Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're doomed!

"The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players. We manage at Arsenal to maintain all our football ambitions - national and European - while having to free up - for 17 more years - an annual surplus of £24million to pay for our stadium. The club's strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars and to count on the collective quality of our game."

- Arsene Wenger, News of the World

I can't find the primary source for this quote (it's frightening how much I depend on newsnow for my Arsenal news), so I'm not sure of the veracity of this quote. I'm a bit doubtful because Wenger's never been this blunt before, and everyone's been at pains to highlight our healthy financial state. Even if it's true, it serves no purpose to come out and say it. It's a poorly hidden secret that we're a selling club. But an admission would be an open invitation to Barca to snap up Fabregas next year, to Milan to come after Toure, and to Chelsea to replace Cole with Clichy (although, wouldn't that be a hoot for our dear old Ashley?).

However, you don't score readers with common sense and skepticism. Therefore, I'm going to take this quote as genuine and play along:

It's a very scary prospect for Arsenal. You're punting on achieving a top 4 place with mid-table wages for 17 years, with a procession of players leaving every year. Last year it was Henry. This year it's Flamini, Hleb and Ade. Next year, it's probably Cesc. Now that the genie's out of the bottle, there's absolutely no reason for Cesc to hang around. He's better off going to play under Guardiola (his hero as a kid, remember?) and join a club with really big ambitions.

And we won't be buying more replacements.

Flamini will be replaced with Denilson. Adebayor will be replaced with Bendnter. Hleb will be replaced with Nasri. As far as I can tell, only Nasri is ready to step in, and he'll need half a season to adjust to the rigours of the Premiership. Our thin squad cost us last year, and guess what - it'll be even thinner this year.

I'm Henny Penny and yep, the sky's falling down.

We've been sold a lie by the board and by Wenger. We're not building towards a glorious future. We're building towards a shiny stadium and the prospect of prudent financial stability. It's hardly awe-inspiring stuff, isn't it? Our youngsters might give us the bones for a great side (and it's still likely), but they won't stay for peanuts and the Wenger will ship them on when it's time. This constant state of flux means an unstable side, a thin squad and a perennial 3rd or 4th finish.

Pessimism aside, though, I'd like to know if this quote is real, and if so, why Arsene Wenger decided to say it now. Is it to initiate a bidding war for Ade and Hleb? It's high stakes stuff. Play it wrong, and he's likely to lose van Persie and Fabregas next year.

P.S. Oh, and I noticed that seven people found this site by googling "pink Arsenal blog". Excellent.

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