Good day to you fellow wearer of the red and white cannon.
I haven’t blogged for two whole days, so stepping on to the Metropolitan line first thing on a Monday morning, I was hoping to be greeted with some interesting Arsenal news with which to form some sort of opinion on. Unfortunately, we are in the bleakest of Interlull’s, and as such are afforded plenty of time to be creative with our content, but not by picking topical stories of the day. There is some bumf from Arteta on the official site, with the chiselled looks of the Spaniard featured with a pic, followed by some prose by our metronomic midfielder on how he has had to adapt his game. It’s good to hear because its what we’ve all seen and what we’ve all been saying, but because it’s been the topic of conversation amongst fans already this season, it’s not exactly blogging material you can hang your hat on as a main feature for discussion.
Instead, I think I’ll turn my attention to one of our wounded internationals, Theo Walcott. I watched the England game on Friday, partly out of boredom but partly because I wanted to see how our two young attackers would get on. Unfortunately for Theodore, he didn’t bank on being levelled by a plumber (or whatever it is that keeper does for a living). As he hobbled off to hospital, it got me thinking about his contract situation, and about Arsenal’s approach to contracts in general.
We all know that Arsenal will remain steadfast in their value of a player from a wage perspective. That is what has seen the collective of mercenaries leave the club over the last four years or so. You all know about the way Arsenal deals with players like Nasri, Adebayor and van Persie when they want too much wonga (sit down Mike Ashley). I don’t want to go over the rights and wrongs of this policy as much has already been written that is much more entertaining than my ramblings. But what moved my grey matter into contemplative mode this morning was a couple of questions:
1. If Financial Fair Play doesn’t work, as I suspect it won’t, what is the next move for Arsenal?
2. Are we as fans just going to have to get used to The Arsenal Way’ of competing which leads to an inevitable high churn of players?
I suspect that the answer to question one lends itself very nicely to the answer to question two. Arsenal seem to be putting a lot of their footballing eggs into a basket that I personally think will have more holes in it than grandpa’s old socks. Unless the footballing authorities do something about the attempts to get around it, we’ll surely see someone like Chelski sell their youth team training kit to ‘Acme Industries’, a subsidiary of Abramovich’s companies, for a bajillion pounds, which will be very handy for them when they spend £46million of Falcao next season despite posting pre-tax losses.
I can’t see FFP being anything that the clubs won’t just loophole their way out of, so Arsenal will have to compete without the billionaire sugar daddy model, which unfortunately leads me to believe that this high churn of players will continue for the foreseeable future. Players that are of course committed to the club will be shown the potential of the green elsewhere and will move on. Every man has his price and that is no more evident than in football today. Could Arsenal become a grooming ground for good players to become great before moving on to teams that pay exorbitant wages? Possibly. If it does happen, we will just have to accept our position as a team that will not be able to keep players that are in it for the money.
That’s a little doom and gloom I know, but there is still hope. The first time Chelski spent big, Arsenal had the Invincibles and were able to keep them at arms length. Players were paid well, but won things at Arsenal, so were inclined to stick around. If we want to keep our best and brightest, we’ll have to succeed against the backdrop of pressure from other teams willing to snap up our talent, and I think that will continue even after we have started winning competitions.
I think Theo will be gone in the summer. I cannot see how this situation will be resolved with him putting pen to paper with the club not giving in to his demands, not playing him in the position he wants to play (although I don’t believe that he would avoid signing if he was getting everything he wanted financially), and not having any recent history of winning any silverware. However, the team that has been assembled this season looks capable of victory, so whilst I personally believe our hopes for Theo staying have faded, my holes that we can keep some of our other young stars remains a little brighter. Let’s hope that some silverware can have not just the added bonus of joy for the fans and players, but also the conviction in the current squad to stay together for the longer term.