of England actually winning something. Sadly the clubs still have no idea what football after Brexit will look like – and that is not helping anyone.
- The racist bias in football reporting and its implication for all commentary
- FA to lose yet more money in a year of losing money
- As the curfew is lifted, the Toppled Bollard centre for creative writing, re-opens
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP