A bit more on Ramsey and “greed”

First off, I need to say this.. Nketia. That’s his name not “Neketia”. Of all the things I said yesterday I think that was the most offensive. I apologize for misspelling his name.

Second off*, I apologize to all of you for not editing the second half of yesterday’s article. One spot I missed in particular was the bit about Unai naming five captains. The five captains are Koscielny, Özil, Cech, Ramsey, and one more unnamed. Unai said that those names might not be final but I do think that each makes a certain sense.

The one that is controversial is Ramsey, not for his ability and leadership, but because he hasn’t signed a new contract.

Everyone has a “hot take” on the Ramsey contract imbroglio and I’ve already said that Ramsey is the decider here. If he wants to sign, he will. If he wants to be traded, he will allow that. But I have a feeling he’s not going to allow himself to be traded and that he’s going to wait until the end of the season to decide, when he can get maximum money. I don’t harbor any ill feelings toward him for it. I’ve come to accept that this is just what players do these days.

This current situation reminds me of a cartoon from the old Player’s Handbook (Dungeons and Dragons):

I am not saying Ramsey is a thief. Of course he returns great value for the money we pay him. It’s just that the idea that players and clubs “honor” each other’s commitment is old fashioned and wasn’t really in the player’s favor anyway. The owner of Arsenal football club is making a killing, so, why shouldn’t the players?

When Kroenke bought Arsenal FC in 2011 he paid around £450m. Current share prices are above £32k each which means that he currently owns about £1.3 BILLION in Arsenal shares. And this league is getting richer, folks. New television contracts are being announced all the time. Deals with Facebook and other social media platforms are only going to make Arsenal and any club in the Premier League more valuable. I’ve seen valuations of the club as high as £2bn which means that if anyone wanted to force Kroenke to sell, they would probably have to offer him more than his shares are worth.

I think that if he sold today, he could easily make £1bn in profits. Not bad when you consider how astonishingly little he actually did in terms of effort to grow the club. Not bad.

Players on the other hand work insanely hard in practice. They overcome crippling injuries. They have to let Diego Costa claw their face. They suffer the fans calling them names every week. Every mistake they make costs them money in the future. While Stan can sit there watching his investment grow without lifting a finger, for the players, this is cut-throat. Their careers are insanely short and can be ended with a simple cash on the ankle (Cazorla) so they need to maximize every payday.

Ramsey is going to look for the maximum payday he can get and why shouldn’t he? Why should Kroenke literally make billions on the backs of the players and why should the players have to take a paycut because we fans demand their loyalty to the club? I can’t bring myself to do that. And I love the Arsenal. So, I accept that Ramsey and others will want to maximize their earning potential. And that means that Aaron Ramsey might leave the club at the end of this season. So be it.

I’m really tired of talking about Ramsey. I just want to watch him play football.

And finally a little bit on the comments here:

I appreciate that you all like to have deep conversations around race and racism. This is a unique feature of this Arsenal blog, I think (I don’t read any other blogs and never read the comments). Talk about whatever you want but I have to admit that it all gets a tad heavy for me and I don’t read all of your comments. I’m also not at all a fan of personal attacks. Things like “you are such a (insert insult)” are not why we are all here: if you want to do that stuff, there are numerous free places like Facebook and Twitter where you can insult each other. I’d like it if the comments section here was the antidote to the modern proclivity toward personalizing every debate.

And if you’ll indulge me a reply to the replies: Hoeness was being racist toward Özil and Wenger didn’t do “nothing” at Arsenal.

The description I gave of Wenger was the players questioning his work ethic toward the end of his time at the club. He also didn’t “do nothing” during the Invincibles. He certainly had his methods and loved taking training sessions and of course he did tactics.

The point I have made time and again isn’t that he did nothing, it’s that the players questioned him. There are some famously harsh quotes from players who love Arsene Wenger about how he didn’t really teach defense (the old George Graham players especially) and how training sessions were so different, much more rigorous, in new environs (Fabregas), and how players had to work through things on their own (Vieira, Henry, and the most recent blow-up this spring). Maybe this is all just fanciful, angry, former players who have a grudge against Wenger. But this isn’t me saying this, it’s the players who trained under him. And it’s consistent across 22 years of coaching at Arsenal football club: in good times and in bad; great players and not so great.

People get so worked up about all this! This was just Wenger’s coaching style. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. It was remarkably consistent in its ability to get top four results so there was something to it, obviously.

Anyway, I’m off to do some fun stuff on this fine Sunday. I hope you all can be respectful to each other and switch the conversation from racism to something a bit less toxic. How about abortion? Or #metoo?


*Third off… this writing convention is annoying.


  1. 2 things,

    1. Emery said yesterday, five more captains along with Koscielny who is out injured

    2. you seem to have no problem with Cech being one of the captains, when he too only has 1 year left on his AFC contract. So why a problem with AR

          1. There is no lord but Imothyt. Thus he spake, and his word was law. And the law was good, for it gave the people the order they need.

    1. Cech is nearing the end of his career. Ramsey is in his peak years. You can’t compare the 2 situations surely.

    2. There’s a commenter using this name over on Positively Arsenal (ahem!!) who is slagging 7am and a thread now appears to be developing.
      I wish I hadn’t been so charitable to other bloggers.

  2. Ramsey is a part of the squad as is. Unai has no idea whether he will leave or stay. At present he is a very good player and also a senior player, so him being a contender is inevitable. I do not see him as a leader, but it makes sense that he is one of the captains.

    I think it’s on the transfer committee to make him stay or be decisive and replace him as soon as possible. Even if he stays on, it should be taken as he is leaving next summer. Get someone in to learn from him, or even integrate into the system while Ramsey is still here. Or they could facilitate a move that he would be happy with, which I doubt. I do not know which top side in Europe has room for Ramsey as a starter and for the wages he seems to be asking for.

    1. I agree that if he doesn’t sign we need to replace him. I also think that’s why Arsenal bought Torreira and Guendouzi.

  3. Hey folks, I’m not going to monitor the comments section: that means cursing and the like will get spammed out. Also I think “capitalism” or “communism” is also spammed out. Which is weird, but I don’t have time to figure out how this akismet filter works.


  4. Can you do an analysis on the players at top clubs who do what he does? I am only judging Ramsey based on what I see, but could there be similarities with other top central/box-to-box midfielders that I am ignoring.

    I have always thought that we would see the best of Ozil and Xhaka if Ramsey was replaced by someone more interested in passing and protecting possession, like Arthur at Barcelona or Thiago alcantara, but I may be missing something.

  5. Quite frankly I’m curious as to what you can coach a top professional footballer. Once they have reached a certain age that’s about it. Certainly when it comes to technique. All you’re left with is what you can drum into them by repetition à la George Graham (a perfectly reasonable methodology when it comes to defenders) or a general tactical understanding of what you want them to do on the pitch both as a general concept or what’s needed in individual games. You can’t teach them the arts. Like tackling, crossing, delivering a dead ball.

    But I think what Wenger tried to do was give gifted players a way of expressing themselves within the framework of a team. And I agree with you Tim that it worked for the Invincibles because a core of players took responsibility on the pitch to make that vision a reality. Perhaps it’s that magic ingredient that was missing from so many Arsenal teams of late. Perhaps he had such high regard for his players that he always believed they could reflect his ideals on the pitch.

    I think that’s a big ask for the modern footballer with a few notable exceptions.

    1. Yeah I think we have to accept that Wenger’s methods were incredibly successful in one area – year after year with changing squads he produced remarkably consistent teams that got about 70-75 points. It’s the league that changed up on us.

      The year Leicester won they finished on 81 points. Since then, Chelsea 93 pts, City 100 pts.

      I don’t know if Emery can bridge that gap with this squad. But if he improves us in his 2nd season the way he did PSG during his 2nd season there, we might have a really good shot next year.

      The question about how much players can be improved is really interesting. These guys are already absurdly talented to make it to clubs like Arsenal. Koscielny scored some ridiculous goals in training. Even Rob Holding can finish like a Brazilian striker. Maybe the critical difference is they have the talent – it’s getting them to execute those casual things that happen in training in the biggest games of the season where there’s no time to think and you have to rely on “automatisms”.

      1. I agree with you and I think that’s what Wenger was trying to do. Get the players to express themselves and create something unique that people would feel better for after seeing them play. I know that sounds a little idealistic. But Wenger has always been an idealist and believes in the aesthetic of football.

        The most difficult aspect of trying to play this way is the margin of error is almost zero. It’s measured in fractions of seconds and fractions of metres. When it works you have, last season at least, Manchester City. When it doesn’t, you have almost but not quite a great team with no margin for error.

        1. Wenger did it up to a point. The frustration Tim talks about was the players realising that they needed more than that – they also needed to be better drilled to match the top teams.

          You know what’s ironic about Man City? I think they were successful in the league because of Guardiola’s automatisms. But I think Liverpool were able to beat them in both legs in Europe because Klopp coaches automatisms but also knows how to really let his team play with freedom.

          1. Agree with this completely. The free spirit (with a foundation) beats simply well drilled players. It is a very tough balance to achieve consistently though, which also explains Liverpool’s struggles against some of the lesser lights.

  6. Mate great work… but listen you say “that’s what players do” but it isn’t. There are loads of players at other clubs that know top clubs what them but they sign a new contract to maximise club revenue when sold. They don’t run them down: Gareth Bale, Suarez, Harry Cane, Coutinho, Mo Sala, Tottenham and Liverpool players are ridiculously loyal like that. Our players don’t do that except Henry prior to Barca…I think.. ..Explain . Everyone has to do what’she right for them..I guess

      1. I think he’s afraid he’ll get found out. At Spurs he’s the darling of the masses, ENGLAND’S PRIZED JEWEL, and can do no wrong. Were he to move to a bigger club, with more pressure to win, a different system with bigger stars around, and greater media responsibilities (not to mention leg breaking tackles being punished) I think he feels like it could all be taken away from him. Maybe the lack of trophies will start to pinch him in a while, and the money issue will bite. But for now, he has what he wants.

  7. “I appreciate that you all like to have deep conversations around race and racism. This is a unique feature of this Arsenal blog, I think (I don’t read any other blogs and never read the comments). Talk about whatever you want but I have to admit that it all gets a tad heavy for me and I don’t read all of your comments. I’m also not at all a fan of personal attacks. Things like “you are such a (insert insult)” are not why we are all here: if you want to do that stuff, there are numerous free places like Facebook and Twitter where you can insult each other. I’d like it if the comments section here was the antidote to the modern proclivity toward personalizing every debate.”

    Yes, we need to be better than that, and I hereby solemnly swear not to ask inherently provocative questions about racial tensions. I actually think we do exceptionally well with the topic as a group but it still devolves into a deeply personal exercise in futility at the end which may leave some somewhat wiser but also leaves frustration and anger. I could blame others for making it personal but then I struck right back, so I’m not claiming moral high ground. An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind, etc etc.

    I’m still of the opinion that the conversation is absolutely crucial to have, but perhaps we should not have it here on a football forum. I will leave it at that.

    As for Ramsey, I’m completely Zen about the whole saga/non-saga/hoopla. My personal opinion is that we have nothing better to worry about at the moment so there is a storm in a teacup about it. Give it a couple of weeks and nobody will remember/care about this contract situation one bit. I still think he’s holding out for football reasons and wants to see how he is used by Emery in a more meaningful match, and also if Arsenal will be any good this year which is a fair question.

    1. I really hope you don’t give up on asking the difficult questions here. Sure sometimes it gets a bit heated but I think it’s understandable because of the nature of what’s being discussed. And even if there’s no real agreement or compromise it doesn’t mean that the conversation was pointless or that no one here learned anything.

      At the risk of bringing up an even more controversial subject, in The Last Jedi didn’t Yoda himself say….

      ‘The greatest teacher, failure is.’ 🙂

      1. I appreciate that, Jeremy. Irony of ironies, I was listening to the Sam Harris podcast today and he and his guest Coleman Hughes, a black man, were discussing the same issue. Hughes’ articles over on Quillette.com are worth a read, as is that website in general.

  8. The scariest thing about the Unai Emery era is hardly Unai Emery. It’s Stan Kroenke closing in on 100% ownership of Arsenal Football Club.

    I predicted that we would become a KSE “franchise” (yes, I hate the term but I’m convinced that’s how he treats this investment), and indeed we have. Hovering over mid-table, middling results, good but struggling and far from great. Is this a Kroenke team or what?

    The hope is that maybe Emery follows the pattern of another KSE head coach, Sean McVay, who guided the LA Rams to a division title in his first year.

    The hope is that we learn Emery’s system and suddenly become the heaviest pressing team in the Premier League. That we somehow become greater the sum of our parts and get back into the top 4.

    That we become KSE’s best team in 2018-2019.

    1. On the plus side, if he is going to put in any money, he would only do it if he outright owned the club.

      I don’t think he will. Just finding the silver lining.

  9. As far as the last blog’s comments, if I may: while admire the intellectual, erudite and sometimes deeply insightful comments on 7 am Kickoff, it was all a bit pedantic and overweening.
    I appreciate almost everyone on here and I learn a lot, especially when the focus is on the footy.

  10. “Hovering over mid-table, middling results, good but struggling and far from great. Is this a Kroenke team or what?”

    Both of the other U.S. ‘KSE franchises’– the Denver Nuggets (NBA) and Colorado Avalanche have followed the same path as the LA Rams (NFL). In hiring younger, less experienced coaches who have made significant steps in turning around moribund teams the last two years.

    Nuggets this season in the NBA’s incredibly tough Western Conference finished 9th– by a single game– 1 spot outside the playoffs– with the best record ever (46-36) for a team that didn’t make the playoffs.

    Avalanche improved from 22-56-4 to 46-30-9 in a single year– though were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round this year.

    I am NOT a Kroenke apologist.
    But it bears stating that all of the ‘KSE franchises’ have made significant changes to both coaching staffs and progress record-wise this past season.

    Arsenal too, have made significant changes to management, staff, and roster in just one year as well.


    1. Begs the questions then, is this a pattern, a concerted effort by Josh and company or is this all just some coincidence?
      Was a there a catalyst driving this seeming general transformation of KSE from mediocrity to contention or near contention? And how will Arsenal fit into all of this if there is indeed a strategic push for overall improvement?

      Makes me more excited for the season to start, that’s for sure.

    2. Not to disagree with your point, JW, but weren’t the Colorado teams moribund for years under the Kroenke ownership? It’s not like they bought the teams and immediately turned them around. Stan does seem to be OK with mediocre performance as long as he’s making money. Oh yeah, and more than half the teams in the NBA make the playoffs, so not making it, regardless of games won (and yes, their division is tough), is the definition of sub-mediocrity.

      1. Likewise yours. Though I’ll take the change of strategies within all KSE orgs to be a cultural shift. A buy-in wholeheartedly of analytics as the driver of decision-making. The last three paragraphs of this 2014 Guardian article foretelling the moves of the last two years within KSE (thinking Josh K is the catalyst).


        Football (soccer) is the proverbial red-headed stepchild in the field of video-driven analytics. The one major pro sport where no club or entity has unlocked analytics ‘secrets’ for the first time. Trends I’ve been seeing at Arsenal since the club purchased Chicago-based StatDNA in 2012 have correlation with aspects of breakthroughs at clubs in other sports.

        In this respect? Consider myself fortunate to be in Houston, with a front-row seat. Watching possibly the two most analytics-reliant GMs in their respective sports– in Jeff Luhnow (Astros) and Daryl Morey (Rockets). Their clubs have become models for not only other MLB and NBA GMs– but from an article I’d read just a couple of days ago– the Cleveland Browns(!) as well.


        Yep. Everybody wants to be the Astros (or Rockets).

        Arsenal is close (IMHO) to seeing their in-house analytics hybrid reach maturity. Best sign? The bumper crop of youth players. Four possible 1st-teamers this last season. More in the pipeline. Just short of amazing. Parallels with the Astros starting in 2012. In 2010-11 the Astros had the lowest-rated farm system. In just 5 years, Houston is now thought to have the deepest, most-talented minor league system in baseball. Discovering the creme-de-la-creme earlier than competitors. Finding players that hadn’t been coached to their potential.

        Arsenal are on the cusp. To breakthrough with the first analytics system that will revolutionize football.


        1. I think crediting this bumber crop of youth players to our in-house analytics hybrid is a big reach.
          1 of the 4 wasn’t developed at the club (Nketiah joined Arsenal at age 16 after being released from Chelsea). The other 3 would of joined Arsenal in the mid 2000s when the club’s Hale End academy was still subject to the “90 minute rule.” Arsenal could only sign children who lived within 90 mins of our training facility so the discovering of the Willock brothers, AMN, ESR & we should also include the Barcelona signee Marcus McGuane in this talented generation is largely due to the lottery of them being born in Arsenal’s designated catchment area. Tho you could equate the signing of Nketiah to that model where the club overlooked a flaw (Chelsea considered him too small) & saw his excellent technique + goal scoring record at youth levels instead.
          And correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t Houston’s minor league system success largely due to them being a historically bad franchise for the early part of this decade. They selected #1 overall 3 consecutive years in a row & have drafted in the top 10 from 2010-2015 where they grabbed last year’s World Series MVP & franchise cornerstone Carlos Correa.
          FYI, the PL’s current Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was established in 2011, abolishing the 90 minute rule & freeing academies to sign the best youth talents from across the country.

  11. If Ramsey does not sign a contract and refuses to move elsewhere hoping for a bosman, he is likely to be the biggest loser in this saga. The pattern of Ramsey’s recent seasons is:
    Start slowly -> Approaches good form -> Gets injured -> Struggles after getting back -> Regains form and peaks -> Gets injured again.
    Their is high probability he might stay injured for half of the season.

  12. I’m surprised that you don’t read other Arsenal blogs. If you did you’d know that your blog gets referenced often enough (and in a good way). I myself currently read five, which I suppose makes me a bit of an obsessive, although the majority are really really dire and appear to have no control over the commenters trolling each other. Pleased that you have taken steps in this matter.
    You binned someone a while back ( Dr Duh) who I think has served his time, so would it be possible to allow him back on please?

    1. I have to read the Guardian, the BBC, stay connected on Twitter, do my own original analysis, and write every day. I don’t have time for other blogs.

      1. Blow me if you didn’t go & get two ‘bad’ comments on this mornings Positively Arsenal (yes, they really don’t understand the irony of that name).
        Can’t win them all Tim.

  13. The annual contract drama is tedious and tiresome. And while I understand it from a business negotiation perspective, it does irk me a bit. Sign an improved contract if you want to stay, leave if you don’t want to sign. Spare us, and the manager, the uncertainty.

    Agree with Tim’s read. It looks to me, from his most recent comments, as if Ramsey is engineering a Bosman. And in this shortened window, he has a very strong hand. Unless preparations and contingencies are being quietly made, we simply dont have enough time to (a) get a good price for him, or (b) buy a replacement at good value.

    Time is everything when it comes to having and exercising leverage. It’s why we paid through the nose for Mustafi.

  14. Leaving this here. Fredi Bobic calling Ozil a “coward”, for walking away from something to which he attached great value.

    Bobic is of course within his rights to criticise Ozil. Mesut shouldn’t be criticism proof, however just his cause may be. But my favourite part of the (white) dude’s analysis? “This blanket charge of racism simply does not correspond to reality. ” I wont utter the word “privilege” today 🙂

    Link below.


  15. “Ramsey is going to look for the maximum payday he can get and why shouldn’t he?”

    I couldn’t agree more. Most of the rational people out there would do the same thing in his situation.

    The question is if it would necessary lead in only one direction, namely seeing out his contract. I think that the only reason to leave on a free next year would be if 1) has a reason to think that he would get a certain salary somewhere else and 2) at the same time Arsenal are not willing to give him that amount

    Of course we don’t know any further details, but the speculations out there are that he has been offered something in the 180-200k area. Would somebody value him more than that? I would say possibly (with Mourinho, for example, everything is possible), but not very likely. I expect that Arsenal are very well aware of what are the salary brackets that he fits into and are willing to meet them.

    I remember the last year of negotiations with Sanchez and Özil. Now in retrospect is easy to highlight how different were those negotiations with each of them. Sanchez wanted out for “sport” reasons . There has been all the times speculations about interests in him, which were signs that contract extension is in doubt and that both parties consider other options. Also, apparently Arsenal could have never met his salary demands. The talks with Özil however were all the time very quiet. Apart from the noise that “oh my god, he still didn’t sign da ting”. There were never really interest or offers from other clubs. In the end, Arsenal managed to meet Mesut’s salary demands.
    Ramsey’s situation so far clearly is more similar to Özil’s. He shows positive attitude, there are no real offers on the table (except something about Chelsea mentioned by… The Sun) and I am sure that Aaron doesn’t expect 500,000 per week.
    So I am confident that the player and the club will agree in the end. Maybe they are just finalizing that Rhino clause.

    1. With the overarching irony of Sanchez eschewing silverware at City– taking the cash at United. And may not win anything. Ever. Again.


      1. Wasn’t the Sanchez to United transfer based purely on sporting reasons, like titles and such?
        The title of the highest paid player in the PL that is 😉

        From what little that I’ve seen of Sanchez this preseason he seemed to pick up where he left off last season.
        Unconvincing to say the least.

          1. I cleared out my blacklist. I think it’s because you include a link to a web site in your comments. Akismet is deleting that link by the way. You may want to take it out.

          2. Claude knows me well.

            Hey, I can’t compete with the lofty vocabulary you and others on here have in their locker so I have to do whatever I can 🙂

        1. Had a notion when Chile were eliminated from WC qualification– that Sanchez’s motivations would be altered dramatically.

          Wenger convinced him to sign at Arsenal, become a stellar performer– with the leeway and freedom to become what he could. And did. I could not be more grateful to United for outbidding City. Pep might have found Alexis’ remaining spark and reignited his drive. Thankfully, he’s playing for a man who has doused more talent than any manager ever.


  16. When you make mistake, I think you are being sarcastic. But we all get the point anyway!

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