Captain Fabregas, Gallas back in


I didn’t read a single opinion piece yesterday and it felt, well, it felt good. I did read all of your comments and I want to thank all of the readers who left comments yesterday and Saturday, I always read all of your remarks and enjoy each of your insights. But I stayed away from the Independents’, Suns, Beebs, Telegraphs, Arsenal.coms, Setantas, and Goal.coms, because I knew that it was just going to be a feeding frenzy by the press; blood is in the water after all.

One of the things that I noticed while scanning through the news stories this morning is that everyone thinks that they know what’s going on at Arsenal. Something is clearly going on, no doubt, but what exactly is happening is pure speculation.

The one story that we haven’t seen yet is speculation about why Wenger hasn’t bought big in the last five years. I have been very suspicious that Arsenal just don’t have the money that they keep claiming that they have. Whether there’s a drain on finances due to the Emirates, the huge payroll, or there’s some kind of dividend being payed, we just don’t know. The facts are very clear; Arsene Wenger has broken even or earned money in every transfer market for the last 5 years. Further, Wenger has admitted that he bid for Alonso (an experienced midfielder) and Chelsea have admitted that he bid for Malouda, but that both bids fell short and were not upped is telling. That behavior can’t just be explained away with Wenger’s insistence that he is pursuing a “youth” policy or that he doesn’t want to “pay over the odds.” There’s something going on, I suspect.

It seems I too can speculate with the best of them.

But instead of the finance story, there are dozens of stories about how Wenger is afraid of Gallas, how there are cliques in the dressing room, how they argue on and off the pitch, and the worst of all, how Wenger has lost the plot. The point of all these stories isn’t to really shed light on Arsenal, but rather just to draw you in. They take one quote and spin a yarn around it. Who really knows what’s going on in training? Arsene Wenger, and I trust him to make things right.

Which brings me to today’s press conference. Just a few minutes ago, Wenger announced that Cesc will be captain and Gallas will be included in the team. Time to drop the speculation over whether Cesc will make a good captain, we’ll see if he will or not. Last year I called for Gallas to be replaced by Cesc and I was roundly criticized so, despite my reservations this year, I have to admit that I see the quality in him. It’s a tough, tough time to take over as captain but, like President Obama, when you take over at such a pivotal time you will either pass with flying colors and be one of the greats or you will go down in flames.

Here’s hoping that Cesc is the former.

The very first thing I would do, if I was Cesc, is knock on Wenger’s door, close the door behind me, and tell Arsene Wenger to go out and buy an experienced midfield partner. I would not leave the room until I had a promise from him that he would buy that person. You all know that I want Stephen Appiah, he’s available right now and I think he would be magnificent for the job. But maybe Wenger has a January target, someone better, he needs to let Cesc know now.

The very next thing I would do, is I would squash the bullshit squabbling between RvP and Gallas — neither player is good enough to get away with this stupid bullshit and tear apart my beloved Arsenal. Wenger has stated that Gallas will be used for the remainder of his time at Arsenal saying:

William is a player that I rate and a man that I rate. I have a big respect for him. He was working as a captain in a very difficult media environment. He was under big pressure from the press. For me, the player is committed to the club and I think he can be stronger as a player because he took all the problems of the team to his heart. I think it can be a new start for him.

Given the fact that Wenger is determined to select Gallas (who is arguably the best defender on the team — I said ARGUABLY) Cesc’s second big challenge is going to be to support Wenger and Gallas in this. At least until the man can be moved on in January.

The last thing that Cesc is going to have to do is heal the wounds at the club. This is probably the most difficult task ahead because right now, the club and the fans are a club divided. If winning is the salve that heals all wounds then so be it, go out and get some wins. But I suspect that Cesc will need to do more than just win in order to keep this group together. He will need to put an arm around the shoulder of his teammates when they screw up, he will need to work a lot harder on the pitch than he has as of late, he will need to inspire his teammates, he will need to back his teammates up, and he will need to back Wenger up.

That’s what Cesc has got to do over the next few weeks. It’s a lot to ask any man at a healthy club, but it seems a superhuman task to ask a 21 year old at a club that is tanking games and in danger of losing their place in the Champions League.

Up next is Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League more on that tomorrow.


  1. It’s from the dot com when Becks trained with Arsenal last January. I liked it because Cesc was jumping for joy and it really shows the difference between this season and last.


    Tim, the above link will tell you exactly what our financial picture is and people just flat need to do a little research. We have a strong net cash position of 32 mil quid plus to spend on players right now. And Appiah would cost nothing(up front). The funds are there and they’ve been there for a while now. On this point lets end the speculation.

    As for capt cesc, his personality is suited to the role, and he’s a euro winner(not as a starter though), but what troubles me is the message it sends. It signals that we are not in the market for mature players who should ultimately come in and fill that role(keep Almunia in the role til such time). We were all at sea in the city game and I dont’ like to beat a dead horse but we need players else the season could end badly. Gosh I don’t like saying that but I have to call it as I see it.

  3. My two cents is that we CAN get the money for significant transfer by borrowing a shitload of money at a pre-arranged interest rate. That’s my understanding of the 70 million pound “transfer facility” that they talk about. But while we’re humming along in 4th, with the CL money streaming in, the board’s reluctant to add to our mortgage. Wenger doesn’t want to add to that mortgage because he’s be intimately involved in the stadium plans, so he’s guilty about adding to the financial strain. And Wenger’s got his own ego as well, and has pinned his reputation on the strength of these kids, so he if he soends, he’ll be seen as a failure.

    But hopefully, it all changes this January. Because of the strenght of Villa, and the clout of Man City, we’re going to have to buy some players to shore-up 4th. Hopefully, we’ll get really, really good players, and not the usual scatter-gun approach of snapping up ten cheap players in the hope that one or two will turn out well.

    I want Zapata, Cana and Lloris.

  4. Do you think they can still borrow? I don’t. Their debt is very significant, backed by profits from Champions League football, which is in jeopardy. If I was a banker, in this climate, I wouldn’t loan Arsenal any money.

    So while I like all of your choices (except Cana) I can’t see them getting that £70m together and laying it out.

    Why not sign Appiah? Let’s just say he wants £4m a year. OK. He’s 27, sign him to a 4 year contract (on a free), play him, and if someone better comes along next year SELL HIM. It seems like you could get at least £4m for him. Even if he has an underwhelming campaign he’ll still be worth £4m. Which means Arsenal get him for free!

  5. Arsenal should keep Wegner because they are nor going to get a better coach now.
    Arsenal is still a great club and they will start playing better.

  6. Hey Bill!

    How’s Fark?

    I see that I got a greenlight the other day and the whiners and haters were out. Whatever!

    Umm… yes, firing Wenger, or even calling for Wenger’s firing would be asinine.

    Beyond the fact that he’s the best manager in the history of the club, that no one will ever be able to do what he has with what he was/will be given, there’s the fact that firing Wenger would tear the support apart.

  7. Barnaby, I’ve seen those numbers, I’ve also seen the Deloitte numbers on Arsenal. I’ve written about it many many times and I’m well aware that the club is stating that they have profits and that independent auditors like Deloitte are backing them up.

    So, then the only option is that Wenger refuses to buy? That doesn’t make any sense. He made offers, but when they responded saying, “up the offer” he refused? I think he has a limit and it’s a hard limit.

    Remember all the talk about the size of his transfer budget? It started out with £30m, then was pared down to £30m – salary increases, then it turned out that Wenger broke even in the market?

    It’s possible that Wenger is just being pig-headed, in fact, I would say it’s likely.

    But the point of the article was to point out a speculative position that there’s something wrong financially, given all those facts that I put out earlier.

  8. Tim, I think the money is there. It’s net cash 32 mil but the club is being stingy(tight and cheap), and given the board have regularly stated that wenger may have use of the funds for anything and that Wenger has stated he could buy a player for 30 mil if he wanted also leads me to believe that the funds are available. Wenger has total control of the transfer decisions and I think just caps the amount he’s willing to pay hence his refusal to pay up for xabi. It was a risky bet to do that and if not buying leads to dropping out of the top four it can only be seen as a big mistake, not bad luck. If the board/Wenger are being fiscally conservative to an unreasonable degree they need to balance that reluctance to spend with the possibility of losing cl revenues, which is frankly becoming a real possibility. Given the state of the squad and all the below par performances of even key players we have to buy asap to bolster squad depth, quality and power. Any flights of fancy that AV or Citeh have of breaking into the top four must be squashed NOW.

  9. I agree with everything you say: if Arsene is being stingy or pig headed and Arsenal do not make the top 4 this season then it was a huge gamble and a huge failure on his part. But it’s just so hard to believe that he would do that, it doesn’t pass the “smell test” as they say. Which is why I’m speculating that something else is going on.

    I’m not alone on this, other people in the press are making the same observation.

  10. Tim, I won’t deny the possibility that there are some other factors at play. There may well be, and the unsold highbury flats and worsening economy would give anyone with a modicum of common sense reason for caution. Paying over the odds in the summer may in the end prove a wise move yet given the economic downturn. But the summer transfer window was an opportunity to strengthen that we shouldn’t have let slip by, I think we were too picky and likely a bit, just a bit cheap. So we couldn’t afford xabi, couldn’t get inler, others were too expensive but we could have strengthened somehow without blowing wads of cash, and I don’t mean bringing in more youth. The sqaud is just too thin and lightweight, it’s a real concern. Silvestre isn’t sufficient strenghthening in my view. But the point is we’ve got cash right now. If we dont’ make top four we lose revenue and perhaps lose the ability to attract top players, etc. It’s a bit of a self fulfilling thing. I certainly don’t advocate using all our cash that could be a further risk, but we do need something. If attendances are dropping and the club continues being wildly inconsistent we’re going to need some kind of lift to help stablise the team, some steady hands. While eduardo’s return will spark some inspiration we’ve got some gaps to fill in this squad that really can’t be ignored much longer. Out on a limb as per normal, if I were to choose which positions to prioritise given limited resources and in order to maintain a top four spot, I would buy one 29-30 year old dm, and a 24-25 year old dm – yes we’re that weak in this vital area, selling Denilson and Ebuoe to sweeten the deal and lower the cost(we just can’t wait for some players to develop, cesc made and impact at 16 and has come good but others are just taking too long). Sounds harsh, but the need is clear and if it’s time to make tough choices that’s one way to go.

  11. I’d love to see the team that would buy Eboue, Denilson, or Song: I think we’ve pretty much proved them to be sub-par.

    That said, you know that I agree with you, look for an article tomorrow about an idea I have.

  12. wow cesc captain thats pretty amazing hes so young .there arnt eney spanish captins in the premier league!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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