I arrived at the AGM expecting a sanitised white wash and to be honest, my preconceived thoughts weren’t a million miles off. It was held just outside the new WM Club. The tea was handed out and the milk was balanced on a frisbee sized table. This cunning plan forced you to talk to whoever you were standing next to so a bit of Arsenal networking went off. I found myself chatting to an SSN roving reporter who seemed as shocked as anyone about the lack of funding on our backline. I listened to the Arsenal press officer tell him the rules about the AGM which was interesting.
I also heard and insight into the power of agents. There was a channel 4 documentary about Tiger wood and how his sports management company kept a whole bunch of things quiet for him because of the power his team wielded in the press. Put it this way, if the two reporters I spoke two know what they’re talking about, Rooney has been a naughty boy and Sir Alex has done him a favour leaking the story as he has…
Arsenal had 45 members of the fanshare program in attendance. Every steward thought I was in with that rabble… cheeky buggers.
Net debt fell to £135million, the only payments we have to make now are debentures and out long term mortgage.
I thought there was a slight dig at Usmanov. Gazidis said that the shareholders not demanding a dividend had allowed Arsenal to pay back the debt quicker and function far better than its rivals.
Gazidis spoke about his now world-class commercial management team. Apparently they’re going to take our revenues to new levels over the next few years. Someone did ask how Arsenal would report such healthy profits once the property had all been sold, to which PHW said, ‘our new team of highly technical graduates from West Africa will take care of it’. He also said we can expect 2-3 years more worth revenues from property
Vic Akers had a shout out for putting together a world class ladies team and starching a football shirt with great care and ease. He also bagged himself and OBE. Arsenal Shorts will be pleased!
Someone asked why the cost of financing doubled, apparently it was because the Highbury Square loan was refinanced (I tend to switch off when I hear numbers, apologies if I’ve got some of this wrong)
There were two pretty shameful questions, one was about the standard of the catering. Get a life sunshine, if you’re going to football for the food and you don’t like it, take a packed lunch. The second was about how loud the PA system was. The guy who asked that question was in his twenties, as punishment he should be put in an age machine and taken to 74, an age where that question would have been acceptable.
Some creep stood up and asked if Wenger would be offered a place on the board, because he clearly doesn’t wield enough power as it is! PHW said he wouldn’t have the time.
An interesting question was about whether Arsenal fans should be expected to pay for ATVO when they pay such extortionate prices for their tickets. Gazidis said his team had recognised this was pretty unfair and would look into it.
Maria stepped up and asked whether Arsenal would be able to play their reserve games at Underhill because they can’t watch them in Colney due to planning permission. Apparently Arsenal will play 4 games there, but Steve Bold and Liam Brady like playing on carpet like pitches in the winter, so unfortunately, no more reserve team football at Underhill.
Someone asked About Lady B’s shares and whether Stan was planning to buy them. Stan sat there sullen and silent. PHW bumbled through the question and said he didn’t know what she was going to do with her shares. The man asking the question said he thought Stan was one of the good guys… not sure why he’d think that, when someone takes the no comment approach on the Bill (Police soap), I normally think they’re guilty of something…
Arsenal appoint Mark Gonnella as Communications Director. He joins from previous role as Corporate Affairs Director at Barclaycard, something that wasn’t mentioned. Hopefully he’ll shake up our PR department!
A more mature gentleman stepped up and went on a mini tirade about the lack of defensive stability we have considering the funds available. He said the keepers were the worst since Jimmy Butterfingers… apparently a famous character from a Dick Tracy cartoon?
Something that angers me is the AKB groans you get when someone voices a question that might put the boss on the back foot. This happened a lot last year, but this year, the groans were quickly over powered by applause. It was a great question and a pertinent one at that. PHW took the question and pulled every AKB line in the book… Wenger knows more than us, there are only 3 players in the world with the technical proficiency to play for us, we don’t want to spend £80million on a player, think of the god damn CHILDREN!
At this point, Arsene took to the mic and freestyled his way through a rousing speech. He announced that he’d signed a new 3 year deal to rapturous applause (no trophy for 5 years and we’re still clapping like epileptic seals, that’s real class eh?). He said he took much ‘advices’ (<– I didn’t have the heart to pull him on a made up word) from Arsenal fans all over the country, but asked us to trust him. He admitted he’s made mistakes but he thinks this team can win this year becuase of team spirit and a maturing core.
He said he preferred to bring players through the ranks because they are educated here and the fit in quicker. I found this a bit of a contradiction. It took Song three years to fit in and it’s still being debated whether he has. It’s taken Chamakh a month! Interestingly he said that money hasn’t been a problem. He has assurances from the board that there are funds available in January if he wants to sign 1-2 players. PHW had earlier said Wenger has never been refused money, he just chooses not to spend it.
There were many questions around big games and why we couldn’t deal with them. Wenger said this wasn’t down to his kamikaze approach to defending, he said it was down to the fact we conceded first then chased the games and lost by more.
“At the top level the team that scores first will win 62 per cent of the time. 70 per cent of the time the first goal scored guarantees you a draw. That means 79 per cent of the time when you score first you will not lose in a ‘big’ game.”
It was a bit of a confusing curve ball. The Grovers (Gambon) got to work on those comments and came up with the following:
Barca 2010 (L)
Man Utd 2009 (L)
Spurs 2009 (W)
Chelsea FAC Semi (L)
Liverpool @ Anfield 2009 (D)
Liverpool @ Emirates 2008 (D)
Man Utd @ Emirates 2008 (W)
Liverpool in CL (L)
Liverpool in CL (D)
Old Trafford 2008 (L)
Stamford Bridge 2008 (L)
Won – 18%
Drew – 28%
I make it 15 times weve gone 1 down, and 1 time we’ve won…..so when we go down we tend to win 6.6% of the time, very embarrassing.
We have also kept 3 clean sheets in our last 26 big games (top 4 league games and bigcup games)
So, some strange comments indeed…
Wenger confirmed what I told you on Wednesday. Thomas Vermaelen is out indefinitely. I reported he could be out for the year, when I said that, I meant for the rest of 2010. Wenger blamed poor international pitches. It was the same for the Cesc injury as well. Just remember, LG is where you’ll get the best info!
Wenger said we’d go for ALL trophies this year and that he was confident Cesc loved the club enough to give us 3 additional season. I’m not so sure, Wenger used to be great at keeping players who wanted to leave, I’m unsure as to whether he’s persuasion powers are failing him these days… we’ll see!
He also said he criticises himself, possibly on LG, I couldnt’ get confirmation on that. Cesc will not play in the Carling Cup, but a strong team will be fielded. He will not entertain 2 holding midfielders.
Fair play to Arsene though, he took all the question and gave good answers. I doubt there are many managers in world football who’d do that. He asked us to be optimistic going forward and trust in him… what do you think?
Let us know in the comments!
Happy Birthday Arsene!