Arsenal needs loyalty and leadership more than ever

(part 1)

The departures of Clichy, Nasri and Cesc this summer have shocked us all. Just when ‘Project Youth’ started to deliver on its promises, some of the most valuable assets are sold for hard cash to a major domestic competitor, and a European competitor. It is so much harder to build a club’s strategy around youth development than it is to buy fully ripened and proven top quality players every year. It is also absolutely paramount not to sell your top players when they start to hit their peak, if your strategy is based around growing talents from within. Yet, Arsenal did just that: not because the club wanted it, but simply because it had no other choice as a result of bad contract management, and a clear lack of loyalty to our club by those particular players (Cesc included).

Looking back towards the end of last season, we can now see that a significant number of our players had made their mind up about leaving Arsenal during that crucial – and oh so painful – period. I cannot prove it, but my gut instinct tells me that after that feeble surrender against the Mancs in the FA-cup last year – which for me was the defining game of our 2010-2011 season – a number of players started to plan their exit strategies, and the morale amongst the entire squad was heavily influenced by it. We should have finished at least third last season, but too many players showed no loyalty to Arsenal: they did not seem to care anymore, and it cost us dearly. They clearly let Arsene and the fans down, and it should come as no surprise to a number of players who left us this summer that they will not be welcomed back, if and when they return to the Emirates.

This brings me to the two topics I have always been interested in, both in football and in my professional life: leadership and loyalty. To be successful in football, you need more than just leadership and loyalty, but for me these two will become paramount for Arsenal in the next few years. In this post, I will focus on loyalty and I will cover leadership in another post, in the near future.

Loyalty

Every football team needs loyal players. Loyalty, in my opinion, consists of both a real desire/passion to give their all for our club, and a willingness to spend most – if not all – of their playing career at Arsenal. The key thing for Arsenal is to find the right mix between ‘Stayers’; those who have a passionate commitment to give their all for the club and over a long period, and ‘Contract Footballers (for a lack of a better word)’: those who have a more calculative commitment. Some players are pure professionals and can be loyal and dedicated to any team they play for. They can be very useful to a team as well. They will give their all during the time they are at a particular club, but will do so again for any next club they move to (Overmars, Gallas, Robben, etc). Understandably, not everyone likes to stay at one and the same club either.

Both ‘Stayers’ and ‘Contractors’ need to be fully committed to the team when they play for us, but it is really important to have as many quality Stayers in our spine as possible. The current spine is starting to look awesome: Szczesny – Vermaelen/Koscielny – Song – Wilshere – RvP. We really have 6 players in our spine of high quality, around which we can build the best team in the England and Europe for the next 5-10 years. On top of that we have Sagna and Walcott, and a number of promising young players and new recruits, and surely a couple of quality players will be added before the end of the TW.

For me there are three key questions regarding loyalty to our club:

Question 1: How many of our current players are to be regarded as loyal, as Stayers – especially in our spine?

I believe that we are now left with a set of players who are mostly loyal to the club. That does not mean that they will never leave us if they were to be offered a lot more money somewhere else, but in principle they love playing for us and would like to be successful with us. I believe it would take quite a bit for any of them to ask for a transfer request. This bodes well for the future of Arsenal football club.

Question 2: What do we need to do to recruit more quality Stayers for the future and to entice them, as well as our current ones, to our club?

I strongly believe that Arsenal needs to focus its recruitment of key players more on nations were players are used to relatively harsh/wet winters, and the British ‘way of life’. Germany, Holland, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries and to a certain extent France, are good recruitment grounds. Countries like Spain, Portugal and (southern) Italy are best to be avoided. Reyes and Cesc come to mind, who both wanted to return home, as a result of a form of homesickness.

I also believe we need to reward loyalty more by offering good players who reach the age of 30+, better and longer contracts than we currently do. We let the likes of Pires, Vieira, Gilberto, etc go as soon as the club believed they were past their best and so we could save money, but this also gave a signal to other, younger players that the club does not really care about players that much (so why should they be loyal to our club?).

Question 3: What do we need to do to protect us from clubs like Barcalona and Citeh to come and cream off our players and the end of every season?

Better and more pro-active contract management. We need to get all our key players on long term contracts, and be prepared to pay the market rate in pay packages to our top players. This will be crucial

to avoid a repeat of the Nasri situation, and would give a clear sign to our competitors – as well as our own current players – that we are no longer prepared to let our best players leave to them.

Most importantly, Wenger and the BoD need to (re)convince the players (and supporters) that we are to remain a major force in football – that Arsenal is going onwards and upwards from here on, so that everyone is passionate to stay at the club and give their all.

Loyalty is a complex issue, and I do not pretend to have all the answers to the above questions. However, I hope this post will start a good discussion on how we can establish more loyal and committed players at our club, who will stay with us and help us to win major prizes again.

TotalArsenal

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76 Responses to Arsenal needs loyalty and leadership more than ever

  1. WiganGooner says:

    Sorry Rasp!!

    I set it to scheduled earlier this morning so that if we both were a bit late it would still get posted. I didn’t see you post about it.
    :( Not very good at this admin stuff it seems.

    WG

  2. Rasp says:

    No worries WG, I may as well put my post up as a comment, although we could have a double post day I suppose.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey guys, feel free to take it off now. Today is probably not the right day..and there is always Friday!

  4. WiganGooner says:

    Could do Rasp, which ever way you feel is best.

    It’s going to be another newsfeed watching day for us all I think. I’m excited!! I think there will be some great comments today.

    WG

  5. WiganGooner says:

    Great article TA, thought provoking and very real.

    WG

  6. Roland says:

    It’s a really complex issue and while i don’t have anything insightful to say, i look forward to reading the ensuing conversation. Well done TA!

    (I don’t want to distract, but i feel like there won’t be a midfielder coming in unfortunately.
    Would they ever bring RVP back towards the Cesc position, where he can ‘captain’ a bit more and show his amazing skill, and then let walcott take a central ‘finishing’ role, (or park or chamakh). )

    Imagine a wildcard 5 more pre season games and a few months of just training to play around and see if any of those work. Arsene’s job must just be the most stressful thing ever, with every game so crucial.

    Back to loyalty!

  7. Judith Le'Strange says:

    Loyalty is a two way street, firstly the fans have to believe in the team & Wenger to get us through this sticky patch & to come out stronger & leadership on the pitch in RvP to give orders, but I also think that Vermaelan needs to be a leader at the back to also give orders & guide the line, but we need communication in the dressing room & a bonding of the players. Perhaps we should go back to playing Queen’s “We are the Champions” at the start.

  8. kelsey says:

    Some loaded questions there TA.

    I would like to add that the fans want someone in the team that they really adore and is arsenal through and through.if you were buying a top for yourself or kid who would chose ?
    There is so much uncertainty at the club at the moment that there is no guarantee that any one player would remain loyal, but that is the crazy football world we live in.
    i have always thought the wage structure is mad . players should get a basic depending on their experience and quality and then have an incentive of bonuses depending how the season pans out, but those days are over.
    I think in the long run if this continues we may see more and more world wide coverage of football on TV but many fans will lose interest and also feel that they can’t identify with the club they have always followed and in our case especially the man on a fixed income will just not be able to afford to go, and of course fans can be fickle and if we have a poor season,attendences will drop off as well.

  9. WiganGooner says:

    Lets face it, loyalty doesn’t exist anymore really. It does only to a point and the break point is money.

    I am in the process of my last day at my current employer before I join my new one tomorrow, am I moving for love? No I got offered more money and better prospects.

    Money is always the deal-breaker and as we’ve seen with Na$ri, the likes of Citeh can blow us out of the water because they can afford to pay whatever the player asks for.

    No negotiation, just a handshake and a healthier bank balance.

    Most players are cynical badge-kissers who see their career as a way to maintain their way of life for them and their kids long after they have hung up their boots. Their career is merely an interruption in the rest of their lives that they will spend relaxing – perhaps doing the odd media job just to keep busy.

    Do we still have players like that at Arsenal? The answer is probably yes.

    But, the million quid question, in their place, would you honestly do any different? I’m a loyal person and stick with people through thick and thin yet here I am leaving for money….so am I just as cynical?

    WG

  10. Goonerism says:

    How can you list the players you do as loyal with so much conviction? Personally I lost faith in the idea of loyalty from players when Ashley Cole went to Chelsea, here was a guy who was supposedly Arsenal through & through, had been brought up through our youth team, given a chance to play in one of the best title winnin sides ever and even claimed to have been in tears watching Arsenal lose a big game from the stands when he was a boy. What did he do? At the first hint of trouble goes to Chelsea.
    I cannot blame Cesc for leaving he went home to his boyhood club that is the best tema in the world. Anyway onwards and upwards, let’s see how this Mertesacker gets on….

  11. sleepinggiant says:

    Utter naieveity. Pay them what they are worth and they will stay loyal. If the evil destructive, asset-stripping self sufficiency, disease is pursued, Arsenal fans will be turning on Jack Wileshire in the next two years as, Arsenal born and bred that he is, he will want to go. Can anybody really be stupid enough in this day and age to think any player is going to stay at a club JUST because he has some notion of ‘loyalty’. Utter delusional rubbish. The equation, sadly, is very very simple

    Pay good money = get good players in = qualify for the champions league = players stay happy = fans can content themselves that players are ‘loyal’

    It is, quite simply, the only way to succeed. It is, of course possible to fail to be successful even if you pay good money (after all, there are 6 clubs with ambition, and only 4 CL places, so somebody will always loose out), but there is no other way to challenge for the top.

    And that is a fact.

  12. Rasp says:

    Excellent thought provoking post TA, I agree totally about the contract management side of things. We must pull out all the stops to get Ramsey, Jack and RvP to sign extensions and also realise that if they stall and let it go into the last year, we have to sell and may as well sll early to avoid the situation we find ourselves in now.

  13. WiganGooner says:

    @SleepingGiant

    The issue that you highlight is one that causes us a lot of problems though. You give people big contracts and then when you decide to move them on you struggle, i.e. Bendy and Almungo.

    But do you take the risk and give them a cheap contract and risk losing them to a bigger offer from Citeh ala Na$ri?

    WG

  14. Goonerism says:

    @sleepinggiant

    I understand your point but are you really going to tell me that 90k a week is not good money? Jesus chris 50k a week is good money. City and Chelsea pay wages that do not equate to their turnover, they represent a false economy. You see the the worldwide economic crisis that we are in now? It’s a result of spending money that people don’t have, it’s about bad credit, it’s about recklessness. City and Chelsea might be ok if their owners cover their debt when they move on but I would not want our club run in the same way as those two. Even Manchester United are saddled with debt now, surely at one point this will catch up with all these clubs. Wenger & the club have made mistakes yes but overall the way the club is run is spot on. Stop reacting to media provocation.

  15. Morning TA, :-)

    Intriguing subject and a really well thought out and written Post.

    Loyalty is not the same thing as ambition. Most if not all humans are driven by natural selection to be ambitious. The one’s with the greatest ambition generally get to the ‘top’, not necessarily because they are the best.

    Ambition in its basic form is simply survival.

    Loyalty is something that is hard to define or even to agree upon as to what you can or cannot be loyal to.

    Loyalty to a club, as a professional player? Not sure.
    Loyalty to your family or a close friend? Definitely!

    It strikes me that we sometimes use that term to ‘love’ someone for showing it, or berate/hate them for not showing it.

    I have noticed that the top, top players (as Arsene would say) are the least loyal, because they can easily sell their talents to the highest bidder. The one’s with the least skill are generally much more prepared to make a public show of ‘loyalty’, because they would have more difficulty moving on to a new club on advantageous terms.

    No, for me, the professional player is just that a “gun for hire”, and the term to use for this, as for all the rest of us in a work environment is ‘ambition’, for money, for trophies, and for the financial security and accolades that go with those things.

    It’s just a philosophical nightmare to try and quantify the terminology we all use, and therefore we all mean different things when we use those words.

  16. ben nigeria says:

    wel l thing wenger is right but thinging about lt no one wants to be on the loosing side when they have the opportunity to make a change.l pray god be with us.upward we go the GOONER

  17. WiganGooner says:

    @RA

    Great comment, like it a lot.

    WG

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks for some excellent responses, showing how complex – and yet so important – the issue of loyalty is. There are many examples showing that money is not the only, or even most important driver, to loyalty for a club (Bergkamp, Scholes, Gerard all could have left to earn more money somewhere else).

    I need to be away for a while, back in afternoon.

  19. Jnr says:

    I think you have just summed up the truth behinde Arsenal. In my opinion the game at OT showed that the players playing were loyal to Arsenal and cared because they fought.

    I haven’t seen that display in a Long time. Let Nasir go Let Cesc go so what. I for one am happy then we can see committed players play and let see what happens.

  20. Rasp says:

    Morning TA, I’ve sent you an email

  21. Red Arse says:

    Goonerism, well said.

    People are losing their jobs, benefits to the disabled are being cut, others are losing their houses/homes to go into care, and meanwhile there are those footie fans who talk about a player costing £6m and on a £5m per year contract as being ‘cheap’ as if it is Monopoly money.

    There is no perspective being shown by many fans, or by the clubs or by politicians of all parties and it is only the mega wealthy who are screwing with football for their own whimsies!

    Bah — humbug!!

  22. gaya says:

    i thought absolute support from fans on match day towards players also plays on the player’s mind and generates a sense of belonging.

  23. GoonerB says:

    I agree about the loyalty but I think having players that are loyal does not end our problems as I think the loyalty has to be reciprocated. With a top level loyal player that reciprocation is not about whether they are offered £100k or £130k but is about surrounding them with players that can win things. I think RVP is a dedicated Gooner but even so he must be eyeing the last 4-5 years of his career as a top player and thinking if I am going to win anything here? Next year he is down to 1 year left on his contract, like Nasri this year. It is vital then that he signs an extension this year but if you were him would you be confident that the club will surround him with the high quality players that will allow him to lift some silverware. If we surround him with mediocrity and players that will deliver in 5 years then his career will be over with no silverware to show for it, which is criminal for such a good player and one that dedicates himself to the football rather than the money. The Korean striker we have signed may turn out to be a Wenger masterstroke and provide the guaranteed 25 a season striker support that RVP needs and would convince him that Arsenal can win things and this is where he should see out his career. The problem is we will not know for at least a year when RVP is into his final year. No disrespect to theKorean lad but we were flirting with Benzema and Falcao earlier in the summer, 2 players that would guarantee you that return rather than one you hope might. If we had got say Benzema I think you would have persuaded RVP to have signed an extension already. I think the big question is are we showing players like RVP the loyalty. He must be thinking you have the money so get the players to allow us to be serious challengers. If we don’t then I don’t blame him for believing the board are more concerned with their own profit than winning things and that wouldn’t be showing any loyalty to a player of his calibre.

  24. Loyalty is more than just a two way street, as an example Wenger’s loyalty to “his” players seems, in some cases, to have gone too far.

    His loyalty to Diaby, throughout season after injury plagued season being one case in point. His loyalty to players such as Eboue, Denilson, Bendtner, Rosicky, Squillaci, Almunia et al who are just not good enough is totaly miss-placed.

    There comes a point when it is better to show loyalty to the fans and the clubs future by cutting loose the players who are demonstrably expendable. Perhaps by doing so the wage bill could be reducecd, thus freeing up money to better reward those players who wish to stay and who are vital to the club.

    In the case of the Spaniard, whose I name I refuse to mention, loyalty was a one way cul-de-sac which ended at the gates of the Nou Camp, no amount of “love” by the fans or money by the wheelbarrow load would have made one iota of difference, he was always going to return to his boyhood club.

  25. Roland says:

    Yeah, Jnr… I also think that sometimes senior players like that get down when the going gets tough, thinking the situation is out of their control and they are held back by the young ones. This displays in their body language and spreads like wildfire, and makes it hard for the kids to stay brave. I think we’ll have more fight without CF and SN. Provided RVP and Sagna don’t step into their shoes (which would seem far fetched, but if they start to feel alone and like they are the seniors on a sinking ship).

  26. sleepinggiant says:

    @goonerism

    I am so tired of people saying I am reacting to this or to that. I am not reacting to stupid newspapers and I have never played chamionship sodding manager, whatever spotty teenager passtime that may be.

    I am reacting to the reality of the situation as I see it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    It is an irrelevant absurdity saying 50,000 a week is ‘good money’. What that sum means to you or to me is completely irrelevant. if you want to be at the top, you have to pay for it. There is no argument to this. If this is not a good enough wage for the top players at other clubs, it is not enough for Arsenal to be paying its top players

    If you wish to tie your ambitions for Arsenal to the wider financial picture – fine, that is up to you. You are hoping, I imagine for a mid table finish and to avoid a relegation scrap. Because that is where ‘spending only what you earn’, will take us. I have been an Arsenal fan for nearly 50 years. This is a club that never accepts second best. We may not always have been at the top, but by God you always felt we strove to be.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, you cannot treat Arsenal in a vaccuum. We can only be measured against our rivals in competition. To compare us to any other company or financial instisution is, frankly ridiculous. We either compete ON EVERY LEVEL, with our rivals, our we shut the F)*)$£ up and accept we are no longer a player. If the companies we are competing with do not play by the rules, than it is only their activities we should be concerned with, not companies in other fields. It is them we must match up to, not any other company.

    And for the record Yes, of course I would love every club to be self sufficient. And I would love them to play by the rules. By the same token that I would love all nations to voluntarily get rid of all of their nuclear weapons. And for all people of all nations to love each other. But its not going to happen. Not now, not ever. We either compete, or we die as a big club.

    That is the only danger to ARsenal. Overspending will Never never never never never never cause this club problems.

  27. tommystout says:

    great post TA

    Dont think there is such a thing as loyalty anymore not whilst moneybags and sugar daddys rule the roost. Money talks i’m afraid in any line of work.

    Although wengers philosophy was designed to get us through a tight period for stadium build, it was also hopeful of building a family of young footballers which would generate loyalty. I dont think that they figured on loads of money owners coming in and turning heads. The game has changed and so our philosophy must change (a little at least.) Fortunately now the build period is over and we have more money to compete (limited though.)

    What quality have we lost from last year – nasri replaced by gervinho, clichy replaced by santos and a big whole yet to be filled which has been left by cesc.
    We now have mertesaker to bolster our defense and an improved (I hope) defensive system.
    The attack is reinforced by landing the south korean captain.
    One more central midfielder who can do what cesc used to do and then I think we can compete again, panic over.

  28. WiganGooner says:

    @TommyStout

    That’s a good point. Interestingly we have replaced the likes of Clichy, Na$ri and Bendtner with established, experienced players -something that Arsene has never really gone for.

    Arsene isn’t buying the future now, he is buying players who can perform immediately.

    I think there is more to come today and I’m very excited to see who else comes in to bolster the squad.

    WG

  29. goonermichael says:

    1043: RUMOUR MILL

    Ooh, I love things like this. Spanish journlist Guillem Balague has some interesting news for Arsenal fans, tweeting: “Park Chu Young is not the only player Lille have mispaced. Eden Hazard has filed a transfer request to force Arsenal move.”

  30. Fatgingergooner says:

    If this article had been written 5 years ago then Arsenal would have ticked all the boxes with Cesc. They had been proactive with his contract, the fans loved him, we were still consodered a trophy winning club and he was definitely a stayer. But where is he now. In my opinion this argument breaks down due to trust.fans put their unwavering trust in the players to deliver. Players put their trust in the manager to pick the right team,the manager puts his trust in the board to provide the right players and tie them to worthy contracts and finally, the players, fans and manager all put their trust in the board that the club is being run for success rather than profit. Unfortunately that trust has been lost at this club, which is why players are leaving, the fans are divided and the manager is drained.

  31. goonermichael says:

    1054: Hold on, hold your horses people. It would appear that Guillem Balague tweet re: Eden Hazard/Arsenal was from a fake account. Which can only beg the question… why?

    sorry I hadn’t got to that part

  32. Sleepinggiant,

    Your idea that a club should spend beyond it’s income is nothing less than a recipe for disaster. By disaster I do not mean finishing mid-tabele, missing out on Champions League football or losing some of your best players, but going out of business entirely.

    Open your eyes and look beyond the sports pages of the tabloid press, the entire world is sinking under a tsunami of DEBT. Whole countries are on the edge of the abyss caused by DEBT.

    Maybe half a dozen clubs in the world are immune to the debt problem. The ones financed to obscene levels by the mega rich and maybe, just maybe, Arsenal.

    In the real world unless Kroenke and Usmanov suddenly start pumping industrial amounts of cash into the club Arsenal will have to exst on the periphery of the top band or sink under a welter of DEBT.

  33. kelsey says:

    Arsenal could pay as much as £10million for striker Chu Young Park – if they can get him off national service.

    Arsene Wenger hijacked the Monaco striker’s move to Lille just as he was about to complete a £5million deal last week.

    But reports in France are claiming Arsenal had to double the offer to £10million on the understanding they could get the player exempt from military service, which Park is due to serve in two years’ time. (source Sky Sports ) that makes sense if he is any good., and answers my question yesterday.

  34. kelsey says:

    I think it is a knee jerk reaction by many fans.Spend,Spend, Spend regardless of the consequences.get the Russian in and spend.But at what cost ?

  35. Jnr says:

    Everyone is talking gloom and doom which is very sad, the player we have just bought have not finished the season yet, now eveyone thinks that they are not good.

    Judge them at the end of the season and I will say they are improvements to what we had the dead wood… Deni, Almunia et al…

    Who told you guys that if he had bought Benzema he would have been good?? look at him wasting at Madrid… another case is Klass Huntelaar oh we should buy him oh no he hasn’t set the stage on fire…

    We now have a team who are prepared to work hard and fight for the team and fans

    Or do you think the guys we have just bought didn’t see the 8-2 trashing (I for one will probably not come) and yet they signed please give them some credit at least they want to work hard.

    Eden said no, Kaka said no….. so it is no men we want when the going get tough they just sluk

    I say it again I am happy with what is happening. The player needed change and it has come….

    Just cause the rest of the clubs bought £20Milla player which ones have played at world cup??

    Not mata, or jones, cleverly nor even cahill

    Support your team not the other mans bird… the grass aint always greener.

    My cousin now supports Barcelona feckle fan

  36. goonermichael says:

    I’d hate usmanov to take over. compared to the arabs he’s still a peasant anyway.

  37. sleepinggiant says:

    Lifelong Gooner

    …and investment from Kroenke and Usmanov is EXACTLY what I am calling for.

    They have a combined weath which utterly dwarves Abramovich.

    Its a complete and total no brainer.

    And, by the way, do you think Man U will go out of existence? Or Real Madrid with all their debts.

    Not a hope in hell. And same with Arsenal. These clubs are quite simply too big.

  38. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    TA,
    Great read and great comments, I would love to see loyalty being one of footballers main attribute`s ,but I think they will becoming few and far between in the Citeh changed future. Though young Jack did tweet recently, that he would like to stay a further Ten years at Arsenal !, I`m keeping you to your word Jack boy!

    As for the likes of Ashley Cole, well obviously he doesn`t love Arsenal as much as we do!

    RA,

    Loyalty club/family, good point, That is why so much of Arsenal hurt`s me, when it`s not going right, Arsenal are part of my family,when they hurt, I hurt,50 years of loyalty, incredible highs and lows and some inbetweens. They are not just a club,just like my children are not just kids, they mean everything to me,as do my Arsenal.

  39. goonermichael says:

    Leeds are a big club.

  40. goonermichael says:

    According to Japanese press Honda is injured

  41. goonermichael says:

    Lansbury is going to west ham

  42. Fatgingergooner says:

    JNR,

    Spot on.

    I have been saying for ages that you should judge a player on merit, not the car he drives or the price tag around his neck.

    Chris Smalling was playing non league football 3 years ago, now look at him.

    I don’t really give a s##t if we sign a 25 year old, one eyed beggar from the side streets of Zanzibar as long as he can play. If hes good enough for Arsenal then he’s good enough for me!

  43. kelsey says:

    Is he in for a service GM ?

  44. kelsey says:

    How old was ian wright when he got into league football.

  45. goonermichael says:

    Failed the mot Kelsey

  46. kelsey says:

    It’s not always about money. The programme dragons den is a good example.

    people come on and may have several offers but don’t always chose the most obvious, We all react differently but gut feeling comes into it as well, as long term investment with the right people is just as important.

  47. kelsey says:

    i have a sneaky feeling that arshavin may leave today if the guy we want signs. i will say no more.

  48. goonermichael says:

    is that good or bad Kelsey? i mean is the player we want better.

  49. Goonerism says:

    @sleepinggiant

    If you want to talk about reality then forget talking about City and Chelsea, you can also forget talking about Readl Madrid and Barca as the banks continue to bail them out. If you have been an Arsenal fan for 50 years you will have known worse times than this and will remember the 18 gap between our 71 and 89 titles. This American influenced idea of 1st is everything and second is nowhere is a myth, otherwise why else would we have four leagues of competitive football that play to (in the main) busy grounds week in week out? Most clubs will never see their team win anything but still go as that is the nature of the sport. We will rise again but it will be done on our terms and we will set the example to other clubs as we have done before. I do not want Usmamov to saddle us with debt and to start comparing wanting my football to remain self sufficient to wishing for countries to get rid of their nuclear weapons is quite frankly hysterical and innacurate – we are self sufficient and we have remained relatively competitive. At our worst(in recent times)we have been the fourth best team in the country.

  50. goonermichael says:

    If almunia hasn’t been able to move it is madness letting him keep the number 1. Unless the shirt printing shop needs the revenue from an extra number

  51. kelsey says:

    GM,

    he is now over 30, reportedly on 90k a week and has lost it.he is cup tied so it may be a wild guess, but to me it would be good.he hasn’t got the pace for the PL let alone 90 minutes.

  52. goonermichael says:

    so we could be after anyone then Kelsey.

  53. Red Arse says:

    GLIC, :-)

    Fair point.

    We were discussing the terminology that is used to describe the interaction between club – player – fan. The hurt and or disappoint that we all feel when being let down is still there whatever it is called.

    I just do not think loyalty can be used with reference to professional players or professional hookers. To them it is a job and not personal.
    Loyalty is a personal attribute and can be used as a yardstick to describe that sense of love and belonging with family and close friends, and in neither of those types of relationship is money a factor.

    Take any player we have ever bought, at what stage did he become ‘dis’-loyal to his old club and then become “loyal” to Arsenal? Is there a way of measuring this on/off loyalty?

    Sadly, loyalty has no place in the professional (i.e. money driven) world of football, and to hope that it does is a guaranteed way of heaping more hurt on the head of any fan believing it to be so.

    Nasri, Fabregas, Viera are/were all great players and I eulogized them when they played for us. They mean nothing to me now they are gone. I did not expect loyalty from them, and was not surprised or hurt when it was not given.

    Arsenal, the club, will still be here, giving pleasure to many future fans when we, today’s fans, and today’s players are but distant memories, as I have said more than once before. That’s life! :-)

  54. chas says:

    Nice post, TA.

    I don’t really see loyalty existing in modern day football. I don’t think it would have done in the past either, if there had been the gargantuan quantities of money sloshing at the feet of the already wealthy that there are today.

    Having said that, Mertesacker is a bit of a gooner by the sounds of it. :)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/8731825/Arsenals-new-centre-back-Per-Mertesacker-comes-to-the-aid-of-his-boyhood-club-in-their-hour-of-need.html

  55. goonermichael says:

    Ra
    I think fondly of Viera. Don’t care much about cesc but I hate the other twat you mentioned.

  56. harry says:

    Great article Total, unfortunately so busy at work cannot give you my response, but suffice to say, loyalty can only be expected if shown to the individual themselves by those around and that includes the fans…….If I get chance tonight I might expend on that…….

    Fingers crossed for a roller coaster day that ends with a high….

  57. Red Arse says:

    GM, I noticed. :-)

    But that is because he is a tw*t and I would not argue with that!! :-)

  58. Rasp says:

    New post…….

    Following on from TA’s cultured offering, we have published a second more basic article to allow those who can’t stop themselves conjecturing over transfers the opportunity to speculate to their heart’s content.

    Please continue with the debate on this post if you wish.

  59. sleepinggiant says:

    @goonerism – so let me get this straight – you are against investment by our uber rich shareholders? Why? Would you rather the fans were screwed for more money and they lined their pockets??

    If you are happy with the current status quo – good for you. I hope you enjoyed Sundays result – and before you think that is a knee jerk reaction – try 2 wins from something like 14 games. That result was an inevitable result of the complete mismanagement of the clubs finanicial and playind sides.

    It would be (only just and I mean that) tolerable, if it was possible to stumble along and finish 4th every year under this insane policy. But my belief is that even that is way beyond a club who simply refuses to compete. WE have held on to 4th through the dying residue of a formerly great team. But those players and their ethic is not gone. What we are left with is a team that would struggle to live with the very worst of the Don Howe teams of the mid 80’s. This team wont finish 4th, or anything like it this year without substantial investment. And there is no way in hell it will keep Wileshire or Schezney either even in the shorth term either. And that means more sales and more places dropped, less money in the coffers and the possibility of less income for this stupid ‘self-sufficiency drivel’.

    This model is not a recipe for stability (it might have been if we kept our best players instead of selling them for absurdly low fees at the first sign of trouble). It is the only sure fire way to put the club into financial ruin.

    Sensible spending on players on a consistent basis would have avoided any of these problems. But sensible spending involves paying your top players (not the arsene licking horses£”$££$£ youngsters) what they are worth.

    There is nothing sensible about the current model. It is suicidal, delusional, egotistical doomed folly..

  60. London says:

    I reckon you are the only person on here who could walk into a room with an elephant in the corner and not notice it.

  61. Goonerism says:

    @sleepinggiant

    I no against investment that represents money being spent in a way that is not sustainable and ultimately leads to huge debt. Just because the moronic press salivate at the way Chelsea and Manchester City owners continue to blow ridiculous sums money (that should probably be spent in their own countries) and operate in a way that is irresponsible – it does not make sense! I am not happy with current status quo and think that Wenger and the board have made huge mistakes but I’m willing to give them one last chance. Do you really think that 24 million for Nasri is low? We paid 15 million? Do you think 35 million is low for Fabregas when we paid next to nothing? What planet do you live on? I guess if your an Arsenal fan of 50 years then your one of those people who bought into the suicidal (and ultimately delusional & corrupt) American form of capitalism that has currently resulted in the decimation of Western economies, what a crazy idea it is to be self sufficent and live within one’s means eh?

  62. Goonerism says:

    First line above should read’

    ‘I am against’ not ‘ I no against ‘ :)

  63. 26may1989 says:

    Very interesting post TA, though its subtleties appear to have been lost on one or two. The only quibble I have is the inclusion of Gallas in your list of players who give their all – a complex, proud man capable of much (though I think never quite as good on the pitch as in his mind). But above all, Gallas was, is loyal to himself, as his destructively self-indulgent behaviour at Birmingham THAT day showed.

    There are very few one-club players around these days: Gerrard, Carragher, Ledley King, Terry, Giggs, Fletcher – many more than that in the PL? Would Matt le Tissier have stayed at a comfy club like Southampton today? I very much doubt it. Would he even be lauded for staying, or would he be castigated for showing a lack of ambition? Wayne Rooney shows the clearer example, the player whose ambition to be the best, earn the most and win the most trumps all else. And I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, since a sportsman should aspire to be the best he can.

    The player who has demonstrated loyalty that I’ve always admired (despite everything) is the recently retired Gary Neville – yes, an unpleasant little urchin, but more than anyone else I can think of, he was a fan who had the talent to play for the club he supported.

    Strength of course breeds loyalty (or the appearance of loyalty). So the core of the Barca squad, put in place at a time Barca were weak and were finishing 4th, 5th and 6th, feels at one with the club and the fans. After all, success breeds success. And how many players have left Barca in the last few years and flourished? Cesc, but then he left as a kid with the intention of jumping the queue in getting first team action and always let it be known where his heart lay. Pique did the same and returned to the fold even more quickly. Eto’o? Maybe.

    I don’t have too much faith in expecting complete, unflinching loyalty from players. Like Red Arse, I prefer the true pro type loyalty, the player who genuinely gives his all wherever he is. When that reaches its zenith, with a relationship formed between player, club and fans (think Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Adams), a special atmosphere can be created, but that isn’t at the expense of ambition. But I like the fact that two of our summer signings (Jenkinson and apparently Mertesacker (!)) claim to be Arsenal fans – that doesn’t mean they have to stay with the club till their issued zimmer frames, but having some players who might show a modicum of understanding for the fans’ passion and desires can be no bad thing – the way many of our players have traipsed around the pitch since February, showing precious little enthusiasm for the fight, even when there was a title that could have been won, has been nothing short of offensive and disrespectful. Anything that can add some fire to the belly is a good thing.

    But one point you make TA, that the extraordinary events of this summer (culminating in these crazy few days) represent nothing short of the destruction of a 5-year long project at the club, is on the button. I think we’ll have reason to reflect on that in the coming months.

    Wigan raises a good point about our own ambitions and what that means for loyalty, referring to the fact he’s about to move jobs. First, much depends on how these moves are made: there are “good” departures and “bad”; for me, I’ll never forgive Flamini and Edu for manipualting their way out of Arsenal on frees when they’d given so little to the club for most of the time they were with us (a view I know most do not share), and of course Cashley, Adebayor and now Nasri will always be disliked by us, whereas Henry, Fabregas, Pires and Vieira will be welcomed back with open arms by most. Second, loyalty should really be an enlightened form of self-interest, not unquestioning, blind devotion. In my job, I could move tomorrow and probably double my income. Why don’t I? Because the money I get is fine, and there are other benefits I get where I am, in terms of the quality of work, the culture of my firm, the hours I work and above all, the control I have over my practice and the team I manage. Those soft benefits keep me loyal, in the sense I don’t want to move. Nasri had a similar choice: he could have stayed and been the focal point of the post-Cesc side, and in doing so make up for his failure to show in the second half of last season, while still earning a lot, just not as much as Abu Dhabi was willing to pay. The fact he ducked out of staying shows, to me, a distinct lack of ambition and vision.

    Final comment: it’s a bit hypocritical for us to talk about player loyalty at all, when we want our club to go out and sign players from other clubs and deny the fans of those clubs (usually economically weaker than ours) the benefits of watching their players in their team’s shirt. For example, I’m not sure the name Arsenal would be well-received in Lille right now.

  64. sleepinggiant says:

    NAsri deal – good money for a player in the last year of his contract. Irrelevant what he cost, but I see him as a £35m pound player at least if we had paid him what he was worth and he has signed his contract extension.

    Fabregas – absolute daylight robbery. I could use stronger words. Irrelevant what he cost. This is a £60-£70 million pound player who has been given away, in my opinion because the manager had more loyalty to the player than to the club.

    And, as to your point about capitalism and such nonsense. If you read my first post, repeat that I would love everybody to be compelled to do things the Arsenal way. But this is not Utopia. You compete with your competitors or you settle for second best. I happen to believe the former, you clearly believe the latter.

    I keep hearing the ‘just you wait – any second now City and the Chavs are going to go bankrupt’….well I’m still waiting and watching as they gobble up trophies.

    Your point about the rest of the world is fine in a socialogical context and might make a nice little basis for a college lecture. But we are not competing with corner shops who are struggling. Nor with factories who are closing. We are competing with golbal powerhouses. We are not in a business where the bottom line is, so to speak, the bottom line. We are competing in a business where the bottom line is trophies won, not the bloody red figures at the bottom of some accursed balance sheet.

    .WEll, except at Arsenal, under the current regime, the bottom line appears to be all about making money. Utter disgrace for a sporting institution.

  65. Sleepinggiant,

    The bottom line is not “all about making money” it is about working to a sustainable plan. What is an “utter disgrace” is allowing the financial doping currently taking place in the Premiership.

    Real Madrid and Barcelona are currently financed by massive bank loans, Spain could be next in line for a Greek style banking crisis, the banks may well decide that supporting the opulent lifestyles of a couple of dozen footballers is not in the best interests of financial institutions verging on the brink of collapse.

    Let me remind you of The Micawber Principle…Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and sixpence, result misery.

    If only more people tried to live by the Micawber Principle the world would be in a much healthier financial situation.

  66. Gooner in Exile says:

    Afternoon all, cracking post TA, real debate starter it would appear.

    Gerard is the only player (IMO) that has stayed because of loyalty and not much else. Much easier for Scholes/Giggsto stay at United where they are winning things. That StevieG may end up with no PL.winners medal is a travesty for such a talented player but I’m sure those cup medals he has won will mean more to him than a PL winners medal with Chelsea would have.

    I have read much about the end of Project Youth, I prefer to see this as the end of Project Prudence. For me Wilshere, Frimpong, Afobe and Aneke represent the real project youth. Schooled at Arsenal since young under the wing of Liam Brady and Bould these lads know what it means to be Gooners, you can see it in their tweets and their on pitch actions (Wilshere/Frimpong).

    The players brought in at the moment are replacing the players leaving who were reaching a peak. I still have faith inour Young Guns. Unfortunately not all (like JET) will make it simply because we cannot give them the game time in the pressure cooker that is the EPL or CL.

  67. Goonerism says:

    @Sleepinggiant

    Your point about ‘utopia’ the the kind of response that I would expect from from someone who is clearly a disciple of the unregulated form of American capitalism that we have followed in the country for god knows how long. It’s simple economics i.e if you spend more than you earn then one day it’s all going to come back and bite you on the ass. This either comes in the form of bankruptcy of having your debts being guaranteed by someone hence ultimately losing control. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in capitalism and business but not when it ignores the basic principles of profit, loss and turnover. Gordon Brown famously quoted that boom and bust was gone forever and people lapped up the cheap credit and look where we are now? Football is already being affected, I’m already seeing a lot more empty seats in grounds than there were a few years ago and it is only City and Chelsea who are spending such ridiculous sums – it will be interesting to see how the financial fairplay ruleas affect those clubs.
    You are right when you say we are a business but the bottom line is most certainly not winning trophies, that is another myth peddled by the Murdoch owned media. The bottom line is staying is business and balancing the books – as with any normal business. Another analogy you may want to look at is that of the music business, record companies continually spent far too much money on acts, expenses and so forth and now look at it? It’s a far cry from the 80s and 90s heyday. As I said it’s only Chelsea and City that continue to push up wages and transfer fees – that’s why Barca got Fabregas for 35 million, had it been City he probably would of gone for the sum you mention. Either way 35 million is a fortune for a player that cost us nothing.
    If it is all about winning trophies then why do so many football supporters the world over continue to support clubs that will NEVER win anything?

  68. 26may1989 says:

    Sleepinggiant eloqently puts a case based on the assumption that the only alternative to benefactor-funded success (a la City and Chelsea) is failure or mediocity. Leaving aside United (who are so profitable, they can afford to subsidise their owners rather than be subsidised, and still be successful), that may be true within unregulated English football as it stands today.

    But that doesn’t make it the right thing to do or to wish for, and it isn’t the only way of running football. German football offers alternatives. Fans there are put at the heart of the running of the game, with their 50+1 rule meaning that outside investment can be obtained but the investors cannot take control of the club. A German court this week ruled against Hannover 96’s chairman, who wanted to break the shackles of that rule. The Bundesliga Chairman reacted to the ruling saying that “We must continue to fear any Spanish, Italian or English conditions”.

    Now, one can say that German football has been hampered as a result; they’ve had one European finalist in the last ten years versus English football’s eight. But I for one would much prefer English football to move to the German model than continue down the anti-competitive, unsustainable, corrupt, destructive path it is on.

  69. Brigham says:

    Loyalty + Footballer = Money.

    I presume it is not only me, but I am quite sick to the back teeth of all top class footballers moaning about wages and leaving for a bigger buck. Yes, we would all like more money coming in, but surely, if you are already earning more money than you can actually spend (not wasted I might add), why do you feel the need for more?

    Na$ri was on around 90k a week and he has just about doubled that now. He without doubt engineered his move away, as do many other spoilt little brats like him.

    These utter little greedy b******s need to get a grip with reality. There are many people being made redundant in this country alone. Many people earning a mere fraction in a year that these self-centered twonks earn in a week.

    It annoys me no end to hear them come out with their normal rhetoric of “I am only on 70K a week” Aawww, you poor little dahling.

  70. Brigham,

    You’re right, perhaps they should try living on a state pension, as I do, 70k a week? I wont get that much between now and the day I die.

  71. Goonerism says:

    @brigham

    Actually I think Nasri turned down a 90k a week offer that was on the table from Arsenal for a new deal but yes I hear you. They are also on bonuses, sponsorship deals and so forth and before anyone says what about the tax they pay, they probably also have a few tax breaks going down. Even if they are on high tax they still take home 45k a week and anyone with an ounce of sense would get a good financial advisor and start making investments and making their money grow.

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    Dear all, many thanks for your great contributions today. Your responses have been of great quality and I will re-issue this post in a week’s time (if Peaches and Rasp let me :) ). In this post, I will incorporate some of your comments, so we can have a further debate about loyalty.

    Once again, thanks for your contributions.

    TA

  73. dandan says:

    Fine article TA thanks a lot.

    Goonerism:: congratulations on a spirited and reasoned defence in the face of blinkered trophy fever. Well done

  74. dandan says:

    Latest stop press; Michael Jackson spotted outside Fulham. :-)

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi DanDan, Rasp put up a second post today, which focuses on the TW shenanigans. It is all dead here now (in case you didn’t know).

  76. 26may1989 says:

    dandan knows, he just promised not to join the transfer debates before 11.01pm tonight!

    How’s the meditation going dandan??

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