On the face of it, one player leaving a team shouldn’t be a huge deal. If the player is a superstar, maybe it’s a team changing event. But in this case, Flamini was a talented role player but not a superstar by any stretch. Certainly, a club like Arsenal could overcome the loss of one role player, right? The problem is that when Flamini left, the club changed radically. His departure signaled the end of the “Henry” era and the start of what I call the “Wilshere” era.
Changes had been brewing at the club for a few years before Flamini left. We may not have known what was going on but when Wenger started fielding a squad of 17 year old’s for the Carling Cup matches we all sort of knew something was up.
Up until about 2005/2006 Wenger fielded a pretty full squad for the Carling Cup matches. Sure, he used the early cup matches to give the young players a chance to show what they could do but when the cup was in sight, Wenger would put first team players on. There was certainly no talk about a “youth movement” and no sight of fielding 16 year-old academy players in cup quarter-finals.
Two years ago, that all changed. Players like Flamini were rested and players like Denilson were given a full run at the Carling Cup and as I look back on it, I’m pretty sure it was all intentional.
All the press at the time was about how Arsenal didn’t want to break their wage structure and that’s why they let Flamini go but the reality is that Wenger had this all planned from the start. In his pre-Plymouth interview yesterday, Wenger revealed that when he signed his latest contract he knew what financial restrictions the new stadium would bring. That means that as far back as 2004 Wenger was planning this transition.
So, while Flamini’s position is the one we all most wish Arsene had filled he’s just symbolic: Flamini represented the old era. With the loss of experienced players like Flamini, Gilberto, Hleb, and Senderos Arsenal are seeing the rise of players like Song, Denilson, and Diaby.
You need look no further than who he fielded in thre FA Cup today: Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela, Fabianski and Gibbs — all players from this year’s Carling Cup run. Where at one time the Carling Cup was used to introduce young players (Fabregas) it is now the place to get them experience, and where at one time the FA Cup was one of the targets for the first team it is now the place where 17 year old’s (Wilshere) are called upon to play.
The fact is that Wenger did replace Flamini: like it or not, at the start of the new era, Wenger replaced Flamini with Aaron Ramsey.
I watched the Arsene Wenger press conference yesterday (I broke down and subscribed to Arsenal TV Online) and was prepared to write a piece about how my interpretation of that interview was vastly different from the mainstream press but then I read Arseblogger’s breakdown and well, I couldn’t really add much more to it than what he said, so go on over there if you want to know what Wenger talked about yesterday.
The only transfer story this morning is that City have officially offered £8m for Kolo Toure. After watching Wenger’s press conference, I’d be surprised if Kolo moved on. It’s not impossible, mind you, but it would be surprising. Hey maybe we could get Micah Richards in exchange? Everyone wanted him at Arsenal this summer, you’re all still rating him super high aren’t you?
Anyway, Arsenal held on to beat Plymouth in the FA cup today 3-1 and I had to listen to it on BBC5 because the dot com was down. I can’t give a proper match report tomorrow since I didn’t see the match. I guess I’ll just have to make something up!