Vermaelen treated badly, here’s why

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I’ve done quite a good job of excluding myself from rabble of the ‘You ain’t got a clue’ crew online over the summer, but yesterday’s reaction to Vermaelen was a tough incident to ignore, like people have already forgotten the car crash injury scene that took place, like some people don’t understand basic human needs.

When I say Thomas Vermaelen was treated badly, I’m talking from a human perspective. After all, a football club is a collection of humans put together to collectively share the work load over a season. When you manage a football squad / work place group, you’re looking after their physical wellbeing (maybe not so much this in digital marketing) as well as their mental well being. It’s a tough balancing act, but if you read any management book on business / sport, the best managers understand the basic premise that everyone needs to feel wanted / respected / included to perform.

Not rocket science.

Arsenal had two centre backs last season. It’s quite simply not practical to play two players for a whole season, regardless of their talent. Players fatigue, people aren’t indestructible and even if they are, you still need to ensure they’re as fresh as possible in the most important games. Also, remember, when you’re tired you’re mentally drained as well.

Arsene Wenger has a very good player in Vermaelen. Say what you want about his form, he’s 28, he’s a Belgian international, he was captain of Ajax and he was good enough to be hailed a hero by Arsenal fans and pick up our club captaincy.

Arsene Wenger should have rotated him into our side last season. There’s no plausible reason not to give him games. It’s almost immature not to. What we did was play Laurent and Per until someone broke. How anyone can think that’s sensible management is beyond me. We actually played our best defender until he broke.

The biggest miracle of last season was that we didn’t pick up injuries to Giroud or our two centre backs.

Back to Thomas… you don’t play him, you ignore him… then and injury occurs and you bring in Vermaelen and he’s not there mentally. He knows he’s not valued, he knows he has no trust and he plays like he’s a waste of space. He’s not a bad player, he’s just a human. His confidence was shot and we threw him out like a used wet wipe. You need to look after people when you have a team and you need to look after their physiological needs. Arsene didn’t do that with Thomas. How can the belief be so strong you award him captaincy, to so not there that you bench him all season?

… And look, if your response to Wenger dropping him is…

‘We shouldn’t be playing poor players’

Firstly, you’re wrong, he’s not a poor player. Manchester City, Barcelona and Louis Van Gaal don’t chase bad players. Secondly, tell that to the manager you’re agreeing with over TVs ostracism to immediately retract the new contact he’s waving in his face.

… and look, it wasn’t just TV this happened to. We also had it with Nik B. Wenger didn’t play him in preference of destroying Giroud for a year. It was even worse with Bendtner because Wenger said he’d play him after his Cardiff heroics, then proceeded to totally ditch him. It really says something when a manager would rather risk the fitness of players over playing £130k p/w worth of talent.

In fact, I’m sure Wenger said Thomas was important around Christmas as well?

Anyway, the great thing with the Vermaelen debate is you can’t agree with Wenger on dropping Vermaelen all season and the agree with him on giving him a new deal. It’s a complete contradiction.

Which I think is beautiful. What is ugly is player watch linking him away from the club and putting the wrong Twitter handle in place. That whole media watch is an excercise in embarrassment. You’re supposed to be above your own media speculation when you’re a classy establishment.

Anyway, a lot of the above stems from me making the point that having Calum Chambers as our 3rd choice centre back this season would be a total farce. People retort on that saying he’ll be an England player.

So what?

I’m not for a minute suggesting Chambers isn’t going to be an excellent player. He’s a far more nailed on prospect than Theo or Chamberlain at that age. He’s Prem proven. However, centre backs rarely do well at 19 in the Premier League. It’s the most powerful league in the world. The strikers are faster and more beastly than anywhere else. Also, before you throw Varane in my face… he’s an actual centre back (well, what I know anyway, which isn’t much if I’m honest). Not a right back Madrid are converting to a centre back.

Anyway, the above is an irrelevance because if we sell Vermaelen, we are currently looking at all the market options there are to replace him.

So fear not… I just find it amazing that a large sections of fans would be happy to have a rookie as back up for a team looking to push for the Champions League and Premier League. Stating you don’t believe a right back who is yet to be converted is a truth, not a dig at a fantastic prospect.

Good news on the football front, I’ll have Alex Fynn on the blog next week, hopefully on video as I begin my assault on the new media scene with a partner site. They’re game for the idea, so we’ll have some bits coming out over the next few months. Thanks for the feedback on the concept.

Right, that’s me done. I have a staff summer party today, so tomorrow’s post will be even more strewn with errors than normal. Thanks for being patient.



Artistic impression of the moves I’ll be cutting later



P.S. Thanks for the support on the site this summer, the comments have been booming. I thought they might disappear with the emergence of Twitter as a main stream channel… not so, it’s been the busiest summer in years. Thanks for you contributions! You’re literally the best.

1,066 Responses to “Vermaelen treated badly, here’s why”

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  1. N5

    I couldn’t keep up with him Midwest, I imagine it’s all the worst parts of Boogie nights rolled into one! every night!!

  2. Honest Bill


    Yeah but to be fair Mourinho is a cunt. He cries about everything and has to be the biggest hypocrite to ever manage in the league.

  3. afturburn

    I hate to be a downer, and in no way do I hope or wish that what I’m about to say comes to fruition but…

    All this talk about Carvalho, Khedira, Reus, Nastasic, Bender, Cavani…it’s nice to speak about players their caliber possibly joining our club, but I feel like we’re all setting ourselves up for a huge punch to the stomach at the end of August.

  4. leon

    some of comments claim that arsenal have quite a few box to box players i dont we do,most of our players passers not runners or players with huge amount work rate i think this why part of the reason arsenal had alot problems going forward is because of the lack pace and ability to stretch defences. Another problem i have noticed with this team last season was the lack pace and power in the middle of the park right this cant play 442 because they would get out mussled in the middle city can play 442 because yaya tour has so much pace and power his driving runs he can play anywere in midfield dm behind the striker and evon on the wings. The more I think about it I just cant see wenger signing kadira i think this guys wage demands who I might had is not same as toure plus I think kadira is of an attacking minded player even arteter as an attacking midfielder by trade the only player we have is a natural dm flamani so they need some with lots pace power and is very disciplined i think wenger will go someone who have not heard of. I feel one this teams strongest assets is the depth they have in attacking midfield but there pack width was problem the whole time once thoe got injured and I think they could with another direct pacey winger myachi looks like match stick he is not ready mind you joe cambell is there so maybe not.we all say in the world cup the teams with pace wins games spain lack of space is why the went out

  5. Nasri's Mouth

    Some reports on Carvalho. Number of references to his lack of pace: Zero

  6. MarbleHall

    Pro-Arsensl is to ridicule and mock Wenger.
    Anti-Arsenal is to patronise the fanbase with their mock support of the club through their loyalty to Wenger.

  7. Keyser

    It doesn’t really matter what side you’re on, as long as you can state your case with logic or reason, we lost big, but finished with more points and our first trophy in 9 seasons.

    Liverpool went from finishing 7th to competing for the title and United went from finishing 11 points clear, to finishing 22 points behind the eventual winners, and 25 points off their previous seasons points total.

    The league’s been littered by supposedly inexplicable results and happenings these past few years, surely people must have some ideas about how and why beyond ‘Everything’s shit’, ‘or it doesn’t matter because..’

  8. Savage

    @Keyser, agreed, but not absolutely everything is down to reason. Sometimes that shot just goes in and changes the course of the game, like those heavy defeats where we went into shock mode. (Not excusing them, but looking at the options).

    I also don’t agree with Pedro that every injury is somehow Wenger’s fault. Sometimes it just goes wrong… and in the case of Ramsey, it changed our season, at a time when we were on title form.

    And in the reverse case, City drew Chelsea and then got knocked out by Wigan, which gave us a trophy effectively.

  9. Honest Bill


    I don’t really think it’s about inexplicable results. football is a dynamic game and i think people severely underestimate tha effect of psychology over a player’s/team’s performance. United, for example, didn’t just lose their ability over a summer an neither is Moyes so tactically inept as to make a good player forget which way is forward.

  10. Keyser

    The Mirror article on Carvalho is good, highlights weaknesses aswell as strengths, the few games he played with Portugal he just looked massive, cumbersome, he might have enough pace to run down a player or two, not sure if he’d have the stamina or the agility to do what we probably need.

    But if we sat Wilshere, or someone else with him, let Ramsey roam around like he does, that should be a pretty solid base, and he’s young enough to trim down, or have the energy to get through games.

    Also his youtube video’s don’t really show him being able to push forward freely.

  11. leon

    Sorry I don’t think wilshire has the physical presence to play dm and plus i think its waste he’s far better going forward.most arsenals problems last season was lack pace width. Also I think the defence plays to far up that has huge problem with mertestakers lack pace they could could with a more mobile defender