The London club keep backing away from taking the financial plunge and no player at his peak would commit to such a project
Congratulations to the Spurs supporter who produced the first laugh of the new season by tweeting that while André Villas-Boas may not have been an overwhelming favourite for the managerial vacancy at White Hart Lane, he will get a fair chance so long as he promises not to turn up in his famous blue raincoat. Oh, come on. It is early July and Arsenal's best player has just refused a contract extension, it must be the start of the football season. The tennis is nearly finished, the cricket never seemed to get started and don't even mention the summer, so the change in Robin van Persie's attitude is as good a means as any of delineating the transition. Last season is now in the history books and the challenges of the forthcoming Premier League campaign are already starting to be faced.
Arsenal have been quite useful at performing this hourglass function in recent years, even though they always manage to sound surprised when a key player informs them the sand has run out for the last time and he would like to do something more exciting with his career than simply be turned round in order to watch the whole unsatisfactory process begin again. Like Cesc Fábregas before him, Van Persie is now being called greedy and disloyal. Yet even before the major shareholders began squabbling among themselves it was clear to most that the fault in the Arsenal model lies higher up the hierarchy. As predictably as an hourglass, Arsenal finish each season on empty. Fair enough, they do not have the financial clout to compete directly with Manchester City or Chelsea but neither do Manchester United and they have not gone anything like seven years without a trophy.
Were Van Persie to join United, instead of following the money trail to their neighbours, it would leave Arsenal with much more awkward explaining to do than when Fábregas said his goodbyes for Barcelona. The same would be true were Van Persie to choose Juventus, another club of broadly similar standing to Arsenal but one that has managed to win prizes on a less than lavish budget. Van Persie's head may yet be turned by the wages on offer at City or elsewhere, though his restlessness does not appear to be primarily motivated by avarice.
This is a development, after all, that has been feared for some time, so much so that Arsenal's protestations are at best inadequate, at worst disingenuous. They hate being described as a nursery or selling club, yet their transactions with Manchester City alone suggest that is true.
They understand that major trophies are harder to come by these days and success can only be achieved by holding on to their best players – anyone could tell them that – but have consistently backed away from taking the financial plunge that aspiring to the top tier now represents. That may make them prudent, sane, realistic, admirable and a host of other worthy adjectives but it also makes them stand still and no sportsman at the top of his game would commit his future to such a project.
As fellow investors now appear to be telling Stan Kroenke, Arsenal face a bleak choice. They either up their game and try to make themselves top dogs in London again, pitting their pockets against the rather deeper ones at Chelsea, or they become the Everton of the south and accept that prizes have been priced out of their reach. That is a tough call but their present halfway house solution only presents their leading players with tough calls. After Fábregas and Van Persie, presumably, it will be make-your-mind-up time for Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. "Where are the safeguards," asked Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri in their letter to Kroenke, "to ensure that this doesn't happen again and again?"
It already is happening again and again. Chelsea switched manager mid‑campaign last season yet still managed to beat Arsenal in the unofficial race to bring the European Cup to the capital for the first time, so all the stability and long-term planning that Arsène Wenger's patient approach is supposed to bring has been gazumped too. London as a whole was eclipsed by Manchester on the domestic front last season, only for Chelsea under a caretaker manager to pull off the season's real stunner, not just winning the Champions League but removing Barcelona along the way.
That changes things, even if Chelsea's owner seems slightly reluctant to swing the full weight of his financial backing behind Roberto di Matteo. The pattern for the Premier League season is being established well in advance of the games actually starting. Both Manchester clubs will expect to remain in the top four, probably in the top two, and neither will have any compunction about stripping Arsenal of an asset to do so. Van Persie would most likely be a much more influential capture than Samir Nasri was for City last year and, though United would have to break their wage ceiling to seal the deal, they can easily afford the £20m or so Arsenal would demand and may even propose a part-exchange involving Dimitar Berbatov. Such a fee would be nothing to City either but they will fall foul of financial fair play rules if they cannot off-load a few strikers before buying new ones. They are unlikely to offer a swap deal involving Emmanuel Adebayor.
With Villas-Boas now busily recruiting at Tottenham, and unsurprisingly being linked with the excellent João Moutinho, Arsenal are just one of three London teams chasing two Champions League places. Roberto Di Matteo, Villas-Boas and Wenger realise perfectly well that to finish fifth is to fail. Wenger is unaccustomed to finishing fifth; whatever else is said about him he has steered a profitable Champions League course over the years. But he must envy his younger rivals the free hand that comes with newness and a degree of success. Losing Van Persie this summer would see Wenger fighting with a hand tied behind his back.
Platini deserves credit for low-tech stance
Clive James used to say that the minute he found himself agreeing with Jane Fonda on anything he would automatically re-evaluate his position. Many people feel exactly the same about Michel Platini, although unless you happen to be a Uefa blazer-wearer the chances of occupying the same wavelength are fairly slim.
Or at least they were. Le Président seems to be fighting the good fight – albeit a losing one – against goalline technology. When he said: "I am against technology itself because it will invade every single area of football," it was a passionate declaration worthy of applause.
The game is about to sacrifice its greatest virtue – simplicity – over concerns that only affect a minority of results and in most cases could be swiftly resolved by asking the fourth official to view a television monitor. Just utilise the equipment that is already available, the cameras used to highlight issues in the first place, and keep technology off the pitch. Read More
انسخ الكود التالى و ضعه فى موقعك او مدونتك.