Ambitions – The Life And Death Of A Football Club
The tour party announced yesterday has enabled a welter of spin and speculation to reign supreme this morning, the absence of Robin van Persie took focus away from those who remain in England with him. Whilst Arsène told the world that he was not giving up on the relationship, the Dutchman’s representatives have been busy telling all and sundry what all and sundry have been offering as salaries. Ambitions are laid bare; £10.1m is the sum total of his ambitions.
By some strange quirk of fate, that is £30k per week less than Manchester City have reportedly offered but more than Manchester United will pay. Juventus managed to guess correctly that van Persie would want substantially less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic and must surely have won? That’s the ideal world but according to The Sunday Times, van Persie is an old romantic at heart and favours United whilst his agents are torn between their client’s wishes and the rich pickings that City will pay them in commission. Arsenal can brief just as well as the agents it seems, with the real divergence of views on the club’s future revealed for all to see.
No doubt that this is Arsène’s fault. If he had not wasted the money on Bendtner, Vela, Denilson, Squillaci and Chamakh, Arsenal could pay those wages. And he wants to try out an unknown French forward for more than £6m. Caen you dig it? Yes, they can. When will he learn, eh?
Football is at once divisive and uniting; a common aim but so many different ways in which to achieve it. So many different ways for hypocrisy to shine through. Casting out those deemed no longer fit for purpose has been an aim of this summer; a realignment of the squad to rationalise the salary structure. Yet when that has not happened by the end of June, knives are sharpened, criticism rains in.
But in trying to restructure the wages paid to the playing staff, Arsenal are now caught in a web of ambitions and greed. It is easy to pontificate about selling the above quintet but the reality is proving somewhat trickier. The manager for example, is finding himself stifled in the transfer market,
We are still looking to add one or two players but it depends also on how many go out because we have to respect the squad number. It’s important to respect that so before we get players in we have to get some players out. That has not happened yet, the market is very quiet.
I cannot tell you anything concrete about the situation [regarding those who might leave] because if they are not finding clubs they will stay here and be players of the squad. At the moment I cannot give you any concrete or clear indication.
He is as usual clever with his words. They can be “players of the squad” and yet not play. It is a test for those individuals and leaves a gap for interpretation. Are they actually holding transfers back or is it a case of we cannot sign anyone until they depart for financial reasons?
On a simplistic level, it is the latter. The number of players in the squad is largely irrelevant, you do not have to name every player as part of the 25 for the Premier and Champions Leagues. They can train and train but never play, other than the Capital One Cup-ties. That then brings their ambitions into focus. Squillaci I can understand, an older player who could quite happily take a paypacket home each week with little damage to his career in comparison to Bendtner and Chamakh. They are internationals and the Dane certainly has ambitions to play otherwise he would not go on loan.
But what of Chamakh? Hookah pipes aside, he seems content not to rock the boat by demanding a move. Fair enough he does not have to, he is contracted to Arsenal and is entitled to his wages. However, he is already facing challenges for his spot in the international squad so has his spell in England killed all of his footballing ambitions? Or is a tour of the Far East as good as he thinks life is going to get?
Arsenal of course can resolve the issue. Pay the players off, a lump sum and your registration, go to another club. That causes monetary loss but as a one-off, surely that is acceptable to the owner(s)? It solves a problem and strengthens their position in terms of moving forward. Those who have no future at the club are given control of their own destinies once more, given their sporting careers on a plate and left with no regrets about wasting two or three years seeing out contract.
This option might be considered ‘nuclear’; it is but there is so much antagonism hanging over the club that we need to move on from this. Refining the club over a period of time is the Arsenal Way; organic change rather than short, sharp shocks. Perhaps that is what we need. The club signals time and again that they are changing commercially, becoming more savvy about deals. For all of the loyalty being shown to the club by those deemed to be leaders on the pitch, why should the club bother with any of them. Footballers are the commodity now; players want power, money and riches? This is the fallout.
That is modern football for you. Pay or play. Where’s Jon Stark, Football Mercenary when you need him?