When you think about it, being an Arsenal fan at the moment should feel pretty average. We just sold our 2nd best player to a rival, we sold our most handsome player to a rival, we’re out the FA Cup, we’re playing in the Europa League and top 4 is gone… but life has been SO average over the years, just having a good transfer window feels like winning the Champions League. Even the transfer rumours are better!
Arsenal new boy Raul Sahnelli has identified Jan Oblak as our number one target this summer. The Atleti keeper is, in my humble opinion, the best keeper on the planet. He’s imposing, athletic, and his reflexes are the next level is the next level. ALSO, he can save penalties. He’s the sort of major investment we’ve needed in goal for years. The sort all the big clubs have been making. The Slovenian is also 25, so we could get at least 10 years of value out of him. His release clause is only £90m.Damn, that’s a fine rumour.
A rumour that DID NOT fill me with joy spread like wildfire yesterday. It was revealed that Arsenal are planning for life without Wenger and they were keen on making Jochim Löw our top dog after the World Cup. This rumour horrified me. He’s a yer da type name that gets whipped up into conversation.
Sure, he’s done a fantastic job with Germany. He’s won many trophies. He’s done a great job with players like Mesut.
But let’s not lose our damn minds here. There is a HUGE difference between club football and international. Just ask Scolari, or the Chelsea fans that had to suffer him.
The World Cup is prestigious, no doubt. But the best football is played at club level these days.
International managers have to cobble a squad of players together that are already in peak condition, already coached, and the best in their country. You don’t need to motivate them to turn up for their country, the weight of a nation’s hopes does that. You don’t need to worry about salaries. You don’t need to worry about another country stealing your talent. You don’t need to deal with anywhere near the same levels of craziness or day to day intensity.
… and put the notion that Mesut is driving this in the bin right now. He’s a great player, but he’s not Messi. You don’t determine your manager based on player desires, that’d be so rank amateur.
In short, Arsenal would be utterly crazy to hire a manager who has been out of the club management since 2004… and one that was hardly ripping it up when he was there (remember, Wenger was peak elite in 2004, think how far the game has come?).
Outside Rapha Honigstein pouring cold water on the deal from the German side (and the people I speak to at the club saying the same thing from an AFC perspective), the news made zero sense.
We’ve just signed a new Director Of Football type figure. There is absolutely no way any exec worth his salt is arriving at Arsenal and making demands on a new manager before he’s even had a chance to meet people and understand the challenges of Arsenal FC. That’s not how these things work.
Also, do you really think a Spaniard, who has worked on the Barcelona project for 10+ years, would make moves for an German international manager he’s probably had zero dealings with? No chance. Barcelona operates search and selection like a professional club. They work out what the team needs, they do extensive reporting on the managers character, they discuss the merits as a group, they meet with the candidates and discuss their visions, then they make a decision.
Rolling in and demanding Löw before day 1 would be incredibly sloppy.
Anyway, GOOD news is Germany are keeping him on for at least another year and if he leaves, Bayern would be interested in taking him.
Also, just for your knowledge, I really don’t think we’ll be hiring in a manager like him. We’re looking at more interesting names from around Europe. That said, don’t be surprised to see us hire from Germany, because that’s where we’ve been hunting. Again, that’s before Raul starts working and I’d imagine he’ll have a huge say in who the next coach is and how the backroom team is shaped moving forward.
More great news, Jack, who we greatly missed on Tuesday, is back in training. Aubameyang is also training with the team. Mikki is raring to go. We have a new Wenger, saltier than a freshly gritted side road.
Asked whether he’d reassured Lacazette about his future.
‘I don’t reassure anybody. It is a competitive sport and you must fight for your places. You have to show them respect and they have to accept it is a competitive world.’
Zinger. He also explored what it meant for the team.
‘It means we can play two up. On the other hand, we lost three strikers – Walcott, Sanchez, Giroud. You need at least two top strikers to play in the Premier League.’
One senses that losing his babies hasn’t gone down too well.
What did he think about the transfer window he didn’t control?
‘What I wanted to do, I have done more. But not everything I wanted. We could have done more. We must find an internal solution to our defensive problems. Overall I am happy with our transfer window.’
Still, at least he seems mostly pleased, and why wouldn’t he be? It’s been a f*cking great window.
Some old habits don’t die easily, Alex Song was let go by Rubin Kazan only days ago, and where is he working on his fitness? London Colney. The most elite gym in Europe.
‘He is looking for a new club. I allowed him to come into work on his fitness. Nothing more than that. ‘
Taking bets he starts against Manchester City in March, and he is the internal solution to Xhaka. My dad, literally crying on the couch at home at this news.
Wenger also tried to mitigate his role in the contract sagas by making out this free transfer thing is new.
‘You will see more and more players going to the end of their contract. That is down to demands of wages so you cannot always give in. Sanchez is a big example. We started a long, long time ago but you can either accept the demands or not.’
It’s not a trend, the Bosman ruling has been about since 1995. Smart clubs tie players down to long deals, or they sell their talent. Arsenal now have a contracts guy and the decisions around the numbers sit with others, so we won’t have an ego trip situation where we sacrifice the good for the club because Wenger can’t handle players earning more than him.
First example of that? Mesut… Wenger had this to say.
‘Many predicted he wouldn’t commit and not sign. It is good news for us – if you can keep a player of that calibre is of course good news. He has committed his future to the club at a period where we are in a tricky period. We expect him to take responsibility to lead the club to success.’
Amen. I’ve really enjoyed Mesut this season, he’s grown as a player, but let’s not pretend he’s been playing like this his whole AFC career. If he carries on this way, we’ll be in for a treat. I just have the Theo Walcott switch off in my head…
Anyway, sorry this was a garbled post today, I drank 3 gin martini’s yesterday and apparently I can’t handle my booze anymore.
Also, BIG thanks to everyone who has joined the podcast family this month. We trebled listenership and now we are video heroes with a big modelling deal dropping with Head & Shoulders next month.