Arsecast

New deals for Jack and others; Usmanov and Henry; Arsecast 259

Morning to you, welcome to Friday and although there’s still all kinds of misery stalking the corridors, we can start with some good news.

Jack Wilshere is close to agreeing a new deal with the club, which should make everyone happy. So too is Aaron Ramsey, which will bother some, but I can see why it’s happening. Those two are not the only ones in discussions with the club. Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in talks to tie their futures down for seasons to come, while Carl Jenkinson’s new deal still hasn’t been announced but has been done and dusted for some time.

It’s clear the club are trying to ensure that the core of young, British players at the club stay together, and hopefully grow together, and Wilshere’s deal in particular will reflect his talent, potential and that he’s seen as a key component of the team for the years ahead. It also shows that when there’s a will on both sides to get deals done they can be done with the minimum of fuss. It might be a little bit before the announcements are made, but it’s good to know that behind the scenes we’re avoiding situations like the one we’ve found ourselves in with players like Na$ti, the Dutch Skunk and Theo Walcott.

I understand some people having reservations about Ramsey, for example, but the manager must see potential for him to improve and become the player they thought he would be when he signed from Cardiff. And look, even if he doesn’t fulfill that potential, it means that should we decide to sell then we’re in a much stronger position than we would have been and there’s no chance of him winding down and leaving on a Bosman. It’s an unfortunate fact of football these days that clubs have to think so far ahead but it’s a reality.

A player with two years left on his deal starts to find he holds more and more of the cards, so clubs have to tie these players down to longer deals even when it might be more reasonable to wait. Such is life and it’s not something that affects Arsenal uniquely. It’s funny to note that one of the players we’ve been linked heavily with for a January move, Klass Jan Huntelaar, will soon be in the final 6 months of his Schalke deal. It’s probably part of what makes him attractive to us, but also an indication that other clubs have live with players who want to wind down and move on.

Anyway, I think it’s decent news in general and we could certainly use some of that this week. Meanwhile, Alisher Usmanov and Thierry Henry have been hanging out, and the club’s second largest shareholder says:

There are a few players with whom I am in contact. My favourite is probably Thierry Henry. Thierry should be involved at the club but not as a player. He has another role to play, a more important role.

Take the example of Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but he is helping another club. We have to avoid that with Thierry.

The presence of a champion can radically change the soul of a team. That’s what Thierry showed last year.

Ok, so first things first. I’m not sure that Thierry radically changed the soul of the team last season. We had that wonderful moment when he scored against Leeds and there was the late winner at Sunderland, but beyond that his impact on the team itself was negligible (bar the almost weekly stories from one player or another about how having him in the dressing room was brilliant and stuff).

And Patrick Vieira was a great Arsenal player, but also a great player for Juventus and for Inter and would have been a great player for Real Madrid if he’d been allowed his way each summer. It’s just populist guff from Usmanov, which is exactly what you’d expect. It’s almost impossible to say the wrong thing from the sidelines when you’re not held accountable for anything.

And let me make it clear: my dislike of Usmanov is not because I’m a fan of Stan. Frankly, both of them are about as appealing to me as pig-shit pie topped with pus gravy and a side of crunchy tramp’s feet scabs, but Henry being wined and dined by the Uzbek as he’s on the verge of another January comeback makes me feel rather uneasy.

It’s just all a bit grotty and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder if Henry’s interest in returning is purely for footballing reasons or if this all part of something bigger. The conflation of footballers and club politics is never a good thing in my opinion and that’s exactly what we have here. One of the papers this morning said that was the first tacit acceptance of Usmanov by a senior figure at the club. Amazing. Thierry Henry is a legend as an ex-player but that’s what he is, an ex-player who now plays for New York Red Bulls. He’s not a senior figure at the club.

Yet Henry’s best mate and agent is Darren Dein, agent to [insert name of player who has recently left here: _________ ], son of David, who brought Kroenke to the club and then when that didn’t work out sold his £75m worth of shares to Red & White / Usmanov and here we are. The club is going through a difficult period, for many reasons which we’ve gone into time and again, and if anyone thinks the timing of this story is coincidental then they need to take their head out of the sand.

Whatever your thoughts about the current owner, or Usmanov, I have to say the whole situation is horrible and unseemly, and that Arsenal Football Club is the thing in the middle as two billionaires play a game of silent, corpulent tug-of-war makes me sick. And if someone like Thierry Henry is loitering, ready to jump in and tug for one side or the other then I really fear for the future.

Right, onto this week’s Arsecast and given the nature of Tuesday night’s defeat, on top of everything else, I thought it’d be good to have a round-table discussion about as much of it as possible. Joining me to go over Bradford, Arsene Wenger, January and beyond are Goonerholic, Gunnerblog and Arse2Mouse. It’s quite lengthy so make a cuppa. And grab a biscuit. There are, unfortunately, a few issues with the sound in places but obviously that’s all the fault of Arsene Wenger too.

Also, it’s the final 24 hours for you to get the 10% discount from my good friends at Savile Rogue. If you’re doing some Christmas shopping (and remember: they’ve got scarves, slipper socks, hip-flasks, gloves, prints and more), use the code ARSEBLOG12 at check-out to get 10% off any order. The discount stops on Dec 15th though, so get busy.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 30mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

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Right, that’s that. It’s a miserable morning in Dublin but there’s a Direwolf that needs to go out. News from Arsene’s press conference over on Arseblog News, back here tomorrow (at some point, it might be late, you have been warned).

Tim Stillman 2012-13
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Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Writer, podcaster, ace flintknapper, sluggish centre-half. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.