Thursday, November 30, 2023

More on Kroenke + dressing room fight a good thing

The dust is yet to settle after yesterday’s big news. There’s a lot of speculation, a lot of rumour, but the bottom line is nobody knows anything for certain.

In my interview with the AST yesterday we hear that Kroenke will not saddle the club with the debt of the purchase, the Guardian says he ‘could‘. Of course he could, but he says he won’t. We should be cautious of course, but everything thus far suggests he’s a man of his word and he’s never done that with any of the sports clubs he owns. Let’s hope that remains the case.

One source tells you Usmanov might sell his stake to Kroenke, another says he’ll hold onto them to spite the American as revenge for the way the deal went down. Apparently he knew nothing about it, last minute offers to buy Lady Nina’s shares at around £13,000 each were rebuffed. She decided that £116m was an acceptable offer and that the £128m she would have earned if she had sold to Usmanov wasn’t enough to make her go back on her word. Sort of like trying to convince a footballer on £100,000 per week to move for £110,000. Really, how much difference would it make?

If Usmanov holds onto his shares then it ensures a safety net for the many smaller shareholders in the club, fans who want to hold on to the small stake they own and that is a good thing. The fans who own shares do so not for profit but because they want to own a part of something they love and because it provides them with a tangible connection the club and the way its run. I don’t think anybody wants to see the club privately owned, whether it’s Kroenke, Usmanov or anyone else, so regardless of what you think about the Uzbeki his presence is beneficial in that sense.

Whether R&W are offered a place on the board remains to be seen. I suspect it’s extremely unlikely. Relationships between the two sides are not exactly warm and with Kroenke owning a majority share he’s under no pressure to make things any different. The much-talked about return for David Dein is unlikely for the same reason and those who accuse the current board of ‘cashing in’ seem to overlook the fact Dein did just that himself.

That our period without a trophy has coincided with his departure from the club (to an extent) is a straw-man of the worst kind. We haven’t won a trophy since Vieira left. We also haven’t won a trophy since Lauren and Pascal Cygan left. There’s a lot more to it than one man and while you can certainly acknowledge the good things he did for the club surely it’s time we looked forward and moved on from this one.

The other big speculation is that the manager will have more transfer funds at his disposal because of the takeover. Maybe, as a gesture following his taking control, Kroekne might throw some extra cash into the hat, but I don’t know that this is something we ought to expect. If we want him to maintain the current self-sustainable model, that most people agree is the best way for the club to be run, we cannot expect him to dip into his savings like an Abramovich style sugar-daddy. It was amazing to read around yesterday and discover the amount of people who thought Kroenke taking over meant cases of bullion were being delivered to the manager’s office.

The belief already, takeover aside, is that there is a considerable fund for the manager to work with this summer which could be boosted by sales of certain players. Last week, before any ‘takeover’ talk, figures of £40m were being thrown around, and it only took until 11am yesterday for the ‘war-chest’ sweep to be won by Metro. There will be money for the manager to spend this summer and what we have to hope is that in this new era there’s a bit more pressure on Arsene to use what’s available to him to strengthen the team.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that the squad needs to be freshened up. Some of that, I’m sure, will come via youth promotion, and that’s no bad thing, but the youth must be augmented with some real experience and quality which can only come via the transfer market. Given what’s happened, there’ll also be something of an expectation that we’ll spend this summer. A new majority shareholder, a team that could certainly do with issues sorting out, money available, it’s all set up for a busy summer.

Anyway, it’s going to take some time for the intentions of all involved to become clear, no doubt this is a story that will continue to run during the week, but we’ve got to keep our eyes on what’s really important at the moment and that’s the football. I don’t think there’s any danger of the players being affected in any way by this. I’ve never understood how boardroom events could possibly affect what happens on the pitch. As long as players are being paid what difference does it make to them who owns the club?

Moving to football and there are reports this morning of a half-time bust-up between Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby. The Dutchman was furious at Diaby’s needless booking just before the break and let him know it. When you consider the effect Diaby’s sending off had in the Newcastle game then he’s dead right. Had it been a booking for a foul or a mistimed tackle, that’s one thing, but it was for selfishly, idiotically kicking the ball away. It’s worth remembering that his red card against Newcastle was a result of a personal reaction, he fell for a wind-up, and while there might have been mitigating circumstances it was not clever.

To my mind there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a senior player reacting to such stupidity. You can be quite sure a Tony Adams would have had something to say to any teammate who had done something like that so fair play to Robin. Sometimes people need to be reminded of their collective responsibility. Diaby had an excellent game against Blackpool and if he’s been taught a lesson in the dressing room too then all the better.

In some promising injury news it seems that Johan Djourou is back in full training while there’s good news about Wojscez©®. He’s had a scan, the results are good, and he could play against Liverpool this weekend. It would be a real fillip to have them both back for the weekend, the stronger our squad is the better as we go into these final games of the season.

Jack Wilshere on Jens Lehmann:

He was a bit like an assistant manager on the pitch. He was telling us what it is like and was giving a team-talk at half time. He is so passionate, you could see that. He was screaming and shouting at everyone.

Love it. That’s exactly what we need. If its Jens who has got the others so up for it we’re seeing things like the van Persie – Diaby incident then all the better. I also love Jens talking about the task that lies ahead:

Manchester United are only four points ahead of us when we win our game in hand

And that’s just the kind of positive attitude we need to take into the run-in. United have a hectic schedule and while there’s every chance they can build the momentum needed to carry them through we have to be ready to take advantage should they stutter along the way. I don’t think Jens will let anyone’s head drop just yet.

Right, that’s about that. Have yourselves a good Tuesday, back tomorrow with more.

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