Arsenal Pays The Price For Project Youth …… Twice

It is widely acknowledged that the strategy of bringing through young players was the only way for Arsenal to try to maintain their prominence at the top of the Premiership whilst paying for the Emirates Stadium.

It worked brilliantly, mainly due to an exceptional balancing act by Arsène Wenger. We did not flatter to deceive – we deceived, and for 5 years we proved the critics wrong. Managers are often applauded for bring their club up a division; well Wenger’s feat certainly ranks as highly.

I don’t believe the term ‘Project Youth has ever been used by AW or the club and is seen by some as an indictment rather than an accolade, but for the purposes of discussing past and future recruitment, I shall continue to use it here whatever your personal feeling is about it’s efficacy.

Arsène Wenger was the architect of the plan and in truth he was just being pragmatic because he had few other choices. He cites many advantages to bringing through young players together, but it is apparent that his growing frustration in the latter part of last season was due to his disappointment that it had not brought all the rewards he had envisaged.

The sad truth about P.Y. is that there is a sting in the tail. Now that we have established a stable financial model, the team built around Fabregas is beginning to crumble and reinforcements are required.

Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.

From past dealings, it does not appear that Silent Stan is likely to throw 30 million at Arsène for a marquee signing and I doubt the manager would spend it if he did, so the club is in the predicament of either hanging on to players who have disappointed or selling cheaply and therefore reducing the funds available for ‘quality’ replacements.

Arsenal is a top European side who perennially feature in the Champion’s League. We generate vast amounts of money on the pitch and commercially but we play a different game from the other clubs and personally I’d rather buy within our means if SK keeps his promise not to saddle the club with debt. If we had debts like Barca or Manu, I’d be more happy for us to spend money we don’t have – what the hell!!,  but when you’ve trodden one path so successfully for so long, why change?

And so we are in a waiting game. Waiting to see what kind of offers (if any) we will get for the likes of Bendtner, Clichy, Eboue, Almunia and Denilson. Waiting to see who of those we have been scouting are still available if and when we sell. Waiting for Barca to come up with the right offer for Cesc …… which may happen sooner rather than later if  recent reports are to  be believed.

There is a world of difference between selling a player who is no longer wanted in which case the buyer knows he can call the shots; and selling a player who you want to keep. In most cases, you are in the driving seat when you don’t want to sell. Unfortunately, when that player only wants to go to one club, even that advantage is diminished.

I expect Cesc’s departure will trigger the purchase of a replacement midfielder, most likely Ricardo Alvarez, in the same way as Bendtner’s sale will create the funds for the possible signing of Gervinho or A. N. Other striker. Balancing (reducing) the wage bill is every bit as important as finding the money to buy players.

The power lies largely in the hands of others. The clubs we are dealing with know this and it gives them the upper hand. So prepare yourselves fellow Gooners for a frustrating summer. Project Youth was the only choice we had in 2006 and it continues to restrict our choices in 2011.

Written by Rasp


101 Responses to Arsenal Pays The Price For Project Youth …… Twice

  1. a99 says:

    Unfortunately it is a nil sum game – qualification for CL provides additional revenues of £15m – £30m (depending on progress) so many would argue that it is worth spending that sum in an attempt to ensure qualification.

  2. V.C.C. says:

    There is no doubt Wenger has done remarkably well these past several years. His youth policy and scouting for bargains have kept us in the top four. BUT my argument is, if ONLY he had not been so frugal and spent £30 million on a proven defender/defenders (Cahill/Samba) and a back up for VanPersie IMO we would have won silver ware and again arguably would have re couped the money on the prize winnings. I know this sounds simplicity but I truly believe we are not too far away from being top dogs in the premiership, everyone has been banging on the same drum and get a PROPER defender to partner Vermaelen. We can still get these guys, I would buy Cahill,Samba and one forward with the money gained from getting rid of dead wood Denilson/Bendtner/Diaby/Clichy/Rosicky/Squillaci/Almunia. Am I mad or is this not staring Wenger in the face!!!!!!
    My back line would read Sagna….Samba….Cahill….Vermaelen……surely this would give us the stability and strength at the back together with a promising keeper (who incidentally has some balls) Szczesny.

  3. dandan says:

    A nice article but to my mind based on a faulty premise that we have to sell before we buy, Depending on how Arsenals financial year runs, Jan 1st to Dec 31 st or April to April as per the tax year. Then it is likely that if the first example is correct that July 1st becomes a key date for the clubs accounts. At this point I expect money to be released and some purchases completed.

    Yes Cesc will leave and the moneys received used to enhance the pay packets of Nasri and the battle hardened incomers. Further outgoings from our existing squad will also occur and the money received will I believe be used to carry on PY as hot prospects from around the world are sourced and acquired. These acquisitions will no longer be as cheap as past scholars were for the academy, as all the top clubs will be at it,scouting and resourcing world wide,

    As you have posted a number of times Rasp. the UK catchment areas for young talent make the UK route almost a nonsense and demands that any ambitious club, roams far and wide to hoover up the top youth talent available.

    AW’s networking will ensure however that we get first sniff at many of these prospects, which is where the secrecy comes in of course, so prepare yourself for some good news next week as reinforcements arrive and to say thank you and goodbye to a young man who has served us well and laid the out the route for more world wide talent to follow

  4. Rasp says:

    Morning dandan,

    I think we’ll have to agree to differ on this one. If we do buy before we sell, it will be because we are safe in the knowledge that the deal to sell is definitely going to be done IMO – otherwise as I pointed out in the post, we risk the prospect of the wage bill being inflated and it is already too high.

  5. angelicbeardy says:

    I agree V.C.C if Wenger had spent big on two solid central defenders a few seasons ago and a proper replacement for Jens Lehmann then we would have won something by now. Our problems stem from defence, we keep giving away cheap goals. We on the whole usually concede the first goal in a match which then the team have to work a lot harder throughout the game to turn it around and by the end of the season the squad is a lot more worn out. In the meantime we keep chopping and changing the defense spending the same kind of money but on more players then just two solid professionals that is were Wenger has gone wrong.

  6. dandan says:

    Morning Rasp and a clever answer because you and I have no way of knowing what Arsene Knows 🙂
    But like you I am happy to wait and see if we get our men, if that happens it matters not which of us is right.

  7. Rasp says:

    Thanks dandan,

    I suspect the deal for Cesc was agreed in principle last summer (certainly between Arsenal and Cesc), leaving him out of the pics for the new strip is a bit of a give-away that the club don’t expect him to be around next season. I am reasonably confident that Nasri will stay though.

  8. goonermichael says:

    I think we are going to have to speculate to accumulate otherwise it will be another trophyless season.

  9. goonermichael says:

    In lillywhite’s window there is a huge picture of Cesc in the new shirt.

  10. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Very good article Rasp. Thank you.
    “prepare yourself for some good news next week”. I am afraid I do not share your optimism. Bearing in mind we went backwards last season, a CB would put us on par in my book. With those around strengthening I feel we are going to have to go some to keep pace. Mind you, I would love to be wrong.

  11. goonermichael says:

    Forget that last comment Rasp. I was totally wrong about the shirt in Lillywhites. (how do I do the embarrassed smiley)

  12. dandan says:

    Rasp I have no doubt a deal was done, it was why Nasri put in a bid for more money, knowing some would be available via Cesc. but Barca are going to have to come up with some reasonable bread, although again as you have said we are unlikely to know how much until next years accounts appear.

    So Nasri to stay, at least one centre half, a forward and a midfielder to arrive. And half a dozen to move out.

    The fact that AW keeps bigging Carlos Vela probably means he is on his way and they are trying to push the price we will see.
    Not long now training only a couple of weeks away.

  13. dandan says:

    Gooner Mike. I truly believe you will have a smile on your face by preseason. 🙂

  14. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You sound very in-the-knowy. Out of interest, would a Gervinho make you want to push the Smiley Face key?

  15. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky,

    Knowing where you stand on the ‘manager issue’ do you think our pattern of activity in the transfer market would differ if we had another manager in charge?

    GM 😳

  16. dandan says:

    Yes it would, It has been well documented on here this week some of the players AW has brought on, why would he not do it again.

    But no I am not in the “know”. just not prepared to allow pessimism into my world, life is far to short for that. Keep smiling Mickey summer is here. 🙂

  17. goonermichael says:


  18. dandan says:

    Mike Doyle the ex City player has died, he was a very good player, I lived near Manchester and watched them a bit. Especially when the Arse were in town.

    64 and Liver failure? bit of a footballers end that one.

  19. goonermichael says:

    I prefer the goalkeepers shirt

  20. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I am pessimistic only in that I do not believe we will buy who we need. However, no-one will be more optimistic than me come the first game.
    Ooo Ah, tough question, although it leads me nicely on to a point in your post: “From past dealings, it does not appear that Silent Stan is likely to throw 30 million at Arsène for a marquee signing and I doubt the manager would spend it if he did”. Few things. I am not in the camp (like you) that says we need to spend silly money on any one player, however from what I understand SK has dipped into his own very deep pockets before for his other sporting issues. All managers are different, to cowardly answer your question, and as you know I believe that we cocked up in each of the last two seasons in terms of transfers. We kept one or two we should not have and did not strengthen in areas we should have.

  21. Rasp says:

    Thanks Micky, I suspect we will be “keeping one or two we should not have” again this summer

  22. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Summer it may be at your end of the country. It is very much october down here!

  23. goonermichael says:

    Perry Groves has told talkSPORT Arsenal supporters will not be bothered if Cesc Fabregas joins Barcelona this summer – as he’s no Thierry Henry.
    Fabregas is edging closer to a return to his boyhood club, with the transfer fee the only sticking point, and Groves believes it’s the right time for the Spaniard to go.
    “If he signs for Barcelona, I don’t think any Arsenal fan will moan,” said the former Gunners star. “We’ve had him for eight years. We got him for nothing. We’re going to sell him for £35million.
    “He’s not up there with the Arsenal greats. He’s a very good player, he’s been an excellent player for Arsenal, but you wouldn’t put him up there with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp.”
    Fabregas has made no secret of his desire to return to the Nou Camp but Groves has questioned his love for the Catalan club.
    He added: “If Cesc Fabregas had that emotional tie to Barcelona that he says he’s got why did he leave when he was 16? Why didn’t he try to get into their first team? It’s not as if Barcelona don’t promote their top young players.”

  24. goonermichael says:

    I like Perry

  25. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rasp, a very thought-provoking and well-written post. Quality 😉 Any attempt to explain the waiting game is helpful; just as much as I enjoyed DanDan’s hopeful view/comment that on the 1 July the transfer bells will start ringing 🙂

    You wrote: ‘The sad truth about P.Y. is that there is a sting in the tail. Now that we have established a stable financial model, the team built around Fabregas is beginning to crumble and reinforcements are required.’, and: ‘Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.’ The key point of your post seems to be the need to sell first our miss-firing youth players, before we can act in the transfer-market.

    I don’t think I can fully agree with you on the first part of your statement, but of course it all depends on what you mean about ‘beginning to crumble’. I believe we are almost there with this team, even if Cesc should leave. Only a few adjustments are required.

    I also don’t believe we would have to wait until we sell a number of players, before we can act in the transfer market. We are not superrich, but surely we can spend around the £30m mark, even if we don’t sell anybody this season. From what I have read and heard this sort of money is available to Wenger now, but the AAAccountants will surely have their say about this today.

    Regarding the first part of your statement: Wenger has indeed invested in PY, but has also continuously bought more established players to supplement it (Sagna, Nasri, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Chamakh etc). So, rather than calling it PY, I would say we should call it PY+ ‘ready to roll’ player acquisitions (Micky probably has a better name for it).

    PY is still progressing, and the fruits are ripening fast. For example, if both Cesc and Nasri were to leave, and like you I expect us to not let both go together, but even then; we have Song, Wilshere and Jack in the centre of midfield, with Diaby as back up. Frimmpong and Lansbury are behind these players, and give them one or two season and they might well be ready as well. It would only take the acquisition of one either very good, mid-twenties midfielder, or a 30-32 year old experienced midfielder with CL winning experience to strengthen our midfield, and give our young boys the last push towards top-success which seems to be in their reach (the latter would be my preference). Whether Cesc and/or Nasri will leave, the immediate future is still bright. Therefore, I don’t think our midfield is crumbling.

    I don’t think our defence is crumbling either, now that TV looks to be fully fit again. Koz, TV and JD are good CB’s and are likely to get better, especially if they get a chance to work together in the next few season. I would like another quality CB to supplement those three and I am sure we will invest in this area as well. But crumbling? No.

    Upfront, we are not crumbling either. RvP, Chamakh and Bendtner are a good trio of strikers to have. I hope we will play with two strikers next season, with RvP in the hole and either Chamakh or Bendtner upfront. The only weakness I can see in our attack, is or lack of consistent-quality wing-play: AA, TW (and Nasri) have all shown different sorts of limitations on the wing. However, they are still great players to have and are a lot better than we often give them credit for. However, we should invest in a type like Gervinho to come and join us and do a Overmars/Pires for us by scoring 15-20 goals from the wing position, and provide a lot of assists. Again, I am absolutely convinced that we will invest in such a player this season.

    In a nutshell, even if Cesc and Nasri would leave, with the acquisition of a quality CB (Cahill would be my favourite), an experienced, CL medal-holding midfielder (Van Bommel would have been ideal for me, as he has won national championships in four different top European Countries – he is the only won who has achieved this – but he just signed another contract at Milan) and a quality winger, we have a reinforced fortress that can win both the PL and the CL next season. If either Nasri or Cesc stays, the latter a lot less likely now, our chances will even increase further.

  26. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    This paragraph in Rasp’s post is very relevent.

    Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.

    I expect more action after the 1st than in previous years.At least 2 or 3 in and at least 4 leaving.
    Then we will have some experience in the squad and the manager will say we need time after abandoning project youth and introducing so many new players and a change of tactics.
    With cesc gone our game plan will change not dramatically but to a degree.
    Keep the faith for a few more seasons.

  27. kelsey says:

    I am greedy having won 400 euros in a competition last week I am going for the double this afternoon, laters my friends.

  28. goonermichael says:

    When you say Willshire and Jack do you mean Ramsey?

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Correct GM!

  30. goonermichael says:

    Bendtner can’t really stay after he’s said he is 100% going.

  31. goonermichael says:

    I’d rather we kept Nasri. I’m not bothered about Cesc so much. I think Ramsey is going to really come through next season.

  32. Rasp says:

    Hi TA,

    Thanks for a detailed and carefully structured response – it put the article to shame 🙂

    Obviously there was an element of me playing devil’s advocate in the post and the ‘crumbling’ was something I new touch a nerve with one or two. Certainly if the team has been built around Cesc and he leaves, it’s more than crumbled, but as you point out we still have many quality players.

    I do believe that the easy capitulation from winning positions and collapse at the end of the season means that although we have talented footballers, we lack power and leadership and Cesc leaving will certainly not improve that.

    Being a romantic, you paint a picture of our players staying fit, giving consistently good performances and the team being reinforced by top quality additions – great stuff, I hope you are right 😛

    The one thing I would say about last season is that the only players who were consistently good were RvP and Sagna (maybe Jack and SZ)

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    GM, Bendtner might want to go, but only to a big club where he can play first team football. I cannot see any European top team taking that risk, and as a result I believe he will be with us again next season.

  34. Rasp says:

    Hi kelsey,

    Well done on your good fortune. I am adopting a new blog status – henceforth, I too am a KKB 😆

  35. goonermichael says:

    Maybe he should go out on loan then TA. If Gervinho does come and I think Chamakh will improve I don’t see him getting many games,

    Rasp I don’t see much leadership from Cesc. His head drops towards the end of games when things aren’t going well. If he stays he needs to buck his ideas up.

  36. Rasp says:

    Hi GM,

    I’d agree that last season, Cesc’s performances were patchy and he did not show the leadership qualities he had the year before. Many disagreed, but I thought his yearning for Barca did affect his performances – the back heel against Barca wasn’t deliberate but it was very poor and most players would have been lambasted if they’d done it.

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Rasp, and yes I am a romantic, but with a healthy dose of realism mixed in (I hope)! 😛

    I am not asking for top-quality additions at top quality prices, but quality additions at medium prices with the hope that Wenger has spotted a few more gems again, who’ll become top-quality eventually.

    TV’s return and Sz now our chosen GK, should give us more consistency, power and leadership at the back. But you are right in saying that injuries could cost us again. There will always that Achilles heel!

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    GM, Bendtner on loan is a good suggestion, as I agree with you that Chamakh is ahead of him and should be given a chance to form a duo with RvP: I just have a good feeling about those two together.

    But who would guarantee him first choice striker status? Maybe Bolton… or Feyenoord… or Celtic..

  39. Rasp says:


    TV was a huge miss for us last season I agree and could not have been anticipated. Likewise I am happy with Sz , but I cannot get my head round the lack of consistency from many of our players – the likes of Clichy, Diaby, Bendtner, Chamakh, Djourou, Nasri, Song, and probably some I’ve forgotten

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, maybe you are a bit harsh on our players: Diaby, Bendtner and Chamakh did not get enough opportunities to ‘build up consistency’, and JD, Nasri and Song had still a decent season, and are still improving. Is it fair to say that they will be a level better again next season?

    You should also have a look at MU for example. How many consistent performers did they have other than: Vidic, Evra, Shrek and vd Sar?

  41. fred says:

    IMO, just spend whatever money there is even if it doesnt exist, somehow a sugar daddy will bail us out later, take barca for example, and we already have usmanov waiting like vultures to throw his PetroDollars…

  42. TotalArsenal says:

    Fred, or look at Leeds 😦

  43. dandan says:

    TA have just returned, having been hijacked by a grandson and dragged to the garden centre to have the contents of my wallet removed to rectify the fact his fish are dieing in their tank. No 400 sobs incoming for me unlike that jammy bugger kelsey 🙂

    On my return I was much heartened by finding your superb summation of exactly how I see our position. One wonders if supporters (and I point no fingers here) are as harsh in there self criticism when assessing their lives, achievements and skills as they are, when assessing our players.

    Practice they say makes perfect and player after player in all sports, constantly make the point when interviewed that there is no substitute for game time, big squads by necessity deny fringe players this vital game time. Rotation therefor is the only answer but that is always met on line by a disparaging chorus, whenever such changes are made.

    Damned if you change, damned if you don’t, changes weaken the side, without change fringe players cant grow. So if you were a manager would you listen to fans, I have to confess I wouldn’t, if I were ever to be hung out to dry it would be for indiscretions of my own choosing. My convictions, not those of an armchair critic whose opinion is exactly that, his opinion, made under no pressure, other than the pressure required to depress the key on the keyboard.

    Unless of coarse Kelsey sends me 400 sobs to refill my wallet, then I will agree with him wholeheartedly. 🙂

  44. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wow, you are a tough nut. I like your sentiment, but I also like being an armchair fan. “One wonders if supporters are as harsh in there self criticism when assessing their lives”…..I think you would be amased at how many have to be to survive (talking private sector here!).

  45. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There is a fear of change that sometimes overpowers the need to change. Change can be good.

  46. Red Arse says:

    Hiya Rasper, 🙂

    Very, very good Post. You should write more often, work allowing, of course! 🙂

    I find myself in an odd position. You had me nodding my head sagely at your ‘crumbling’ comment only to find you agreeing with TA when he offered an opposite opinion.

    Let me see. The team/squad that finished last season apparently contained 5 players, Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, Bendtner, Denilson, who, ‘knowledgeable’ pundits tell us want to leave.

    Then there are those that these same pundits tell us are rubbish and should be, and will be given the boot, Almunia, Squidgy, Diaby, Rosicky, Chamakh (?), Arshavin.

    By my wonky math, that amounts to a whole team!! 😦

    If this were to be true, your ‘crumbling’ would be something of an understatement.

    But then at least 5 of them would not be deemed ‘1st team’ choices, Bendtner, Denilson, Rosicky, Almunia, Squidgy, and are therefore not fundamentally necessary to the success of our team next season, so the pendulum swings back to TA’s position.

    My own view, for what it is worth, is that Nasri, Clichy, Arshavin, Chamakh and Diaby will not leave, either because the first two money grubbing sods will agree new super duper contracts, or because Arsene has said, at different times, that he does not want Arsh, Cham or Diaby to leave (managerial diktat). 🙂

    So it seems I have switched from being a ‘Crumbler’ to a ‘Totaller’!

    In any event, it seems both politic and sensible to agree with Dandan when he is in full optimistic flow!! 🙂

  47. dandan says:

    No mickey I wouldn’t be, of course life isn’t a bed of roses for many today and it will get worse, I had my fill of making good people redundant through no fault of their own before I retired and have seen my own kids suffer in this way since.

    But, and this is where I do differentiate from many.
    The money footballers are paid is the result of supply and demand, football clubs are not charity’s and only pay what they think they have to pay to keep a player, Thus Joe Cole had enough clubs fighting over him as a free agent to earn him a £110,000 a week contract.

    His inability to fulfil his potential since then has determined he will either stay where he is and take the money, whilst sitting on the bench if he is lucky enough to make the squad and wait for his contract to end. Alternatively he can make known the fact he will take a wage cut and encourage lesser teams to take a punt that it might restart his career.

    That is no different to our second strings other than they are younger and need to play in order to secure a new contract with someone else. But the salary’s they are presently on, was dictated by what the market saw as their potential at the time the contracts were signed.

    With so many footballers out of work having been released by the clubs, would you as one of these young men, stick to your contract, that is not likely to be extended at Arsenal,until it runs out and you join the masses. Or seek a longer contract elsewhere for less money, but a reasonable likelihood of playing on a regular basis.

    This is where the loan system comes in and why we will probably see a number go out on loan. Some of the more experienced for a fee, others for no fee, which will be designated as being wrapped up in the salary they will continue to be paid by the new club, or worse case scenario jointly between the two clubs..
    Either way we should see some movement

  48. Geoff Strong says:

    Good thought provoking post Rasp.

    My personal point of view is that PY has been reasonably successful and will prove to be profitable. Successful, in that we have remained in the top 4 and the following list of players who joined us before the age of 18 will still be part of a 22 man first team squad next year..
    Szczeny, Djourou, Gibbs, Song, Walcott, Ramsey Wilshire and Diaby.

    Of those PY players who may leave the transfer income could be…..

    Fabregas £35+ million
    Bendtner £10
    Clichy £10
    Denilson £6
    Vela £3

    A conservative total of £64 million, more than enough to purchase 4 players.

    With regard to wages, I am sure that if we had gone down the route of experience the bill would not have been lower, more likely much higher.

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    DanDan @3.13, thanks! Do you mean £400 when you say ‘400 sobs’? 🙂 It is nice to see a grandad who enjoys to ‘spoil’ their grandchildren. My dad is exactly the same!

    Are fans as self-critical? Like you, I don’t think so, but a lot of us project our own frustrations and shortcomings on the players, manager and referee because it makes us feel good. It’s a way of letting of steam – and our society is well served by it, but it is of course often very unfair on the players involved and also contra-productive 😦

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi RA, or should I say TRA?! 🙂

    I love the expression ‘you had me nodding my head sagely’. Never heard it before, but it sounds beautiful.

    Also agree with you that agreeing with DanDan is a prerequisite to a healthy blog-life 😉

  51. Hi TA, 🙂

    Very ‘Total’ at the mo’ despite wondering when our first ‘big’ deal will be announced! 🙂

  52. Rasp says:

    Hi all, thanks for your comments.

    I could counter some of the ripostes by quoting “necessity is the mother of invention”. I’m sure Arsene always strives to improve and is far from complacent and so fans being grateful for what they have is, in a bizarre way, contrary to his ethos.

    Various terms have been applied to our presumed closed season attitude, but ‘shake-up’ seems to be the most prevalent.

    The question we should all ask is ‘Are we doing the best we can with the resources (money, personnel) at our disposal?’ Are we tactically aware in the transfer market? and one I’d be interested to know above all other…. is there some particular goal that we are seeking to achieve that once reached will allow us to elevate to the level of the really big clubs?

  53. kelsey says:

    Like Arsenal, unable to do back to back titles but got to the semis and another 50 squid for the kids.
    I understand dandan’s point of view and he and others write more eloquently than me.
    I meant if cesc is to go whoever fills the gap our game plan would change somewhat as we are very reliant on him when he plays, but I have seen many a face come and go over the years and I am sure AW has already marked out certain players to fill his role and possibly others,so I still expect a bit more activity than last year, starting on Friday.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rasp, I always liked the metaphor of the Russian Dolls. Rather than a shake-up – and I agree with you that’s what most of us expect/hope to happen – I believe Wenger is carving out the last, all encompassing shape. The fringe wood will disappear, being sold or being loaned out, and a bit of new wood is added. PL here we come….. but like RA and you, and everybody else, I am hoping for a decent signing soon. Just to give everybody a boost again.

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    Agree with you Kelsey, Cesc is pivotal to our team. Without him, we will have to adjust. I don’t think we would miss his technical skills too much, with Nasri, Jack and Rambo and AA eager to take on the role, although all of them are not as good as Cesc at the moment. It would leave Wenger with a great opportunity to find a midfielder with leadership/mentoring skills to both lead by example and guide our young and very promising midfielders. I would like us to find somebody who can sit between defence and midfield, either alone in 4-4-2 or with Song in a 4-2-3-1 and take control of that entire area.

  56. dandan says:

    Hi TA; yes sobs is slang for pounds, sorry I have taken so long to answer, but would you believe, that Grandson was on the phone again could I take him to an exams finished party cos. Mum has a lot of month end stuff to finish. Pffffff what can you say G /kids LOL

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    😆 What’s the chance of you having to take your Grandson to the party as well as the month end stuff for his mum? 🙂

  58. 26may1989 says:

    Late to the cause ce soir, but I wanted to say that I agree with much of Rasp’s well thought through post.

    Specifically, the strategy the club adopted of tying the best players down with long contracts and the squad players down with lucrative contracts was deliberate; the objective being to achieve squad stability in the years we were without a real transfer budget. Alongside this, we embarked on Project Youth, to get the best talent at an early and cheaper stage. All of this represented a tacit admission that for the years we had a debt to service the stadium project, we would be largely absent from the transfer market (buying the likes of Arshavin being an exception to the rule). This was a very clever and very successful strategy.

    But as Rasp says, we are now reaping some of the downsides of that strategy: we now have a bunch of players we want to move on (Bendtner, Almunia, Denilson, Eboue, Rosicky and Vela being the obvious candidates) but who are paid over the odds, and are therefore harder to move on than we would like. Either we take a hit on the transfer fee or we do a Leeds and pay the transferred player after he has left or we keep them on the books (even if on loan). A knotty problem.

    So, yes, I agree with much of Rasp’s analysis. But I still think we will see significant movement in the transfer market this summer. There is pressure on the wage bill, but I think Wenger and the Board understand that we are at a make or break point in terms of the attitude of many of the fans. That’s why I think there will be some gambles taken this summer (meaning purchases made before all of the necessary sales are certain), even if the wage bill does remain high.

  59. Harry says:

    Evening all, cracking article Rasper…..

    Interesting points, I agree that no one from the club started PY, it evolved out of necessity and it is / was so close to succeeding…… close…

    Fabregas is gone, well as long as Barca meet the asking price, of about 35m, give or take…..Real Madrid might cause issues there, if they come in with a bigger offer, what will happen….?

    Are we waiting for offers? before we spend? in a way your right, but i think its more about the personnel and what we need rather than cold cash.

    Overall we are in a weak position with all of our transfer dealings, which is compounded due to our need to drive a hard bargain and our structured wage bill………

    As i said weeks ago, the most important issue for me is keeping Nasri at the club………lose him and cesc and we will struggle whoever comes in…..and it would place too much pressure on young jack, if nasri stays we will see Ramsey replace Cesc. I like the look of Alvarez, but dont feel he is a replacement for Cesc, more of a Nasri wide as Nasri moves inside……….

    Anyway I am so frustrated and fed up with the stories, lets just sort it out wenger and line up our squad for the season…….

  60. goonerbegood says:

    same story ,every season .

  61. FrothingInarticulateLoon says:

    Evening all., FIL here

    Sharkey’s asked me to post this on his behalf, as he’s a whole day late in responding to yesterdays post, and thus he reckons this is best presented by a Loon

    Chas – “I’ll go for Paddy. £3.5 million. Came on as sub against Sheff Wed and had the crowd singing his name immediately. Magnificent captain. His disciplinary problems were, perversely part of the success of the Arsenal team. No-one took liberties.”

    Agreed. Paddy’s my all time fave player. Plus throw in selling him ten years and countless trophies later for 4 times his cost. Incredible

    But then I think about the years of service that Dennis gave us, Of being in the North Bank when we beat Everton 7-0 and we all sang ‘one more year’ for like the whole second half. His overall contribution throughout his career, which generates a highlight reel of goals, assists and skills that very few can match.

    Best of all he never did anything that could even slightly diminish our love for him. No contract wrangles, no flirting with other clubs, no salacious newspaper headlines. In the later years he simply said offer me a contract and I’ll sign it. if you don;t offer me one, I’ll retire. Arsene had to keep offering them for the sake of football in general, not just for Arsenal’s sake.

  62. Gooner in Exile says:

    Cheer up you miserable sods 😀 You do know we’re going to win the League next season right?

    Lets wait until the deals are done we will know where we are very soon.

    Pre season starts in 3 or 4 days, lets see who turns up and more importantly who goes to Asia:

    on the flight = here for the fight
    off the plane = off to Spain

  63. Jamie says:

    First time ive looked at the site today. Fine article Rasp.

    My only worry is that le gaffer has left himself with a lot to do in a short space of time. To sell Denilson, Bendtner and unfortunately Fabregas and renew Nasri, Renew or sell Clichy, buy Cahill, Samba. Gervinho and the Saints sprog and like I said in the piece I sent you yesterday, we are not known for getting deals done quickly are we?

  64. Rasp says:

    Hi FiL,

    Paddy was my favourite player too. I felt reassured just watching him standing imperiously in the tunnel before kick off with that languid frame and angelic visage, scarcely bothering to look at the opposing captain as he was so confident in his superiority. He made Roy Keane look like a pubescent boy scout in comparison.

    But again I agree with you that in terms of his pure brilliance and ‘Arsenalness’ DB has to be the greatest player ever to wear the shirt.

  65. Rasp says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Sorry I didn’t realise you had submitted an article, I’ll have a word with peaches – she must be sitting on it!

    I agree with your sentiments but as I said above, I don’t think AW has any choice but to wait until others set the ball rolling. Frustrating I know, but just a by-product of our recent history and the financial prudence we exercise.

  66. Jamie says:

    I agree Rasp but we are always told we have money to spend. I mean I don’t beleive it of course but we are told that we do.

    There was clearly a deal done between Wenger and the board to break sen in the transfer Market at the start of Project Youth. Nothing wrong with having that policy but then Gazidis should come out and say there will be major reinforcement he should say that we are about to have our by annual re-shuffle to pay for the new blood.

    I know it doesn’t work like but a bit more honesty from the top brass wouldn’t hurt.

  67. Gooner in Exile says:

    Manners! Its been a long day and first chance to check in half hour ago or so, and i forgot to say, cracking post Rasp, very thought provoking.

    I’m not overly concerned at the moment, until we have facts not speculation I am not judging.

  68. Jamie says:

    Above should read break even

  69. Rasp says:

    Hi GiE,

    A read through NN headlines will give you all the speculation, rumour-mongering and creative lying that any man can stomach. I thought an attempt to give the background to what I perceive as our status would at least provide a contrast.

    I have long been frustrated by the rather patronising spin the club dishes out, but it is remarkably consistent in it’s output and so can be judged by its own standards.

    I am often impressed by the eloquence of the interviews that appear on with one of our young players following a poor performance 🙄

  70. Jamie says:

    Rasp spot on. It’s like they have Alistair Campbell spinning stuff behind the scenes. I get sick of the “we will learn from this” article on the official page every time we lose a game.

    I think most of us knew that if we needed four or five new players then Fabregas had to go. It’s a shame the way it’s happening though.

    We just can’t hang around too long because if August goes baps up then Arsene will be in serious trouble with a lot of the fans and we really don’t need that!

    Wenger loyal!

  71. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rasp @9.45, I love your description of PV: ‘with that languid frame and angelic visage’. Brilliant 🙂

  72. Hello gang

    How are you all? I’m juggling work and blog, have bought a new house and even Rasp has felt sorry for me and written a post 🙂

    The point about us not being able to move on some players because they aren’t good enough or they earn too much money is an incredibly important one. Surely we should always be batting away suitors for our players and the problem is that the players that AW has stuck with that aren’t good enough are not going anywhere.

    If we can’t find new homes for the likes of Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky we’ll be tarred with the same brush as Citeh – paying wages to players that we don’t need who will have to go on loan. I’m not at all happy about that situation.

  73. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Peaches, nice to see you on AA today 🙂 . You sound very busy!

    I agree it is an important point, and that’s why Rasp has been complemented so much on his post today. It is not an Arsenal-specific problem though. Every topclub has a number of players it would like to let go, but finds it difficult to do so. It is not just wages, but also professional pride that stands in the way. Denilson, Rosicky and Bendtner all believe they are destined for the top, so will not easily move to anything other than a top 4 team in a top-footballing country. However, the transfer window does not close for another 2 months or so, and anything can happen. Rosicky and Denilson will probably move, but I would not at all be surprised if Vela, Diaby and also Bendtner will stay, voluntarily, or because Wenger insists on it, or because no suitable moves become available for them. Is that a disaster? I don’t think so as they are decent squad players, who still have growth in them.

  74. Hi TA – busy is too small a word to do justice to how my life is at the moment 😉

    I just hope that a bit of business can be concluded quickly so that fans will feel that something is being done.

    On another point, in addition to Evonne, I know someone else who has been offered a season ticket by the club.

  75. The only player I really don’t want to see leave is Bendtner, I reckon he’ll end up having a cracking career if he leaves us and would rather he had it with us.

    ………. and Carlos Vela cos he’s just too yummy for his own skin 😳

  76. Jamie says:

    Vela’s not my type so I’m not so fussed.

    Bendtner could be good in a team with old style wingers that put a lot of crosses in. To be fair it’s not his fault Wenger keeps sticking him on the left wing.

    He doesn’t do himself any favours though, he makes the Gallagher brothers look modest!

  77. Gooner in Exile says:

    Jamie : “he makes the Gallagher brothers look modest!”

    😀 That is one of the funniest lines I have heard about NikB.

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Help me out here,
    I have been thinking about Chamakh and Nic. Are we seduced by MC because he is more exotic as well as being a newer addition, and we all like to believe AW has unearthed another gem. I see nothing to suggest that MC is the more effective player.

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ah GiE. Morning.

  80. chas says:

    Morning all.
    It would have been interesting at the start of last season if, when RvP got injured, it had been Bendy who was given the chance at CF rather than Cham. Unfortunately, Bendy was still recovering from a world cup injury.

  81. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Have to say, I really like Nik’s arrogance, also, I believe his goals to strike ratio is very good.

  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There is talk in some quarters of AW adopting either a 4-4-2 (maybe just as a Plan B), and/or dropping RvP deeper into a DB10 role, however the problem is that it would surely diminish his goal threat and as our only 20+goal-a-season man, this concerns me which is why I firmly believe we need an out and out goal scorer to take the pressure off Robin and certainly to act as cover for when he is injured.

  83. Gooner in Exile says:

    Morning you two….tend to agree with you Micky.

    NikB also has that selfish streak that all good strikers need. It will be a shame to see him go, but with Cham and possibility of other arrivals and youth players moving up the ranks something has to give.

    I see Nina Bracewell-Smith is having a bit of a dig from the sidelines….really helpful! She is suggesting the current board is sacked, a few days ago she said Dein was “the root cause of all trouble at AFC” before changing her mind and saying that he loved the club and had been immense for it.

    Also claiming that the board was scared of a powerful woman on the board……no Karen Brady for us then….phew!

    Why is she bothered to tweet about it, what is her agenda? Surely she should now be happy, shares sold and money in the bank (or loan notes).

  84. MickyDidIt89 says:

    She has also claimed previously that she knows nothing about football, so hey ho, I say.

  85. Morning all

    Totally agree with you chas about Nik missing out on his chance at the start of last season when Robin was injured. I think Nik for all his faults and heavy touch is a much better footballer than Cham.

  86. Where to play Robin is a very interesting question?

  87. evonne says:

    Micky – this is just for you

    Hiya Peaches – need help, give me a shout, simples

    GiE – NicB has everything that it takes to be great, both physically and mentally. His short appearences didn’t give him a proper chance to develop. I would love him to stay, but not sitting on the bench; he is too good.

    Lady Nina changed her mind – it is a woman’s prerogative 🙂

  88. evonne says:

    Raddy – if you are reading this – did you know that Duanne Eddy is playing in a small pub in Sheffield every night?

  89. dandan says:

    Morning all, especially lady odd legs nice to hear from you.
    On the subject of ladies, I see Mrs Bracewell Smith has been getting the knife into the board now, after verbally castrating DD she is now trying to stick them back on with honeyed words, whilst demanding the demise of the rest of the board. Perhaps Willie spokeshave had it right with his famous woman scorned quote or perhaps like most of you lovely ladies, she didn’t get it wrong, she just changed her mind.

    Mind changing is endemic in football by guys and girls alike,any player is only a couple of goals or good performances away from beautification in most fans eyes, so sharpen your swords throw your darts, but just like those lovely ladies remember to be ready to change your minds when the season starts, cos we might just be wrong.

  90. dandan says:

    And I might be dead when Peaches reads the above 🙂

  91. dandan says:

    Oops just seen GIE has stolen my thunder, sorry mate.Should have read back first.before posting

  92. I won’t kill you today ‘cos I’ll have changed my mind by later 😀

  93. evonne says:

    Morning Dandan
    ‘Verbally castrating’ 🙂

  94. kelsey says:

    The timing of Lady Nina’s tweets is curious.Apparently she hasn’t tweeted for months.

    No comment from me re Bendtner. Chamakh the same. Diaby we rejected 10 million.The club is going to the wall 🙂

  95. dandan says:

    .Phewwww 🙂

  96. Here’s a woman’s perspective on the DD vs Lady Nina saga :-

    I think Lady Nina thought it wasn’t a great idea when DD approached her to sell some of her shares to SK as it was going behind the other’s back but in the fullness of time when SK became the main man she probably felt a little foolish for blowing the whistle on DD.

    Those who have blogged with me for a while will remember that I reckon the whole ‘going behind the back thing’ was a set-up anyway and DF and DD had planned for DD to be the fall guy for a takeover bid by someone.

  97. Rasp says:

    Morning kelsey, if we really did reject £10m for Diaby then that is insanity. I see Denilson’s management have said that they haven’t received a single offer.

  98. kelsey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how are you? You have 10 minutes and then I’ll be gone ……………..

  99. evonne says:

    Peaches – stop shouting!

    Morning Kelsey, morning Rasp 🙂

    I am surprised that there was not a single offer for Denilson, he is not THAT bad. I think he could be a better player within a more physical team, his shortcomings would be less obvious and the skills highlighted. Bolton or West Ham, any team fat Sam had anything to do with

  100. Great point Evonne about Denilson possibly being better in a more physical team 😉

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