Arsenal Get Busy On Contracts & AST Survey
A new day, a new contract drama. Actually no drama at all with L’Equipe reporting that Arsenal are looking to extend Laurent Koscielny’s contract to 2017 which is due reward for his improved form last season. His initial campaign was as expected to a certain extent; settling in, a little out of sorts at times with the physicality of the English game and some horrible moments at Anfield and Wembley.
The signing of Per Mertesacker last summer was deemed to be the signal that the French defender would be pushed down the ranks. Instead of whining about a perceived lack of opportunities, Koscielny went from strength to strength. Arguably the decision for Arsène is not which pair to select but who to partner the Frenchman with.
Having spoken to Mikel Arteta as well, the club are making strides to ensure that there is not an annual cycle of key players getting to the point where their contracts run down. As much as it is about ensuring squad strength, the signal is sent of stability, not lurching from crisis to crisis in the media eyes. We may not care particularly what the papers think but there is enough evidence to show the influence that they hold in creating the atmosphere around a club; that power is not just linked to Arsenal.
The contract talks are a rare ray of sunshine in the past few weeks. The Sun is proud of its part in Jack Wilshere being fined by Uefa. It was a daft thing to do on the player’s part, they know betting on matches is prohibited. Even dafter is the newspaper’s admission of its involvement. I would heartily recommend that it is shunned by all Arsenal supporters. Nobody ever admits to buying it anyway.
There was better news for the manager yesterday in the publication of the Arsenal Supporters Trust survey results. I know that many do not like the AST but that is allowing personality clashes to overshadow a lot of the good work that is a done. As a member, I believe it and the AISA (also a member, before you ask) have important functions to fulfil. Meaningful dialogue with the board is a luxury not afforded to many supporters; ask Blackburn Rovers supporter organisations how well they get on with the Venkys.
The survey is contentious in the way it is portrayed in the media. Arsenal supporters en masse are held to share those views; the AST makes it clear how many respondents there were. I understand that discomfort in terms of the playing side and I am not convinced myself that democracy works in that sense; there are such disparate views on the abilities of players that you rarely get consensus of their strengths and weaknesses on a blog, let alone in a supporters organisation.
The manager comes out well, as does Ivan Gazidis to a certain extent. Arsène’s stock is clearly in good stead: 77% want him to remain as Arsenal manager with only 15% against him. I think that reflects pretty much the issue in the wider club context. The dissenters are very much in the minority. The emphasis on attacking football is highly thought of and the appointment of Steve Bould will hopefully bring a fresh pair of eyes to the defence, a noted area of concern in the results.
The board do not come out that well with PHW unsurprisingly viewed as ineffective although Ivan Gazidis is viewed as pretty much doing his job, well to a certain extent. I think it is probably true; the CEO role at the club at the moment is difficult with the instability caused by player egos not helping. That the club has listened to supporters on ticketing to varying degrees underlines the value of AISA and AST on such issues.
Perceived negatively, the survey does not hold many contentious views other than on the subject of Usmanov and Dein. There is a misconception about the latter, that he is still some sort of transfer guru as evidenced by this from the further comments:
I’m not particularly in love with the idea of David Dein returning but someone with his profile and willing to support the manager in closing transfers quickly is required
His status at the club remains undiminished and whilst he is still seen on the football circuit, is his influence over-exaggerated? We don’t know, perhaps he has the ear of many movers and shakers. One aspect I just cannot agree with them is Red & White being offered a board seat; they have shown nothing yet to suggest that they will bring about any changes or improvements. Vague words are not enough. The value of their shareholding is utterly irrelevant as they bought the shares knowing where the land lay in that sense.
The whole document offers a more rounded opinion-set than is reflected in the media; if you disagree with the content, register your views on the club by joining the AST and / or AISA. Don’t sit and complain whilst doing nothing about it.