No sooner had I slammed the modern day footballer and Arsene Wenger for his backward policies on transfers, our captain, our beloved leader hammered the club in what can only be described as a totally damning statement.
Robin spoke to the fans on his own personal website. He stated that after a meeting of a non-financial nature he decided that he’s not impressed with the way the club is moving forward and he’s not signing a new deal.
How can I slam what he’s saying? Geoff and I have been writing similar things for the best part of 5 years.
However, so far this summer things have looked pretty good. We’ve signed £25million worth of fire power and we haven’t started preseason yet. I’m not sure how much ambition other teams have shown so far? I know we’re all desperate for early moves… but the Euros obviously plays a massive role in that not happening.
I guess the underlying issue is the same as it was for Cesc. Robin stood up in the team meeting after Newcastle last season and told the boss the kids needed experienced players to supplement their weaknesses. It happened in the end but very last minute and maybe not totally to the standard needed. He’s leaving because he doesn’t think he has a chance of trophies staying with us. Well, a chance next year at least.
I’m not sure if I’m totally on-board with what he’s saying. If he stays and we sign a centre back and a holding midfielder, we could compete. Defensively we were weak last year. That was the issue. Steve Bould is already working on how he can rectify this issue apparently. He’ll force accountability throughout the whole squad and he’ll work with the defence on things like set play and positioning. Make no mistake… he is the signing of the summer. Pound for pound we have talented defenders, the issue is Wenger has neglected the unit for years totally forgetting all his success was based on one of the greatest units of all time.
Bould was part of that… watch him work our boys into something similar.
So reduce the goals conceded… check
Improve the goals scored… check
Now look at what we’ve got in the squad. Chamberlain is going to shift up a gear this season. We’ve seen sparks of what he can do, now we’ll see some of that realised this summer. A good trip away with England will have taught him so much about pressure and expectation. We’ll have Jack coming back to full fitness and we’ll have a settled squad from the off. Remember, we were competitive with the best September to mid march last year. Bring back our best player and add a year to all our signings and things could be looking chipper.
I’m honestly not trying to make you feel better here… I just don’t think we’re a million miles away from things clicking.
We do need at least two more quality signings though. We need to strengthen that midfield and we need to bring in a top centre back. A creative player like Belhanda would also improve us immensely.
As down as I am about the rejection of Robin, I’m not totally devastated. One incredible season in eight. That’s what I’m taking from this. That didn’t happen because his ability has only just been realised, it’s because to be a great striker, 25% of your top trump score needs to be dedicated to fitness. He’s never had that. His lack of it has cost us, to my mind, at least 3 Premiership titles over the past 8 years.
This is what his last 5 seasons have looked like.
49 – 28 – 17 – 36 -21
Averagely, that gives us 30.2 games per season. Take out last seasons wonder year of health, what do you have? An average of 20.4. Replace last year with the season he gave us 6 seasons ago what do you have? 25.5 games per season. (Article)
Look at those statistics. Absolutely shocking. Sure he’s out best player. Sure I’d love to keep him, but put your sensible hat on… he’s not going to sustain his fitness into his thirties, everything I know about medical science (and f*ck me I know a lot) indicates that the aging process is generally harsher to those who were weak from the start. £130k a week on a 4 year deal is not going to look pretty sitting in the medical centre. When I went round Colney with Colin Lewin last year, he put it quite bluntly (and I’m not sure if I wrote this as he was flying at the time) and said,
‘Robin will get injured. That’s a fact of life. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can manage his fitness. But he’ll get injured’
He didn’t in the end, but from the tone of Colin’s voice, that was a huge stroke of luck.
The bigger issue we’re facing as a club is that we’re a stepping stone now. We’re not the place to be. This next step is coming earlier than it used to because we’ve adopted a policy of bringing in kids. Not many young people take stints in jobs for longer than 5 years and that’s in the real world. How we can expect foreign kids to spend 15 years at our club is totally beyond me. We need to revert back to a policy of sigining players just before they hit their peak. That way they’ll give their four best years to us. That’s what happened with Bobby, Freddie and Thierry. That’s what could happen with Podolski, Giroud and Vermaelen. To keep those guys we need to stem negative perception around the clubs policies. Ivan needs to go out and make an signing of intent. If he sells Robin, we need Llorente or Cavani to come in so close to his exit he can grapple the swinging exit door Robin slammed through and walk right in. We need to invest what we earn out of Robin. We need to make a statement to that squad that we’re not heading down the road of mediocrity. Perhaps if we’d ploughed that £35million from Cesc last year back into a creative midfielder, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about Robin now.
Hell, why not ask City about one of their strikers? They have about 7 as far as I can see… they have no need for Robin. I’d take Tevez or Mario if he’s up for grabs!
It’s simple though. The only way you dam the river is buy buying in expensive reinforcements. Robin leaving is the fault of 4 seasons worth of bad decisions. It needs to stop now. We need to start making statements. We’ll get over Robin going if he does decide that the grass is greener. Another captain gone. Which is a huge issue. Give it to someone who gives a crap next time. Someone who will be here for at least 5 seasons. Someone who doesn’t have glory elsewhere on his mind. I’d say give it to Jack, but he’s way too immarture at the moment. For me, we should give it to Arteta. He leads by example, he’s a fantastic player and he could hold onto it until Jack grows up a bit. Until Jack is of an age where he’ll truly appreciate it.
The one thing we have to be sure not to do is to destroy our new season before it’s begun. I don’t want to see people sending abuse to Robin over Twitter, it’s pathetic behaviour. Look at this from a business perspective, take the emotion out of it… he’s got an offer to progress elsewhere, he’s been upfront about it, we all know where we stand. You can’t all slate Cesc for staying quiet then slate Robin for being honest. He’s gone. Let’s move on. Let’s see what the coach does about his exit. If he doesn’t sign anyone, we’ll know he lied to us when he said Podolski and Giroud weren’t replacments for Robin. Then we can start getting angry.
I’ve got a lot of faith we can move up a gear next season. Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs will all be slogging it out in the back waters of Europe next season. They won’t improve dramatically and Spurs in particular won’t have the luxury of throwing competitions like they did last season. As for Chelsea. DiMatteo getting a contract was the best thing that could happen there. If we can improve our defence, we’re not a million miles away. It’ll be a dramatic improvement, but remember, Bould is starting from a base of nothing. He’s taking over from an assistant who has been a blockade on change. Bould will be the introduction of an excel spreadsheet to a 1920’s accountancy firm… I promise you.
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Anyway, chins up people, no one is bigger than the club, we’ve survived worse… we’ll survive this. We are the Arsenal after all…