11.20 – Arsene Wenger is worried that the French players will come back for pre-season training feeling bad and upset over their World Cup exit. The players that won the double are going to suffer a World Cup hangover? If they’d got to the final and lost, then you might understand a certain amount of post-tournament stress disorder (that’s a brand new disorder you know), but the fact is, they’ve had much longer holidays than they would have expected, and they should come back fit, rested and raring to go.
If Wiltord hasn’t scored 15 goals by the end of September, I’m going to give him such a reverse-cripplectomy he won’t know what’s hit him.
It really is the quietest summer I can ever remember for transfers, with clubs worried about the money in the game. Over the last few years, big clubs have overspent, and are now faced with depreciating assets who are costing them a fortune in wages. Real Madrid only cleared their debts with the controversial sale of their training ground to the local government, Lazio spent like they had won the lottery and now have a wage bill of £98m per year, and look at Fiorentina, who a couple of years ago knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League, but are now bankrupt and playing football in Serie B.
On a lighter note though, Chelsea are said to be nearly £80m in the red, have had to pull out of two transfer deals because they can’t afford them and have put their best player, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on the market at £20m. Couldn’t happen to a nicer club and one can only hope Ken Bates ends up some kind of medieval pauper begging for alms up and down Kensington High Street.
I suppose Arsenal fans should be glad that Arsene Wenger has never spent crazy money on players. Last summer saw an outlay of £25m that brought Sol Campbell, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright and Giovanni van Bronckhorst to the club. Alex Ferguson spent £28.5m on misfit Veron. That says a lot.
The main beneficiaries of this transfer freeze could well be the younger players at the top clubs. Previously there has been a reluctance on the part of big clubs to bring young players though, preferring to buy established talent instead. Say what you want about Man Utd’s supposedly brilliant youth policy, but they haven’t produced a decent player since the Scholes – Butt – Beckham – Neville class broke through in 1995 (?).
Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal and inherited a shambles where there should have been a youth academy. With Liam Brady and Don Howe he has created a top class facility for young players, who may not make it at Arsenal, but will have had a first class football education that will stand them in good stead in their careers. The potential of players like Pennant, Aliardiere, Barrett, Sidwell, Volz, Halls, and Stuart Taylor is evident, and wouldn’t it be sweet to see an Arsenal team containing one or two of these players win something this season?
But then, “…you’ll never win anything with kids”.
Lastly for today, please check out this new Freddie Ljungberg fan site. It’s quite literally full of Freddie goodness, go visit.