Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos: the joie de vivre, effervescence, and Sophocles

Preamble:

Fun night all around. First off the high definition broadcast is simply amazing. Up till now, I’ve only seen Chelsea or some other team in HD, and crap in HD is still crap, though in HD you get to see what they had for dinner last night.

Second, I had company as Phil the mechanic came over and helped me re-assemble the rear rotor and tire on my motorcycle. I had already spun through the first half of the recording when he showed up and after I served him some dinner we fired up the second. For him, a novice football fan, to see those two Arsenal goals must have been a bit, erm, odd.

The first goal was as “Arsenal” a goal as I have ever seen. The move starts with Song winning the ball, and his subsequent mispass falling to Eboue who quickly lobbed forward, where Robin van Persie had dropped deep to claim the ball off his chest with what Wenger hails as amazing touch, and it was. Robin drops the ball for Cesc and starts his attacking run. Cesc carries the ball forward, and  picks out Eduardo who had timed his run off the shoulder perfectly and who expertly controls the ball, dribbles to the end-line and puts the ball in just about the only place where the keeper couldn’t get to it and there’s Robin van Persie who simply puts in a rare left-legged goal.

Amazing.

It’s funny too, because when the goal came I had just been complaining to Phil about how Olympiacos literally had 10 men in their own half for the first 70 minutes. I think when Sky showed the possession stats at 58 to 42 in favor of Arsenal I scoffed that Olympiacos couldn’t possibly have had 42% of the ball. In fact, the Telegraph shows 66% in favor of Arsenal, which I think is still generous for Olympiacos. Maybe they saw 34% of the ball when their keeper was picking it out of the net.

Irregardless the stats, it was great to see the club break down a stalwart opposition who clearly came to the Emirates and parked the bus. Last year, getting a result against a team like that wasn’t a guarantee. This year, I honestly never felt like the result was in doubt.

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Arsene Wenger continued the quest for the one thing missing from his Arsenal CV as the Gunners maintained their 100% record in Champions League Group H with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos at Emirates Stadium.

Telegraph: Arsène Wenger has mocked those urging him to spend the club’s latest profits, pointing out that the transfer window is closed and “you don’t buy players at Waitrose’’. If you could, Arsenal’s manager would be the one peering over the Continental produce counter, hunting more bargains like Robin van Persie, who cost only £2.75 million.

Match Video

The Arsenalist has the highlights today!

Man of the Match

A bit tough here as I can see arguments for Arshavin, Cesc, van Persie, and Song. After the match, the boss pointed to Arshavin’s close quarter skills as a decisive factor against a team that tries to shut up shop. Robin van Persie in the goal that broke the game open showed his hard work, control, and importance to this team overall. And Song was easily our most mature and calm player on the pitch, holding the ball in their half, and for much of the second half playing as one of only two midfielders as we switched to a 4-2-4. Hell, I could even see an argument for Eduardo who simply came on to the pitch, with a muscle injury, and immediately changed the game.

But, because he was involved in every attack, just missed a goal for himself by the slimmest of crossbars, had a hand in both goals, and because he looked like his old self, I’m giving Man of the Match to Cesc. Here’s hoping he can keep this form through the weekend.

The Good

Arsenal have now won 5 matches in a row and have kept 4 consecutive clean sheets. Moreover, this same team last year was incapable of breaking down teams who played for the draw, but last night I never felt like the result was in danger.

As I’ve already pointed out, Song looked very assured in the midfield, Arshavin looked predatory, Cesc was on his game, Eboue looked great as right back and reminded me of why he was a fan favorite 3 years ago, van Persie worked his ass off, and Eduardo came on and simply changed the game. Wenger says that the team has matured and if last night’s performance is any indication I agree wholeheartedly.

I also want to give a shout out to the crowd who were awesome for 85 minutes. Yes, they went home after Arshavin scored the second, but who can blame them? It’s late on a Tuesday and who wants to be sitting on a train platform for an hour after the match?

Bad quote of the day:

The only thing I was slightly disappointed with was Arsenal’s continued inability to put in a good ball off a set play. Yesterday they tried everything, even Arshavin had a crack at a dead ball, yet it didn’t matter who took the free kick, they can’t seem to get the ball over the first defender. FRUSTRATING.

Anyway, it’s a minor thing, and is completely overshadowed by this mind-bogglingly stupid quote:

It was not just us sitting back and not playing. We went forward, but could not get any passing going and suffered from Arsenal’s way of playing. — Olympiacos manager Zico

Uhhh, lobbing the ball out of your end for our defenders to collect is not “going forward.”

Ugly sentence of the day

The Telegraph serves this gem up:

Clad in funereal black, the Greeks performed as if auditioning for one of Sophocles’ tragedies and their complete lack of joie de vivre was a contrast to Arsenal’s effervescence, not to mention the playing days of their coach, Zico.

Only the English language can take a Germanic structure, toss in a smidgen of Greek, French, and Latin and output this turd of a sentence. Oh and yes, it’s pronounced few-ner-e-al which rhymes with venereal.

Conclusions

Arsenal are now on maximum points in our Champions League group and in complete control of our own destiny. Winning this group was considered a given after the draw and seeing our form over our first two opponents — coming back from 2-0 down against Liege and opening up a doggedly defensive Olympiacos — you’d have to think we are clear favorites.

Arsenal now have 5 days to recover before they face Blackburn on Sunday. It’s another home game so that means no traveling and maximum rest for the squad after two big games.

After last night’s determined performance, they’ll probably relish the rest.

56 Comments on Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos: the joie de vivre, effervescence, and Sophocles

  1. It is very hard to disagree with anything you have said in that piece. Very great article. “Arsenal’s effervescence” was indeed served on a plater of gold in yesterday’s display. As I commented late yesterday, it was an OSCAR performance from the team.

  2. Was at the game. Agree with most of what u say except that the crowd were disappointingly quiet, only getting louder after we scored. WTF is wrong with us, we were being drowned out at times by the away support, who looked like they were having a blast, even at 0-1 down!

    Still, our attacking play was breathtaking at times, and had the gooners around me on the edge of our seats as we had wave after wave of beautiful attacking play. Their keeper had the game of his life.

    Glad Arsha scored, there were loads of occasions where i could see him calling for the ball only to be ignored, and wondered whether there was any ‘politics’ going on in the team, but my vague and unsubstantiated suspicions were quickly dispelled after seeing the way the team celebrated the goal with him, im glad to say.

    All in all a good nights work!

  3. ALso thought i’d say that Rosicky looked really sharp yesterday, easily one of our best players on the night for his movement and passing. He’s getting back to his old self, and even made a couple of crunching tackles, which got me worried – i hope to god he doesnt get injured again, he’s a world class player who we have sorely missed.

    • Cesky – thanks for the comments. Hearing from somebody who actually was at the game gives insights you cannot get from the TV. Cheers.

      • @T-Town,

        @ T-Town – My pleasure! Will pop back after Sundays game and give you the lowdown. Keep up the good work!

        @LRV – cant wait for the day he is fully fit and banging in those 30 yarders again!

  4. HD broadcast here was lovely; to me though, whatever feed they are using does not pick up much of the crowd noise at all, and seems to drown out much of the sound of the game. The only times I realized the crowd was making noise was when the lone commentator mentioned it. Also, did anyone else notice the constant reference to the game being played at “Arsenal Stadium” as opposed to the Emirates? Does that have something to do with sponsorship or what? I figure a stadium name is a stadium name, no matter who’s paying to put their name on it…

    • @Kevin, There’s some rights thing or another in Europe, so UEFA calls the stadium the actual name i.e. “Ashburton Grove” or simply Arsenal Stadium.

  5. Tim – good observations.

    What we’re seeing is slow cooking chemistry, of the highest order.

    Hi IQ / skill players like Cesc, Arshavin, Rosicky, RvP, & Eduardo, when collectively
    playing together, are indefensible.

    Gifted young players like Nasri, Ramsey, Wilshere, & Merida can develop exponentially when sprinkled into the recipe.

  6. Good blog, good game, etc.

    Interesting comments about the home fans, Cesky…You’d think with the open tickets you’d get a few more sing-alongs. I guess the away supporters are the real hard-core types these days….http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/sep/30/emmanuel-adebayor-fa-charge-goal-celebration

    Without Bendtner and with Diaby still on walkabout we are an attacking band of midgets, albeit intelligent/skill ones as Sesh notes above. These guys work especially well in the less physically bruising matches (CL as opposed to English League). Add to that our pacy fullbacks and smallish but mobile central defense and we look pretty good. I still worry a bit when we run up against bigger, more feisty competitors and have less protection from the refs. (Perhaps this Sunday with Fat Sam’s Blackburn team?)

    Looking forward to that game and another 3 points, however. And it’ll be interesting what the int’l break brings–hopefully more players coming back than getting crocked. One more start for Mannone in goal this weekend and I’d say we’ve got a full-on new #1. (Though I remain unconvinced….And if Fabianski is ready by mid-November it may be, as they say, “up for grabs….”)

  7. Agreed with Cesky on Nikopolidis(GK). He was a serious contender for MOTM. I got really worried seeing all those opportunities created but no scoring. Luckily hard work paid off. Also Arsha’s finishing (was iu offside?) was Eduardo-esque. Beautiful. Song is a monster! Up the arse!

  8. I see Satan has upped his shareholding again. Satan = Kronke; the name started its life as a typo – Satan for Stan – and with me at least it has stuck, though for everyone else, it seems, Usmanov has become the pantomine villain and Satan turned into the nice guy. How did this come about?

    Before you tell me that Usmanov has murdered the entire population of the former Soviet Union or whatever, do have a trustworthy source for this and similar allegations – more trustworthy than the self-serving Craig Murray, the sacked British ambassador, who exploited the threat of an Arsenal takeover for his own self-publicising purposes?

    I’m not an expert on this subject but I have at least read (well, skimmed) Murray’s book, and a very shabby piece of work it looks. I’ve also heard a BBC radio programme researched by a Russian journalist, who suggested that Usmanov’s ‘crimes’, though not pretty, are in no way unusual among the aspiring capitalists after the break up of the Soviet Union, and certainly no worse than Abramovich’s. It’s just that we didn’t hear so much about Abramovich’s shark-like former life because he didn’t have a Craig Murray.

    I’m strongly opposed to any kind of takeover, but of the two, Usmanov or Kroenke, Kroenke seems infinitely more dangerous because he is in it for the money. Usmanov isn’t; he doesn’t need money. A football club for him is a purely trophy – a superior kind of yacht – to enhance his social status among the seriously rich.

    But Kroenke is an AMERICAN, many of you must be thinking, and he’s a SPORTS FAN. Unfortunately this is true and doubtless it makes him very wholesome and smiley. Trouble is, he is not very rich, not on the Usmanov scale, and the sports dear to his heart, and which he will want to able to finance into the future, are American sports. Naturally he wants to get his hands on Arsenal with its shiny new stadium, its tv revenue and impressive accounts, not because he’s into football as such, but for precisely the same reasons as the Glazers and Hicks and Gillett wanted United and Liverpool: profit. This doesn’t make him a bad person, but it does make him a big threat. Have you all forgotten the discussions Arsenal supporters had about the nature of this threat and how to campaign to resist it, day after day a few years ago when Kroenke first appeared on the scene?

    I’m sure if Usmanov had just increased his shareholding there would wailing and tearing of hair across the internet. But when Kroenke does it it’s either not noticed or blandly seen as quite a good thing. What’s going on? What’s happened to Arsenal fans’ memories?

    • @Mia, Mia, your arguments make no sense.

      First, you glibly discard Usmanov’s reportedly unsavory past with by saying that since everyone who got rich in Russia then it’s ok by saying: “Usmanov’s ‘crimes’, though not pretty, are in no way unusual among the aspiring capitalists after the break up of the Soviet Union.”

      Second, Usmanov is the only shareholder to publicly ask that dividends be paid. Kroenke has sided with the board on this issue: Arsenal are not a club which pays dividends.

      Third, your wealth figures for Kroenke and Usmanov are WAY off. Kroenke is richer than Usmanov by nearly 2X.

      http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_E-Stanley-Kroenke_H6A2.html

      http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_Alisher-Usmanov_GIPI.html

      So, even I was to subscribe to the logic that Usmanov wants to use Arsenal as a trophy possession it would make more sense that Kroenke wanted to do that since he’s actually the far richer of the two.

      And finally, there’s a good reason that the board is siding with Stan Kroenke, they got to know him and it turns out that he actually is “the right sort.” In the mean time we’ve gotten to know Usmanov as well and frankly his dealings over the last few years make me far more nervous than the dealings that Kroenke has been involved in. The recent “rights issue” thing springs immediately to mind. Usmanov played on Arsenal fan’s desire to sign some big named player (the vastly overrated Huntelaar — with 0 goals and 0 assists in 8 games — springs immedately to mind) in order to try to force the board to dilute the stock price with a rights issue which would play into his hands since his net worth dropped to just $1.6bn and he can’t afford to buy the company outright anymore. Then there’s the nosing in on the negotations of Arshavin which nearly saw the deal fall through and on and on. From what I can tell, that’s how Usmanov does business; personal relationships and coercion.

      Meanwhile Kroenke has sided with the board in every aspect, he’s clearly working to increase Arsenal’s presence in overseas markets and I think has a deep love for the history of this club.

      I was with you a while ago, but as I’ve seen the corrosive effect that Abramovich has had on Chelsea and how he’s turned his “investment” into crippling IOU’s, while meddling in the squad, and firing the coach every six months. I’ve seen Chelsea go from a club that was a baby’s hair away from a treble to a club that struggles to beat Wigan, is suffering a two window transfer ban, and will probably fire their coach before the year is out. That’s all happened because Abramovich’s business model is the same as Usmanov’s AND because he treats the club like it’s his trophy. Like he’s playing Championship Manager except not on the Playstation but in real life.

      What’s happened to our memories is that we’ve seen the measure of the two men and have rightly decided to go with the guy who has proven time and again to make the right decisions.

      That guy is STAN Kroenke.

      • Tim, I’d not dismissing Usmanov’s past, but I am asking for proper evidence of it, more dependable than Craig Murray’s allegations, which have been accepted uncritically by many Arsenal fans. I’m questioning the demonisation of Usmanov and the assumption by many fans that Kroenke suddenly isn’t a threat. Of course the Board have to work with him in the face of the greater threat posed by Usmanov, and I sincerely hope they can contain him, but I regarded Kroenke as a threat from the outset and I haven’t changed my view. I’m opposed to all takeovers full stop.

        On Usmanov’s wealth, I doubt if dependable figures are available but since much of it is in oil and gas, he won’t be doing that badly.

        On the moral question: if Usmanov takes us over and it emerges that his crimes are as bad as Abramovich’s, will I cease to support Arsenal? Yes. But sadly I will also cease to support Arsenal if Kroenke takes over.

        • @Mia, So, just to be clear, you’ll cease to support Arsenal if:

          1. Usmanov takes over and it turns out that he is a criminal, and not just because Usmanov takes over.

          or

          2. If Stan Kroenke takes over at all.

          That seems like a reasonable position.

          As for the source of Usmanov’s wealth, since you can’t seem to be arsed to read the links I sent:

          Owns iron ore and steel producer Metalloinvest with Andrei Skoch and Vasily Anisimov. Trio planned to take it public in 2008 and had investment bankers lined up, but it was postponed indefinitely because of the financial crisis. Skoch and Anisimov, who have smaller stakes in the company, both dropped out of the billionaire ranks this year. Another bad bet by Usmanov: paid $2.5 billion for a 5% stake in Norilsk Nickel last year. At press time it was worth just $600 million. Also has a 25% stake in publicly traded British soccer club, Arsenal. Owns the biggest Russian business daily, Kommersant, and has shares in two extremely popular social networking websites. His most valuable asset is his stake in Russia’s telecom outfit, Megafon.

          As for his personal story I find it incredible that he was this wealthy kid who actually survived 6 years in a prison full of hardened criminals in Russia where people are killed for a few dollar. Many of those criminals his father put in there and yet he survived not through mob connections but through his street-wise guile.

          Kroenke, meanwhile, got his wealth thus:

          U.S. real estate collapse bruising Kroenke’s personal balance sheet; sports teams holding value. Made first fortune developing commercial and retail properties. Holdings include 5 ranches covering 1.5 million acres, shopping centers, office properties. Sports nut owns pro basketball’s Denver Nuggets, hockey’s Colorado Avalanche; both play at his Pepsi Center. Also owns stake in pro football’s St. Louis Rams, English soccer titan Arsenal. Wife—and fellow billionaire—Ann inherited chunk of Wal-Mart stock after father James (Bud) Walton’s death in 1995.

          It looks to me like you are operating in a vaccuum devoid of facts and have made up your mind about Kroenke irregarless the avalanche of data that runs counter to all of your arguments.

          I want to repeat something I said earlier: Kroenke DOES NOT want dividends, Usmanov has PUBLICLY SAID that dividends should be paid (he later backed down.)

          Who, then, is it that wants to milk the club?

          • Yes, I have a moral position which might mean I couldn’t support Arsenal if Usmanov takes over – I don’t know if he’s as bad as he’s been painted or indeed if Kroenke is as admirable as some fans are hoping.

            I have also another position, call it aesthetic, personal-preference, pure undiluted prejudice, what you like, and that is that I wouldn’t feel the same way about Arsenal if Kroenke took over full stop. I don’t care if he has a deep love of the club’s history. I don’t care if he doesn’t want dividends. I don’t care if he’s saint and has only stepped in to lend us a hand out of the goodness of his heart. If he wants to help a struggling football club there are plenty in Africa or indeed in the Scottish third division who are more in need of philanthropy than we are. I don’t like saintly capitalists who develop deep loves of things in other countries, I feel more trusting of straightforward sharks – that is my aesthetic preference, my prejudice. I wish he’d fuck off.

      • @Tim, Stan married his wealth and has leveraged the Walton (Walmart) influence. Without the marriage, Stan is a nobody.

        How can you speculate that Usmanov has dirtier hands?

        Mia’s point is valid.

  9. I was very pleased that we never got frustrated w/ the lack of early goals and allow our pressure to tail off. Very professional, very mature performance.

    I would echo that famous quote from Fabregas to Hughes w/ regard to Zico and Olympiakos: are you sure you were in the Brazilian National Team?

    How about that 19yo Jovetic who gutted Liverpool. Already be ‘linked’ w/ Man U. Man U are banking their money and that’s the reality.

  10. I think my moment of the match was when Arshavin somehow bounced the ball from his right foot the left, and in one smooth move took a low shot. The keeper saved it, but damn if that isn’t a mesmerising maneuver.

    He’s done it at least once before and I just don’t understand how it’s even physically possible, it looks like he has both feet off the ground when he does it.

  11. I was not able to watch the game due to the storm in my part of the world but I was able to catch the hilights and Van Persie was very active. I think we will see more goals from his chocolate leg now that he is getting into the groove. We had a host of chances and their keeper did a good job.

  12. Satan has more than doubled his holding over the past year. He now has 28.7 percent. At 29.9 he has to launch a formal takeover. What are you imagining he’s going to do, stop at 29.8? Is that why it doesn’t concern you?

    Oh, and another difference between him and Usmanov. When Satan makes a takeover bid, the shares will leveraged and that means we’ll be in debt for at least half century. We, not Satan, will be saddled with this debt, like United are now saddled with the Glazers’. Their debt is about the same as the debt we are currently owing for our stadium. Give me Usmanov, i.e. the Abramovich model, anyday. At least he’s rich enough to buy us outright.

    • @Mia, That’s absolutely wrong. Usmanov’s net worth is down to $1.6bn and Kroenke is up to $3bn.

      Kroenke is #205 on the world’s richest list and Usmanov is down to #450.

      At least get your facts straight.

      As for the triggered takeover bid, it’s not like people have to sell and it’s not like he has to make an offer that everyone will be happy with. So the whole idea that if he gets to 29.9 then suddenly the club will be leveraged is wrong.

      • Mia, I think you pointed out the reason yourself as to why most Arsenal fans, at least us lowlifes on the blogs, seem to favor Kroenke over Usmanov. Kroenke has a history of owning sports teams for the public to consume. We don’t have a history of Usmanov owning/running clubs for us to look to. And to Kroenke’s history, his two teams in Denver have been quite successful and he’s been a part owner (not full owner) in St. Louis with the Rams where they won a Super Bowl miraculously. Speaking for myself, if one of these two billionaires felt compelled to reach the point of 29.9% mandating a bid for the entire club, given the information that’s out there, I’d much prefer Kroenke. When things aren’t run like a business, but rather run as someone’s personal toy a la Roman Abramovich and Chelsea, you end up seeing a situation where 4 managers are introduced in the span of 2-3 years.

        This all being said, I think a lot of us continue to monitor this situation cautiously. My fear, as you allude to, is that any buyout of 100% of the shares be effectively a Leveraged Buyout (LBO) akin to what transpired at Man United. I’d be utterly shocked if the fan base didn’t raise absolute hell in the event Kroenke, or anyone for that matter, propose to buy the entire club utilizing a lot of debt. Thankfully for us, the financing markets are in the doldrums and wouldn’t allow for the Man U and Liverpool type of debt package utilized in their respective buyouts.

        • Arsechicago, I heard on the BBC programme that Usmanov just wants the prestige of owning a club, he doesn’t want to play Championship Manager like Abramovich does, and anyway he’s a United fan!

          You think the fans will protest if we go the way of United with the Glazers? Yes, they probably will, a bit, but so did United fans who fought long and hard – they’re good at collective action in the north – but it didn’t get them anywhere did it? Those who couldn’t take it, split off, the rest just shrugged their shoulders and renewed their season tickets again.

          • @Mia, Bollox that he doesn’t want to play Championship Manager. He’s a big fat oaf, with minimal knowledge in the sports industry. No. Thanks.

    • @Mia: – You are begining to worry me. Any Arsenal fan who prefer the Abromavich model that Usmanonsense represents quite frankly will worry me.

      The reason Stan Korenke had to increase his stake is to forestall the impending likelihood of Lady Bracewell-Smith selling her shares to Usmanov which will effectively hand the club to him. However, this increase puts Korenke in a position to challenge Usmanov should Lady Bracewell-Smith sell to him.

      Mia please research your facts properly. Do not join the ‘destroy-Arsenal’ brigade who wish to see Usmanov’s money. We are the best run club probably in the world. We do not want any shaddy money-bag come to destroy that. Usmanov showed his hand and it was ugly. We don’t want him using our club as a toy; sacking managers every other month.

      • LRV, you’re not reading what I’m saying. I don’t want Usmanov. I don’t want a takeover by anyone, ever. When the threat of Kroenke first reared its ugly head, I spent more hours than I care to remember arguing with the more gullible type of fans who thought a takeover would bring us money for players. I remember Kroenke’s PR department putting an ‘article’ in the Evening Standard promising the fans just that, and writing a letter of protest about it. This was at a time when the Board was still extremely hostile to Kroenke because Usmanov hadn’t yet appeared on the scene. Now, of course, their hostility has shifted to Usmanov. I’m guessing here, but I imagine the Board are hoping that Kroenke can be managed – what choice have they got when faced with the shark-like Usmanov? – but I can’t conceive of how this managing is going to be done, since Kroenke hasn’t suddenly morphed into some kindly philanthropist who has just stepped in to help the Board out of a spot of bother and has never personally had the slightest interest in buying the club. If that were the case he wouldn’t started buying shares in the first place. So what’s going to happen when he reaches 29.8 percent? At some point, when Nina Bracewell-Smith sells, someone, Kroenke or Usmanov, is going to reach the magic number and a takeover will happen. As far as I’m concerned, this will be a catastrophe, but if I had to choose between the lesser of two evils, then, yes, I’d say Chelsea are in a better position than United or Liverpool.

        • @Mia: – I like the fact that you do not support anyone to take over Arsenal. That is good. Now about the board and Stan Kroenke. The board realised that it could not afford to fight the threats to the way Arsenal is run on two fronts; it needed to ally with one to nulify the other. It then assessed the two threats and decided that Stan is less of a ruthless threat than Usmanov. Before the board accepted Stan unto the board, they explained the way the club is run and made it clear how they were prepared to defend it with everything. He invited them to examine the way he ran his other sporting interests, which they did. He gave an undertaken that he would not bid to take over Arsenal unless the board want him to before he was accepted. Quite frankly, the board need him onside to effectively fight off Usmanov whose intention is to adopt the Abromovich model.

          The board’s alliance with Kroenke, etc, is not secret. You can join the Arsenal Supporters Trust http://www.arsenaltrust.org/ and become part of the share owning supporters world. You will understand a lot more of what is going on. You will also be more empowered to fight along with others should it become necessary to ensure that Arsenal retain its multi-ownership.

          • You ask for evidence as to Usmanov’s background, but let me ask you a question. If Arsenal were your business financially and you had this guy Usmanov seeking to do business with you, would you just not be concerned about the stories of this guy? No one’s guilty until proven so, and really, who knows what the hell happened and still happens in Russia. But when it’s impacting my money, my club, well forgive me but I’m going to err on the side of caution and avoid the trouble of figuring out whether or not Usmanov’s a saint or a criminal. Again, evidence. Kroenke’s got a HISTORY successfully running (or owning) sports clubs. Usmanov’s been operating in the shadows of Russia. No brainer for me.

            One area I will agree with you – I don’t want a takeover. But it’s not our decision. It’s not my shares. But it’s the club I support and I’m not going to leave it whoever takes it over, if there is a takeover. Regardless of who takes it over, I hope there is no inordinate leverage involved. Not sure how possible this is, but I can only hope the club stays on its current path.

  13. Also on the financial front, could it be argued that the outcry against any further Kroenke activity at the moment is due to the Board’s endorsement of him as a co-owner? We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and all we can do, really, is put our trust in the board or merely hope they do the right thing. Additionally, could it also be argued that the fans don’t seem as nervous about Kroenke’s possible intentions to have Arsenal run as a business, not a toy, because the collective ownership, as evidenced by the latest profit numbers, is currently running it as a business? Those loud cries you here from every corner of the Internet claiming how Arsene should buy X, Y and Z player? Those are the anti-“running Arsenal as a business, not a toy” cries. So the opposition to excess profit is present and its gotten louder over the last few years. That’s why it’d seem odd for Kroenke to bear all the suspicious glances when the club’s already being run like a business.

  14. @ Tim, Mia, LRV, ArseChicago
    my late reply from above:

    Stan married his wealth and has leveraged the Walton (Walmart) influence. Without the marriage, Stan is a nobody.

    How can you speculate that Usmanov has dirtier hands?

    Look at those sports franchises – St. Louis & Denver: the teams are not competitive.
    Huge sums of money comes in from TV, stadium boxes, concessions, licensing and parking and the teams are run on a shoe string budget: very little re-invested in players to make the teams competitive. Its all about making money!

    Mia’s point is valid.

    • @arsesession, Kroenke took over the Rams in 1995, they were division champs in 1999 (when they won the Superbowl), 2001, and 2003.

      Denver nuggets won division titles in 2006 and 2009.

      Hardly “not competitive.”

      Also, what do you think is happening with Arsenal right now? They reported £35m in profits last year, plus reaped at least another £30m in transfer dealings and yet we don’t have backup for Alex Song.

      ALEX SONG

    • @arsesession: – 1. I am NOT in support of anyone taking over the Arsenal.
      2. Aside from his concerns with Arsenal, I am quite indefferent to Kroenke.
      3. In my book, anyone who has $3 Billion is not a nobody, married to riches or not.
      4. You don’t just happen to marry a billionare from a nobody postion. You must have been somebody; maybe not as rich, but somebody somehow.
      5. The AST, AISA, even RedAction and other Arsenal Trusts, are all deeply involved in all proceedings on behalf of ALL Arsenal fans. They are our watchdog if you like. They ensure that nothing is hidden. The AST is a share holding Trust open to all Arsenal fans.

    • @arsesession, Usmanov easily has dirtier hands. He was CONVICTED, of fraud, unjust enrichment, corruption and theft of state property. He was pardoned later by the Uzbek government. But, the think is, legally a pardon doesn’t mean you are innocent. Quite the converse, a pardon says “You are guilty, but we forgive you”.

      So with that in mind, I will not, ever support his bid to take over our club.

      Kroenke is experienced in the running and operation of sports clubs, isn’t a Man U fan and us liked by the board.

      If one of them takes over it is a no-brainer for me.

  15. Hey all- I’ve been a LONG time lurker… err reader… and really haven’t had the urge to comment. Until today, that is.

    Mia, I completely understand where you are coming from with regards to keeping the current board structure. And I’m sure that everyone here agrees with you. Myself? I’m a ‘minority shareholder’ in the completely publicly-owned Green Bay Packers (but then again most Wisconsinites can make that claim). Of course everyone would go berserk if someone came in trying to buy ‘our’ club.

    But to say that Abramovich-lite (or Abramovich-heavy, maybe) is the least dangerous of the two is indefensible. When Abramovich, or the sheiks, or whomever decide that they are bored with their real life football mangager and call in their loans, will their respective clubs be in any different a position than United or Liverpool? (Look at the still-point-less Pompey) The Forbes site Tim pointed to indicated that Abramovich has sunk 1.5 billion US to this point in Chelsea. And if Usmanov got tired with his trophy, decided he needed a newer, shinier ‘yacht’, and did the same thing? Or if his other holdings continue to freefall and he’s forced to pile debt on his only guaranteed revenue source? Kroenke, with his other teams, at least has shown he’s a SPORTS FAN- or more like that he is in for the long haul.

    I’m sure it isn’t anti-American sentiment, since this is, after all, an American blog. But you ARE saying that a self-professed United fan is the lesser evil…

    And hey, lets not forget that Kroenke’s wife is a Wal-Mart heiress (now that is scary) who is worth nearly as much as he is. He doesn’t need the club to make money, and doesn’t seem that interested in a takeover, otherwise it could have easily taken place last summer. My optimistic thinking? He is what he says he is, and is only interested in holding off Usmanov.

    Tim, keep up the great work. I’m studying abroad this semester in the land of ‘fender’ Bendtner, and will be making the pilgrimage for the AZ Alkmaar game in November. Couldn’t find a way to get there for the whole preceding week, but when you wrote about that a couple days ago, boy did I feel like you were talking directly to me!

    • @Zack, Argh, was pre-empted on the Wal-Mart connection. (By nearly an hour!) From my understanding, and what LRV said above, Kroenke was doing pretty damn well for himself before his marriage.

    • Zack, no it’s not anti-American sentiment because I don’t see Americans as a homogeneous lump who all think alike. You are an American and you understand exactly how it would feel if some foreigner decided he wanted your club. But it is certainly anti American sentiments – sentiments in the plural – i.e. those feelings which do seem to be peculiar to some Americans that what Kroenke is doing is acceptable because he’s an American sports fan, and not an Arab sports fan, an Icelander, a Thai, a Russian, etc. If I supported, say, a small Spanish or Irish club, I wouldn’t suggest to their local supporters that they were really lucky that a rich Londoner decided to buy them up and make them richer and more English and as a consequence generally better than they were before anyone in England noticed their existence. I’d hang my head in shame and embarrasment. So would any European, any African or Asian or South American, I’d guess. It’s a peculiarly North American assumption that they’re benefactors to the rest of the world and should be welcomed with open arms because they’re bringing American values and wealth. You well be right that Kroenke would be a more competent owner than Usmanov or the Arabs in charge of City, or the Icelanders who bought poor West Ham, but it doesn’t mean I have to want to be bought. Usmanov may be the worst human being in the world for all I know, but he has this in his favour: no one is suggesting he’s anything other than a self-interested shark; no one is telling me I ought to be thrilled to be owned by a Russian philanthropist and the prospect of enhanced shirt sales in Russia; no one expects me to welcome him.

      You mention Pompey’s miserable situation: how about if Kroenke turned his attention to them, or to Newcastle even? Now that would be philanthropic and make everyone happy. There, sorted!

      • Come on. Yes, I understand what parts of what you are saying, that Americans (especially the rich, ‘generous’ ones) often have a pretty rosy view of how the world views them. But that sure isn’t exclusively American. I don’t see how a takeover from an American is any different than a takeover from a sheikh or a Russian, or a Icelander, anyone. Are you really saying that the Arabs at City don’t view themselves as ‘benefactors to the rest of the world (in this limited case, the blue side of Manchester) who should be welcomed with open arms because they are bringing [well the values part doesn’t work!] and wealth’? Same for Abramovich (Chelsea, relatively, were nothing before he arrived, certainly not perennial big 4, they OWE him), Usmanov, anyone with an obscene amount of money and more than enough arrogance.
        Not to beat the horse any more though.

        And of course we are all arguing the same thing. No one wants to be bought. No dividends, no clever debt restructuring. No takeover. No takeover. No takeover, ad infinitum. Tim, can we organize a 7am bake sale to buy Lady Bracewell-Smiths stock?

      • @Mia, Kroenke has never, to my knowledge, said that he’s here to save this club. That’s what Usmanov does, time and again with “rights issues” and calls for dividends.

        Are you sure you haven’t just mixed the two names up? It seems like you keep getting the two 100% backwards.

        • @Tim: If it is not too much trouble, could you possibly put the whole of this debate (from the point where Mia started it) into a different header so that others who may have broader knowledge, or others who may wish to find out, may also contribute? I think it is another way to enlarge your readership and broaden the scope of your contributors.

  16. Kroenke has only been recently viewed as the lesser of two evils by the Arsenal board. If I recall correctly, it was Dein’s initial dalliance with Kroenke that got him the boot. That engagement was based on the Dein’s attempt to bring in Kroenke as an equivalent ‘Abramovich business model’ approach for Arsenal. The board quite rightly has rejected that approach and dropped Dein at the time for engaging Kroenke behind its back.

    So now we are to believe that Kroenke has renounced that inauspicious introduction to Arsenal to emerge as a “white knight” if need be. Unless he’s Machiavelli incarnate, I for one trust the Trust who support him because they are beating the ‘ground’ to get it right for all of us.

  17. Yes, exactly, Dein’s dalliance with Kroenke was where this nightmare began. Kroenke as Machiavelli incarnate? Well, he scarcely needs to be, since he finds himself in the fortunate position of holding very strong cards. Yes, I’m sure the Board will do their best to keep Arsenal in tact and safe for future generations, but will their best be enough? Do they have the bargaining counters? I hope so, but from the outside it looks like they’re between a rock and hard place, so I’m not holding my breath.

  18. I have to say that I’d be suspicious of anyone wanting to buy out the club I support, whether he or she is foreign or not. What’s most worrying about your thinking, Mia, is your suspicion of things “foreign”. From your statements above, we’re to infer that you’d find it acceptable for some rich land-owning baron from somewhere in the UK buying Arsenal? Seeing this prejudice in your thinking here regarding foreigners casting a pall of shame over the local club tells me that it’d be fruitless to carry on the argument any further. Not going to tell you how to feel. Just saying that if someone buys the club I support, I don’t care if they’re from the North Pole. As long as they are respectable (enough) and aim to do prudent, rational, ethical, sensible business.

  19. Let’s be very clear about billionaires. You don’t become one by winning the Lady Bing award. Hockey fans will know what I mean. Once you get your billion, then you can become a ‘Bill Gates’ w/ altruism out the whazoo.

    Usmanov’s problem is that he has a ‘paper trail’ that looks like used toilet paper.

    Kroenke’s problem is the botched ‘introduction’ to Arsenal.

    That’s all I know but from where I’m sitting, I have to go w/ the guy that eats hot dogs. Remember, K.I.S.S.

  20. It is important for Arsenal to be strong in all fronts and every aspect of running a club. Trophies are important and so is sustainabilty today and in the future. Finacial security is making sure we are at a top level for years to come and live within our means. Foresight is important and right now the business should be taken care of by a board who has experience in running clubs may it be in the sport of football or not. New castle is one example who tried to pattern their financial affairs like us but failed due to lack of experience. Being backed by a super Billionaire is a band aid administered to a surgical procedure. Wenger has a degree in economics and this is an advantage that we have over other clubs. I would put my trust on a person who has more experience in running sports franchises than a person with shady character with Billions.

  21. The bottom line is, no one wishes to see Arsenal taken-over.
    1. Kroenke may have come in through Dein for a take-over, but being the business man that he is, he quickly realise that the board would not bulge. He admired them and decided to stick with them and do things their way.
    2. Usmanov came on the scene through the same DEIN, but instead of conceding to do things the Arsenal way, he has constantly tried to prove himself wily and tricky.
    3. The board is now actually using Kroenke to forestall & block Usmanov.
    4. The downside to that is, they may actually, not that they want to, prefer to let Kroenke have the mojority control in order to stop Usmanov.
    The board is playing a corporate, boardroom game necesitated by the wily Usmanov interest.
    Bottom line again, NOONE WANTS A TAKE-OVER. Period.

  22. I think the board are looking to sell out, and want the maximum share price before selling. Hence, the lock-down agreement, which would ended shortly after sale of the Highbury Square project. They anticipated a big profit from that, and are stymied because of the GFC. But they’re still looking to sell.

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