I loved the Hulk when I was a kid, the comic book, the television series, Hulk lunchboxes, Hulk underoos, you name it, if it had the Hulk on it, I liked it. The Hulk is, like all comic book characters, easy to relate to: a normal guy who, when pushed, turns into a 7 foot tall, invincible, green killing machine. Who isn’t like THAT before the first cup of coffee in the morning?
According to future England #1, it turns out our little Theo Walcott has some of the Hulk in him:
Theo was too nice maybe in the last two years, but this season you can see that when he gets tackled he gets furious, and that shows you he has changed, when he used to take a tackle he did not reply with anything, he did not say anything to the referee or the opposing player. He would get tackled and stay on the floor, and he would never say anything. Now I like him more on the field. I just spoke with him once. I told him he had to be a bit more aggressive, and not so nice on the pitch, because if people can kill you they will do so.
When tackled, Theo gets angry, and you wouldn’t want to see Theo angry.
But seriously, Almunia has a good point; that Theo needed a little bit more ‘grit’ as they say and has seemed to have picked that up this season. I remember remarking early on about how he was taking the hard challenges and not complaining, but just getting up and getting right back into the game. If the FA wants to have a ‘respect’ campaign they ought to start and end with Theo Walcott, he’s the model footballer in my eyes as far as diving, cheating, and complaining in that I’ve never seen him do any of those things. In a sense, he’s the anti-Hulk, actually. I’ve never seen the opposition ruffle his feathers. He just gets right back up and goes right back at them again. It’s pretty remarkable, and this young man has to be seen as yet another jewel in the Wenger crown.
Someone should remind Wenger that these jewels need to be polished occasionally or they will lose their luster and migrate from our crown to some filthy crown in Spain. The best tonic for polishing Cesc’s jewels is Trophy Tonic: so let’s win the Champions League and put some spit and polish on Cesc’s jewels!
After that last sentence, I feel gayer than some dude sitting in his mom’s basement endlessly searching for news about Andrei Arshavin. Hi Anonymous dude, who is desperately searching for any Arshavin news and feels compelled to click on an Arsenal blog. Your boy is still at that racist ass club, he’s still the most over-rated player to come out of Euro 2008 and he’s still not ever going to be an Arsenal player! Thanks for stopping by!
I had forgotten that the international break gives Sepp Blatter a chance to really shine in the spotlight. This break he’s decided to take on the idea that clubs can be bought and sold. Ok, here’s the deal; I actually agree with him that there’s a serious problem but his solution is about as sensible as voting for John McCain because he’s the “change” candidate. What stupid Sepp is actually proposing is that the EPL adopt foreign ownership rules similar to the Swiss rules of land ownership. And if the EPL don’t adopt those rules, then he wants the EU to step in and enforce some type of rule because, what he doesn’t want is people making money off the clubs.
(Let’s get serious for a second)
First, let me just say, I have been talking about the Premier League as a bubble now for three years. Any time a player like Sean Wright-Phillips is valued at $40m you may be looking at a bubble or you may be looking at a team with stupid management. However, if it happens constantly that players are being over valued (Sheva, SWP, Ronaldinho, Darren Bent, Andrei Arshavin, even CR7) then you know you have a bubble. When I say “over-valued” I mean that Chelsea was never going to be able to recoup the cost of buying a player like Sheva.They were never going to be able to re-sell him for anything near what they paid and he would never sell enough jerseys or put enough asses in seats to recoup their losses on him. They paid well over the odds as they did with nearly every player on that team. This irrational spending, in turn, irrationally inflated the prices of the rest of the players in the league.
The same thing with clubs. If you have just one club that is buried under a mountain of debt that they used to finance their insane buying spree (Leeds) then that one club will likely just fail on its own. However, if you have 10 of the top 20 clubs in any country buried under insurmountable debts, and yet their value keeps going up, you have a bubble.
Call it “irrational exuberance,” a “bubble,” bad business, whatever, it’s here in the EPL and has been for a few years.
In the past I have refrained from calling for regulations because 98% of the time I think the market can correct itself. Glazers can’t make their payments? Then someone will step in and buy the club, because there’s a lot of money to be made at Man U under a sensible business plan. But the bubble right now is so large and so distended that I’m not sure the market can correct the problem. I’m also not really sure what the cure is or whether the cure will be more bitter than the disease. I’ve thought about salary caps, transfer caps, debt to income ratio caps, etc. but honestly I sort of think it’s too late for all of these to work. You cannot regulate your way out of a bubble. It has to burst.
Fortunately, Arsenal are positioned very well to weather such a storm. They have a sound fiscal policy and a concomitant managerial philosophy: 50% of their operating costs are generated by match day revenue and they have a youth policy and self imposed salary structure. All off which are prudent fiscal policies in any environment and pretty much the only way to live through a bubble.
They also have the second largest stadium in one of the best markets for sport in the world and more than any other team, because of their team philosophy, they are scalable and yet still enjoyable to watch. When the bubble bursts I feel confident that this club will rise back up to the top.
All this leads me to the following conclusion: trophies right now are, in some sense, fools gold. Because in order to win one, we have to spend a ton of money, right? Plonk down £30m on some big name, right? You’ll get no argument from me, it’s pretty clear that the handful of teams with the biggest bubbles over their heads are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to win a few trophies. So, while I want a trophy this season, and it would be the sweetest of all the trophies I have seen at Arsenal because they did it their own way, I’m not calling for Arsene to spend irrationally just to get one. If Cesc wants to leave in the next few years because the grass is greener in Ibiza or because they will polish his jewels more fervently, then more power to him; thanks for all the years of wonderful football, thanks for the irrational transfer fee that the club will receive, and good luck against your replacement in the Champions League, a youngster named Jack Wilshere, you’ll need it.
No. The bubble’s going to burst and there’s nothing you, me, or Sepp Blatter is going to do to stop it now. We, as Arsenal supporters, just need to sit back, bide our time, enjoy the football (win-lose-or-draw) and watch as the global financial crisis consumes teams like Pompey, Newcastle and Chelsea, and brings teams like Man U and Liverpool back down to earth.
I’m confident that even if we don’t get a trophy this season The Arsenal will always rise to the top.