I’m watching the England game while writing this post. I’ve just seen James Maddison get scissored over with a horrible challenge. I find international football so painful to watch. It’s such a massive risk so early on in the season – Gabriel M went off on 85 last night after an impact injury. Not great.
Gareth Southgate has fully embraced his comfort-blanket stage. He has Jordan Pickford in goal, a man who concedes like a sieve and has never played at a high level. He has Harry McGuire starting, a 31-year-old that was de-captained and hasn’t had a good game in 6 years. Jordan Henderson is still getting game time despite moving to another continent on a retirement contract.
This is a manager out of ideas – and a guy who doesn’t truly believe in high performance. Hopefully the rumors of him exiting after the Euros are true. Need to get us a bit of Pep Guardiola in the mix bringing some of that JdP electricity to international football.
In Arsenal news, Nico Pepe was finally sold, for £2.6m. I’m not sure he’s the worst Arsenal signing of all time, but he’s certainly in the top 3 for disappointment. I just can’t get over how a player can lose 186% of his value. £2.6m fits into £72m about 28 times. This is a disgustingly poor transfer.
Did I speak like that when we did the deal? No way. I thought we’d landed. He was the hottest player in France. The fee was massive, but we needed to do something big.
Little did I know – Lille was up to all sorts of dodgy dealings. A club built to create fees for agents. An exBarca contact there that our guy knew. Rumors that Everton were quoted a much lower price. The whole episode ended up smelling like rotten fish – made all the more painful to stomach because the player didn’t deliver. Napoli signed Oshimen for a massive fee and there are all sorts of problems with that one – but at least they landed a decent player.
Niko felt like the start of a new era, when in fact, it was the start of a horrible run under a disgraceful Football Director who ran the club into the ground, putting agents over club time and time again.
The player wasn’t terrible. He had a lot of output. But he lacked focus and discipline. He was built for counter-attacking football and we didn’t really play that game. Then his confidence went, his output dried up, he tanked at Nice last season, and in the end no one would pony up for a player who couldn’t deliver if the wages were £140k a week.
Trabzonspor have taken him on, I’d not be shocked to hear we were picking up some of his wages, there’s a nominal fee that has been put down… we are finally rid of a weight around our neck.
Still, it’s hard to be mad about anything right now. We kicked out the Football Director. We got Edu on a better track. We hired a world class coach. Now the whole club feels like it’s working towards the right things under a process that bangs.
So the clear-out is basically complete. The only two players left that don’t really hit the level are Mo Elneny and Cedric Soares. Mo will stay around because he’s good for the dressing room and doesn’t pick up much of a salary. We’re also well-equipped in midfield. Cedric might have been exited on a free if we didn’t have so many injuries. But overall, you can give the club a B+ for exiting players, but maybe a D for the fees we landed. Rob Holding for £2m really is poor – he’s worth much more than that.
A lot of this feels like a problem of our own making. Primark will never be able to sell a £1000 trenchcoat – because people associate them with budget clothing. Burberry lost control of their famous print pattern in the 90s and had to build a whole strategy around making it scarce again because the brand was not supposed to be worn by the masses. They went after people peddling fake goods and pulled all their licenses that landed their goods in cheap shops. Sears was a struggling retail brand famous for coupons, a big fancy exec from a tech company came in, tried to upscale the product, and killed the coupon book… big mistake, that wasn’t not what the market wanted, and things went south very fast. Why? Because once people get used to your market positioning, it’s hard to retrain them. We are a discount brand. Arsenal spent a lot of time post-Wenger/Emery giving players away… the market now knows if you wait long enough, you can get a coupon player at the end of the window. We are not in the premium game yet. Liverpool, City, and Chelsea certainly are.
Ok, short one today, listen to the latest podcast. It’s the premium goods. Pay up, right now, be part of the elite. No coupons here baby. x
We talk about Nico Pepe and where we stand on his exit, we discuss the thorny subject of how to criticise players, and we answer 5 Patreon questions in our Q&A.
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— LE GROVE (@LeGrove) September 9, 2023