Bracewell yourselfs, we're headed into the maelstrom

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

‘Not long ago,’ said he at length, ‘and I could have guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to mortal man — or, at least, such as no man ever survived to tell of — and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?’  — E.A. Poe “A Decent into the Maelstrom

Huge news yesterday has many an Arsenal fan staring into the gaping maw of uncertainty. The first salvo was the sudden restructuring of the Arsenal board and the second shot came in the form of an interview with Arsene Wenger.

To the first, the facts are that Gazidis has joined the board as CEO, Richard Carr is stepping down from the Holding Company board but is staying on at the Football Club board, and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has resigned completely and immediately and is no longer a participant in the lockdown agreement.

Obviously, the only story here is Lady Nina resigning and subsequent breaking of the lockdown agreement. If you didn’t know, when Alisher Usmanov appeared on the scene and started buying up Arsenal shares the board instituted a lockdown agreement that basically gives board members the first right to buy any shares that any other board member wishes to sell. This agreement, it seems, was only a sort of a “paper tiger” in that the only teeth it had was that as long as you wanted to be a member of the board you couldn’t sell your shares. It prevented people, like David Dein, from siphoning off shares here and there for Usmanov but if someone was so inclined they could sell all or part of their shares — if they quit the board.

Which is exactly what Lady Nina just did.

Now, no shares have changed hands yet but I’d be shocked if she resigned from the board over a minor disagreement. Her family has a long and proud history at Arsenal and really the only reason to leave the board is to cash in on that history and cash in is exactly what she will do: in the 4 years that I have been following this story, Arsenal shares have gone from £1,500 a share to, reportedly, £10,000 a share. To put it another way, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith owns 15.8% of a company worth somewhere around £800m or roughly speaking she’s got about £125m worth of Arsenal stock from her initial £20m investment. The temptation to cash in, especially now, must be very powerful indeed.

What happens next is a bit murky, Peter Hill-Wood indicates that some board members want to aquire more shares (Stan Kroenke) but it remains to be seen how much they are willing to pay for them and if they can match Usmanov’s offer — he has been known to pay well over value to get these shares. Also, if Usmanov buys just 5% of Lady Nina’s shares, he would be obliged to make a hostile takeover bid, which the current shareholders could just refuse but would still cause a major disruption.

Both Kroenke and Usmanov surely have taken a hit in the economic turmoil of the past few months so how much of their personal fortunes that they have left and want to risk on Arsenal is unknown. But the one thing that is certain is that if Usmanov does acquire a good portion of Lady Nina’s stocks he would want himself or a representative on the board. Not David Dein I don’t think, Usmanov has enough sense to know that that appointment would be pure poison. But there would be changes at the board level no doubt; Usmanov has publicly stated that Arsenal shares should pay dividends, for example.

At the same time that that Maelstrom was developing, Arsene Wenger was causing a stir of his own in giving an exclusive interview to a group of fans that was broadcast on the interwebz. Gunnerblog has a transcript of the interview and you should check it out if you have questions about Diaby, Denilson, Song, and whether Arsenal will be buying in January.

SPOILER ALERT ——————————————————————–

Wenger likes all of them and he won’t be buying in January.

The one thing that surprised me in the interview is how much he likes Alex Song. When asked who the most improved player has been of the season, he answered Song… Song and Djourou. Man, that’s a real shocker. I don’t know anyone who thinks Song is a good player — oh wait, except me!

My conclusion after reading Wenger’s interview is that he is fully prepared to drop out of the top 4, sure he wants to instill belief in this team that they could win something, but I think deep down he knows that they need more experience before they can win anything.

This is a rebuilding, folks, a rebuilding in Arsene Wenger’s image. He wants to build a youth team that will win trophies for several seasons, and is not going to risk that by bringing in someone in order to win a trophy this year. That doesn’t mean he won’t buy in January, but if he does, it will be a player for the future. And if this is a rebuilding in the image of Arsene Wenger, then I want to be the first to throw my support behind the man. Who better to lead this club through this economic and leadership turmoil than the greatest manager in the history of the club?

Of course, what future the club will have is up to a lady and a tramp. Will they drag us into the Maelstrom?

Bracewell yourselfs, we’re headed into the maelstrom

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

‘Not long ago,’ said he at length, ‘and I could have guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to mortal man — or, at least, such as no man ever survived to tell of — and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?’  — E.A. Poe “A Decent into the Maelstrom

Huge news yesterday has many an Arsenal fan staring into the gaping maw of uncertainty. The first salvo was the sudden restructuring of the Arsenal board and the second shot came in the form of an interview with Arsene Wenger.

To the first, the facts are that Gazidis has joined the board as CEO, Richard Carr is stepping down from the Holding Company board but is staying on at the Football Club board, and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith has resigned completely and immediately and is no longer a participant in the lockdown agreement.

Obviously, the only story here is Lady Nina resigning and subsequent breaking of the lockdown agreement. If you didn’t know, when Alisher Usmanov appeared on the scene and started buying up Arsenal shares the board instituted a lockdown agreement that basically gives board members the first right to buy any shares that any other board member wishes to sell. This agreement, it seems, was only a sort of a “paper tiger” in that the only teeth it had was that as long as you wanted to be a member of the board you couldn’t sell your shares. It prevented people, like David Dein, from siphoning off shares here and there for Usmanov but if someone was so inclined they could sell all or part of their shares — if they quit the board.

Which is exactly what Lady Nina just did.

Now, no shares have changed hands yet but I’d be shocked if she resigned from the board over a minor disagreement. Her family has a long and proud history at Arsenal and really the only reason to leave the board is to cash in on that history and cash in is exactly what she will do: in the 4 years that I have been following this story, Arsenal shares have gone from £1,500 a share to, reportedly, £10,000 a share. To put it another way, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith owns 15.8% of a company worth somewhere around £800m or roughly speaking she’s got about £125m worth of Arsenal stock from her initial £20m investment. The temptation to cash in, especially now, must be very powerful indeed.

What happens next is a bit murky, Peter Hill-Wood indicates that some board members want to aquire more shares (Stan Kroenke) but it remains to be seen how much they are willing to pay for them and if they can match Usmanov’s offer — he has been known to pay well over value to get these shares. Also, if Usmanov buys just 5% of Lady Nina’s shares, he would be obliged to make a hostile takeover bid, which the current shareholders could just refuse but would still cause a major disruption.

Both Kroenke and Usmanov surely have taken a hit in the economic turmoil of the past few months so how much of their personal fortunes that they have left and want to risk on Arsenal is unknown. But the one thing that is certain is that if Usmanov does acquire a good portion of Lady Nina’s stocks he would want himself or a representative on the board. Not David Dein I don’t think, Usmanov has enough sense to know that that appointment would be pure poison. But there would be changes at the board level no doubt; Usmanov has publicly stated that Arsenal shares should pay dividends, for example.

At the same time that that Maelstrom was developing, Arsene Wenger was causing a stir of his own in giving an exclusive interview to a group of fans that was broadcast on the interwebz. Gunnerblog has a transcript of the interview and you should check it out if you have questions about Diaby, Denilson, Song, and whether Arsenal will be buying in January.

SPOILER ALERT ——————————————————————–

Wenger likes all of them and he won’t be buying in January.

The one thing that surprised me in the interview is how much he likes Alex Song. When asked who the most improved player has been of the season, he answered Song… Song and Djourou. Man, that’s a real shocker. I don’t know anyone who thinks Song is a good player — oh wait, except me!

My conclusion after reading Wenger’s interview is that he is fully prepared to drop out of the top 4, sure he wants to instill belief in this team that they could win something, but I think deep down he knows that they need more experience before they can win anything.

This is a rebuilding, folks, a rebuilding in Arsene Wenger’s image. He wants to build a youth team that will win trophies for several seasons, and is not going to risk that by bringing in someone in order to win a trophy this year. That doesn’t mean he won’t buy in January, but if he does, it will be a player for the future. And if this is a rebuilding in the image of Arsene Wenger, then I want to be the first to throw my support behind the man. Who better to lead this club through this economic and leadership turmoil than the greatest manager in the history of the club?

Of course, what future the club will have is up to a lady and a tramp. Will they drag us into the Maelstrom?

Gallas loses his joie de vivre, Eduardo finds it.

Good morning, I hope everything is going well with you wherever you are. Here it is “snowing” and “freezing” which actually means that we have had weather below 40F and there was a 1/4″ of snow. This in turn means that the men who typically wear shorts all “winter” will have to bust out their extra long pair of shorts. It’s a tragedy and I’m prepared for the Governor to declare a national emergency at any moment.

Meanwhile, on a foggy night in London’s Underhill sports complex, an Arsenal reserve side featuring the long awaited return of Eduardo da Silva took on some kind of Portsmouth team and won 2-0. I will be the first to admit that when I saw the score line I fully expected to see Eduardo’s name next to at least one of the goals, but it wasn’t to be. In fact, he only played 45 minutes because he tweaked his hamstring, which puts him out for two weeks. His hope is to return for the FA cup match in January, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the man out of the first team until the Spurs match in February.

Reports indicate that he looked pretty good out there which is to be expected since hopes are high at the moment and any flaws were bound to be overlooked as the halcyon glow of a triumphant return clouded minds (and even lenses). I’ll just say that Eduardo is a tremendous talent, a relentless finisher, and a key asset to Arsenal’s title aspirations. Whether he plays or not is probably irrelevant as his long journey back should provide an emotional lift to a team that are struggling under the weight of all our expectations magnified by the constant roil of the London press. Despite the odds, Eduardo never gave up, he wants to play football, he loves playing football; how is that not inspirational?

Unfortunately, given the fact that Arsenal play 1st place Litterpool on Sunday and 4th place Aston Villa away on Boxing Day this team will need to stay in the title race without him on the pitch. So, let’s hope the emotional lift is enough to sustain the team until we can get him back and scoring goals.

Transfers

Much speculation is surrounding both Gallas and Bendtner with Italian clubs supposedly interested in both players.

Juve is reportedly interested in Gallas and Arsenal is reportedly asking for Chiellini in return. This deal will not happen.

First, Juve would be fools to take a head case like Gallas. He’s a good defender but there’s something wrong with him emotionally: he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin last year with his Birmingham sit-in and he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin this year with the Tottenham half-time bust up. If there’s a shit-storm at Arsenal over the last two years, William Gallas always seems to be at the eye. Who wants that on their team?

Second, I’ve watched Serie A football now for a couple of months, usually while typing the Sunday blog — NOW I’M AN EXPERT ON THE TOPIC, and compared to the EPL, the Serie A is a walk in the park. Contact is basically forbidden, movement is minimal, the pace is insanely slow, and since every team is leaking goals at rate that would embarrass even Arsenal, defenders aren’t really asked to do much.

Add in the favorable tax breaks, the good weather, the food, and the fact that English women have filthy vaginas (hey, don’t kill the messenger) and I seriously doubt that many Italian players want to come to England.

I do see Gallas leaving, but rather than bring in some big name, I’d bet Wenger recalls Senderos. Now, put aside your prejudices against the man and think about it… ok, it’s crazy but exactly the kind of thing Wenger would do. And you know Senderos would be happy to play backup, he’s done it before so don’t be surprised if you see big Phil back in the red and white!

The other speculation is that Inter are lining up a bid for Bendtner.

He would fit right in with the slow pace, deliberate style, and outright laziness of Inter.

The huge transfer story of the morning, though, is that Diarra got his wish and used Pompey as a stepping stone to a bigger club, with Real Madrid reportedly offering somewhere between $13.5m – $36m (£9m – £24m) for his services. This is really a crazy story. I know that a lot of us Arsenal supporters had a real hard on for Diarra after he put in, like one good performance in the Carling Cup but is he really one of the top 3 or 4 holding midfielders in the world? A guy who couldn’t get a game over Flamini, a player who now sits on the bench at AC Milan, is suddenly worth 6 times what Portsmouth paid for him? I guess he did play on a team that won the FA cup, so that must explain it.

Seriously, Diarra is a fine player who reminds me of a sort of poor man’s Makalele, mostly due to his short stature and the fact that he plays in the same position and not because he’s a proven winner.  He has a good engine and what he lacks in passing and offensive awareness he makes up for in hard work. Arsenal could certainly use him right now, but he’s no £20m player. If he’s worth £20m, you can forget about Arsenal buying anyone who has ever accomplished anything ever again. I mean come on, Arsenal wouldn’t pay £18m for Xavi Alonso, who has won a lot of silverware against the world’s best players.

What’s also strange is that as talented as he is on the pitch, he’s the world’s least trustworthy player off the pitch. Everywhere he goes he’s always angling for a new deal with another team and as soon as he signs he’s quick to rip his old team.

Huh… in a certain way, he reminds me a lot of Gallas: he’s at the eye of every shit-storm. Again, why would you want a guy like that on your team?

The only part of this story that makes me mad is that Arsenal didn’t get paid $30m to offload him! Oh well.

And finally, I would be remiss if I talked about transfers and didn’t mention Andre “the great hype” Arshavin and his possibly transfer to Arsenal. He’s not coming to Arsenal and I don’t want him.

This whole saga is just comedic. This is a player who may be the most overrated player in modern history. A guy who’s sole claim to fame is one good game in Euro 2008 and a UEFA Cup!

I’m glad he’s not coming to Arsenal. In fact, I would be pissed if Arsenal did business with that club. Zenit St. Petersburg should not be allowed to play sanctioned football while their coach talks openly about discriminating against black players because the racist ass fans would riot much less be allowed to do business in the transfer market. If Arsenal ever gave them a dime while they had an open policy of racial discrimination I would be shocked and dismayed.

Ok, long post but that’s because I got up early when the baby started crying — no William Gallas was not spending the night, I have an actual live 7 month old baby that cries at night.  William Gallas is a 31 year old baby that cries at night.

See the difference?