Summer 2012 needs to see a change in direction in Arsenal’s transfer policy. Out must go this incessant desire to collect 15-16 year olds from around the world and expect and hope that they will develop.
Arsenal have many youngsters in the reserves or on loan for whom the time is ripe for them to be given their chance.
Kyle Bartley will have played the better part of two seasons for Rangers, the time is for Kyle to come back and be given a real chance at Arsenal. In addition we have seen Ignasi Miguel this season at left-back, 2012 must see play at centre-back.
In midfield we need to allow Frimpong and Coquelin a real chance. Wenger needs to play these two guys next season regularly. Arsene needs to learn the art of developing and bringing young players through the ranks. This means resting your regular players.
In addition to these two, is the precocious talents of Henri Lansbury. This youngster has Arsenal running through his veins, he has spent the last two seasons on loan at Championship teams and he was a vital member of Stuart Pearce’s England under 21 team. If Wenger fails to keep Lansbury and develop him, then Wenger can be discounted as manager who develops and gives youth its chance.
Another youngster who will be given his chance, next season or more likely this season is Connor Henderson. His progress has been hampered by severe injuries for the last two seasons, but Wenger believes in the young Ireland winger.
The final person that needs to be given an opportunity is our other summer signing Joel Campbell. Campbell will develop into a good striker, only through Arsenal’s folly in applying for a special talent work permit for Ryo rather than Campbell, has the Costa Rica international had to ply his trade in France,
These seven youngsters along with Szczesny, Gibbs, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain will be the basis of Arsenal for years to come. They will fight for Arsenal and feel Arsenal, every defeat will mean something to them, they will give heart and soul for the club.
This is the promotion from within that we failed to undertake for many seasons. Too often our talent has been releases, only for them to flourish elsewhere.
The club then needs to invest in three top quality players. A central midfielder, a creative player and a world-class striker. The argument that buying these players will curtail the advancement of the players mentioned above is utter rubbish. Young players will thrive by training and playing alongside top players. The youngsters will develop better and faster in a winning team.
This summer needs a clear-out of our deadwood, and we have a lot of deadwood, we need to promote and give young Arsenal players the chance to flourish and we need to invest in three world-class players. This is the mix that Arsenal need to overhaul our squad and put us on the right track.
Dateline 22 January 2012, this date will go down in history, it is the date the fans at the Emirates turned on Arsene Wenger.
The fans booed the team off at half-time and were rewarded when youngster Nico Yennaris replaced the hapless and hopeless Djourou who becomes a bigger liability every time he puts on an Arsenal shirt. Wenger was decisive with his first substitution, but his second left everyone at the Emirates, including his captain van Persie totally bemused and unimpressed.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was causing the Manchester United defence problems with his direct and physical running. Every time he got the ball there was a buzz in the ground and fear amongst the United defence. It was one of these runs that Chamberlain passed the ball to van Persie which led to the equaliser. Arsenal had the wind behind them and Oxlade-Chamberlain had the key to unlock the United defence. Then disaster.
Arsenal had been preparing to bring on Arshavin and Park, yes he does actually play football, but when we equalised the substitutions were put on hold. Then Wenger played his card, Arshavin to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain. As one the Emirates faithful turned on Wenger, boos echoed around the stadium and the boos were a sign of disgust for the decision. Then the crowd shouted at Wenger “ you don’t know what you’re doing”, the only surprise is that this was the first time this was directed at Wenger who appears to have lost the plot this season.
Never have the Arsenal fans showed so open hostility towards Le Professor as today and they were justified, as within 8 minutes, Arshavin failed to make a challenge on Valencia and United took the lead.
Later Wenger refused to justify his decision “Oxlade-Chamberlain had started to fatigue, started to stretch his calf, and was not used to the intensity. He was sick on Sunday night during the week. Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team. I have to justify [substituting] a guy of 18 who’s playing his second or third game? “
This is the usual Wenger rubbish, players getting tired; I don’t think he understands sports psychology. A manager’s job is to encourage his players not give them reasons to play below par. This was the same man who claimed last season that Chamakh was finding it hard to adjust to the Premiership, after scoring countless goals. Following Wenger’s comments, Chamakh has been a pale shadow of the striker we signed last season.
Was it just the fans that were not happy, no van Persie, our remaining world class player, our talisman and captain clearly showed what he thought of the decision too.
Wenger was losing the fans this season, with pathetic transfers in the summer, a lame start to the season, a series of away defeats and the same old excuses, but his substitution today has lost him the Emirates crowd too. Whilst discontent was mostly restricted to internet forums, this has now spread to the Emirates, previously a bastion of loyal support for Wenger.
Arsenal fans are not content with merely qualify for the Champions League, Arsenal fans want to compete for the title every season. Arsenal fans do not accept Champions League qualification in lieu of trophies; we want trophies and Champions League qualifications.
If Wenger and the board believe we will settle for another trophy less season, and non-qualification for the Champions League coupled with mediocre football, then they will have a few nasty months coming up.
Angry, frustrated, disappointed. Once again Arsenal fans are left let-down, once again we are promised things will change and once again it is groundhog season for Arsenal, and we haven’t even entered the annual departures of the close season.
Where do we start? It is obvious that things went wrong in the summer with Wenger anticipating that both Nasri and Fabregas will not leave these were the hopes of a man living in a dream land. The summer also saw not focus on any transfers other than Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, despite the fact we needed at least one central defender and another striker.
We have seen in recent weeks the paucity of our squad. We have played Song, Arteta and Ramsey in nearly every game. Wenger has alternatives, Frimpong, Coquelin, Rosicky and Benayoun, but he does not trust the first two and neither Benayoun nor Rosicky are up to the task. Creativity is lacking in central midfield and Ramsey appears completely lost playing the attacking midfield role. We have Wilshere and Diaby coming back from injury, but will that solve the problem? Wilshere will have an impact, but isn’t it too much to have to rely on this young man, when all around him lack that certain edge required of Arsenal midfielders?
On the wings, Wenger has had three options, Walcott, Gervinho and Arshavin. Walcott does not realise he needs to play to his strength, and he only has one – speed. Theo is a speed merchant but is reluctant to run at defenders, to play the ball past the full-back and challenge him for pace. Walcott’s finishing has been woeful, for someone who wishes to play as a central striker his shooting is pathetic. What has the coaching staff been working on with Theo in the last 5 years? Has he really improved since joining Arsenal, and if the answer is no, then why not, has anybody spoken to him about wing play?
Arshavin gave up playing for Arsenal some time ago, the only surprise is that Wenger hasn’t sold him. What has happened to Arshavin, why does not take players on anymore, where are the little tricks gone or the on-target shots? The answer lies partly in our formation. Arshavin plays off the striker, he likes to attack the goal directly not via the wings. Look at his first half-season, he played behind van Persie or Adebayor and he ran at players go left or right, now he does not have that variation.
Our forwards consist of one person, van Persie, end of story. Chamakh started of really last season, then stopped, he does not even look like a player who score an open goal, why is a mystery. One suggestion is that he does not get enough playing time, but when we only play one striker, he never will, so unless we change to 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, Chamakh will go the same way as Bendtner. Our third striker is a mystery to everyone, Park. Why did Wenger buy Park so late in the window? He knew Bendtner was leaving so another striker was always required, why not show an intent and go for Remy, Hunterlaar or Benzema, instead we opt for a Ligue 2 striker Park. But then Wenger proceeds not to play him and asks the fans to give him a chance, but Wenger does not trust him! Is Park one of these mystery Wenger purchases like Kaba Diawarra or Tomas Danilevicius? Whatever the reason, I doubt Park will be with next season.
Arsenal have struggled this season, narrow home victories over Stoke, Sunderland, Everton, QPR, draws with Fulham, Wolves and away defeats at Blackburn, Fulham and Swansea just emphasise in which direction we are heading this season. This Arsenal squad must be the worse squad of players assembled by Wenger in his time at the club. Wenger has stated that finishing in the top four is more important than winning a trophy, well I doubt we will finish in the top four or win a trophy this season. The squad needed a major overhaul in the summer, quality players were required and that has not changed. It is going to be a long and painful second half of the season for Arsenal fans, let’s hope that there is radical change in the summer, but I doubt it.
The Arsenal board and Wenger have constantly talked about the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules and how the Arsenal model is the model other clubs are striving for (financially if not trophy wise). Arsenal are of the opinion that our prudence in the transfer market will eventually ensure we are a successful club both on and off the field.
Let us look at the Financial Fair Play rules. This state that a club over a three year cycle can only lose €15M. What is excluded from the profit and loss are non-football related items. Any profits from our property ventures or income from hotels that some clubs have are disregarded. Any interest payments that relate to the football infrastructure, i.e. stadium or training ground development are ignored.
The next aspect to look at is how are transfers treated. When a club buys a player, say Gervinho for £10.7M, this £10.7M is charged to P&L over the duration of Gervinho’s contract (4 years). This means that for the next four years we will charge the P&L £2.675M per annum. This summer we spent £48M on players and our standard contract is 4 years, so for the next 4 years we will write-off the transfer fees at £12M per annum.
In terms of sales of players, the transfer fee is taken to P&L less any value in the balance sheet. So when we sold Clichy for instance, his book value was nil, so the P&L is credited with £7M for the year 2011/12. Our sales this summer amounted to £73M. As all the players had a balance sheet value of nil, the 2011/12 accounts will show a profit of £73M.
Looking at the accounts for the year ended 31 May 2011, Arsenal’s football profit is £16M per annum before player trading, this position will not change until 2014 when our sponsorship deals with Nike and Fly Emirates expire. This means we can spend £16M per annum on transfers before falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, in effect our purchases this summer mean we have used ALL of our allowable transfer expenditure for the next three seasons.
However, due to our profit on sales of £73M this summer we can spend a further £100M on players and still be within UEFA’s rules.
So assuming we have no transfers out (highly unlikely with the contract position of our players), Wenger has £100M to spend on players this January and the club will stay within the UEFA Financial regulations.
If we take another look at the accounts as at 31 May 2011, when some season ticket money have been received, but before any transfer money and also before the £25M sale of Queensland Road and before new sponsorship deals with Bettson, Indesit, Citreon, Thomas Cook, O2 and Carlsberg were agreed, Arsenal Football Club had £160M in cash at the bank. Yes just to repeat that £160M in the bank.
Anybody who tells you the club does not have money is lying, we have more money that nearly all the clubs in the Premier League.
Wenger has the resources to go out and buy players in January and still stay within UEFA’s financial rules and I expect he will. The last two times we bought players in January was when we competing with Aston Villa for fourth place and we bought Arshavin and when bought Adebayor, Diaby and Walcott we were in fight for fourth place with Spurs.