Saturday
Jul272019

Pepe signing would further embarrass Arsenal fans

The Arsenal Supporters’ Club is a conglomerate of supporters from around the world for whom nominated representatives are entitled to attend twice-yearly meetings with Arsenal’s echelon. The association was set up by Arsenal to appease fans who feel dick-less now that Kroenke has full control of the club and is no longer obliged to communicate.

However, the impression relayed from this year’s Q&A with Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham and Edu is that the event was made somewhat uncomfortable for the board due to heckling and bating from a number of ignoramuses in attendance.

Personally, having read transcripts from the meeting, I generally liked what I heard coming from all three members of the board and it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that, while previous transfer windows have been rather an embarrassment for the fans, this year, it’s the fans that have been an embarrassment to the club.

To part-justify that point of view, today we learn Arsenal are on the verge of signing Lille winger Nicolas Pepe for £72m, which would make a mockery of the board’s supposed inaction and lack of ambition. As previously hinted, the jump the gun #wecaredoyou campaign is starting to look pretty foolish now.

There’s also much speculation on whether Arsenal are hunting a much needed centre-back – and again, I’m not going to fall into the trap of criticising the club’s inaction on this front when there’s a couple of weeks to go before the end of the transfer window.

In truth, I’ve felt for many years that there’s a dearth of quality CBs on the market, which is why prices are grossly inflated. This is proved by Leicester’s £80m valuation of Harry Maguire. If that’s what it takes to capture a good, but by no means world-class, CB, then I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal were to adopt a more developmental approach.

While it’s true that you have to pay the market price, let’s be clear, spending £72m on Pepe would have the potential to transform Arsenal’s front line – not just in terms of quality, but depth, yet I don’t see many centre backs available right now capable of transforming Arsenal’s defence for a similar price.

As the board have already indicated, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The squad requires surgery in multiple positions and that cannot be achieved in one window, so it’s possible they’ve decided to prioritise other areas of the side that need strengthening while funds remain relatively limited. With that in mind, there could be value in taking a wait-and-see approach on Holding, Saliba and, possibly, highly rated academy prospect Zech Medley.

I’m still confident the club will pull off the signing of left-back Kieran Tierney, while free transfer Gary Cahill would probably be an upgrade on the soon-to-be departing Laurent Koscielny, if only for a season.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Monday
Jul152019

Open letter to Kroenke is 10 years too late

Arsenal blogdom is up in arms #wecaredoyou. They’re fed up because the club has slid into perpetual mediocrity and are now complaining to owner Stan Kroenke. The mediocrity we see today is the same mediocrity we’ve been witnessing for over a decade, so it seems strange that supporters have finally decided enough is enough in 2019 after significant changes in personnel have been implemented in an attempt to arrest the slide.

NINE years ago, I warned this would happen following a farcical shareholder Q&A where Arsene Wenger responded to hand-picked questions. Back then I wrote:

To me, this sums up Arsenal in 2010. A club that espouses traditional values, using fake key words such as community/respect/family club/values, but in reality is very much the opposite - an untrustworthy corporate machine that is only interested in controlling and manipulating its customers and shareholding representatives.

THIS IS WHERE YOUR FOOTBALL CLUB IS HEADING

No transparency, no communication, no right of reply - shareholders are not treated as part owners of the club with a full right to voice their opinion, but minority stakeholders that ask difficult questions - pests, a nuisance, a pain in the arse!

With Octobers AGM likely to be similarly staged, it's clear that there is now no active communication between the supporters and the board/Arsene Wenger. That right has been denied because the club is going through a trophyless period, which is rendered beyond criticism. 

It's a farce, and it's dangerous. It's makes people feel disconnected from the club, suspicious about its activities and it fragments loyalty. It's also short-sighted, and potentially counter-productive. I already question whether Arsene Wenger is the man to continue to take Arsenal forward, but I now question Chief Executive Gazidis too. Are these the sort of control freaks you want running the club? Decide for yourselves.

I pointed at the downwards trajectory of the club, but whilst Kroenke is the owner and ultimately responsible for the shambles it’s been reduced to, let’s not forget who wasted the huge resources at their disposal and put us in this position.

Had Wenger and Gazidis made a success of the perfectly acceptable cash mountains they were enabled access to, I very much doubt anyone would give a toss about Kroenke’s £2m dividend, supposed lack of interest or "safe standing". He entrusted individuals to run the business and they failed him, badly. Fortunately, those individuals have now left.

At the time, most of the blogs on that little list sat on the fence and supported Wenger to the hilt while the dimwit burnt the club down. Now they’ve suddenly decided they don’t like having to live within their means despite wearing that ideology like a badge of honour while Wenger tanked the club.

I'm not defending Kroenke per say – his laissez affaire attitude stinks, but the ship has sailed has it not? Due to FFP and STCC, all clubs have begrudgingly been forced to move to a self-sustaining model – those who don’t are being dealt with. Therefore, I don’t really get what people expect from Kroenke at this point – it all seems, dare I say it, too fucking late.

A new owner could put his hand in his pocket to a small extent, but not enough to make Arsenal competitive again assuming throwing money at the problem is the solution - a dubious solution considering three of this year’s Champions League semi-finalists achieved that through a self-sustaining model.

Personally, I fail to see how anything tangible would change under a new owner at this point. The fans didn’t have a say BEFORE Kroenke took full control of the club, they were just given the illusion of having a say. Is that what it’s all about - fans wanting the illusion of a say?

They claim Kroenke’s approach to buying players looks uncoordinated and is lacking in strategy, yet a new board was only put in place one year ago and Edu was appointed technical director last week. How quick do they think change can be affected?

“The Emirates is soulless” Erm, isn’t that the fans job - you know, to make a noise? I find that sort of thing is indigenous to some extent. How do said blogs propose Kroenke stops fans leaving 10 minutes early every week to get a comfy tube seat?

As for the European Super League, I’ve no idea why that’s been bolted on when there’s no evidence it will even happen. To date, it’s been universally condemned and the Premier League and Bundesliga look set to block this motion, of which the clubs appear largely supportive – a position Arsenal CEO Venkatesham affirmed in November.

So what’s all this really about? Just frustration it seems, albeit 10 years too late. Their rage should have been turned on Kroenke when it was obvious Wenger was seriously underperforming and there was £200m sitting in the bank doing nothing while the fraud lied through his teeth playing the Premier League vagrant.

Or maybe they simply hope Kroenke will feel embarrassed and pull £50m out of the back of the sofa to buy Zaha. But that’s not going to make Arsenal competitive in the long term.

If you really want rid of Kroenke, stop going to the games and stop buying merchandise. Start tomorrow or go away. And if you’re going to protest, make it a better one than the Wenger Out protests that were largely ridiculed by the very same people that signed that letter and want Kroenke out now.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Thursday
Jul112019

Koscielny defecates on his already tainted reputation

Personally, I never liked him and never rated him. In Koscielny’s own words upon joining the club: "It took me four years to go from the bench of Ligue 2 to Arsenal, so it is a great achievement. But it is just the beginning; I haven't proved anything yet."

And he never did. In his nine seasons at the club, Koscielny only proved two things – he was a bang average centre back and nothing like captaincy material. His communication skills are akin to a French mime and he’s been a self-imploding joke in big games from day one.

He owes Arsenal everything. The club plucked him from French Ligue 1 obscurity, made him wealthy beyond his dreams and all he gave back in a decade was two crummy FA Cups against relegation-threatened Hull and Aston Villa.

Today, we learn Koscielny didn’t fancy going on Arsenal’s pre-season tour. He wants to go home to France where he can see out his lame career in obscurity at mid-table Bordeaux or Rennes. He has a year to run on his contract and has demanded the club free him of his ‘obligation’.

The fact of the matter is, Koscielny signed a contract and is obliged to see out that contract. If a club feels a player is a monetary asset, why should they let them go for free? Especially in Arsenal’s case, where – partly due to Koscielny’s embarrassing showing in the Europa League final – the hierarchy needs to maximise income from player sales.

Koscielny should respect the club’s decision and accept it; instead he’s thrown his toys out the pram and boycotted the club.

For Arsenal, this embarrassment is the last thing they need. The board are struggling to clear up the Gazidis/Wenger cataclysm and, over the past 12 months have tried hard - along with the manager - to foster an environment of unity at the club. Edu has only just been appointed technical director, and it’s important that everybody is at least seen to be pulling in the same direction. The timing of Koscielny’s decision is therefore utterly selfish and incongruous.

Last October, Koscielny bitterly complained that he was forgotten by France during his seven-month recuperation from a serious Achilles injury. Then what loyalty has he shown the club that nursed him through his injury hell? Such hypocrisy is beyond the pale.

Little wonder then the board are both furious and in no mood to compromise. They should be congratulated for throwing Koscielny under the bus rather than covering up his demands and allowing him to sneak out through the back door.

In terms of Arsenal’s rather pointed statement, rather than it being the impetuous act that some are trying to assert, it shows a refusal to be bullied and a clear signal that they won’t tolerate the sense of self-entitlement that’s been sown into numerous individuals under Wenger’s watch.

Hopefully, the club will discipline, find a buyer and then dump the basket case in due course.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Tuesday
Jul092019

Desperate Koç needs Ozil

Fenerbahce had a pretty horrendous season in 2018/19 finishing 6th in the Turkish Super Lig - 17 points behind fourth place Trabzonspor. Previously, they had not finished outside the top four since 2002-03.

The club is famous for recruiting over-the-hill foreigners such as Anelka, Roberto Carlos, Kuyt, van Hooijdonk and Van Persie, a category Mesut Ozil now neatly falls into.

Their wealthy president, Ali Yıldırım Koç, would love to pump his fortunes into the club, but is restricted by FFP rules. However, the above-mentioned players denote an ability to pay high wages for status symbol signings.

If the name Damian Comolli rings a bell, it’s because the Turkish club’s sporting director was an Arsenal scout from 1996-2003. His response to the signing of Ozil was: “The question of Mesut is beyond imagination, so I can’t waste my time on this.” Make of that what you will.

If Ozil were to leave, it would likely be a loan deal with Arsenal paying a portion of the ex-footballer’s wages. This would likely represent an £8m outlay on behalf of Fenerbahce and enable Arsenal to get rid of at least one lazy prick.

In a league where only winning matters, Ozil is just the right signing for desperate Koç who is under pressure to turn the club’s fortunes around.

In the meantime, let’s hope Ozil’s desperate for Koç.

Other rumours surround the departure of Shkodran Mustafi – also on loan to Fenerbahce. Quim face reportedly removed all links with Arsenal from his Instagram account; hopefully the result of a hissy fit after the club told him he was no longer wanted.

Lack of transfer activity at Arsenal is likely due to the club’s requirement to offload players before being able to make decisions on where to allocate funds. Relying on bids for players from other clubs who will be quite happy to string Arsenal along to get a better price means this summer’s signings are likely to go to the wire. Patience is therefore required, as opposed to blogging several times a day in fits of hysteria masquerading as click bait.

Arsenal have made one signing, however, £6m teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli from Brazilian club Ituano.  There is also strong evidence that the Gunners are on the verge of signing 18-year-old St Etienne centre back William Saliba for £26m.

The defender will be loaned back to the French club for the 2019-20 season, therefore Arsenal are only likely to make a small initial down payment.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

Monday
Jul082019

Aubameyang – sign on or be sold?

In March, Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham and Head of Football Raul Sanllehi made it clear that any Arsenal player who does not renew their contract before reaching the final two years of their deal will be sold – or attempt to be sold.

In Sanllehi’s own words: "We need to make sure that those players, when they’ve got two years left on their contract, we’re making the difficult decisions. We’re either renewing those players’ contracts, or we’re selling those players. We’re going to have to be brave with those decisions along the way.”

At present, this theoretically applies to five Arsenal players whose contracts expire in the summer of 2021: Sokratis, Mustafi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Aubameyang, although as Greek CB Sokratis has no resale value, we can rule out the need to extend his contract.

Of the remaining four, it seems likely Aubameyang is the only player Arsenal is actively interested in keeping. The striker turned 30 in June and there have been rumours of interest from two Chinese clubs. However, as the player receives a £3.75m loyalty bonus for every season completed at Arsenal, the lure of moving to China for financial reasons is rather dampened.

The problem for Arsenal is that we are now five weeks away from the start of the season, no contract extension has been reported and one might assume the club would want this situation sorted out sooner rather than later. If the board has offered a contract and Aubameyang is stalling, Arsenal only have until August 8 to sell the player - and selling him on that date would not be much use if the club wanted to use the income to invest in the squad for the coming season.

It’s also worth noting that selling Aubameyang in a timely fashion would not necessarily enable Arsenal to kit the team out with a bunch of new players. Even if he commanded an £80m fee, over a (likely) four-year deal, Arsenal would only receive £20m up front due to amortisation, which spreads the cost of the transfer over the duration of the player’s contract.

Arsenal could spend the remaining £60m four years in advance of receiving it, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s a credible way for a club to operate.

This demonstrates how the sale of Aubameyang, were it to happen, would likely not provide Arsenal with a huge sum of money from which to spend on players, and therefore not be a good reason to sell. What would be a good reason to sell is Aubameyang not extending his deal within the next few weeks, as his value will begin to significantly depreciate once the August transfer window expires.

With that in mind, I guess we’ll soon find out if Sanllehi is true to his word.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.