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Thursday 11 August 2011

Fabregas deal close (to Barca - according to the Beeb)

....and I for one am delighted

Sure I don't ever want to lose our best players, but clinging on to him at this stage is ridiculous, when he and everyone else has made it so patently obvious he wants to return to Barca.

And I'd hate to have started the season, with the unavoidable dampener on team spirit of having our bloomin' club captain wanting away. Thanks for the memories Fab, now f**k off on the double and let us get on with it. And let him learn from his own misadventures, in the same way so many other players who've left the club, that the grass is rarely greener when you leave the Gunners!

In the words of Kevin Keegan, myself "I would love it" if we ended up playing and beating Barca this season :-)

The interesting thing if / when the deal gets done, will be to see quite how much of a snowball effect the transfer has, on the business we and other clubs end up doing as a result. With Chelsea still trying to prize Modric away from the obvious allure of war torn Tottenham (offering Benayoun in exchange), I rather suspect (hope!) there's still plenty of player movement to come - not that it's our midfield which is in most urgent need of bolstering, but it would be amusing if Modric was waiting for us to hijack his move (both pilfering Spurs biggest talent and for once, for us to gazump Chelsea!).

As for Nasri, Gazides went into the question of contracts coming to their end at the AISA Q & A the other night. He refused to speak in specific terms about Samir, for obvious reasons, but he made a point of trying to explain the situation in general terms.

I hope I got the gist of what he said and if not, hopefully others who were there will put me right, but I think he was making the point that contrary to popular opinion, where supposedly a well run club would ensure that none of their playing staff ever reached a point where their contract has less than a year to run, (according to Ivan) the truth of the matter is the exact opposite because if contracts were instantly renewed the moment expiration loomed, this would involve clubs acceding to the players every demand.

Therefore, by implication, I guess we can assume that Samir's contract was not renewed sooner because he's been holding a gun to the club's head, demanding more than the Gunners are prepared to pay and I guess this soon develops into a metaphorical game of poker, involving bluff and counter bluff between the Arsenal and Samir's agent, as he threatens to advise his client to let his contract expire, so he can walk away for free (and I guess grab a massive signing on fee because his new employers have no avoided paying millions in transfer fees - a la Anelka at Chelsea and I imagine many others angling for a Bosman type payday), while the Gunners are forced to play "softly, softly catchy monkey" as we try to encourage him to re-sign a new contract, while ensuring that the extortionate amount required for us to be able to "call" is no more than absolutely necessary.

I might not like it one bit, but looking at the situation from Samir's shoes, I suppose his self-interest is perfectly understandable. I have to admit that I don't keep abreast of all the gossip, so I've no idea if Nasri has non-footballing reasons for wanting to engineer a move. But from a purely economic perspective, with Samir just about at his peak, in terms of the sort of value he can command, especially when you think that if he signs a five year deal, I believe he's going to be pushing 30 when it expires. As a result, I can just picture his agent bending his ear, pointing out how crucial his next deal is, as he's never again going to be in such a financially advantageous position and how he needs to make the very most of it because in the fleeting world of football, he could snap a cruciate tomorrow!

Moreover, we can only imagine the sort of riches being promised to him, by way of signing on fees, bonuses etc should he be allowed to walk away for free when his contract expires

While I haven't the slightest evidence and therefore it's pure conjecture on my part, I rather suspect that if money wasn't a factor, Samir wouldn't be in any hurry to leave the Arsenal and who knows, perhaps, to the contrary, from a purely footballing perspective there's no other club he'd rather be playing for? Mind you, I know we might all feel this way, but without the emotional attachment to the Gunners, one might wonder why anyone would choose to play in the frenetic physical environs of the Premiership, when one had the choice of being involved in perhaps a third of the same amount of games, spending the remainder of the time with your feet up on the bench, in sunnier climes and with those games you were involved in being far less bruising. Not to mention not having to be plagued by tabloid paparazzi and taxed to the hilt. For many it would be a no-brainer!

Meanwhile from my own purely selfish point of view, I'm grateful that the authorities appear to have "manned up" sufficiently to have seemingly put the lid on the spread of trouble. With flights and two nights in a Tyneside hotel booked (because of not being able to get back that same night), it would've been an expensive business if Saturday's fixture had been postponed. I called the hotel this morning, to confirm their cancellation policy and according to the laws of Sod & Murphy, I could cancel up until 9am tomorrow, Thursday morning, without charge, while obviously the decision about whether to postpone will be made soon after!

Hopefully the fact that the rioters seem to have thought better than to return to the streets and risk a battering so far tonight, will mean that there will be no question of our game not going ahead at St Jsmes Park. I'm told that the police were suggesting that whether the matches would take place was just a matter of manpower and whether they'd be able to meet the standard criteria of policing according to the policy resulting from the Taylor Report. Although I couldn't help but think that if the atmosphere around the country had remained at boiling point, the authorities might've been glad of any excuse to prevent crowds congregating in such large numbers and to have to stretch resources even further, trying to police them.

But at the end of the day, I fancy the situation would have to have been pretty desperate to cancel the entire football schedule, as what sort of message would this be sending out to the rest of the world, other than the very public admittance of their complete loss of control.

I've already committed myself to going up to the North-East for work on Friday, in an effort to ensure that I get reimbursed for a share of the costs (a very rare opportunity of providential synchronicity between work and football - when normally it would be more likely that I'd be required on Tyneside for work only days before or after the Gunners are in Toon!). But if it wasn't for the footie, I could've travelled there and back on the same day, instead of stopping up North for a couple of nights and considering the amount of effort and expense involved, the very least I expect is not to have to feel that some of the XI in Red & White are only their under protest!

Nevertheless so long as we can rest assured on the turn out of the vast majority of the Gunners best XI, we've little reason to fear anyone and what's more, things could be a whole lot worse. Watching events in the Championship on Saturday, I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for Hammers fans. Obviously as one of the newly relegated teams, the Irons are amongst the favourites for promotion, but if there was anything proved by that recent documentary on the telly, where they feigned interest in buying Championship clubs with Fergie's best Orizontal pal and man of the match fixer Brian Robson, it wasn't just the farcically lax ownership regulations and the fiasco that is the "fit and proper" test; apart from leaving plenty of egg on ol' Red Nose's face, for me it basically highlighted how every half-arsed millionaire "businessman" and his mate sees ownership of a Championship club and the prospect of promotion as a route to personal glory in the Premiership.

So for every West Ham, Birmingham, Blackpool looking to bounce straight back, while having to cut their cloth according to their reduced means, there's a Leicester, Ipswich and Cardiff investing greedily on the gamble of grabbing themselves a slice of Premiership pie and the Championship has rarely looked like being quite so competitive. Moreover, with plenty of guaranteed, good old-fashioned ding-dongs in encounters with the likes of Leeds, Forest, Derby etc it's going to be no easy ride back to the Premiership's glamorous pedestal. Who'd be big fat Sam, trying to inspire with a teamtalk when all his best players are so publicly being touted on the transfer market and might be out the door before the final whistle blows. And who'd be an Irons fan, singing the names of players who wouldn't be seen for East London dust, if there was the slightest hint of an acceptable offer which might offer them an encore on the big stage!

While we Gooners are sitting here, tearing what's left of our hair out at AW's apparent failure (to date!) to address our defensive inadequacies, we shouldn't forget to count our blessings....for they are many

Keep the faith