Morning all. It’s shaping up to be a drizzly Thursday today as many of us working mugs schlep our way into the city for another day of pushing paper from point A to point B.
Myself, I hop on to one end of the Met line and ride my ‘Chariot of the People’ from one side of London to what feels like the other (it isn’t, I just head right into the centre – West End) and it gives me time to collect my thoughts for the day, muse on what lies ahead, or just fall asleep (usually the latter).
The journey into work also gives me the opportunity to pick up a copy of the London Metro paper. Of course I immediately flip it 180′ and read the sport section only. I’ve long given up trying to read the Metro’s depressing front and inner pages. However, of late, even the sports pages have been pretty raw for me. Today is no different and after the first flick into the back pages I see a smiling Samir Nasri which turns my stomach a little bit, then a subsequent flick across to the next pages shows a smiling Jermaine Defoe stating that this game on Sunday means more to Arsenal than it does to Spurs.
It’s interesting to read that comment from Defoe. Mainly because I think it shows a few things. If this doesn’t mean as much to Spurs then it shows that, providing they get their Champions League place, they are happy. Put ourselves in their position and do you think we would be happy? Or do you think we would be looking up rather than down? In a way I’m pleased Defoe has that mentality. Hopefully it is that which will give us the edge on Saturday, as well as helping to stop the Spuds winning any trophy this year.
His comment also speaks volumes for how quickly the mighty can fall in a season. This time last year, although we eventually fell apart in spectacular position, we were still in the same competitions as Spurs are in, still in with a shout of the league (albeit a small one) and still held the upper hand over our rivals. Who, interestingly enough, were in a similar position to what we’re in now. I’m not saying we should be hopeful that in a years time the tables will have turned; clearly there needs to be some addressing of serious issues in the summer, but what I do know is that whilst it feels like the end of an era, like this stuttering, stumbling form/football that we’re playing feels like its going to go on forever will not. Let me caveat that by finishing – providing the issues at the club are addressed as quickly as possible.
For me there are a few issues that must be addressed for Arsenal, which include (in no particular order):
- Summer offload of a number of players. We all know the roll call but we’re looking at Almunia, Squillaci, Arshavin et al (loan players included). If that means offload at low prices to get them off the wage bill then fine. We’re relatively cash rich and the issue is the monthly outgoings on things like wages.
- Try everything to get RvP to sign a new contract. And hope he is loyal like old school footballers Matt Le Tissier, or closer to home – Tony Adams.
- New blood in. Another striker, creative ball-playing midfielder, and a left back. And early in the transfer window before the Euros.
I know I’m teaching you all to suck eggs by stating the bleeding obvious here, but to every fan it seems this simple. And I just hope that the club can address this ASAP.
Moving on to the financial side of Arsenal – something the ‘old boys network’ at the club are much happier about reading, and yesterday saw the news that Usmanov has purchased another batch of shares in Arsenal from Craig Whyte, the much maligned Glasgow Rangers Chairman. I didn’t know this, but apparently it brings to an end a 102 year association we’ve had with Rangers. I always felt a soft spot for the Glasgow club, but could never figure out why. Guess it shows that my inner Arsenal core gravitated towards them over Celtic for a reason. But now that tie is cut I’m free to switch my Scottish ‘soft spot’ allegiances to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Go Thistle! Or something…
But what does it mean for us? Not too much right now I think. The board and Kronke are blocking Usmanov from getting the shares needed to demand a place on the board and access to the accounts, and until somebody blinks in this Mexican stand-off we’re unlikely to see any movements.
I’m not the biggest fan of Usmanov. I am always wary of billionaire owners with no affinity to the club. I understand why fans might want to see this guy take over – he has enough money to hand a manager millions to build a squad of City-style superstars, but where is the future in that long-term? One day – mark my words – Abramovich and Sheik Mansour will no longer be interested in playing with their footballing toys and will walk away. When that happens, it’s ‘find a new owner’ or ‘find a new team to support’ because the clubs will vanish under their own debt. We may be in danger of losing our elite status in the upper echelons of football, but given that or no club at all for our children’s children, etc, etc, and what would you prefer?
Anyway, like I said, this is all pie in the sky stuff at the moment. Will post something a little bit more positive tomorrow. Unless the boss does a pre-match presser and tells everyone he’s calling Oleg Luzhny out of retirement to play on Sunday.