After the events of the past few days, we seem to be floating in calm waters before the proverbial, or as the Americans so colorfully put it, “those few minutes before the shit hits the fan.” Not that I do think much will happen on the ownership front, but I do have to doff my hat (I usually wear a helmet though) at the Russian for his perfect timing. But more on that later. Let’s start things of in chronological order.
I do not intend to rehash the events that have taken place over the last few days; the site itself houses numerous articles that outline the aforementioned happenings in detail. I’m more interested in examining the ripple effects that will be created and what the eventual outcome is going to be. I don’t think any of us expected RVP to stay (the non-signing of the new contract for an extended period of time, kind of gave it away) or believed he would but in our heart of hearts we hoped that he was above the petty trappings of money. To say that he snuffed out that hope in spectacular style would be a gross understatement. It felt like he yanked it out, took a crap on its head before turning it into cinders with a flame-thrower….Smells like ‘team’ spirit, eh?
I know I’m probably going to be getting a lot of stick for the following statements so you can either keep reading, gnash your teeth and come up with some colorful variation of asking me to take my opinions and stick them where the sun doesn’t shine in the comments section or you protect your lady like sensibilities and leave this page in search less controversial waters. There’s a third somewhat unlikely option as well; which is that you start to see things my way and accept me as your new Bergkamp.
Personally I prefer Nasri’s “fuck-you” attitude to the fans or Nick Bent’s abject disrespect towards the coach which makes it perfectly clear that he’s in it for the money and the glory and nothing else. I may never be able to digest it but at least I can comprehend it and see its logic in some twisted way. On the other hand, I find myself unable to stomach this “I’ll-always-love-the-club-&-the-fans” act that Cesc and RVP have integrated into their exit strategies to engineer moves away from the Grove (no doubt artfully directed by the despicable Dein).
Haven’t their mommies taught them that it’s impossible to have your cake and eat it as well? Either you love & value the club enough to stick with it through and thin or you really don’t give a fig. It’s as simple as that. I can also acknowledge that player don’t look at a club through the rose tinted glasses that fans wear, it’s a rather bitter pill to swallow but an essential one at that. Fans invest time, money and emotion into a club that they follow ardently for years even though they may live a million leagues away and may have never set foot in the stadium. Often their (or our) loyalty towards a club borders on an almost frighteningly obsequious insanity. I’m quiet certain that most of you will freely admit that you really wouldn’t care a fig about your employers if they failed to suit your ambitions or fill your exchequers.
Unfortunately (most) players look at “our clubs” the same way.
It’s only a handful of us who are emotionally invested in our companies and would consider sticking with it through thick and thin. I admit that I owe a lot to my present employers for turning me from a full time clown & part time student into a professional. But if I were ever at a juncture wherein my current job failed to align with my future aspirations, a battle would ensue; one between loyalty and ambition/avarice and I’m not proud to admit that loyalty would eventually meet defeat. The reason is simple, as much as I ‘like’ the firm that I work in, I am not sufficiently emotionally invested in it. In short I don’t ‘love’ it. Professional footballers would approach issues with a club in a similar fashion. Celebrating with the fans and hugging the manager is fine as long as the club is “big” enough, once players get too big for their britches, the “adoring” fans and the manager vanish in a puff of red & white smoke.
In a similar vein, some owners too look at the club as merely an instrument of revenue generation. From their actions, it is rather obvious that Stan and his KSE fall into this category as well. The Mancunians piss and moan about the Glazers and their habit of saddling their club with debt, and frankly I’ve never understood the reason behind the whining, Sir Alex gets a decent transfer budget, doesn’t he? Then why complain? Admittedly I’m no expert on economic of clubs and am relatively untutored in the nuances of sports finance.
In the backdrop of the turmoil caused by RVP’s little message and the murmurs of discontent from the gooners, Alisher Usmanov has delivered a piercing jab to KSE in the form of an “open letter to the Board of Directors..” the gist of which is a veiled challenge to KSE to financial war, the spoils being Arsenal FC. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too melodramatic. The Russian makes all the right noises in his letter, questioning the board’s judgment and decisions with respect to Arsenal the football club (not the Arsenal, the ATM). He goes on to make allegations, which if true really doesn’t bode well for the club at all. If (a big one at that) his allegations have a grain of truth, it would mean that we are being run by a bunch of money-grubbing clowns intent on milking the club for all its worth (haven’t we guessed that already?).
The finer points of the letter have probably been discussed in detail already but I’d like to point out one sentence in particular made me guffaw; the second bullet point in the first paragraph. It insinuated that Ivan Gazidis had been sending cold call letters to large companies regarding shirt sponsorship deals and international partnerships with little or no due diligence (detailed business/finance oriented background research, it’s the first step one dabbles in before any project or venture, leave alone something as massive as a sponsorship deal). The company is question was one called “OJSC MegaFon” in which Usmanov seems to have a controlling stake in. Is this the level of ineptitude of the creatures that run the club?!
I’ve always had a soft corner for the blubbering Ivan, who always seemed to be caught between a rock and a hard place be with Wenger & Stan on either shoulder. It suffices to say that I no longer harbor any pity, merely contempt.
No one can accurately predict the exact repercussions of ‘the letter’…. For all we know, the board might just choose to ignore it and try to hide the elephant in the room under the rug. I sometimes wish our gooner brethren in London were not such a luke-warm bunch, a similar situation would have caused riots in Manchester. Perhaps my frustrations are being exacerbated by my inability to support the club actively, being an armchair supporter does have its vices.
As time passes, the unknown angel is starting to look like the far more alluring option, especially when the known (and annoyingly passive) devil is Stan.
P.S I do NOT own that image, google just help me rip some creative chap. All credit to him.