Ivan, Mind Your Foot With That Gun & Sad News

A prime example of Ivan Gazidis’ efficiency and strategies in the squad looks to be paying dividends. Getting Thomas Vermaelen fit and ready for action is key to meaning that Arsène’s attentions can turn elsewhere in the summer.

The Belgian is ready for a first team return which you would have thought, would begin with a substitute appearance at The Britannia this weekend followed by two matches against Villa and Fulham.

Gazidis also observed that the ‘ordinary fan’ is being priced out of football, a situation helped by the price rises at Arsenal. If the ‘ordinary fan’ is at much as risk as he believes, it begs the question as to whether or not the Arsenal model of self-sustainability, is in fact sustainable.

His view that it is driven by wages and transfer fees is an easy and dangerous accusation to make. Easy because there is an element of truth. Dangerous because Arsenal certainly perpetuate the wages by paying the young players in the squad very well.

But Arsenal perpetuate the model to stay competitive. The complaints are hollow as the club will not – and cannot – make a principled stand as it would end their competitiveness in all bar the Carling Cup.

The structure is good in that it promotes harmony as the differential between the pay bandings is not overwhelming, the mid-range and lower earners are not that far apart, preventing resentment.

Yet it does create a problem whereby it is difficult to move players on should the club wish to do so. It requires pay cuts to be taken which is sometimes not palatable to the ’employee’ in the same way it might be for you or I. Just because the sums are bigger, does not make a difference.

Certainly I interpret Gazidis’ words as a warning that this summer will not see the big signings so craved by many. Once more I would re-iterate that Wenger must sign who is right for the club not who is going appease the critics.

Sating the desires of the media is not a pre-requisite; ability is.

The CEO admits that the Arsenal Commercial Department has not been at the races when it comes to exploiting the Arsenal brand. Maybe they have been at the races rather than working which would go a long to explaining why Arsenal habitually lag behind their competitors in commercial revenues.

One point that is good to see him acknowledging is that the property revenues are finite and will not continue. The profit and loss account has seen the maximum benefit from this source already and whilst it is not unwelcome, the additional moneys generated from hereon in are going to be a bonus rather than an expectation.

Arsenal are trying to move away from relying on gate income as heavily as they do now. This is a good move in some respects although it would be naive to believe that Gazidis is actually talking of reducing ticket prices. His aim is to reduce the percentage of turnover from the 40-50% that it has been by increasing the total revenues rather than reducing money collected for tickets.

The concern is whether Arsenal’s policies are robust enough to cope when football no longer enjoys the prime slot that it currently does. Certainly compared to other clubs, Arsenal have been lucky. Outside of the top four, few are regularly putting the ‘Sold Out’ signs up at the Box Office.

Away from this, the extent to which luck can play a part in a season is overlooked. This link from @twistandshout on Twitter shows that had all of Arsenal’s shots which hit the woodwork been goals instead, the title would probably be celebrated this weekend at Stoke.

What might have been has never been so emphatically shown.

On that sad note, ’til Tomorrow.

Posted on May 5, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 78 Comments.

  1. It was a what might have been season in some ways. But it was a lot better than almost everyone else’s season and hugely exciting.

  2. Hmmm…first…. weird

  3. steww

    Indeed – interesting that United would only have 3 more points, Chelsea 4 whilst we add 17. Now either they are more accurate in their shooting or we are just unlucky.


  4. The idiots will blame Wenger the simple unarguable fact is it is incredible bad luck.

  5. as someone pointed out “its harder to hit the post than the goal”

  6. http://www.epltalk.com/2011-best-epl-club-blog/

    Just been told that the blog has been nominated in the above category – thanks to whomever nominated us.


  7. The notion of sustainability seems to me to depend on different revenue streams adapting to changing economic circumstances. No amount of good financial house keeping would suffice if Sky decided to slash spending on football content any more than demotion would protect matchday revenue. What IG needs to get to grips with, along with every other CEO/owner is the ever spiralling costs (wages) which appear to soak up whatever new and increased revenue comes in year after year. Wage cap Mr G – you know it makes sense

  8. At least Gazidis is being more forthcoming than other senior Arsenal figures have bee in the past.

    Usually, the late Danny Fizman and others have said that there are funds available to AW to spend, when clearly, until recently, there have not.

    Each year, for the last five or six years, we have been told of a £40m ring-fenced amount being available for transfers, but not spent, because transfers in have been funded by the sale of Barndoor and Toure. So, looking at the current Balance Sheet, where is this capital sum (£40m * 5 = £200m) hiding?

    Anyway, at least Gazidis has admitted the only viable way for the club to raise money is from sales of tickets at the Emirates or an improved commercial business acumen.

    There is room for an increased commercial revenue of some £50m per annum, if Arsenal are judged against the other top 5 clubs in the EPL, so let’s hope the new Commercial Director achieves this, to assuage the sense of hurt, and financial discomfort suffered by us Gooners!

  9. Well, u mean we actuarially lost 19 potential goals to the woodwork? how painful is that? Especially RVP. if i remember. He likely accounts for at leat 10 of those 19 in not more!

  10. Bloody woodwork.

    In Moaniho’s world, that is clearly a wooden conspiracy!

  11. Hi Yogi,
    Nice post as always.
    In the interest of rigour, would you know if those stats included possible points lost through goals we might have conceded but for the woodwork? Not just us of course but for the other team as well?

  12. Reinforced aluminiumwork, not woodwork.

  13. LimparAssist

    Additional moneys generated from heroin. Well I never. AFC really has gone to the dogs. Adams may have been a donkey, but he was never a mule.

  14. LimparAssist

    Thanks for your post last night Frank. Just what I was after. Will try and draw a few of those into the masterplan. Operation Final Home Hurrah aka The Sunshine Booze Canal Adventure.

    Dingwalls is the only one on the list I know. And it’s still a great place for live music. Saw a band called White Denim there last summer… they will blow your hair right back.

  15. La Grave on tour

    What about the shots that went an inch wide or a foot or a meter?
    Is there any of the bottom of the barrel left?

    The reality is you cannot say that if we had 10 more points we would be champions because you do not know how United would have reacted to our additional points accumulation. Thats the difference between champions and also rans they react to adversity in different ways. But why let reality get in the way of more ifs/buts and maybes which further reduce the level of true introspection needed at the club.

    Lets have another summer of people talking about “tweeks needed” while we rack up less points than the year before; yeah its progress Jim but not as we know it.

  16. LimparAssist

    We hit the woodwork so often because we aim for corners. We’re like Federer in 2001, going for the white lines and overcooking it by a fraction… next year… well, we start hitting them.

  17. LimparAssist

    Oh how I crave true introspection… or is that just a big teary-eyed wank?

  18. Personally I feel that our strikers are often put off by the assortment of aids stored in the net by the opposition keeper. Petr Cech’s case for spare headgear, for example, is big enough to store an array of brass instruments. Edward Van der Sar? 47 packets of bubble gum and a Pear’s encyclopaedia in a Tesco bag, every game. Pepe Reina? 15 clockwork Messis and several packets of wet wipes for his …er…little problem. Enough to cause any striker to hit the reinforced aluminiumwork. In my opinion anyway.

  19. Le Grave – nice to meet you, you’re a prick.
    No one said it was anything but a bit of fun but it unquestionably points to some phenomenal bad luck.

  20. Thanks Yogi i saw the reply to my post, I guess i’ll just have to use a different browser when i visit here as I am still experiencing the same problems with GC.

  21. La Grave

    You should try humour. It works. Someone in a whimsical moment pulled together a table which shows the impact on all teams and suddenly it’s an excuse-seeking exercise? Lighten up.


  22. @Le grave, are you serious? Are u actully for real? that was a fun table… like its going to be published somewhere as the authentic table?

    Please take it easy. maybe your name says it all

  23. Frank,

    Not wishing to disagree with you, but aren’t goal posts made of reinforced, hardened spaghetti strips, as required by FIFA’s Mr Bladder?

  24. Oh I see, Red Arse. I had heard that they are working on a Tobleronework construction. The triangular shape might prevent the occurrence of strikers scoring own goals by hitting the opposition reinforced al…spaghettiwork so hard that it rebounds the length of the pitch. It has not yet happened in practice but Mr Blatter is very worried about it. He sees it is a bigger problem than shit referees. No one else agrees with him so I reckon it should get through the FIFA voting system fairly easily. I can see his point, personally, but I don’t see it working well in Qatar where I foresee the goal areas consisting of sticky chocolatey, nougat and honey favoured goo and the goal itself a wilting arch of cardboard.

  25. Read in the Sun yesterday that Fifa have given the go ahead to test out goal line technology. Interesting – but as a mate of mine put it – if they start using this how long will it be before people are demanding cameras for offside, fouls, etc, etc.
    I am personally for it for everything, though I think they could do it like tennis where you have three appeals. It could slow the game up considerably though. Another thing I think they should do is stop the time whenever someone’s rolling about ‘injured’ and when it gets to 90 minutes – game over. Would put a stop to fake injuries and means there’d be no more Fergie time.

  26. Frank, 🙂

  27. Good point Caxter.

    Having been ‘nobbled’ a few times over the years, I was in such pain I did not want to move or be touched.

    The fake injury ‘roly polyies’ are cheating b*stards and two rolls should get them a red card for insulting us!!

  28. UnbiasedTobias

    Caxter… Agred mate.
    the whole clock stop works for Basketball perfectly i dont see how it cant work in footy.
    And honestly TMO’s should be introduced into football. cut out offsides and diving and handballs. but i cant see that happeing cos then united wouldnt even qualify for Europe…

    FA cant allow that to happen can they?

  29. Either that – or shot.

  30. LimparAssist

    The change I would like to see in football is for referees to be allowed much more discretion in the interpretation of fouls in the penalty area. We’ve conceded more penalties than anyone else this season. Are we that cynical a team? No, it’s because we have so much of the ball that when the opposition get the ball they lump it in the box and search for something like their lives depended on it – they know it might be their only chance so down they go under the weight of a gossamer-thin brush on the should. Fouls are supposed to be either cynical or reckless… not just some accidental featherlike pressure on your back. Come the fuck on. Honestly, what goes for a penalty these days really is on the border of ruining football for me. The implication that “any contact” and a striker is entitled to go down (is that even in the laws?!) has made for an embarrassing little tap dance where there should be full blooded competitive action every time the ball is in the box. A foul is a foul – but in the box, ‘any contact’ is a foul? I’m in complete favour of protecting attackers, belive me, but the blatant gamesmanship we’ve lost points to this season is beyond a joke. That is my big gripe with football. Problem is it has to be addressed across the world and La Liga for one won’t be having it. Cheating is too ingrained, being a cunt is too much part of the spectacle.

  31. Limpar,

    Quite agree. But there is a paradox here.

    Like you I am sick of the acceptance of the punits in general and commentators in particular, when they say, ‘he touched his shoulder, I’ve seen them given’. Bollox!

    On the other hand, some teams when defending corners and free kicks into the box, get away with shirt holding, arms wrapped around forwards, or in the cases of Vidic and Terry, launching themselves like rockets into the bodies of the opposition.

    Two conflicting and ridiculous extremes, and we have frequently suffered a lot from teams doing this to us!

  32. punits = pundits, but I know you knew! 🙂

  33. I think the way to eliminate this diving culture is to giveout retrospective cards based on video evidence. When your £25m striker is sitting in the stand after having got five yellows in five games for diving the managers will soon stamp it out.

  34. LA, I hate play-acting and “gamesmanship” as much as the next supporter. But then I suppose if the FA remained against it then English teams would be at a huge disadvantage in Europe and at international level where it is part of the game.

  35. Barca looked like trained dancers in the first leg against Real.

  36. Markus, doing nothing because others have it as “part of the game” is a poor argument for ignoring the problem. Implementing it here and then campaigning for UEFA and FIFA to do the same in their competitions should be the way to go.

  37. Limpar – I agree with your post 100%. It is not only in the area either, the number of “fouls” that are given which as you described are mere physical contact is ruining the game.

    Even more of a gripe of mine is the ball being put out of play is somebody is down injured. Unless it is a blatently bad injury, or obviously a head injury the game should continue. How many times have we seen the game be brought to a halt, only for the injured player to get up and dust himself down immididately? Often followed ten seconds later by a sprint.

  38. goonerandy

    There is no reason for the ball to be put out of play for injuries. Even Fifa recognised that some individuals were taking the piss and withdrew the rule that sitpulated ‘fair play’.


  39. According the sweet FA’s rulebook, Vidic should be caught out and banned by the video review panel, or whatever it is they are called. Won’t happen. However, if his name was Eduardo and he had played for Arsenal…

    Maiming an opponent is a greater crime then rolling about with hands held over your face in my humble and insignificant opinion. The extended ban imposed recently by the MLS was a little glimpse of the future. Probably.

  40. Not arguing for doing nothing because others have it as “part of the game” and ignoring the problem. Just saying, from an FA standpoint our teams would be going into the champions league and getting red cards and conceeding penalties left right and centre. They would not progress and as a result we’d eventually get less teams in the competition, and more importantly less international fans.

    All about the revenue.

  41. Caxter @ 12:23:

    “Another thing I think they should do is stop the time whenever someone’s rolling about ‘injured’ and when it gets to 90 minutes – game over. Would put a stop to fake injuries and means there’d be no more Fergie time.”

    Seems like an absolute no-brainer to me. Traditionalists can whinge and cry all they want but makes one less way the ref influences the outcome and makes the time keeping transparent to the world and much less nebulous. .

    The offside camera’s and video replays have to be next, I hope. The 3 challenge per match would slow it up a little but better that then everyone thinking they are getting screwed every week the way they are now.

  42. YW – I know, but it still happens most of the time in most matches. I wish players would get away from it. I wonder if they could trial what happens in rugby (the physio comes onto the pitch with play continuing)?

  43. Limpar @ 12:54:

    Its a huge problem since there seem to be 2 – 3 penalty contoversies in every game. Some of the other things we talk about like time keeping and goal line technology have easy solutions but this does not. The more discretion you give the ref the more chance he has to change games. Nirvana for all the conspiracy lovers.

    If we don’t somehow use video evidence and allow challenges to penalty decisions we could add a 2nd or 3rd ref. The slo mo multiangle replays we now have show just how different the same play looks depending on which angle you see it from.

  44. additional moneys generated from hereon in….

    Was reading a bit fast and had to do a double take on that line.

    Good stuff as usual Yogi!

  45. Funny how no one mentions the Carling cup final.Birmingham had a wrong off-side decision in the first minute which would have meant Szczesny being sent off and Birmingham getting a penalty and us playing with 10 men.The officials against us again?.That has been totally forgotten.Can you imagine if that decision had gone against us ?

    And Birmingham did hit the bar!!!!

  46. Yogi:

    Nice post as always.

    “Certainly I interpret Gazidis’ words as a warning that this summer will not see the big signings so craved by many. ”

    What a surprise!!

    Woodwork: I guess the football Gods really do hate us.

  47. LimparAssist

    It’s about hitting white lines. Thierry knows.

  48. Martin, what are you arguing about exactly?

  49. LimparAssist

    Sorry about prompting a chat on referees I didn’t have time to rejoin. Retrospective match bans would solve the problem over a weekend but it won’t happen as Markus says, because we’d be fucked in europe and in the internationals. I quite like Block4’s ‘fuck em, lead by example’ approach. Won’t happen though! I just hate the way a ref thinks “Oo-er there was contact so…” rather than thinking foul/no foul. And the way it makes cheating cunts out of otherwise (possibly) honest players. It’s a loophole and the stakes are too high for them not to try it on.

    Also agree with Finsbury that there are, in fact, far greater injustices in our game than this one – as Saturday’s fixture reminds us.

  50. Finsbury:

    10 game ban by the MLS for “horror tackles” is a good start. Hopefully it will be bumped up to even higher number of games.

  51. LimparAssist

    I think a lot of those hit posts will be RVP and Theo. They have been masters at getting it tight in the corners this season – and scored lots because of it. If everyone was hitting in and around that white line as consistently as those two we’d have walked the league. Fabregas has been hitting the middle of the goal too often. Nasri and Arsh, absolutely clinical one game… bit middle-of-the-goalish the next.

  52. Screw Goal line technology – just make the goals a yard or so bigger.

  53. LimparAssist

    Or at least some bankable kudos points for hitting the woodwork, Matt. We’d see alley oop style set-ups off the woodwork and long, skillful exchanges between forwards, picking eachother out off the crossbar. You get, say, 50 kudos points and you bank it for a point in the league. Again… we’d run away with it.

  54. And maybe if you get to a certain number of points you are allowed to place a radio controlled land mine on pitch, to be controlled by your manager.

    Would make the game more interesting.

  55. LA, When I saw this stat yesterday that’s exactly what I thought. That’ll be Walcott and VP earlier in the season. Giving the posts a good hiding. The rest of our regular players in general this season have made opposition goalies look like they’re having the game of their lives.

  56. Paul N
    That we had the luck and the officials on our side and we still lost.Too many times this season we have been using luck and bad officials for an excuse why we lost.Now we are blaming the woodwork
    If we made the goals 12ft tall and 12 yards wide Bendtner would still miss the target!!!!

  57. LimparAssist

    Kudos points for nutmegs, no-look passes, bicycle kicks (if you’re not really fat and spoil the aesthetics), long distance volleys, and particularly deft sliding tackles. The sort of slide tackle that could clear a tablecloth without upsetting the cutlery…. the kind of tackle that slices a row of candles in half, only for them to remain seemingly intact until a gust of wind reveals the fatal blow…. In other words – A Koscielny tackle! Those should get points too.

  58. Martin we lost the match.

  59. Noone is blaming the woodwork!

    Thats why I asked what you were on about because blame was not a part of todays discussion at all.

    Lighten up!

  60. If we need transfer money and little is available, surely the answer is a little judicious selling and buying from within our present resources.
    There must be a number of players on the Club’s top payroll who will never quite prosper further at Arsenal …….but will elsewhere. Start trading!!!

  61. I would only consider selling players who want to leave.

  62. Good post YW.

    I think the “technology” debate is extremely interesting and will come to the forefront in the next couple of seasons. I fear that it will take a MASSIVE mix up that goes against the Barca’s and Utd’s of the world before something is done.

    In the USA, the National Football League has implemented video technology quite successfully. I should hope that Mr. Blatter and his cohorts would have a chat with their NFL peers. The system is based on coaches being able to “challenge” a call. There is a limit of 2 per game, unless you “win” both challenges, then you get a third. After the play is over, but before the next one begins, the coach must throw a red flag out on to the field. Certain things are reviewable or challengeable, some things are not. I won’t get into the specifics bc I know there aren’t many NFL fans out there, but the game is stopped, the head official trots over to a viewing screen, talks with other off-field referees, before coming back onto the field to make the call. I think the biggest issue football, real football, will have is when can a coach challenge a call.

    I for one don’t think that the main ref in footy could be the one to look at video. I think bc of the nature of the sport, there would have to be an off-field official who would be reviewing each offside, penalty, whatever decision actively, regardless of a potential challenge, so that if a challenge did occur, there would not be a lot of down time. The off-field official could have a few words with the head official, and a decision could be reached.

    That’s my two sense based on how its been implemented in the NFL.

  63. @Markus
    If Denilson, one of the most disgracefully vilified Arsenal players this season , wanted to stay would you sell him or not?

  64. Markus:

    Admirable to be loyal to the players we have. Lots of struggling this year when we went to the “B squad”. Perhaps some upgrades needed? How do we “freshen” up the squad without some out going players to match incoming given the 25 man rule. No room for academy grads either unless they are under 21 but they will eventually reach the age of maturity.

  65. LimparAssist

    What a star Emmanuel Frimpong is.

  66. The whole “B” squad struggled when they played, nothing to do with individuals but more so lack of playing time together.

  67. LimparAssist

    Get in there the Arsenalistas!

  68. So what exactly is the advantage of our wage structure?
    Do our ‘stars’ earn less than they’ll be earning elsewhere? For now, probably not, but in the future as more and more of them start to play hardball (e.g. Nasri) and demand wages commensurate with their ‘peers’, what happens then? If as we all hope the players get better e.g. if Walcott scores 20 goals next season, he’ll surely expect a pay rise too, right?

    At the same time we presumably pay our fringe players more than they would earn elsewhere, which, as Yogi and Arseblog have pointed out, makes it harder for us to get good transfer fees for the ones we want to sell.

    Its looking like the policy wasn’t very well thought out? I suppose it was based on the assumption that most players coming through would be a) loyal and b) achieve their potential.

  69. Paul N.

    Perhaps thats part of the explanation. After this year I am not a fan of the “b squad” concept for us although it did work well for the Red Manc’s, against Schalke anyway. Even if the lack of familiarity playing as a unit was the issue, still some concern since many on the blog have commented that the boss seemed to loose confidence in the players outside of the regular 11 in the latter part of this season which would be a problem next year.

  70. Henristic,

    that has been one of my worries. Whether we take pride in our wage structure or not, there are teams out there paying huge wages. If it was marginally better, I could see how loyalty would keep someone. But when it can be twice what we are paying, I can’t fault players for wanting to earn the best living they can with their (compared to most working adults) short careers.

    Also, if we do pay our younger players more than most do, whether as incentive to come to us, or as an early ‘reward’ to keep them with us, then it would be very hard to off load them if they failed to live up to expectations (but enjoy their higher wages and long contract) which might also lead to complacency/lack of drive to prove themselves.

    Though a lot of those worries are down to individuals and how they are personally/professionally and can’t really be a pure blanket statement.

  71. LimparAssist

    What you on about mate? What’s Frimpong done?

    Oh and hilarious to how La Grave on Tour tried to piss on his/her percieved rose tinted ness only to be completely embarassed about how it was all a piece of fun! Didnt come back dod they? Sad, that someone would have to be like that.

  72. LimparAssist

    You got ATVO, Dexter? Good chat with Manu on there. Head well and truly screwed on. Very clever boy. He is going far – I’m calling it now.

  73. Nah, dont have it LA. I am hopeful the boy Frimpong can make it with us.

  74. Bill, I think Arsene got a bit desperate in his quest to win something, mind you many people on here kept saying we should always play our best team too. All of the B squad members have started at some point in their career’s so I am surprised that Arsene didnt rotate the squad more. Again, I think he was desperate and it may have backfired. Here is the thing, Cesc couldnt play against United and we won with Ramsey in, Djourou went out injured and Squillaci did the business, so to me there is no need to rely on one set of players. Going forward, I believe we must rotate but not a whole team one time as others have said.

    United side wasnt a full out B team like Arsenal played and most of the players play regularly anyhow.

  75. CL refs should watch this:

  76. Should have added, “and be ashamed”

  77. I would like to see a triangular football introduced. That would put a stop to this tippy tappy nonsense and the Delap throw ins at a stroke.

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