by .

I didn’t want to do it, but I am going to. Yep, I’m planting a flag on the whole Antonio Conte thing because I think it perfectly captures the difference between being strategic and reactionary when it comes to the beautiful game.

Daniel Levy has had an up and down career at Spurs. His peak was undoubtedly hiring Mauricio Pochettino. The guy had vision, he was charismatic, everyone loved him, and he delivered as much as one could without silverware.

That’s when things started going wrong. You can luck out in business, catch fire without really knowing why, and that seems to be what happened here. Just look at how many visionary business people that can never replicate their initial success. Steve Jobs did Apple, Pixar, and NeXT… Mark Zuckerburg made ranking babes a billion dollar venture and hasn’t had an innovation since.

Serial success comes from thinking strategically.

After making the Champions League final, Poch was very public about the dip that was coming, but Daniel Levy didn’t have the stomach to take the pain of the rebuilt. Ray Dalio, one of the greats of the hedge fund game, always says that people run from things that hurt in life which is why they fail to improve.

So where did Levy run? To the place of least pain, at least on paper. He looked at a Champions League finalist squad and instead of understanding why it made it that far, he assumed… incorrectly. His assumption was that Spursy in elite football was a thing and there was only one man that could fix it: Jose Mourinho. Why? Because he’s a ‘winner.’

That move made sense to the countless people that talk about ‘elite’ online without knowing what it means. It was clear that the squad he inherited was not going to react well to an old school dictator telling them they were soft boys. Poch was a modern leader, empathetic, understanding, and mentor like. Jose came in, did his usual wrecking ball job, and left a mess. The mess was so extreme, no manager in Europe wanted to touch it. One would assume that the money wasn’t there for the rebuild, Daniel Levy wanted to control things, and their new tech director isn’t that impressive.

They landed on Nuno. A second Mendes shill. What was the thinking there? Is he a master of coaching? No. Is he a visionary? No. Does he play the sort of football Spurs fans demand? No. He’s a coach that shills for super agents. That’s why the Valencia fans heckled him out despite him making top 4 for them. That mistake, which we all saw coming, cost them £10m.

So now they’re at attempt number 3 post-reboot and Daniel Levy has made the most unimaginative hire possible. He’s gone all-in on a ‘winner’ again. Can I knock the talent of Antonio Conte? Absolutely not. He’s a winner. He improves all types of players. He will 100% get an uptick in results because he’s ruthlessly organised.

But what is underpinning this decision?

What is the strategy? Because ‘winning’ isn’t a strategy I’m afraid.

Conte is a short term fix, but for me, he’s a very rich fix for a very different type of problem.

What are the ingredients for 2021 Antonio Conte to work.

He needs to work with good players.

When he rolled into Chelsea, the job he did wasn’t a miracle. He took over a squad that had won a title in 2015 and he made them purr that season. He did a fabulous job, but let’s be clear, Jose Mourinho did the hard work on that squad. They were winners. It was a more elite version of what Emery did for Arsenal over the first 21 games.

He moved to Inter Milan under the guidance of Beppe Morotta, arguably the best technical director on the planet. He was given money to spend, but he was controlled. He beat out a Juventus in decline after they moved on Allegri. A terrific job, but he had loads of resource and elite people surrounding him.

Modern Conte needs money. He needs good players. He needs to make an impact fast.

I’m not sure he has that at Spurs.

There’s a tremendous leadership job to be done as well.

Harry Kane doesn’t want to be there. I have extreme doubts Conte changes the equation for him because being an elite manager in the Premier League at the moment, in all reality, is hardly a game-changer. Being a ‘winner’ doesn’t mean anything in a league with Tuchel, Klopp, and Pep Guardiola. Spurs is a rebuild, Kane is 28 years old, he doesn’t want to be the old man crowning a 3 year journey with an FA Cup win.

Antonio Conte is on record saying that he’d rather kill a player than let him upset the camp. That’s his style. It’s brute force dictatorship. The Italian might have a different approach to Mourinho, but it lives in the same world. Do we think that sort of approach is going to map to the profile of the players? It didn’t under Jose or Nuno.

He also needs money and he will bang the door for it. When he was let loose at Chelsea, he made some pretty dire signings, then proceeded to crash the team the next season… throwing the players under the bus when he did it.

Then you wade into some of the murky details. Conte already said no in the summer. We know he’s on record saying Spurs is second rate. What changed?

Football knows Conte. His team were fast out the traps for the United role because that is the job for him. He’s built for that sort of expensive mess. In my view, if he’s taking Spurs it’s because United told him there wasn’t going to be a job for him, and more broadly, there wasn’t a better offer in Europe. No Barca, No Madrid, No Paris… so Spurs became the only option on the table.

I don’t know how many times I need to say this: There is nothing elite about being difficult to work with in 2021. You can’t be ‘too much of a winner’ and use that to write off bad behaviour. Someone was talking to me on Twitter yesterday, explaining Conte’s eliteness, and in the same breath admitting he crashed his second season at Chelsea because ‘he didn’t get the players he wanted.’ Can you imagine doing that in any other business? No. Because it’s embarrassing. Sulking because you want things your way is what children do.

But… he does win things.

He won the Premier League with record points.

He broke the Juventus stranglehold on Serie A.

He has an aura that follows him from club to club.

It’s a big signing for Spurs and it will feel very good for them right now.

I’m just not sure he’s the fit for where they need to go.

This is a desperate hire. £15m a year for a brand name that will bring a 20 person coaching staff is not how football works in 2021. I am going to be honest here, I’d have been more worried if they’d given Graham Potter or Ten Haag the keys to the castle for the next 5 years. They didn’t, you know why? Because it’s painful.

Arsenal went down a crappier version of this path with Unai Emery. We invested in ‘nearly’ players that looked good on paper but couldn’t deliver. Last summer, we did the same, it didn’t work.

So what are we doing this season? We’re taking the pain. We’ve alligned on a strategy that meets where we are as a club. We’re going to build back based on a Project Premium Youth model. It will be tough because getting back to the top is tough. But you know what? It’s sustainable. You know what is elite? Sustainable models in football.

RB Leipzig is a sustainable model of football. They grow coaches and players and have a standardised way of playing across 4 countries. They can still compete even when they lose Nagelsmann or Marco Rose. Why? Because the strategy is clear and it is ruthlessly adhered to.

Liverpool are peak sustainable. They have a clear approach to how they operate. They have a very specific style of football. They win trophies and maintain an incredible level of football. There’s no drama up there.

Manchester City is another side that does that same. They have a style that has been implemented up and down the club. They don’t fire their manager all the time. They are now developing elite young talent and compliment the side with big signings every year.

Teams that aren’t sustainable?

Manchester United. There’s a vision, but it’s not very good. They buy stars that don’t fit to any particular model. They chop and change their managers. They don’t really progress. It’s a mess because they live in a world of star fuckery. Jadon doesn’t get games, despite costing £70m. Ronaldo gets all the games, despite being 36. It’s about share price over there and selling shirts. They’d be more dangerous with an actual vision that was sustainable.

Spurs might make top 4 this season, but they are not working with a vision of 5 years in mind, because if they were, the chances are, they’d not have hired Conte.

So in short, there’s a lot of glitz, there’s a lot of ‘THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT’ from people that don’t know, and I suspect that all that glitters is not gold might be a truism here.

Well, I hope so. Let’s see what they have. Top 4 just got spicier.



Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Ishola70

    Will the Conte appointment impact at Arsenal in regards that 4th place in the EPL? Quite possible.

    Do Man City and Liverpool and to a slightly lesser extent Chelsea need to worry about Conte being appointed at Spurs? Not really.

  2. AFC Forever


    The quality of striker we bring in will almost certainly reflect our league performances this season. I’m not convinced any of our back-up players are ready yet, so as you say we will have to buy. We have an athletic team full of young talent so I wouldn’t be surprised to see us go for someone like DCL with PL experience, height (6ft 2″) and mobility who can also drop in to link play, like Laca does. The other advantage you get with someone like him is superb heading ability, which you need sometimes to mix it up a bit, which is missing from our front line. I know we were linked with Abrahams, so I expect the profile to be similar. Just my thoughts really.

  3. Leedsgunner

    AFC Forever

    DCL will not be cheap though. I wonder if we could lower their price by throwing in Holding into deal… because they were considering him before. Or even AMN because they are desperate for a right back.

    In an ideal world obviously I would love to keep AMN but we need a top young striker and if including AMN help us do that we need to get it done.

    £20m plus AMN for DCL seems fair.

  4. Leedsgunner

    Or cheekily, we could offer Everton Nketiah, AMN and Holding for DCL but I can’t see them going for it… although it would be fantastic if they did.

  5. Rich

    I’d like to see some squad planning in the forward position

    Balogun needs a loan, he’s way past the point of under 23 football being beneficial, 9 goals in 7, send him to League 1 to pick up 20 games

    Convince Eddie to sign a new contract, and then take a loan at the end of January, on the understanding he’ll take the No9 shirt from Lacazette next summer

    Eddie’s added power + purpose to his game, he was prolific at every youth level, I’m absolutely done with massive fees, big wages, and giant egos

    Make a pathway, and give Eddie the opportunity to forge himself a career at Arsenal

  6. Leedsgunner


    If Laca went are you confident he could step up? Eddie is a superb fox in the box, poacher but I don’t think he brings others into the play as well as Lacazette?

  7. Leedsgunner

    Don’t get me wrong I would love Nketiah to succeed at Arsenal but I just wonder if he’s too limited in his skill set.

  8. Leedsgunner


    Apparently Tammy Abrahams is the one big miss that Edu regrets most from the summer… apparently they tried really hard to get him but he was wooed by Mourinho… who used his previous Chelsea connection to the max.

  9. Habesha Gooner

    I think Belloti isn’t the guy for us. People thought he was an all rounder. But he is just a target man. He would score headers but he isn’t fast. His technique isn’t good enough to start at a top team too. He would make a good back up though. But we aren’t short of Backups at the CF role.

    I am not opposed to Jovic on a loan with an option to buy though. I saw that season at Frankfurt and he was sensational. What impressed me most was his intelligence in scoring goals. I think he might do well if there is a change of scenery. RM and Barcelona aren’t the best place to flourish for some young talents.

    The strikers that I want most are Vlahovic or Isak. They are performing extraordinarily in poor teams. Vlahovic in particular looks like a less polished version of Haaland. He is big, strong and runs like a tank. Headers are also his specialty. 21 too. Isak though is more of a smooth dribbling forward. Tall too. But he is silky on the ball. He takes on players regularly. One of them would be awesome.

  10. AFC Forever

    Leeds / Rich

    “If Laca went are you confident he could step up? Eddie is a superb fox in the box, poacher but I don’t think he brings others into the play as well as Lacazette?”

    I agree with this. Copped a bit of flak for saying it though.

    I like Eddie and want him to succeed. We all do. He is better more advanced in the box, I previously spoke about his link up play not being at the right level. But he’s at the start of his career and still has some way to go to reach the levels we desire and build consistency. He’ll get games for us and may get a run post Christmas, which is when he has to prove himself good enough. We love our young players, of course, but we aren’t a charity, ambition cannot be built on sentiment. Arteta bombing out players he doesn’t fancy is reality and we have to have that ruthless mentality, whether people like it or not. We made that mistake in the past, hanging on to players we should have moved on, letting them poison the place.

    As I said earlier, the season we have will determine the type of player we can sign. For immediate impact you need quality because if we decide Eddie wouldn’t get into any other team with top 4 ambitions, then there is the answer.

  11. AFC Forever


    Tammy Abrahams just goes to show the way they are profiling. Young, athletic players building for the long term. So far hard to fault the signings. If we continue that with a striker and other positions avoiding the noise, we could be in for a return to the days of real optimism and fun.

  12. Leedsgunner


    Vlahovic is out of our hands now unfortunately. Conte wants him and no doubt Tottenham will throw a mountain of cash to bring him in in January even though he’s on track to be released a free… 😂

    Last summer what we should have done is to arrange a player swap deal with Fiorentina when they wanted to take Torreira.

    Considering how prolific our fullbacks and wingers are now with crosses wouldn’t an aerial specialist be a bad thing… especially if we could bring him in on a free? Remember that our corners to goals converted ratio is much stronger too.

    I know some has written off Belotti already but if he is good in the air as people say he is, he could a great threat for us from set pieces.

    Goals win matches and at the moment we need aerial specialists to complement our existing attackers so that our attack doesn’t become one dimensional and predictable.

  13. Rich

    I like Eddie a lot, there’s never any guarantees, even if we go out and spend big money, and commit to big wages, on a big name

    Ive come to the conclusion that I’d rather we had a committed + hungry squad, with the right balance

    What I like about Eddie now, is that he’s added aggression, he looks powerful, he’s not getting knocked around by defenders anymore, he’s playing with real energy + purpose

    We’ve not seen a great deal of him this season, it was a shame he picked up the injury I’m pre-season when he was doing well. in the little we’ve seen, he looks to me like a player right on the cusp of breaking through

  14. Kroenkephobe

    Arsenal should be talking to Ten Haag right now hes an amazing coach

    Your post made perfect sense to me.

    But you do realise that you’ve probably given england’sbest and other residents of the magical kingdom of Tetarslikhan a coronary don’t you? I trust your bed linen is still dry…

  15. AFC Forever


    That’s pretty much how I feel. What you lack in terms of consistency and game management with young players you gain from their energy and desire. I’m fed up with the sort of thing we are seeing at Man Utd, when players have allowed their ego’s to dictate the effort they put in.

  16. Paolo


    Thanks for head’s up I just checked & your correct pub has been re done & now back to The Plimsoll.

    Good news to be honest the Auld Triangle was a bit battered. It’s always been my pub on Arsenal days since I started going to Highbury. I love the view of the North Bank as you walk from pub to match.

    I remember a fantastic atmosphere on Tony Adam’s or Keown’s testimonial night. Whole pub was singing ‘Tim Sherwood he comes Boreham Wood.. he ain’t no f#####g good’ song it was brilliant.

    Yes the kids will definitely be on shandy’s or maybe something weaker. I will be showing Ted all the iconic Arsenal landmarks around the ground, he is very excited wakes up counting down the days.

    Obviously a win would be perfect but so looking forward to passing on the feeling of being a Gooner & everything that come’s with a home game at the Emirates.

    I will let you know how the day goes COYG!!

  17. Mulerise14

    Law of average says one of Nketia, Balogun, John-Jules, Mika Bieruth, and Moller would go on to star in this young side.,……
    Eddie doesn’t need to go on loan again,he should go on proving to us he is worthy of the number 9 shirt,then we can part ways with Laca with bittersweet emotions.
    Balogun should earn minutes away at a championship side…..watch out for this Bieruth guy he is a baller.
    My point is we are only going to need to buy one striker,the other slot would be taken by one of our lads, not discounting Martinelli….so why can’t we go for Rolls-Royce of a striker! Harland anybody? I jest, but we could have gotten him before he went to Dortmund…..Isak is doable, surely we can afford him…. the fact your bread is buttered, doesn’t mean you have to eat it.,a lá Belloti, he is free but at this point we need more than a target man methinks.

  18. Rich

    When was the last time a big transfer banged?

    Neymar £198million ? Ligue 1 is a weak league, where PSG got turned over last season, and they’ve not won the CL

    Mbappe €180 million? Brilliant player, but still has a lot to prove, and will likely leave PSG for free

    Coutinho €145 million? Brilliant player, but hasn’t worked out

    Felix €126 million? He’s hardly banged, even if he is still very young

    Griezmann €120mill? He’s back at Atletico, with Barca paying a large portion of his wages

    Grealish £100mill? Brilliant player, too early to call

    Lukaku £98million? Good striker at the peak of his powers, but if you spend this type of money on a 28yr old, you expect I’m to deliver trophies

    Dembele €105mill? Exciting player, had consistent injuries, yet to extract any type of value

    Pogba £89mill? He’s been inconsistent, will likely leave for free

    Hazard €100mill? He’s delivered nothing, Chelsea dumped him at the right time

    Ronaldo €100 million? He was part of a Juventus team that had its worst finish in a decade, then left for a fraction of what they paid

    Bale €100mill? Did well originally, but now Madrid are stuck with a disinterested player, earning huge wages

    Ronaldo £80mill? Brilliant value for Madrid, he won big trophies, and they got back almost what they paid

    Higuain €90mill? It’s hard to make an argument Juve extracted any type of value

    Maguire £80mill? Decent enough defender, but United massively overpaid

    Lukaku £75mill? Transfer didn’t work, United let him go for a big loss


    You can see the other big transfers in the above link, there’s a few unknowns, but the hit rate in the biggest 50 transfers, is less than 1 in 10

    They usually come with massive wages, and if they don’t workout, then clubs are usually stuck with the player + their wages

  19. LoveSausage


    Good overview. We live in a society where hero worshiping has gone overboard. With the exception of peak Messi or Ronaldo, very few of these players were ever on a different level. So it’s clear that if you take a guy that’s 10% better than most players in his “talent bracket”, pay twice as much in transfer fee, and three times the salary, everyone is being set up for failure. The 30-50M band is where you can find great talent who also have a short term upside.

    As much as I’m grateful for the lack of European games, I’m bored out of my mind. By Thursday I feel like a crackhead who’s been forced to go cold turkey… Let’s hope this is the last season we have to experience that.

  20. MrLovaLova

    Just wanted to say that i think Dominik Szoboszlai, whom we courted heavily before his move from RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig, looked a real player yesterday vs PSG, and looking hungry to step up his game up to the next level. What impressed me is the fearless mentality he seem to possess, playing with amazing composure, taking on players and pinging around passes and crossess with real intent and momentum looking to impose himself on the game. Loved the sequence when he stepped up to take a high pressure penalty late in the game to keep the Champions League dream still living for Leipzig and basically the entire PSG team took turns trying every trick in the book to unsettle him before the penalty, just to bang it past Donnarumma like it only made him more determined.

    Absolutely loving the players we are going after at the moment and hoping we still have a long term interest in this particular player.

  21. LoveSausage


    Agreed. Now that the football is fun again, I can pump myself up two days before the game. But middle of the week is a slog. I watch the odd CL game but it doesn’t satisfy the cravings. Just pisses me off that we’re not in it.

  22. LoveSausage


    Good for you, keep it up. I’ve never smoked but I heard from friends who’ve quit that physical work helps. Apparently, being exhausted takes your mind off of it a bit.

  23. englandsbest

    For once we are all agreed on here – far, far too much international football.

    The way to stop ridiculous games – like San Marino v England – is for the Clubs to charge the FAs the weekly wage of their players.

  24. Leedsgunner

    Some may be bothered that White and Smith Rowe have been omitted from the England squad. I’m not. Close to two weeks where our players can train and recuperate, excellent. Arsenal comes first over England every time.

    Frankly, I wish Arteta would grow a pair and pull Saka out so he could have a rest too. He looks jaded as it is.

  25. Havyn

    The league is still young to determine Top 4. Chavski, Pool and City will all drop points.

    We’re in a unique position entering December. We should beat Watford this weekend and work hard to get a draw at Ann Field when the league resume after the international break. If we do that and also get a draw at Old Trafford, we shall experience a breakthrough.

  26. Terraloon


    The league is still young to determine Top 4. Chavski, Pool and City will all drop points.

    It is young but pretty sure that every club and yes that includes Arsenal will drop points

  27. Graham62


    No, the way to “stop ridiculous games” is to change the whole structure of the international game.

    Those that support meaningless international games at the expense of the domestic leagues don’t understand football.

    Unfortunately money rules.

  28. Leedsgunner

    Thanks Terraloon

    U21 games… pointless. Pull ESR out. I want him fresh for the Arsenal!! I would imagine Nketiah’s involved. In his case, I don’t mind as much, he needs the game time, does that make me a hypocrite?

  29. TT

    Graham62November 4, 2021 16:27:22
    englandsbestNo, the way to “stop ridiculous games” is to change the whole structure of the international game.Those that support meaningless international games at the expense of the domestic leagues don’t understand football.Unfortunately money rules.

    What needs to happen here Graham is that the clubs need to put their foot down and start demanding the football associations start paying for use of their players.

    Football to day is a major industry and I know of no other that will allow their staff to go working for someone else while they pay their wages.

    Its gone insane all the international football and I think its about time they make a 2 tier system, what point is there San Marino playing England? Have them play in tier 2 and those that do bets there move up to tier 1 the next cup and corresponding teams that do badly in tier one get relegated.

    Will never happen unless the clubs grow some balls.

  30. Kroenkephobe

    LS and Mb

    The answer? Get another team to follow, as well as AFC of course. Non- league, championship anything. Its all good. Cheaper, less up itself, more camaraderie. Much better blogs!!

    Arsenal occupies a special place in most of our hearts. But an FAW game with Haverfordwest County or Cardiff in the championship rings my bell too. Go local lads – you won’t regret it.

  31. AFC Forever


    “Those that support meaningless international games at the expense of the domestic leagues don’t understand football. Unfortunately money rules.”

    Yep. I am not interested in these pathetic, pointless games. I have no interest in watching San Marino vs England, it is about as pointless as a Trophy Cabinet at White Hart Lane or the Popes balls.

    Have a tournament for Andorra and San Marino to compete in, so they can at least win something. Call it the “I can’t believe its International Football” Cup and get Anchor butter to sponsor it. Should be good for the spread betting fans out there…..!

  32. AFC Forever


    They came up with the pathetic nations league because teams weren’t releasing their best players for meaningless friendlies. The World Cup and the European Championship is fine but the nations League has to be binned. Then, sort out the qualification groups so all the rubbish teams play against each other, minimising games for the bigger countries. If the World Cup wants crap teams in the finals fine but push them through additional qualification.

    Unfortunately it’s all about the money and not the fans..

  33. Tom

    Came across some interesting stats for the PL big six mini table that included Conte, and his record vs other usual top five is a relatively poor 40,7% win ratio.
    Tuchel absolutely kills it with a 63,6 % but with a small sample size of 11 games.
    Then Pep with a 52,8 %, Klopp 45,3%, and Ole with a 42,4%.
    Conte barely edges out Arteta, who’s on 40%

    If that’s his record with Chelsea, it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with Tottenham because Spurs have historically not done very well in that department.

  34. englandsbest


    That’s the very point I’m trying to make. If FA had to pay twenty or more top players a week or more wages, they would think twice about playing teams like San Marino. As you say, money talks.

  35. englandsbest

    The truth is that it’s the top-flight clubs which keep pro football afloat. If Real M and Barca go bust and disappear, how many people would watch La Liga? How many small clubs would spend years of effort bringing youngsters through if there were no one to buy them? Without top clubs and their followers football’s appeal would rate at lower league level.

  36. AFC Forever


    You sound like Spud Jamie O’Hara. He’s been telling everyone about the great Conte and how Spurs are back. Back to what exactly I have no idea. Back to telling everyone how great they are before it all goes pear shaped I suppose. It’s pretty hard to get back to something you’ve never actually been. Embarrassing statement. Mind you it’s an embarrassing club with embarrassing fans.

    Finally, Conte is so good & worthy of your hero worship he took a Premier League winning team to 5th, after wasting just shy of £200m on players like Morata £60m, Bakayoko £40m, Drinkwater £35m & Zapacosta£30m etc. .No wonder he was sacked!!!! I hope he does that at sad little Spurs because they’ll go bust!. Not that anyone would notice to be fair.

  37. Pedro

    Raptora, I can’t have you pumping Spurs managers on an Arsenal blog. That is absolutely not in the spirit of the space.

  38. Mr Serge

    I hate giving spurs a chance at anything they are playing well tonight but who are they playing
    At some point levy will shit the bed it’s what he does
    Fuck spurs

  39. AFC Forever


    “”You also sound bitter that Spurs have finished above us for five years in a row.”

    My fishing Rod has done it’s job!!!

    Less of the ‘us’ mate, your anger has betrayed you.

  40. AFC Forever


    “I knew it, ffs!! Conte is going to turn these bastards into champions ( lights the touchpapee and takes a step back😀)”

    They are literally the gift that keeps giving. You would think they’d be ashamed of what they are. Most deluded fans on the planet, nobody likes them!

  41. AFC Forever


    They look all over the place. Something not right at that club.The way their fans behave is why they are so hated by other clubs fans. I’m similar age to you and we’ve hardly seen them win anything

  42. AFC Forever


    The Eddie Howe thing has come from nowhere. He’s going to be like a kid in a sweet shop once he’s given that oil money.

  43. Words on a blog

    Haha, first Spurs go 3-0 up for their first match under the oh so legendary Contr.

    Then they’re hauled back to 3-2.

    Now they have a red card!

    Oh so Spursy.

    Go for it Vitesse. Deliver the mother of all comebacks!

  44. AFC Forever


    Yep Jamie O’Hara, Kris & raptora must be pissed off watching that crap. But not as much as Conte. Levy’s had him over.

  45. Rich

    I like Eddie Howe, he did a good job at Bournemouth, but putting in good coaches is only half of the battle

    If Newcastle don’t get their recruitment, squad planning, and contract management right, then they won’t become competitive any time soon

    They need to install some very astute operators behind the scenes, because they’ll certainly need more than quality coaching + astute tacticians

  46. AFC Forever


    I like him too. However, it’s one thing managing a club where’s there’s no pressure to going to Newcastle. Especially with the money they now have. Big job under extreme scrutiny.

  47. Words on a blog


    Eddie Howe is part of the small coterie of smart, nice-guy English managers.
    What he did with Bournemouth was pretty impressive, but it was under-the-radar.

    Newcastle is an entirely different kettle of fish – lots more visibility, fan and owner pressure, and vast funds to either use intelligently or fritter away. But that’s largely an issue for next season.

    But in the immediate future, he should be able to buy a couple of players in the transfer window and guide them towards mid table.

    Should be very interesting to watch how it pans out for him and for Newcastle.

  48. AFC Forever

    Mr Serge, not sure they are mate. Kris’s reaction was because I slagged off Spuds, he lost it & went on a rant about them finishing above us. What Gooner does that??!! . raptora was the bloke who lied about Benfica fans laughing at us for signing Tavares and today got banned for posting stats on how great Conte is Trolls mate.

    Kane’s been poor again.

  49. AFC Forever


    Yes agree. I actually like Eddie Howe and hope it goes well, not too well, fir him. But Newcastle is like no other place, it’s a City that bleeds black and white, massive pressure now.

  50. David Smith

    Nice new manager bounce for Spurs, a narrow yet heroic victory against 9 man Vitesse in the European Continence league

  51. Tom

    In fairness, I don’t believe we can’t judge Conte until he’s had a proper pre season or two uninterrupted by international play, and got a chance to bring at least 6-9 new players…………or something like that…….…I think?

  52. AFC Forever

    Tom, that’s fair. It’s why all the over the top hype on here about what he’s going to do has been ridiculous. I hope he fails massively, like all those before him

  53. englandsbest

    I think Howe is a good move by Newcastle, a sensible one. They are not over-reaching themselves, not jumping the gun. The best they can hope for this season is to stay in PL, and Howe is perfectly capable of doing that.

    And he might be more than just capable. No doubt there will be a few signings in Jan (hopefully inc Xhaka and Auba), but the planning will be for next season. Howe did pretty well at Bournemouth with no money, he may do rather well with millions to spend.

  54. Pedro

    AFC, think Rafa H was saying that Howe doesn’t get enough respect considering the immense job he did at Bournemouth.

    Not quite the blockbuster hire we were expecting, but a sharp one considering where they are now.

  55. Tony

    See Saliba is reported to have talked to a few of our players and said he wants to come back to fight for his place.

    Click bait? Who knows, but I’m looking forward to seeing Saliba in our squad and pushing White hard for minutes or move white to DM.

  56. Leedsgunner

    Hopefully if Benitez IS fired we can nip in in the ensuing chaos to buy someone like DCL, especially if Lacazette is being tracked by Newcastle and or West Ham for £10m…

    I suspect that Everton would want something like £50m plus for him.

  57. Tony

    Graham I agree Internationals are boring and has fallen so far behind the league football entertainment.

    My take is opposite of Wenger.

    1 x WC every six years

    1 European Cup every three years.

    This would give much more time to playing qualifications on non Cup competition years during May to August.

  58. Pedro

    Tony, he had Arsenal posters on his wall as a kid. We have the youngest team in the league. He’s absolutely going to come back and fight.

  59. Tony

    Also limit the countries in the WC dropping no hope fringe countries, such as Andorra.

    Set a level for entrants other than being a country.

    The fringe countries can play themselves and promote one country to the actual WC qualifiers.

    That would be my take.

  60. Tony

    Can’t wait, Pedro, to see him play with Gabs and the lads.

    I’d take Guen back if nothing else just to improve his player value to sell.

    If Guen still has too much toxicity witnessed on and off the pitch by all, then he has to go.

    Worth another look at least , Pedro.

  61. Leedsgunner

    Furthermore I suspect it’s all click bait but Barcelona now tracking Auba to sign him as a replacement for Aguero…

    What’s the threshold that Barca has to cross before we even consider selling Auba to them?

    (Given his age surely we would be foolish to turn down any big bid?)

    For example £20m+? £25m+?

    Strange to think we could come out of the January transfer window with both Auba and Lacazette out of Arsenal.

    Hopefully if Auba went this itself would convince Lacazette to stay and sign a new contract… at the last minute change of heart.

  62. Leedsgunner

    I hope we had the good sense to put in a clause to prevent Guendouzi being “flipped” for a massive profit by Marseilles if Newcastle is keeping tabs on him.

    I would hate to see us sell Guendouzi for £11m plus to Marseilles only for them to sell him on for a massive profit like for £30m+!

  63. Tony

    Would be bold to let them both go at the same time mid season. If Barca want Auba and the price is right, cash on the day, as AM demanded of us for Partey.

    I’d keep Laca for the rest of the season and rotate Eddie, Bolagun and Martinelli.

    Then buy a striker early in the summer TW where depending on our Europe Qualification: EL cup or CL cup will decide on the striker’s budget.

  64. Leedsgunner


    Ideally I would keep one of them… most likely it will be Laca that goes since he hasn’t signed that extension… £10m for a player that had 6 months to go wouldn’t be a bad deal for us really.

    Then, say, if Barca came with £30m+ bid for Auba would you really turn it down?

    I know I know it’s unlikely actually because Barca is broke…

    Just an interesting thought experiment.

  65. Leedsgunner


    I don’t think Guendouzi will say no to moving to Marseilles permanently. He’s publicly had a dig at Arsenal and Arteta already on how much he prefers it there… shame really because age wise he would have been perfect to replace Xhaka.

    Oh well. 🙄

  66. Tony

    Hey K’phobe good top see you’re betting your live football fix.

    Not being in Europe and then the International breaks are so deadly boring. Buri Ram is the top footballing side here which is about the level of our under 23s and the other side of the country to me.

    It’s winter here now my favourite time of year with temps between 18*c to 32*c and always a breeze more pronounced around the coastal areas.

    All good here, otherwise and hope same for you and Almunia and your families.

  67. Tony

    Agree with your thinking but Guen might just look at what’s happening at Arsenal and being a ‘ME’ person, he might just do a 180 at the last moment.

    At the moment the grass is greener, but it might not be come the end of the season.

    The might is very tentative, Leeds, and he would be better than Xhaka.

    Still, we have a Patino and Azeez waiting for minutes, so if Guen does go, it shouldn’t affect us too much.

  68. Nelson

    Young player can grow as long as he has the basic speed, technique and heart. Watching Guen today, he has matured quite a bit. He has an accurate quick pass. He is energetic and covers a lot of space. His football IQ has also improved. Too bad the ship has sailed. I can see that Guen can become a regular in the France NT.

  69. China1

    If Kane has the chance to join city this January and doesn’t do it because Conte is here, it will be a big mistake

    Spurs are not going to win a league title in the next 10 years. Not happening any way shape or form. Conte is a great manager but there’s no circumstance where staying at Spurs will be better for him personally than going to a moneybags team instead. He’s wasting what’s left of his prime right now and by the time Conte gets sacked he’ll be pushing 30 I guess? He won’t have as many suitors then

  70. Steveyg87

    Managed to catch the West Ham vs Genk match last night and was highly impressed by Genk player, Ito, he was constantly carrying the ball through the West Ham midfield and finding space for other players when they hit on the counter. Similar player to Rosicky, I suspect the PL teams will be all over him come Jan

  71. Mb

    LoveSausage and China1,

    Thank you. Yep, I plan to quit it this time, I do work out but the amount of stress sitting behind a screen for 9+hr causes is a lot. Thanks again!

  72. Mb

    Moving Ben White to DM and bringing in Saliba for CB will be an ideal thing imo, if he performs as good as Gabriel.

    Saliba is good in the air too.

  73. Habesha Gooner

    Tavarez came from Benfica. I think you meant Lokonga who also isn’t from Genk but Anderlecht.

    Saliba needs to be given a chance. We can’t discard a 30 mil signing without giving him a fair shot. If we do give him a shot I think he will succeed. He has the right frame and tools. And now we can see he has the right frame of mind considering it is hard to play for Marseilles.

  74. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal need four centre backs on their books and one thing is for sure I don’t see Arsenal
    spending more money next season on recruiting new players in these positions.

    The first two options are Gabriel and White and their positions are now secure. Saliba should
    return particularly if we qualify for Europe. We need at least three quality players to rotate for starting positions. Arsenal will be reluctant to “lose” money on his transfer if he is sold and that would be almost certainly the case if he stays in France.

    That leaves Arsenal with a choice of Holding, Mari and Chambers as the fourth string albeit
    that Chambers current contract ends in June.

    It would not surprise me that Holding will be sold, because I think that Arsenal will want to
    generate transfer fees in January and Summer. A club like Newcastle could well come in
    with an offer to buy him.

  75. Kroenkephobe

    But Newcastle is like no other place, it’s a City that bleeds black and white, massive pressure now.

    Double standards much? You crap out those old tropes to Raptora about being a Spurs fan yet here you are eulogising Newcastle while spending all night watching Spurs!!

    By your own unimpeachable logic, doesn’t that you make you a freakish hybrid mongrel of a cockerel crossed with a magpie rather than a gunner? You never seem afraid to be hoist by your own petard in your juvenile quest to ingratiate yourself to the pro-Arteta at all costs lobby.

    PS I disagree with your rose tinted view of NUFC. Like the Spuds, they’ve won fuck all for decades (an fa cup in the 50s? I can’t be bothered to check), their fans desert them in droves when they’re (often) relegated and this myth that Geordies are more passionate/dedicated than others up north is pure bollockry. Sunderland/Leeds/why not Barnsley? It’s just a lazy football stereotype, the kind of thing in which you specialise. Stop the silly attacks and enjoy the uptick in our results – even I can do that as someone who thinks we could be sooooo much more with a proper manager.

  76. Kroenkephobe

    Tony. Those temperatures in BKK sound pretty tolerable. The two times I worked there it was hot, hot, hot.

    It feels as if we’ve had the shortest autumn on record in the UK. Gone from late summer to winter with the solstice and shit loads of rain. Still, the climate feels like it’s steadily morphing from 4 variations of seasons into a wet and dry thing.

    I’m enjoying the cricket World Cup. Not sure if England will win but they’re well poised. Could be a final against Pakistan who are also going well. England’s team is packed with stars and role models but the less said about the Yorkshire County thing, the better.

    In the spirit of that Beastie Boys track, ‘Two sleeps’ til Watford!’ A solid, competent, threat free 2 nil win with no gnashing of teeth will be fine as far as I’m concerned.

  77. Mr Serge

    Mari will be sold to make space for saliba he has no future after the shit fest showing in the first 3 games if the season

  78. China1

    Very familiar with that stressed out life MB. I sleep like shit for the same reason.

    Wake up 4 nights out of 5 (including on weekends) around 3am convinced I’ve forgotten something critically important that needs to be dealt with immediately, even tho it’s very rarely the case.

    I work on a system that is up 24h a day and when things break it causes potentially enormous impacts to business, so I get no room to say ‘I’ll look at it in the morning’. But that constant uncertainty ends up manifesting if those late night wake ups thinking I’ve missed something when I haven’t. Very frustrating.

    Anyway, booze won’t help! It’ll only make it worse, so keep on trucking

  79. China1

    Presuming we get at least EL football next season, we shouldn’t need to shift Ben White out to accommodate Saliba.

    Between EL and all the cups that’s a fair chunk of games he could be a starter in. Likewise Gabriel and White won’t play every minute of the league campaign. Injuries and suspensions will happen and rests will be needed. If Saliba is third choice CB next season there should be plenty of minutes for him if the club is willing to give them. And if he plays well enough he can challenge white and Gabriel directly for the starting 11.

    Don’t get me wrong White at DM could be really good but unless there’s a strong indicator that way, we probably needn’t do that

  80. Habesha Gooner

    I think we can qualify for Europe this season. So there is going to be plenty of game time for Saliba if we qualify. City are making Stones, Laporte and Dias happy with the amount of competitions they take seriously. Even 4th choice Ake is a good player. Liverpool also have Van Djik, Konate, Matip and Gomez so having 3 good CBs isn’t going to be the problem.

    But Arteta has to be open minded and can’t be vindictive towards Saliba. Arteta hasn’t been the most forgiving in the past. Especially with youngsters that don’t follow his rules. I think we are going to miss out if we let him go without giving him a fair shake. He is 20 and being regarded as France’s next Varane. And we have him.

    If that happens I think the player to be sold will be holding. He is the most saleable asset. Mari is Arteta’s signing and he likes his LCB to be left footed. And he won’t go for much. Chambers won’t even be in the conversation because I don’t really know if he is even going to get a new deal.

    Knowing Arteta though, there is a possibility we will sell Saliba, keep holding and Mari and a year later sell both to bring new backups 😂😂😂

  81. China1

    I think this week has been the least manic of the last 6 weeks (Monday aside which was a 8am-midnight day)

    Some of our key deliveries are now done and we’re basically pushing back on all other deliveries to postpone to get our house in order first. We’ve been in a permanent state of firefighting but being that way means you never fix the underlying root causes of the fires and they keep coming back. Now we’re trying to buy time to resolve those root causes better.

    So hoping the direction should be more positive moving forwards at least for the most part! How you doing anyway

  82. China1

    Habesha that’s the horror scenario right

    Sell saliba then sell holding and mari next year and spend big money finding a saliba equivalent lol.

    That’s exactly the approach we took with Martinez. Thank fuck Ramsdale has been a beast. If he didn’t hit the ground running there would’ve been NOISE about that

  83. Leedsgunner

    For next season Mari, Chambers and Holding could sold and it wouldn’t make one difference to the first team. Say for £30m for all three.

    Come January I hope we finally offload Kolasinac and Elneny… both let go on a free.

    Hopefully, if Nketiah and Lacazette refuse to sign extensions sell the both of them for a combined fee of anything above £12m plus.

    Plus Leno, £15m plus should be possible.

    Come the summer we’ll have £16m coming in from the sales of Guendouzi and Mavropanos.

    If we sell smartly, even conservatively speaking we should be able to sell Torreira and Bellerin for £40m.

    That’s well over £113m just from selling the fringe players in our squad.

    More than enough to by 2 quality starter level players… even before we start adding on any new spending.

  84. Leedsgunner

    Plus I would promote and integrate the following youngsters to bolster our first team – provided that we are in Europe, most likely the Europa League.


  85. Habesha Gooner

    I am good man. I am glad things are cooling down a bit. Dealing with massive problems every day either at work or at home is depressing. Everyone needs a break at times. So many men have mental health issues because they are up against it every day and they don’t tell anyone. Kudos to you for sharing.

    Back to Arsenal, Exactly what I think about the Saliba situation. Selling him and finding out you need a good new CB is the nightmare. The Martinez error has been fixed but there would have been no reason to fix it if there was no problem in the first place. We don’t need to make that mistake twice.

  86. Kroenkephobe

    I saw Mark McGuinness play on Tuesday for the Bluebirds. He was immense and technically and physically superior to all around him. It may have been a mistake to let him go. I could easily see him doing well in the PL in the future. Made me feel proud to see him do so well – you could tell he’d even coached to a high standard.

    I think some of your valuations may be a little high but you never know…

  87. Bob N16

    Leeds, agree with all your outgoings but feel the amount we’re likely to get will be a lot less unless Newcastle go crazy in January -if we get £70m I think that’d be a win. The amount of money off the payroll would certainly help but a few of those players mentioned are out on loan so they are effectively off the salaries right now and we get a fee for a few of them if they stay until the summer.

    Do we know how well Bellerin is playing? I read Torreira seems to be doing okay in Italy.

    The financial situation hasn’t recovered from the Covid attack on finances so I don’t think we can expect juicy transfers.

  88. Terraloon

    For next season Mari, Chambers and Holding could sold and it wouldn’t make one difference to the first team. Say for £30m for all three.Come January I hope we finally offload Kolasinac and Elneny… both let go on a free.Hopefully, if Nketiah and Lacazette refuse to sign extensions sell the both of them for a combined fee of anything above £12m plus.

    Some major flaws in that proposition

    Chambers, Elneny, Kolasnic, Nketiah, Lacazette all are in the last year of their contracts. Unless they sign extensions in just 7 weeks or so they can sign pre contracts with clubs outside of England add to that every one of those 5 and the likes of Holding, Mari, Leno and Chambers occupy squad positions and feature in matchday squads for the PL or cup competitions.

    You can’t just bin off what 9 experienced players and suggest it wouldn’t make a difference or that bringing in two players would adequately fill the lack of squad depth.

    We saw in a blink of an eye just what happened when against Brentford 3 or 4 players suddenly weren’t available. The current squad is woefully thin and moving on 9 players without bringing in a similar number would be folly
    Of course the likes of Bellerin will need to be moved on and yes all contributions will be well received but I very very much doubt that in the next window or come to that the summer window there will be a massive spend over and above what can be generated
    Arsenal need European football to help to balance the books. All those that seem to be celebrating a year without even EL football will soon see a set of accounts that will paint a bleak picture where FFP compliance will become far more of a challenge.
    My reading is that next season England will have 4 CL clubs, 2 EL clubs and 1 EL Conference club.
    We know that the top 3 as a matter of course will qualify for the CL and either the 4th placed club or the CL winner. I think that most will agree that the favourites for the top three are Liverpool, City and Chelsea.
    The 4th place is up for grabs with maybe Utd, WHU, Spurs, Leicester and possibly Arsenal in the mix.
    But it’s the EL places that are a major issue.
    At most England will have 2 EL places.
    If a club outside the top 4 wins the FA cup then they are given a berth . The problem then is that the EL conference winner likewise gets a place and whilst it’s easy to laugh at Spurs my guess is that they will qualify for the knockout of the Conference tournament and come the knockout stages they really will be favourites for that tournament.
    In effect it’s possible that no team will qualify for the EL based on PL position
    As for the EL conference again that berth is granted initially based on winning the Carabo Cup and as to who wins that is anyone’s guess

  89. englandsbest

    After 60 years without, I think NUFC fans will show patience. And if any bunch of fans deserve success, it’s them.

  90. Kroenkephobe

    In other news, Donny VD Beek is having a child with none other than DB10’s daughter.

    Unremarkable of course save for the fact that Bergo is gonna be a granddad. How mad is that?

  91. Kroenkephobe

    And if any bunch of fans deserve success, it’s them.

    What? You crap on calling anyone who disagrees with you that they’re not gooners and here you are fluffing up a bunch of deluded perennial failures. Fuck me.

  92. englandsbest

    Another hope I have is that Laca will stay – and I think he might on a two-year extension. Players rarely leave Arsenal willingly.

  93. Emiratesstroller

    The only justification for selling Saliba would be if some club came in and made an offer which we could not refuse.

    That is unlikely to happen least of all in France apart from perhaps PSG.

    As I posted earlier Arsenal need at least three quality CBs on books if we are going to maintain a high level of performance.

    Also what Arsenal need to avoid is an accumulation of too many CBs as we did before when
    we had up to 10 on the books.

    At the moment we have 5 CBs in first team squad including Chambers plus two out on loan
    and another two on the fringes including Ballard.

    Messrs Chambers, Mari, Mavropanos and Ballard are unlikely to make the grade at Arsenal
    and should be offloaded.

  94. englandsbest


    I take it for granted that EVERYONE on here is an Arsenal fan- otherwise why would they be here? It’s just that some are dafter than others.

  95. Terraloon

    Historically they didn’t leave voluntarily but over the last three or four year pretty sure a few couldn’t wait to get out
    Martinez, Ozil, Bellerin to name just three
    Players will chase the money and the glory and not being a managers plans or come to that not being managed well have seen many a player leave

  96. englandsbest


    I could make a case that the three you name – Martinez, Ozil, Bellerin – would have willingly stayed if their demands were met – but I won’t because I exaggerated a little. For example, I think Ray Kennedy joined Liverpool willingly.

    What I do recall is the shock we all felt when Frank Stapleton went to Man U. – but I felt much better when it turned ois wife had rekatives living there.

  97. AFC Forever

    Arsenal is a rebuild job. So players will leave and others will come. As we know, players will be profiled properly because we have a playing identity

    As much as we all want our young players coming through, the reality is we can’t put sentiment before ambition. Next season we are likely to have European football, which means rotation. Saliba will be a better player with experience behind him & strengthens the squad. The conundrum for me is up front. We can’t put sentiment first, it’s an important position.

  98. Emiratesstroller

    Looking further at Arsenal’s CB resources.

    BALLARD is clearly a solid Championship/League 1 player who has represented Northern Ireland. However, he is not rated a EPL standard player let alone someone likely to play in
    our first team.

    MAVROPANOS was at Arsenal for a couple of years, but failed to make a breakthrough primarily due to injuries. I think that is reflected in his low transfer valuation [transfermarkt]
    I think that Arteta and Edu have made final decision that he is not going to make grade with

    CHAMBERS is in final season of current contract. No evidence that he is now getting a regular slot on bench let alone a starting place.

    MARI played in early matches this season and was well short of what is required at top level.

    HOLDING is no longer considered a starting eleven player when White and Gabriel are fit.
    Still considered good enough as replacement and bench player. My view is that if Arsenal
    get an offer which matches our expectations he will be sold.

    RAKIK is playing in U23s but was included in squad for last Carabo game. At 19 has been already selected for Tunisia National Senior Team [second FIFA ranked country in Africa].
    May well be elevated to first team squad in the not too distant future.

  99. Bob N16

    ES, having only seen Ballard playing for Northern Ireland, I can’t personally be a judge but ‘he is not rated an EPL player’ seems a little premature!

  100. Bob N16

    ES – don’t forget Tomyiasu.

    If we sign an additional RB, of a quality that we would be happy to see start then TT could comfortably play CB, a position that he is arguably most suited to, if needed.

  101. AFC Forever


    Key position for me is up front.Aubameyang is 32 now, Lacazette 30 and the reality is our young back-ups haven’t performed near their levels yet. Can Nketiah and Martinelli step in? So we’ll probably buy a tall, athletic, mobile striker who can press and link play. I personally would like someone good in the air because we lack the ability to find that plan b in tight games and mix it up a bit.

  102. Emiratesstroller

    Bob N16

    He is 22 years old and still has no transfer valuation [Transfermarkt]. I think that at least one
    club in EPL would have come in with offer if he was rated good enough to play in top division.

    Has been recruited as Right Back. May be considered Centre Back in an emergency.

  103. AFC Forever


    “Another hope I have is that Laca will stay – and I think he might on a two-year extension. Players rarely leave Arsenal willingly.”

    Me too. It’s not just what he does on the pitch but what he provides for the youngsters around training. By all accounts they look up to and respect him. I love the tenacity he shows, he’s a fighter.

  104. Bob N16

    ES – Tomyiasu has been recruited as a footballer. Clearly he is being selected to play RB but if you’re going to post a list of CBs at AFC then he should be considered as a player who is more than capable in that position.

    Ballard – again you’re making assumptions that may or may not be accurate.

  105. Emiratesstroller

    AFC Forever


    I have suggested many times that Arsenal’s top priority this summer will be the recruitment of a striker to replace Lacazette.

    That will cost us the lion size of any transfer budget if we are ambitious.

    We are not going to spend money on replacing Nketiah if he leaves. Balogun or Martinelli will replace him as third string striker. Aubameyang will stay at club and wind down career
    with us, because no-one is going to pay us a transfer fee for his services.

    The next priority will be a replacement for Leno as second string gk. Leno will be leaving
    almost certainly at end of this season if not earlier.

  106. AFC Forever


    “With the ball, White plays like Franz Beckenbauer..”

    I actually remember Franz Beckenbauer very well, I used to wear his Adidas boots. Bright yellow 3 stripes I remember. Incredible two footed player who would thrive in the modern game. Only defender to win two Ballon d’ors I believe.

  107. Emiratesstroller

    Bob N16

    I repeat Arsenal recruited Tomiyasu to play RB. We have not bought him to play CB.

    Ballard has not been in the frame to play in our first team squad and as I said if he was considered good enough to play in EPL someone would have come in this summer to recruit

    Arsenal will sell him like they did with Bielcyk and Hayden if the right offer comes in for his

  108. Nelson

    The 2024/25 edition of the UEFA Champions League will make up of 36 competing clubs, That is, there are four teams selected based on coefficients points. Those points are gained from participating in the European games in the last four years. Even the Europa Conference League counts. The Carabao Cup winner will qualify for this league. There is another way for us to return to CL football.

  109. Leedsgunner

    Bob N16

    My valuation might be optimistic but £70m for fringe players is nothing to turn up our nose at!

    Enough for a top top young professional that we seem to targeting!