Deep Pockets: Short Arms Optional

It is not quite the calm before the storm but were there not a European Championships this summer, the months may be longer than the days in the tedium of the transfer window and pre-season. The dreams and desires have been brought sharply into focus with Chelsea’s victory at the weekend. Some humorous – hunger strikes chained to the doors of The Armoury – whilst others are tiresome.

Success in this country and beyond its borders has manifested in the form of clubs where Sugar Daddy investors: Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid – even Liverpool – all lifted silverware whilst the fairytale of Montepellier was the obstruction to Paris St Germain’s success. Money can’t buy you love but it can help with infatuations. Arsenal’s two billionaires do not invest in the club financially and the contrast is needling some. KSE remain silent whilst Red & White drop in the perfect PR words which like the political arena, are easy to say when you do not have power. There is nothing to prove that he would carry out the investment offered nor to be fair, is there evidence he would not.

The basis for believing him is offered as the spurious rights issue that is nothing more than a backdoor way to increase their percentage of the ownership of the club or that Alisher Usmanov is a successful businessman who knows how to make money. That conveniently ignores Kroenke’s background or interests outside of the club or that in his time of ownership, the value of the club is 50% more. OK, the last is a touch spurious since that is inflated by the premium paid by Usmanov on his recent share transactions, hardly a ringing endorsement of the American’s ownership.

We all want to see the squad strengthened, it should be every summer in order to prolong any success which is enjoyed. Arguably since the 1930s, a succession of Arsenal managers have failed to do this. The double proved to be the pinnacle and the end of the trophies for that era, a procession of away defeats undermined a title challenge the season after before defeat at Wembley. George Graham never strengthened after 1989 or 1991, paying the price each time. Arsène had an evolutionary process before arguablyThe Invincibles broke up too quickly. The youth programme is bringing results through with a balance being struck between that and experience now. That looks to be correct in terms of the squad structure and continues going forward.

But if you compare now to the turn of the century, Arsenal spent on quality players as the squads evolved; 1997 to 2004 had a core of players who straddled the periods through 2000 and the four years beyond. It allowed a seamless transition that was not possible for a number of seasons whilst the new stadium was financed. Now through that phase of the club’s history, the spending has begun again not that you would believe it. Too often the net transfer income is criticised as being parsimony. There is no doubt that the club has been prey to that but in those instances, we look at one player. Would for example, Juan Mata’s signature last season have delivered more than third place? You cannot conclusively say that this is the case and to be brutally honest, I doubt it would have made a difference.

With all of these instances, hindsight applies. The logic is that contracts were too readily available, too easily and generously given to players who have not made the grade at the club. This is to ignore that the bulk of the beneficiaries in 2007-08 were realistic title challengers until close to the season’s end. Little wonder that the manager invested in them, believing that they could make the next step. This process is just a different angle to buying in players on a frequent basis. Manchester City are champions this season because compared to the other teams yet arguably they are weak champions, only having their medals because Manchester United lost their bottle when they needed it most.

Neither path offers guarantees of success and unless either of the billionaire investors is guaranteeing the club’s future by sustained and repetitive investment, it will never be the Arsenal way. Spurs habitually spend more than Arsenal but where is their return? Aston Villa spend heavily periodically; we can all find examples to support our agendas.

It may be that we argue over the club but it is a wider contextual issue in football; the heart and the soul of the game is at stake. Money has taken over and it is not going to be about producing talent but buying it. That is manifestly different from the past; heavy investment in the 1970s did not preclude teams such as Ipswich or Forest who were compiled relatively cheaply, from challenging. That opportunity is not dead but like football radically reshaped, the definition of cheaply now probably aimed at Arsenal’s level of spend. But it is all relative to their time. The spend last summer was substantial compared to previous years, relatively speaking. That sense of perspective seems to be ignored or lost entirely.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on May 21, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 148 Comments.

  1. morning YW as always a great write up…kudos

  2. “we can all find examples to support our agendas”. That sentence encapsulates the whole buy in vs grow your own debate. In my opinion we went too far towards the latter in the past few seasons, but the squad appears to be rebalancing now, shown in the acquisition of Arteta and Mertesacker last August and again in the purchase of Podolski. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one more “name” this Summer as well as a couple of prospects for the future coming in.

  3. Yogi
    Nice summation of issues at hand and market forces in place.

    Will Arsenal have a policy in place that compels the manager to jettison players not part of its future b4 new signings can be inked?

  4. Montepellier does indeed show it can be done but they are really the exception to the rule. The Sugar Daddy model, if you could call it that, is capable of blowing all other clubs out of the water. How long will that be allowed to last? Will FFP actually work? The Bundesliga have had a FFP model in place for ages and all the clubs respect it. Will the neuvoux riche of English football comply? I have my doubts. But in any case im quite happy with how The Arsenal are trying to run the club (barring the investment issues you brought up in the post) But will they be allowed to succeed or will ‘financial doping’ be overlooked?

  5. by nvestment issues i of course meant squad investment….

    Agree with you block4, we did swing too far into ‘grow your own’, when 1 or 2 ready made (Artetaesque) additions would have made for a more competitive squad

  6. pedantic george

    Montepellier have managed it only because PSG have not had enough time to buy a squad that will make them shoe in’s.They will though.
    The Premier League will never allow FFP to work,It is the excess that make it so attractive and well publicised.

  7. yogi the heart and soul is not at stake
    the heart and soul has already gone..

    it went ages ago…for football it went when the money started to dominate the game(everyone insert your own period here) and for us it went when we planned to move to a new home and take everyone elses money..

    correct on last year being a year of spending, the final week was amazing but why did we have to wait to the final week? why did a couple of the players have to come in without medicals and why did they have to come in to replace our best players and not add to them

    quite frankly id love to see another 5 players brought in at a reasonable price but not at the expence of another captain and not like we did last year..we looked like rank amatuers..

    the squad was in trouble when the season started and we were all tearing our hair out at the way we had just imploded..
    people can say what they want about how they think the club is marvellously run with our best interests at heart but 2-3 summers of crap like the last one will soon change their mind.

  8. What about Dortmund winning the cl for the last 2 years running against considerable odds.

    I just think people think Arsenal can do much better than 70 points and for a club with such a massive wage bill we should.

    forget city lets concentrate on ourselves. With money we do have the defence can be much better, with the monjey that we do have we can sign african players who can do a better job than gervinho.

  9. pedantic george

    If we don’t sign another player I will not complain as long as we don’t lose anyone we don’t want too.
    I agree with JJ,the heart and soul has long gone.

  10. ffp wont change a thing, not because the fa but because of fifa or uefa..
    the fa didnt come up with the idea

    blatter did so he could control the amount of spending in the pl and stop english clubs from dominating europe..
    nobody gave a shit about ffp when teams like lazio and real madrid were hoovering everyones players up..
    but then he remembered that it would also stop the rest of europes super powers as well as englands so theyve put that many loopholes in it, its a pointless ruling..

    the only thing it moniters is spending
    but if your a club with multi million sponsers then how do you stop the spending? you dont
    which is why its bollox..

    add to that, that uefa wouldnt want to lose the prestigious pennies that the CL brings in..
    whos gonna watch that? when all the big teams are not allowed in the thing?

    it wont happen…
    its a system designed to stop something that they themselves encourage..of course its not going to work…

  11. Very comprehensive, YW.

    I’d just emphasise the point that although I am against the benefactor model, it’s not the opposition of like-minded fans which is standing in the way of that model being adopted by Arsenal. Benefactor investment is not on offer from either SK or AU.
    In relation to which…. “KSE remain silent whilst Red & White drop in the perfect PR words which like the political arena” – in fairness to KSE, Stan has not been silent on *this* issue – he has said explicitly that he isn’t going to put money in like Abramovich or Mansour, so there shouldn’t be any doubt there.

    Well done Montpellier. You’ve given me hope! As the number of petrol-fuelled clubs increases, the non-financial attractions of our club including our forward-thinking repuation and our unique ethos become more important in attracting and retaining players. We’re now stuffed with Gooners, which might be no coincidence. Winning a trophy would be a big help as well, but that is not something we can do to order, unfortunately. But I feel it’s important for the game and for a significant minority of football fans worldwide that we continue to plough our furrow and do things the Arsenal way.

    @ DeiseGooner and Block4
    Arteta is exactly the kind of PL-experienced quality player that we could have done with a few years ago, but couldn’t have afforded – £10m transfer fee, reported £15 million in wages over the whole contract…and 29 years old, so has little resale value. When buying, we *mostly* had to choose between experience and quality, because we couldn’t afford both in the same player. Things are easier now, so we can.

  12. pedantic george

    JJ how do you go from talking nonsense one day to making perfect sense the next?
    Do you get hacked?

  13. thats the idea george
    we keep the core together
    theres no point blowing your transfer kitty on 17 new contracts for players that arent even first teamers, so get those contracts sorted.
    we spend massive amounts on wages anyway so theres room for tweaks..

    keep our best players together, the sheikhs empire will fall…

    we finished third in a league dominated by over spending, we can take that crown if we show some bollox with our own finances..

    we wouldnt dominate, we never have, as yogi as alluded weve never had a back to back winning team..
    but a winning team we matter who the dominating teams where..whether it be liverpool or UTD we took trophies off them..

    we didnt sit back and accept it was over…

  14. Hindsight is 20:20 vision they say. Nothing encapsulates this this than Block 4’s airy declaration that in the past we may have swung too far to growing our own talent, which to be fair is not a new opinion.

    The problem is the statement is not supported by a shred of evidence despite YW’s measured recount of history to show that the kids who challenged so well in 2007-08 were duly rewarded for their promise at a time when the economic bubble had truly burst and the the bankers poring over our financial statements with a microscope to verify if we could truly make our debt payments. Meaning our lenders would have have a great say in our spending on transfers by simply reminding us of our loan covenants. (Having to do some risk management in my day job I can tell you the power of bankers over their creditors has risen exponentially in the past six years.)

    But then our know-it-all football gurus have wiggled their way into the marbled halls of the Arsenal boardroom and are privy to the loan covenants.

    I doubt any of the above will convince the likes of j-j and Bill, who are convinced, against all facts and logic, that we have the money but we simply refuse to spend, preferring to grow the value of the company to make our shareholders wealthier. Against the objection of our bankers, we could easily plonk anywhere from 50 million pounds upwards in an arms race with City, Chelsea, PSG and now Anzhi to compete for mega transfers and super wages on a small pool of experienced talented players. Dream on fellows.

  15. hahaha no george i just got different opinions on different stuff and it can get me friends and enemies in the same instance..

  16. pedantic george

    I will say it again but slightly different.
    In the past ,the difference in spending power was marginal.With a bit of good management and spirit you could bridge the gap.
    That gap is now a huge great chasm.
    It is massive and growing by the year.
    Looking back and saying we have done it before is silly.Because we have never bridged such a gap.Never.

  17. Correction: power of bankers over their debtors, not creditors.

  18. Fun – “Arteta is exactly the kind of PL-experienced quality player that we could have done with a few years ago, but couldn’t have afforded – £10m transfer fee, reported £15 million in wages over the whole contract…and 29 years old, so has little resale value.

    If that is the case, then we really are doing something wrong. If a club of our size can’t afford £10M for a player because he is in his late 20’s there is something wrong. Even teams like Stoke and Villa make those type of signings. Are we really behind them?

  19. while what you say is true about the chasm being greater,
    we must bear in mind that chelsea are a team who have ploughed millions into their club and they finished 6th
    granted the sucked up the other cups but they finished 6th..

    liverpool spent millions and finished 8th

    there will be seasons where these teams will be unstoppable but their will be other seasons where these teams will slip up and allow a window of opportunity.
    weve had plenty of these windows over the years but we blew it on our own terms becuase we didnt have the squad to take advantage..

    i truly believe if we hung onto our best players we would have a squad capable of taking advantage when that window opens again..

  20. Geroge @ 11:28 – Yup, you are right.

  21. JJ – “i truly believe if we hung onto our best players we would have a squad capable of taking advantage when that window opens again..

    Not without additions. We have a very good squad, but finished way off hte pace in the end. If we can keep our best players and add a couple of quality players to the squad, I also think we will be challenging.

  22. Notoverthehill

    Yogi, once again you show your true worth.

    PG, how could you? The perfect aspect of a true supporter yesterday, and now you have to side with JJ????

    I must admit I do roam a lot, andersblog for Manure, Paul Tomkins for Liverpool, Damian for Aston Villa, so you will see my drift? Could, can Mr Ivan Gazidis do BETTER! The Glazers have soared with their commercial income. BUT Ferguson states that players are over priced? Which I believe means that Manure are restricted in their transfer fees. Manure can still outspend anything that The Arsenal can afford..

    Aston Villa is a different kettle of fish. Martin O’Neill is a canny manager, BUT his wage bill is way, way out of kilter with income. I cannot detect any great American influence from Lerner to compare with Mr Gazidis, except that the wage bill caused Mr O’Neill to jump ship!

    Liverpool with FSG may be more interesting now, with the Big Spender out of the picture. It is curious how the Heysel Stadium is ignored or swept under the carpet now, Winter of the DT in particular. With all the talk of FSG and Moneyball fixated, things should look uo?

    From one of the many Russian magazines that I may or may now delve into, a picture caught my attention. €15 millions p.a. for PG (ex Barcelona manger BTW!) seems to leverage the managerial salary scale out of orbit. I suspect RVP is hoping for a bargaining chip from this quarter? Sorry PG, I could not resist the PG.

  23. Fun – i dont buy that for a second. 3 seasons ago Arteta was 27, 10-15 mil transfer and similar wages over 4 years is exactly the right type of deal.

  24. goonerandy
    true, we do need additions, but weve always signed players..
    wengers produces some right donkeys sometimes but in the main when he signs players he gets it cock on more often than not and they become top players for us..

    the problem is keeping them together for longer than 5 mins and not being tempted to sell as soon as someone starts waving cheques for 25-30mil a time..

    the sugar daddy teams that come from nowhere are full of players worth 25-30mil..

    if we altered our sales technique a little we would have a squad full of them ourselves…
    and then the actual additions become less of a priority..

  25. I think the team has done a sterling job. Mistakes have been made but overall I am proud.

    As far as players making the grade, who is the judge of that?
    I don’t trust our (the supporters) opinions at all. Quite a few Arsenal players would have been gone had it been for the support, even some mature ones, like Gilberto. It was not until he was injured did get get the respect he deserved.

    It seems to me that if you cannot buy the big named stars you may have to pay to get and keep the best of the youths, that is how we have remained competitive, I believe.

    What i am saying is that supporters are not running the club and if most did this thing would go belly up unless they did a City. You see it is easy to buy a ready done Messi but what about a Song? A player who is derided and booed by his own support?

  26. JJ – Yeah, pretty much. Like you said, we have always bought players, unfortunately they have normally ended up as replacements rather than improving the squad.

  27. @shotta, do you not think that having too many young players in the team at the same time hurt our chances of winning the league somewhat? Correct me if I’m wrong, but many see the 2007-2008 challenge as being derailed by Eduardo’s injury. Now that was a horrific challenge and injury, but might some more experienced heads have not seen out not only that game where we succumbed to a late penalty to draw, but also the rest of the season to take the title?

    Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but having gone down the route of having a team packed with youngsters (and I’m not even saying we had a choice, possibly the finances dictated it), I think having a squad with some prodigious youngsters as well as some more experience will allow us to have a more consistent season with more even performances week in week out and sustain a challenge right to the end. It might not be new or blindingly original, but I’ll tell you fella, not much in the world of football is.

  28. Finished off the pace? Well United finished off the pace and where level on points. Every team had its ups and downs this season. I would have loved to see what this team could have accomplished without all the drama. This team played City off the park and even our CC side gave them worries. Imam not against adding but this team has not had one even one whole season together.

  29. An Arteta when we had Cesc
    A Mert instead of a Silvestre
    A Podolski instead of a Chamakh/Park

    Strengthen not replace. But do it with quality and experience. It would complement the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Ramsey comming through not harm their prospects. Dare i say even Denilson would have benefitted….

  30. Paul – By “off the pace” I meant points wise. We were way behind the top 2 clubs.

  31. Block4, it is possible that more mature heads would have prevailed but history also tells us that the invincible squad could not rebound to losing to United. With that being said, I would haved loved us to keep Gilberto and Pires airtime longer.
    Gallas, Toure and Cilchy were on that team, no?

  32. Deise – Exactly.

    Denilson for example; I really am not a fan of his, but you are right. He played plenty of gsames for us without anybody to help guide and coax him through games. Especially when our backs were against the wall. Some more experienced heads around him may have seen his development improve.

  33. Being 2 extra time minutes away from winning the league is not off the pace, its bang up with the pace – 19 points behind the top 2 is off the pace.

    Sure you could argue this team is just at the begining but now is the time to add to it to ensure it grows in quality. And by all accounts that looks to be happening, starting (i hope its just a start) with Podolski

  34. GA, that is too simple in my opinion. You have to have a settled team for the whole season before we can truly judge. What we know is that when we settled and were not injury ridden, we were as good as any PL team.

  35. Are Arsenal “inexpensively assembled” though? Our net transfer spend is very low, but this is more to do with the large transfer fees we have received for selling players like Adebeyor, Nasri, Cesc, Henry, i.e. selling our best players and then not re-investing all the money back into the squad. Ok, we won’t spend 25 million on a player like Man U, Man City and Chelsea, but we do regularly buy 12-15 million pound players like Gerviniho, Chamak, Walcott, Reyes, etc. and our wage bill is high compared to most of the league. This is of course good business but consistently selling your best players and then pinning your hopes on young players has not worked footballisticly.
    I think we are going about our business in the right way, but there have been points were we have needed to invest in the squad, but have inexplicably failed too and have missed opportunities to push on in football terms.

  36. Diese it was a misunderstanding, surely I could not have meant it as you are saying and say there were level on points.

  37. Any body read “Job done: But what does it mean to be a City fan now?” in the Guardian Weekend magazine? Was due diligence conducted on Thaksin Shinawatra by the FA? Shinawatra “who had been accused of human rights abuses, ousted as prime minister of Thailand in a military coup, charged with three counts of corruption and had his financial assets in Thailand frozen”. A figure of £150m is said to have been paid by Abu Dhabi for City leaving Shinawatra with a personal profit of £90m. Great. Let these people run amok over here, we don’t care where the money comes from….

  38. Everyone has talked about selling our best players, but what is the solution to keep them and do we believe that our team, who has done it for years, is just allowing players to leave? And why are they leaving?

  39. Fair enuff Paul, no harm done.
    I wonder will this chap get a shot nest season with us, work permit allowing?

  40. Paul – It is a good question. Why do our top players keep leaving? you don’t really see it at the like of Manure and Chelsea.

    A large part of it must come down to money. We simply can’t pay the wages that other top clubs can. But those that have left to “win things” have gone on to do so, whilst we have remained trophyless. As frustrating as it is, they have been proved right.

  41. Good piece as per norm YW

    I don’t think AW himself doesn’t think about the additions we’ve always spoken about. I guess he would have done it if it wouldn’t have an effect somewhere on d club and its finances. AW is a winner and he loves to win bt he’s left with the option of buying a short term success at the detriment of the club or patiently build a future full of success if everybody involved can be patient enough. The dawn of success is here and we’ll all enjoy it for long time.

  42. I’ve never been opposed to having a young super talented squad not by any means but also with that squad you have to have leadership in the form atleast for me, of world class players and leaders not many but 4-7 that can be a steadying hand. Do I believe that this current squad when fully fit can challenge and win teh PL, yes I surely do but that is because our young talent has the potential and shows its class on teh biggest of stages and we have leadership in the likes of RVP, Verm, Podolski, Mert, Arteta, Lil Mozart that can not only take a young player and settle their nerves but also can show them through their play. Its great if you buy experienced players and mature players but if they aren’t good enough to beat out our young players then your essentially not spending your money wisely. Young players (me being 24 can relate) tend to be more open to listenting and following and all that from players and people that are essentially better than them(not bigger, stronger, faster, just better or more efficient). Hence why Arteta and Mert and Santos were such great signings, it was the fact that they were just better than the player we have in that position at this point.

    I also feel like that is why teh team fights and plays and follows RVP. He is not only an “older” player in this team but he is talented enough to be the best player so are team is stronger for that. 1 full semi-healthy season for Arsenal and we can win the league.

  43. Paul-N, I think a lot of people think the same way about the likes of Pires and Gilberto as well as the general speed with which the invincibles squad was broken up. I suppose we will only ever know the real reasons behind all of that if and when Arsene ever writes his book! 🙂

  44. GA, it goes back to what George is saying, the more people spend the more they will win for the most part. It is a no brained that AC
    Milan, Barca, Chelsea and City will win at some point but at Arsenal it will take digging a litttle deeper, more work and more time, because we have to create.

    Not all of the players have won and even if they did, only Cole have really played well and held down a starting position. Most have flopped.

  45. paul
    some players leave for money..
    but in the main our players left because we were kicking them out because the cash was too good to turn down or they left for trophies..

    the solution would maybe to tell the other teams we dont need their money now the stadium debt is almost secure and we are two years away from a mega sponser deal and give our best players top wages and not give everyone the same amount..

    they way we pay our players is expensive because we have so many and we try and level the playing field out

    when you consider that bendtner is on 50k a week and robin is around 70 and one cant hit a cows arse with a banjo and one has overtaken bergkamps record its plain to see someones fucked up somwhere and it little wonder weve got alot of players we cant get rid off becuase nobody wants to pay 10mil and 50k a week for a player sunderland dont want for example

    but on the other hand everyone is prepared to go after a top striker whos wages could be doubled at most top clubs, not just city…

    it does need adressing but to be honest we are covering old ground with this and to my knowlegde we started the reshuffle last summer when we kicked a whole heap of them out..
    now we just need to finish the job

  46. the selling of good players the last few years has been both inevitable and also part of the plan.

    the thing is how long will wenger have his heart ripped out till the board/owners decide to assist him a little bit. arsene is the only one fighting for arsenal. and he is given a sling shot while his rivals have nuclear weapons .

    he could so easily have said : “No gentlemen, my name is Arsene Wenger, find someone else to disgrace by selling all our good players, not me”

    kroenke seems to like arsene ..and his hands were tied for the first 12 months…but surely his motive to buy arsenal and like every enterprenuer is to reach the top. Cant imagine kroenke bought arsenal wihout intending to lift the champions league one day. Is he prepared for the fight though ?

  47. Yea for the players that have left not many have actually played well or been so vital to their teams winning silverware. Cole thats about it but Henry was a bit part almost at Barca, Na$ri has played like shit and been more squad player than intergral, Cesc was slowly fading from Barca’s first choice and if not for David Villa’s injury and having to play Sanchez there Cesc might have lost his spot and thats just a couple of examples.

  48. Paul – “Not all of the players have won and even if they did, only Cole have really played well and held down a starting position. Most have flopped.

    I would not go that far. Henry/PV4/Nasri/Clichy/Toure/Cole have all won stuff since they left. Fabregas is playing for arguably the best club side on the planet. Not too shabby.

  49. Paul N – I don’t think winning is just about spending money, but there have points over the last few years when the squad has either been too threadbare or players in certain positions have not been good enough (Almunia springs to mind) for us to win anything and we have NOT invested.
    I don’t expect Arsenal to flash around the 20 millions signings, but it is frustrating that we are always replacing experienced outgoing players with youngsters and not bolstering the squad and, as a result of this, we have not really improved for a few seasons now.
    The balance seems to have changed now with Arsene bringing in older players and even, go forbid, players that have player in the premiership, this season and I hope we start to really invest in the squad.

  50. GA, on 2nd thought, I am not dealing with those who won things with Arsenal. The players who have left during the rebuilinding phase, the oneS who we though would stick around, some may have won but many have not covered themselves in glory.
    Cesc is crap right now and really didn’t win anything.

  51. Why couldn’t we have afforded Arteta a few years ago? We’ve been declaring profits for a fair few years since after the Stadium move.

    Good points JJ,

    Giving up should not be an option for a club of our stature. Nothing ‘realistic’ about that (looking at you George).

    We have a chance and will continue to have a chance to win stuff, especially with a manager like Arsene at the helms. And he’s not the only one who can deliver higher than expected returns. Other recent similar examples are Rene Girard, Pardew, and Juergen Klopp. The underdog will continue to have his day.

    It will require being smart, prioritizing competitions and so on. The chances of a treble or double will be harder, but not impossible. Dominating the football landscape for years and years is another matter though. In fact, I’m not sure that City could dominate like Manure and Liverpool did in years past, even with all their money. Its much, much harder to do that now.

  52. Well I dunno chaps, aren’t we prone to be a bit generous to the benefactor patron system while selling our achievements short by adopting a narrow yardstick. Is a trophy the sole measurement of success then? What about 15 consecutive seasons in the top 4, and CL PLUS the trophies we won with Wenger earlier; is this not a yardstick? What about the stadium and training facility investment, how many EPL teams have managed that one; and is this not a yardstick? Wenger is consistent in buying players – 2-3 rated players on average (most of whom have gone on to immense achievement), more in some years, arrive consistently at Arsenal. Why mention the relative 2 or 3 failures when immense or relative successes outweight them about 7:1. Why mention the players we didn’t get, but not the ones we got? I believe the facts are substantial to support the contention that in Wenger’s era only ManU have exceeded our aggregate achievements and milestones. These far exceed any other, or comparable, 15 year Arsenal period by a distance.

  53. Any body read “Job done: But what does it mean to be a City fan now?” in the Guardian Weekend magazine? Was due diligence conducted on Thaksin Shinawatra by the FA? Shinawatra “who had been accused of human rights abuses, ousted as prime minister of Thailand in a military coup, charged with three counts of corruption and had his financial assets in Thailand frozen”. A figure of £150m is said to have been paid by Abu Dhabi for City leaving Shinawatra with a personal profit of £90m. Great. Let these people run amok over here, we don’t care where the money comes from….

  54. I think we can actually be compeitive across all competitions given teh depth and formation. The most important thing atleast for me is that our best players stop being sold.

    @ Paul-N | May 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm
    “The players who have left during the rebuilinding phase, the oneS who we though would stick around, some may have won but many have not covered themselves in glory.
    Cesc is crap right now and really didn’t win anything.”

    I agree with you.

  55. “What about the stadium and training facility investment, how many EPL teams have managed that one; and is this not a yardstick?”

    oh yes it sure is..but try explaining that to the neanderthal in the stands who wants trophies… lol

    “Great. Let these people run amok over here, we don’t care where the money comes from….”

    The Russian Launderers Society Of London and Petrodollars United S.A would like to extend their gratitude to Antony Blair and Sir Gordon Banks …… 🙂

  56. * pffffff lol….*Brown …ahahaha

  57. Zim – Success is relative given the stature of the club. Arsenal is a club that should be winning things, or at least challenging strongly.

  58. Or more simply, instead of mentioning Almunia 17 times to every one time we mention a superb keeper we have found; why not mention Chewie 17 times? Did we not buy and develop him? Does he not exist? Instead of talking about Fabregas 107 times, how about mentioning Arteta more than that. Ditto Kos, Per, TV, Gervinho, Jenks, Santos (!), Sagna, Ramsey, Ox, Ben, Arshavin (who hasn’t done us any harm overall), Theo, Chewie and other excellent purchases, some already come and gone (at a profit) now.

  59. GoonerAndy, that’s what I’m saying. Take pride in this club Arsenal that breaks new ground so consistently and magnificently. It is a very big club, not on hearsay or the past, but on its record in the last 15 years. City is not. Chelsea is below us. Liverpool, Tottenham and a few other wannabes are well below. ManU, credit due, is above us; the only one.

  60. i think the arsenal set up and situation previous and on going goes over a lot of heads due to the complexity and selfish agendas. it get really tiring trying to explain how magnificent we’ve done.

    we could have brought art when cesc was here? please. not saying we couldn’t have but dam. really!? that simple is it. we’l just ignore all the other factors that affect transfers then shall we. and cesc would have definitely stayed on too right?
    and that spitting on ppl condoning back-heeling traitor can sleep in the economic pit vacated by his idol for eternity. i wouldnt have him back if he brought messi with him. maybe. lol

    seriously tho, football lost its way when it decide to take directions from a russian. i want trophies but dont need them. watching the arsenal way evolve, along with the online community is more than enough for me. nicking trophies off the billionaires? bonus.

    and if the person who i thought loves arsenal as much as me leaves then so be it. i’d be gutted but he’d move into the cesc, nasri and viera, could of been a legend boat and id move on with my fingers crossed that luke can bang in at least 20.

    oh and no one has said anything about the most important factor in the PL!! responsible for triumphs and failure.

    refs!!!! – not one pen at home for us and the mancs combined get more pens than all the london teams!

  61. Why do all the project yoof analysts ignore players like eduardo or rosicky etc. who were brought in to be those ‘experienced heads’. That they were lost and couldn’t be replaced for whatever reason is bye the bye. they were at the club at that time when Iast checked.
    So, can anyone tell me why the bleating brigade have such blinkers on? I would appreciate it as I’m starting to get confused by such revisionism. Perhaps these players never played for arsenal?

    If you think these groaning bleaters are bad you Should listen to some of the whining in tottenham today. Beautiful.

  62. Brilliant post YW thanks.

  63. Three teams have managed 15 consecutive seasons in CL; us and …. ? Test your knowledge of how big we are.

  64. Zim – We agree on that then; we have club to rightly be pround of. My point is, that of a club of our stature we should probably be doing better when it comes to getting silverware.

    You can only hold onto the belief that you are a top club for so long without winning silverware. Top club win things. In top level sport, that is the bottom line.

  65. And I wouldn’t get to depressed at chelski’s star after messi & Robben missed penalties.
    First London club rubbish- Aston Villa have a star! Who cares. Meh. Meh. And thrice meh.

  66. Just like everything in life you must take the good with the bad. So yes for every Almunia we have had we have had a Chewie, for every Cesc there has been a Arteta, for every Denilson their has been a Song and so on and so on but the point is that everytime somebody mentions a player that didn’t workout their were players that did and visa versa. The point though should be that Arsenal are not a selling club and that we need to start keeping our word class talent.

    I have heard people say that you shouldn’t build a team around a single player or a single core of players but thats almost what a team is. A couple world class talents and then a bunch of squad players that compliment and fit nicely into the system. its just the way it is. So yes we can build a team around RVP, Podolski, Theo, Song, Kos, Verm, Sagna, Jack, Scnzy thats the core and everybody else stands as squad players capable of all being rotated and without a major dropoff.

  67. We may have crawled to a rather low key 3rd this year (from ahem 17th in September) but really guys, it was a hidden diamond, a momentous achievement; like SAF might say when City or Chelsea match us in 5 decades or more, they can have bragging rights too.

  68. maybe players left because their aware of the corruption in football, or dont want their legs snapped off!

  69. ‘ the heart and the soul of the game is at stake. ‘


  70. @ ZimPaul | May 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Arsenal, Manure, Madrid?

  71. Does anybody know if we now have to pre-qualify for the champions league?

  72. No, we go straight into the group stage.

  73. Spuds are in disarray!

  74. Yogi: Thanks for another great post and thanks for letting George write a great post yesterday. Look forward to more guest posters in the next few weeks.

    George: Thanks again for yesterday’s gem.

  75. And I wouldn’t get to depressed at chelski’s star after messi & Robben missed penalties.

    them useless cunts ….. i cannot believe di matteo has a champions league …fucking greece 2004 showed the way to all these scopeball merchants ..only they had stelios and some other unknowns..chelsea spends billions and they play like ….shit….. so horrible…

  76. 88387-20351

    That’s the code for the ACLF Euro2012 Fantasy League.

  77. Zim @ 1:24
    15 seasons of CL ……only Arsenal

  78. poor uli hoeness having to look at bosingwa twatting in front of him ….vomitting…

  79. Yogi:

    With regard to today’s post I think the thing that is frustrating to most fans is that we seem to have taken everything we have done during the last 7 years has been taken to extremes and we ignored the need for a more balanced approach. Many of the concerns are not just retrospective but were also prospective concerns.

    The financial frugality was important but we let the pendulum swing too far toward the conservative side. There was no real need to accelerate the debt payoff and starve the team for money. We could have afforded players like Arteta, Kompany, Mert even during the lean years but we made due with Silvestre and Almunia and paid down a low interest debt with the money we saved. I don’t know the real reason for doing that but it hurt the team. It seems like we have opened up the money spigot somewhat now but I still don’t think we are spending as much as we are could be.

    The over dependence on youth raised concerns 5 -6 years ago. Credit to us for finally recognizing that we need experienced players like Arteta and Mert and Podolski and striking a better balance.

    We thought we could build a team that was totally dependent on technical excellence and ignored the importance of physicality in the PL. We had the perfect model of technical skill and physical strength with the invincibles. Again we seem to be finally migrating towards a better balance now.

    I don’t even want to start talking about our teams defense.

    etc. etc. etc.

    With regard to our financial model, I understand your concern for the sake of world football but we can’t save it by ourselves. I don’t want to see us go down the path of Man City or Chelsea but I also don’t want to see us hurt our club because we are so incredibly risk averse. I would have no problem at all with Stan throwing a tiny portion of his billions into the pot now and again to help us strengthen the squad especially to tide us over until the great windfall when we renegoitiate our new contracts. You can argue that its a slippery slope But I think we have enough smart people in our club to avoid a headlong slide down that slope into financial oblivion. I want an owner whose main goal is to see the club win things. I don’t expect him to spend himself and the club into administration but he can afford to help us improve the team.

  80. Didn’t realize the comment was getting that long. Hadn’t done that in a while. My bad.

  81. Just read your post from yesterday George as i was running around with my aunt’s birthday, it was quite refreshing I must say and as a Arsenal fan who was brought up to love everything Arsenal by my 1st futbol coach here in the states and only traveling to London once for business 2 years ago so busy that i wasn’t even able to go to a pub but still watched on my phone, it was quite refreshing.

  82. @ ZimPaul
    At the risk of sounding like ‘Arry, terrific comments.

    @ DeiseGooner | May 21, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Fun – i dont buy that for a second. 3 seasons ago Arteta was 27, 10-15 mil transfer and similar wages over 4 years is exactly the right type of deal.

    I didn’t say Arteta himself. I said “the kind of player”, – ie a top quality 29-year-old hardened campaigner from the PL who didn’t have much sell-on value. We didn’t as a rule *buy* that sort of player. We did however try to buy the 27-year-old Xabi Alonso but Liverpool wouldn’t release him because they couldn’t get Barry, who was their replacement.

    Do some of you not realise that we had a lot less money to play with in the first few years of moving to Ashburton Grove? Leaning so heavily on relatively cheap youngsters or getting our more experienced talent from abroad wasn’t a gimmick, we had no choice. And it’s not like they got nowhere near a trophy and were rubbish the whole time, is it? We got close enough often enough to feel like it was basically working.

    The difference between what we spent and what we could have spent is marginal. We had to behave responsibly with regard to the club’s finances. There was a property crash and a then a financial crash and a credit crunch spanning 2007-09, if you recall, and we had invested in property and taken out huge loans to do so.

    AW was prepared to spend big on the right player (eg £20 million bid for Reina, NOT rejected by Liverpool for financial reasons). But we wouldn’t have had that £20 million plus his wages if we hadn’t put money away.

    Who has done better than we have while only spending the “little bit more” that some claim we should have spent? I can’t think of anyone. A little bit more doesn’t get the class of players, or enough of them, to make a significant difference to the squad.

    We do have to try and keep the squad and strengthen it, but success there isn’t entirely in our hands – the players and the financially doped clubs have a big say in that.

    @ pedantic george | May 21, 2012 at 11:28 am
    Spot on. I am hopeful that it will work out for us now and again, but you’re right – we’re in a different universe compared to 7 or 8 years ago.

  83. Sensational Arsenal

    This is from the BBC:

    “Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku criticises former manager Andre Villas-Boas , insisting he will “never forgive” his sacked boss. Lukaku, 19, tells Sport Wereld: “There is one person that I will never forgive for what he did to me – the previous coach. Right from the beginning, it was weird. I could not stand how he was treating me. In training, he put me on the right or left wing. I really learned nothing! I have told the club that too.” ”

    Last summer we were heavily linked to this guy (probably because of the lazy association that a young talented player = Arsenal target). Good thing that we didnt get him. Compare this guy’s attitude with Walcott’s. I have noticed that the players we could get but are avoided by Wenger avoids have bad attitude.

  84. Sensational Arsenal

    cancel avoids in last sentence. I keep making these mistakes!

  85. Bill – Good post.

  86. @Sensational Arsenal

    Its interesting that alot of the Chavs young players complain about AVB putting them on the flanks, Sturridge, Kalou, Lukaku but just like if they were here are they better than Drogba, HELL NO; probably offer more than the current form Torres bu Torres of LIverpool, HELL NO. O well I’m glad Theo has seem to realize that RVP is the main man uptop but Theo can cominate the flanks adn channels

  87. Fun – So we could spend £20M on an Reina or an Alonso, but decided not to spend £10M or so on a players like Arteta. Riiiight.

  88. @ C and Sensational Arsenal

    Does Lukaku remind you of Diarra? It’s natural to want to start games, or to play in a partcular position, but you’ve got to trust the manager and earn what you want by your performances and attitude.

  89. arsenalandrew

    I was somewhat bemused to read that within hours of $iteh winning the league Yaya Toure was (allegedly at least), looking to move on to pastures new and within hours of the Chav’s boring their way to CL success, Torres was a-moaning and a-bitching about his club and their treatment of them.

    Which begs the question: Exactly how successful do you have to be to be certain of keeping all your players? The examples of Toure and Torres suggest success alone guarantees relatively little …

  90. Bananas. Nothing to add. Haven’t a fucking clue. Just sit and wait and see what happens I suppose.

  91. I dont think that the team realizes that more money needs to be spent, I think the team simply has more money to spend.

    As Finsbury has noted, we never had a team that was only youth. Thanks for that. To name a few, we had Sagna,Henry, Toure, Gallas, Clichy and Rosicky and even Sol Campbell in the squad.

    IWhat has hampered us is crazy injuries and players looking for greener pastures. Once more, in my opinion, had the players stuck around, we would be the dominant force in football.

    Wengers vision was bang on, but the players did not buy into it.

  92. @Fungunner

    I completely agree with you. Whats even worse is that the matches that he did play he didnt inspire confindence at all.

  93. @Arsenalandrew

    Torres’s complaint to me is absolutely absurd on many different levels. For one he was complaining about not being selected 1st choice striker ahead of Drogba and while i do think he does exaggerate alot is clearly top choice at the Chavs and almost singlehandly carried them to the CL. I think Torres is a case of a player falling from grace drastically and him not realizing that because he still finds it puzzling that he isn’t 1st chioce for Spain.

    Yaya I think is interesting though, maybe he saw how they treated Tevez(even though some of it was brought on byself) and the way he captained them and many times last season carried them as joint top scorer in the PL and then got shitted on and started teh season as 4th chioce strikers.(I for one think Tevez is better than Dzeko and Mario and on par with Aguero) Yaya seems to be a smart lad and maybe that’s his thinking get out while i still can otherwise they’ll shit on me too. HAHAHAHAHA Manshitty

  94. pedantic george

    c,Yaya is simply putting his hand out and saying “fill this up will you”

  95. I would like to see big changes in Arsenal’s support next year. We have a growing reputation for being very negative, which has been fanned by press, media and fan forums alike. We get up for some big matches but so often just don’t turn up. We get up for some players but find it easy to turn on them too. We are a tense, quiet and cynical bunch of people. I mean fucking hell our attitude towards our players is on a par with the Scots attitude towards the English. Mean, nasty and peevish.

    I generalise of course, but we are stuck with that reputation and it sucks.

  96. @PG

    He could be George I was just saying he could of looked at the treatment of Shitty’s former Captain and said “F**K this i just played a huge role in winning the PL I’m out.

  97. pedantic george

    Well that would be a nice thought c.But I would put my money on my theory.
    I bet he signs an improved deal this summer

  98. Something is up about the Toure thing, it doesnt make sense. He will not be better paid elsewhere and surely with the money that City spend, he will see them as a shoe in to win trophies.

    It just may be what C is saying.

  99. Well how much is Yaya Toure on, JJ? could he really need more money?

  100. @PG

    He could get a new contract but its Manshiteh it all seems shady to me. But I’m stickin to my theory lol


    He makes £260,000 per week

  101. lol!

    C, that was joke because JJ seems to know how much much all of the Arsenal players make. Thanks for answering though. Thats a lot of bread!

  102. This is from Gunnerblog on M’Vila, fwiw:

    This won’t be news to any of you that follow me on Twitter, but for those who don’t, here is the situation as it stands:

    1) Arsenal have a long-standing interest in the player, and bid last summer.

    2) The player would obviously like to join Arsenal. We are a massive step up from Rennes. The presence of Arsene Wenger is also a huge factor.

    3) Arsenal need a player like M’Vila: a strong, disciplined defensive midfielder as a foil for Alex Song.

    4) In spite of the above, there has been no formal contact since last summer. The player does not expect his future to be resolved until after EURO 2012.

  103. @Paul-N

    lol, yea i was lol when I saw how much he makes a week.

  104. In reply to Sahil from yesterday:

    @sahil – It’s a pub named Route04 in CP, you can join the group on FB here

    (I hope I am not breaching any rules, YW!)

  105. Since we’re laughing at the Tiny Totts, here is a publicity picture to launch of their new cologne:

  106. I see Mvilla is one of Nikes posterboys for this tournament. Would be nice if he ended up in our club 🙂

  107. Hopefully if he hasn’t decided by Euro’s, Kos can do some extra recruiting and if we need we can send in Henry just keep him away from Na$ri

  108. How do people know there is more money to spend now compared to say 2-3 years ago?

  109. They dont!

  110. It’s great just spend other people’s money and solve all manner of problems. And who cares where the money comes from…I mean wear affordable clothes because child labour occurs in far flung places…As for football why should it be any different? Dictators, gangsters all are welcome…turn a blind eye…we just want to win football matches….What a wonderful part of the world we live in..

  111. pedantic george

    Henristic,perhaps because the debt has been paid down.
    But you are right .They don’t actually “know” it

  112. Renewals coming up. Two misogs near to me are not renewing….hurrah. Sadly also two have hung up their boots. Ever hopeful the new blood will get behind the team rain or shine. Fingers crossed.

  113. All I need is a f**king sore throat and a mild headache and I can be as grumpy as pedantic George…

  114. I’m so grumpy today that I’m posting this from my wife’s Mac. She is a Spurs supporter…which makes sense…she hasn’t a f**king clue about football…

  115. Ah! screw this…I’m going to the sauna…….

  116. Re: Henristic’s question.

    It also seems like we are willing to spend a little more, if what is said is true about the players we have tried to sign of late.

    But yes, we don’t know, just like we don’t know about what is really going on in the board room and why money was not spent and if we really were really sitting down on 50 mil.

  117. The fellow who occasionally sits in front of me may have improved his …er…personal hygiene next season. I live in hope. Perhaps I should spray him with cologne before each game.

  118. Yogi: btw another very creative title to your post. Did you win the worlds greatest blog award that you were nominated for? If not there is definitely something dodgy about the voting and you should demand a recount and an indepedent prosecutor should lead the investigation You are a seriously good writer.

  119. Paul-N
    No problem! I’d almost forgotten about Sagna and the others.

  120. @Bill
    You and your conspiracy theories!

  121. Evil. Yogi is a seriously good writer and should win every award out there for blogging. We have all had a little fun debating conspiracy theories this season. Hopefully the refs will suddenly improve next season and become more consistent so we don’t have to go thru it again but I am not going to hold my breath.

  122. Clerkenwell Gooner

    So pleased for AS Montpellier! (Got to love a town that names a street in memory of nuclear martyr Vital Michalon, who was killed by police during demonstration against the building of the leaky and useless Superphénix fast breeder reactor outside Lyon in 1977; the reactor was eventually shut down as pretty much a total failure by Jospin in 2009)

    Montpellier is a family-run club still in Ligue 2 three years ago

    See here for photo of owner, with two-tone mohican:

    Now picture Peter H-W like that. Ha!

  123. @Bill
    No disagreement there from me. I just thought that there was a lot of irony in that you out of all people would suggest a conspiracy!

  124. arsenalandrew

    Bill (7.10) – dead right, top, toppist blog!

  125. Evil:

    Ironic yes, but after all the time we have spent together you should know that I choose to believe or disbelieve in conspiracies depending on my agenda that day. 🙂

    Seriously, I was really just kidding about the blog vote, and I do hope we are given much lot less fodder to debate dodgy ref decisions and conspiracies next season.

  126. Most definitely my favorite moment of the season:

  127. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Based on this season’s table, we need to score at least 20 more goals, and concede at least 20 less in order to be in with a shout.

    I don’t care who does it, young or old, but that’s the target.

    I’d love us to buy Torres if things don’t work out to his satisfaction this summer in SW6. We’d score a shedload (sic) if he were ours.

    Excellent clip of King Henry, Irish, BTW.

  128. arsenalandrew

    Yes, CG – Torres and Tevez would get 20+ goals each!

  129. red kangaroo

    The puchasing policies of the last few seasons, it seems to me, have been based on the ‘home-grown’ requirement and that FFP might actually work. I’ve seen a lot of cynicism here about the latter – which suggests to me that Wenger/Gazidis are a bunch of idealistic fruitcakes. OK, it’s a gamble, but why give up on it yet?

  130. pedantic george

    Torres is playing where btw?

  131. So far I’ve spoken to Emmanuel Frimpong:

    “If Robin doesn’t sign I might have to go to his house and sort him out! I’m very confident he’ll be here next season though.”

  132. Just read a few of today’s earlier posts.

    Jon Jon obviously took his medication this morning! Just remember to keep taking the pills mate! 🙂

    I also read a few posts going on about why didnt we sign a few more experienced heads a few years back. My underrstanding is that well, we didnt have the money then, as we do now.

    Due to the fact we built something or other. Oh and Arsene saying things would be very tight financially for at least 5 seasons.

    I really dont get why this is surprising to some, especially those who like to think they are rather more intelligent than they actually are.

  133. goonerandy | May 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Fun – So we could spend £20M on an Reina or an Alonso, but decided not to spend £10M or so on a players like Arteta. Riiiight.

    Wow! We signed Alonso and Reina? Must have been in that cave in Afghanistan when that happened I guess. Or perhaps it was that time I slipped into a coma for 9 months after contracting Yellow Parrot disease in the Congo.

  134. You didn’t notice?

    Or perhaps you are being silly 😉

    Fun stated that we had bid for those players. My point was that if we could afford those players, then it is reasonable to assume we could have afforded the likes of Arteta. Which would have improved our squad.

  135. I was being silly of course! 🙂

    I think the money situation has eased somewhat since the move man. If I could be arsed and checked the incomings and outgoings, we might see this evidenced. If we bid for those players then perhaps we had built up enough cash from selling others? Wouldn’t surprise me.

    I have often lamented the lack of signings, but still appreciate that things were always going to be tight for a few seasons. Maybe that was a lie? I don’t know. But that’s how it turned out.

    There is absolutely no long term gain from giving the impression that the club is fleecing its fans though; charging top dollar for tickets without comparable outlay on players and contracts.

    That would be pure short termist carpet bagging.

    Has anyone checked to see if Stan has a Louis Vuitton carpet bag BTW?

  136. How accurate this is i dont know but it seems to be mostly on the money – a profit in transfers in 4 of the last 6 seasons!

    Imagine if we had just broken even in those 4 summers and spend the money on players of the ilk we managed to get the start of this season (Arteta,Mert, Santos)

  137. Deise

    Those figures might as well have been plucked from the air, pure guess work.

    And the fact there might have been a surplus just proves the point that we might have tried to sign one Alonso, or a Reina. Or simply missed out on the players we were after.

    Doesnt really prove anything, unless you have an agenda you want to push?

    We’ve seen your collapse since the end of the season, been like a slo mo car crash man. 🙂

  138. Agenda i want to push……what…….im just wading into the chat on if we had monies or not to spend on those experienced heads. You yourself seem to think there was money to spend and should have been spent if there was. Your point that IF we built up the cash surplus then we MAY have bid for those players would seem to pan out in those ESTIMATED figures.

  139. @Deise
    Taking just those figures into account it’s very easy to say “what if we had spent the money?”, though realistically speaking the only season where we really had a lot of cash to spend was when ManCity took Adebayor and Toure. But you are ignoring all the other factors like not only our debts, but also reinvesting the money into our playing staff. The money from the Adebayor/Toure contracts was invested into new contracts for the playing staff, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie signed contracts in that year.

  140. Deise

    You said the figures were bang on, I disagreed. The agenda bit was a general observation by those who have seemed surprised that things might have suddenly got better in terms of loose change behind the sofa cushions.

  141. Evil – i wasnt claiming it to be an in debt analysis or anything, just a quick look at what was the possible transfer money spent and received. If any way accurate, and added to the money the club said was also there for transfers, then it would suggest we had money in those ‘tight’ years due to our selling players for big big money.

    Like i said, just wading in with some talking points

  142. Dex i didnt say they were bang on, i questioned their accuracy but suggested they were mostly what was reported at the time as the actual fees – yes yes im aware we always report them as undisclosed…..

  143. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Drogba going far east, Torres told he’s stuck at the bus stop in Fulham whether he likes it or not:

    Shame. I would’ve taken him for say £25m (50% discount on his previous price tag for 30-odd minutes of CL final wear-n-tear in München).

  144. morning all

  145. Today’s post is up, nice and early. Laters.

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