Does it really matter if Wenger signs someone? Really?

it's a tackle from behind!

Supposedly this Arshavin saga will come to some kind of conclusion today and none too soon. The last word I read said that Arsenal made their final offer, which went to the Zenit board, who, either not well versed in English or collectively crazier than a shit house rat, made a counter final offer on Arsenal’s final offer. Zenit are also claiming that there are “other teams” who are showing an interest in Andrei, which the press are saying is Man City.

Ok, first off, if City was interested, City would have signed the player. Given the manner in which Zenit has gone about this I can’t see them being honorable about the negotiations and giving Arsenal first rights. Arsenal’s final offer was £12m plus £3m in incentives so City just need to offer say £15m all at once and they could have the player, I suspect.

Second, and this is fact, Arsenal are at their limit. This is a self imposed limit, for sure, but a limit no less. In Arsenal’s 2007/2008 annual report they listed £93m in cash reserves but the club is not going to spend that money in the current climate, and I can’t blame them: that money is a safeguard against several seasons out of the Champions League. You may not like to hear me say that but Champions League football is not a birthright and besides which buying a player like Arshavin is no guarantee we’ll overtake Aston Villa. We all know that Arsenal have more problems on the pitch than just one player can solve, no matter how good that player is.

So, the board are going to hold on to that cash and spend only profits they make from player sales and other annual profits after tax. Which brings me to the main point here: Arsenal are taking a long term view of this project and one or two or even three years out of the Champions League won’t kill the club.

You can disagree with them, and that’s all well and fine, but this conservative financial model has served the club very well up to this point, winning trophies that the older fans didn’t get but once a decade. Yes, they will lose a significant amount of potential money if they don’t make the Champions League but even finishing 4th doesn’t guarantee the numbers that I see all the time. Numbers like £40m in losses are silly, I’ve been a fan long enough to remember several early exits from the Champions League that certainly didn’t earn even £5m for this club. Arsenal didn’t collapse and the world didn’t come to an end. In fact, a quick glance at the numbers shows that Arsenal would be profitable even if they didn’t play ANY European football.

The other oft-cited argument is that Arsenal won’t be able to recruit world class talent if they don’t finish in the top four. I think Wenger doesn’t care. Arsenal are not out in the market recruiting top talent, they are too busy creating top talent. So, yes, finishing out of the top four means that Arsenal will lose their ability to recruit the David Villas of the world, but it’s not going to stop them from getting the Aaron Ramseys, Jack Wilsheres, and Jay Simpsons and as long as Wenger is the manager those are the players Arsenal are going to be recruiting.

The third argument we hear a lot of is that people will get sick of Arsenal if they don’t start winning something. Maybe, and maybe combined with the global economic slump gate receipts will be lower, television revenues will fall, and there could be a host of other problems. Maybe all that will come to transpire, but if Wenger’s project does what he keeps claiming it will do, those fans will return, gate receipts will go back up, Champions League football will come back, and everyone will hail him as a genius and we’ll all be super happy. If his project fails, the board will replace him and some other manager with a different approach will come along. But no matter what happens, Arsenal are in the financial position to weather this storm.

Wenger’s youth project is so insanely divisive that it’s not even funny anymore. I’m no wide-eyed optimist, nor am I a sheep just following Wenger’s every move. I’m not a shill for the club, nor am I a gloom and doom part time supporter. Most importantly, while I get frustrated that Alex Song is our starting DM and Emannuel Eboue is our starting RM and I write about it and analyze the club, I don’t think for a minute I know more than Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board. I’m just a supporter and while I’d love to see a player like Lorik Cana at the club, I think we all would, in the end, I support the club. Their plan is logical, responsible, and may actually produce some of the best football the world has ever seen. It could also fail miserably. We’ll have to wait and see and by wait and see I mean “where will Arsenal be in 10 years?”

In the mean time, it doesn’t really matter if he buys players or not; because all of us are right. It could be right to buy players, in the short term, and even in the long term. Having some fresh blood come in could energize the team, having some more older players could provide some leadership, having a new DM could add some steel. All of those benefits could bring Arsenal some Champions League football, which could put more buts in the seats, which could improve our transfer abilities, and could fill out coffers even more. There’s no guarantees here but it could happen. It could also be right not to spend any money and build the team from within as I have outlined above. Both positions have merit, equal merit, and what I’ve seen happening is that both sides are talking over each other.

Let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and try to enjoy Arsenal as a distraction from the insanity of the world right now. If Wenger signs Arshavin, great. If not, let’s just move on, we’re all on the same team aren’t we?

Arsenal on the verge of signing?

Arsenal travel to Ninian park on Sunday for an early FA cup match but all that anyone really cares about is the Andrei Arshavin signing saga.  Well, that’s not true some of us care about that, the FA Cup match, and Arsenal signing someone better than Alex Song to anchor the midfield but if you read the papers all we care about is the Arshavin deal.

Well, let’s put it to bed: according to Zenit, Arsenal have increased their offer and the deal will be done on Sunday. Never mind that Peter Hill-Wood said just yesterday that Arsenal made their last offer, Zenit is claiming that Arsenal have increased their bid!

I’m pretty certain that what we’re seeing here is a Zenit club that are basically rank amateurs when it comes to negotiations. Their very public attempts to increase interest from people outside the negotiating room was distasteful and unethical. But worse, they now look like a bunch of clowns as they change their tune every two days. One day it’s “we want £20m, Arsenal are being too cheap, no deal” and the next day they are saying “Arsenal have offered us a good deal we should conclude this in 2 days.”

I say screw this story, there’s too many known unknowns and even some unknown unknowns to report anything as fact. If Arshavin signs anything I’ll report it, if not, f*ck it. I’ve got to put this story down before I lose my mind. I mean, if you thought I was vitriolic against Zenit before for their overt racism and hiring discrimination I am now at the point where I just want to strangle the whole lot of them.

And if you want to go absolutely bat shit insane, all you have to do is listen to Wenger say all the things I said he’d say yesterday.

I am very happy with the squad I have and will only add someone who can give us something special. For the rest I have good players and believe strongly in them. Should we not get what we want, we will accept it as well because I believe we are strong enough with what we have.

I really wish he would have mentioned the fact that they are a young team here but he didn’t, instead he said that Arsenal aren’t really buying anyone because…

At the moment I am more focused on doing well with the players we have than being frenetic about the transfer market. I am convinced there is enough quality inside here to achieve that target.

Wait for it…

We are not close to signing anybody else, but what I see in training is a very determined team of top quality.

Wait for it…

Also the players coming back, like Fabregas and Walcott, there is a little chance that Rosicky will play again before the end of the season, so we have plenty of players coming back who are like new signings.

They are like new signings! If by “new signing” you mean “players who are currently under contract but who have been out for up to a year due to freak injuries and would be coming back into the team but won’t actually be signing anything nor are they new.”

Sometimes I want to strangle Wenger too. I’m in a strangling mood today I guess.

You should also know that Arsenal supposedly have rejected offers for Bendtner and Eboue. Now, before you get too excited, both of these stories come from the players’ respective agents. Moreover, both agents are claiming that the respective clubs contacted the agents and made an offer for the player. Unfortunately, for me, that all adds up to this being the biggest hot air story of all hot air stories.

Anyway, Arsenal have Cardiff on Sunday in the FA Cup, which is something real, something that we all know is going to happen and not some agent’s fantasy. The actual kickoff is 5am and the match is only available on Setanta or one of the P2P sites, which as you all know means a trip to the pub to watch the game!

Doyle’s (listed in my blogroll) is showing the match on a delay because they don’t want to get up at 5am (I don’t blame them) and that’s where I’ll be on Sunday, 7am-ish.

A match will be a welcome respite from the fantasy world of transfer windows, what with all the candy colored Kaka’s and champagne Arshavins.

Forget Arshavin, Jack Wilshere is like a new signing! Plus, Eboue gets a new contract.

Animated GIF of Wilshere scoring a wonder goal.

Oh man, I had a good sleep in today: I hit the snooze button twice! So while I normally get up at 4:30, I got up at 5:30. I’m not complaining though, the reason I slept in was because I got up at 1:30 the day before to buy my match tickets for the Sunderland game. That’s right, yours truly is heading to balmy London for vacation — I wonder if I should pack a Speedo?

Anyway, you’re not here to hear about me in a Speedo (which is a magnificent sight) you’re here to hear about the latest transfer news amiright? Right.

Let’s see, Arshavin is praying to the God than isn’t his omnipotent agent that a deal will go through that takes him out of Russia. What are the stages of grief anyway? Doesn’t it go: bargaining, threatening, praying, and then acceptance? It better have acceptance in it somewhere because despite the one report that has Zenit going from the lead role in 300 to Monty Hall in saying “let’s make a deal” Arsenal are steadfast in their valuation with Peter Hill-Wood publicly saying that they have reached the limit they are going to spend. I have to think that the Zenit position is just there to save face. They know Andrei can buy out his contract in November, and so he has them over a barrel a little bit but not as much as many will claim.

First, he can’t go on strike. Well, he could, but if he did that then he might not qualify for a work permit in England (depending on national appearances). Second, he can buy out the remainder of his contract, but only in November and remember Zenit are a bunch of disgraceful human beings. I have no doubt that Zenit would keep Andrei in court for months while they haggle over his price. That’s the threat Arsenal used on Hleb. Plus, there’s still the summer transfer market to go through and I’m confident they could sell Arshavin in the summer for £10m. So they lose a few million, which brings me to my final point, so they lose a few million. HA! They don’t care. They don’t need the money. Make no mistake, this isn’t like Valencia and David Villa, where the club is over-pricing their superstar because they need the money. Zenit is doing this because, well, because they are a bunch of whackos.

In his little statement Peter Hill-Wood sounded a lot like a jilted lover by saying that there were “other fish in the sea” but the truth is that there are other fish; Fabio Simplicio could be a set up man to challenge Diaby/Denilson and Stéphane Sessegnon could be a good wing player to challenge Theo (when he comes back). Now, as for a hard man, well, as Mae West said “a hard man is good to find.” As soon as I find one I’ll let you know.

While we’re waiting for PHW to grab his fly rod and fish us a hard man (seriously, this is getting a little gay – ed.) we should celebrate “new signing” Eduardo and his first full 90 minutes of play. He still hasn’t scored (he had a goal disallowed for offside yesterday) but getting out there and playing for 90 minutes and giving yourself chances to score are huge, considering the damage that Taylor inflicted on him. The player feels ready to go out and play first team football, but I’d like to see him get a goal in reserves first. Sorry, but I’d hate to see him rushed back and something horrible happen.

The player who does seem ready for some first team football is Wilshere. Well, some folks are tipping him and after watching his audacious outside of the boot left footer (obviously in the GIF above) I’d be tempted to agree with them, except I kind of think Vela is ready-er and more naturally a wing player. Irregardless, I think we’ll see a bit of both players in the weeks to come, the squad is that thin.

By the way, I found that animated GIF over at Gunnerblog.

And finally, the most incredible story of the day award goes to… it’a a fight to the death! In the periwinkel blue corner, it turns out that City could have signed de Jong for £2.3m if they had just waited for his release clause to kick in this summer. Instead, they put up £19m to get him right now, incredible stuff.  In the red corner, Arsenal turned down an offer from Athletico Madrid for Eboue and instead are racing to give him an improved contract. Let me put this as diplomatically as I can; Eboue has not done anything this season to warrant a pay raise. Not one thing. He’s done his job, he’s done what he’s told to do, but I haven’t seen anything from him that warrants an improved contract.

Ok, that’s as diplomatic as I can be. In my heart I’m screaming “I don’t care how little it was, TAKE THE OFFER” but you probably already knew that.

Ok, so that’s it for today, we’ve got the Friday press conference ahead of Sunday’s game tomorrow where I’m sure Arsene will be all “we’ve bid what we can afford” and ” we live in the real world” and “this is a young team” and “Cardiff will be a tough match.” If he says anything new, I’ll be sure to report it.

Until then!