Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Football clubs are idiots

In a summer in which anger and exasperation have been the overriding emotions, at least from an Arsenal fan’s point of view, a curious new trend has emerged.

Football clubs, and managers, have been reacting to a normal, everyday part of the business in an increasingly irate way. Club X makes a bid to Club Y for player Z. Club Y responds, very publicly, by letting everyone know how furious they are and how derisory they consider the bid. As if somehow, Club X has overstepped the mark by simply trying to buy the player in the first place.

It’s amusing because Club Y, and their manager, has undoubtedly done the same thing at some point. They’ve made a bid to another club to buy a player that perhaps that club doesn’t want to sell. They’ll have sounded out the player, made a judgement on his market value, and then bid a bit lower than that because, well, that’s how it works.

You don’t think Player Z is worth £10m and then bid £20m just to keep the other club happy. You try and buy him as cheaply as you possibly can. It’s business and it’s part and parcel of football. It has been for years. Nobody is whiter than white. Every club and every manager has done the same thing. Sometimes it unsettles the player, sometimes not so much. Sometimes the club reach amicable agreement, sometimes not so much.

But now, with so much focus on transfers, and the minutiae of deals being played out in public, this new fashion has begun to manifest itself. It now appears as if it’s somehow an insult if another club wants to buy your player. And not just an insult that might make you think twice about dealing with them. No. This is an insult that everyone must know about. AT ONCE!

Newcastle are furious at Arsenal for trying to buy Yohan Cabaye for £6m more than they paid for him 2 years ago. Liverpool were furious at Arsenal for trying to buy prise Suarez away by bidding £1 more than the release clause they thought existed. Should Arsenal have paid £1m, or £5m or £10m just to keep Liverpool happy? Of course not. If Liverpool thought they could buy a player for £10,000,001 why would they, or anyone, chuck away a million pounds to pander to an organisation they don’t care about?

Liverpool’s anger, in some ways, is a bit more understandable because there was misinformation and underhandedness in the way the bid went down, but let’s not kid ourselves that this doesn’t happen in almost every deal anyway. Does anyone need to remind John W Henry about Clint Dempsey? Everton dismissed a Man United bid for Baines and Fellaini as ‘derisory’ and made sure everyone knew about it.

This kind of grandstanding  is ludicrous really. As if the sensibilities of a football club – up there with the least righteous and moral organisations in the world today – are somehow offended by the day to day business in which they’re all involved. Maybe they don’t want to be seen as pushovers in the eyes of their fans who live every moment of every deal, but it’s hard not to just laugh at them at this point.

The same behaviour they’re using Twitter and newspapers to complain about is the same behaviour they’ll be guilty of the next time they try and buy a player. Club X didn’t match your valuation of Player Z? So what? Tell them what that value is, then negotiate. Or don’t. But stop making complete dicks out of yourselves by playing it out in public. We all know you’re hypocrites and chancers anyway, to a man, so give it a rest.

It’s posturing of the worst kind. The ‘hold me back, hold me back’ guy as a bit of a scuffle breaks out and we all know that guy doesn’t want to throw a punch. Just when you thought the whole business of transfers couldn’t get any more pathetic, they’ve found a way. Bravo.

As for our bid for Cabaye, well, he’s a good player but if you’d asked me at the start of the summer if he’d been high up on my list I’m sure my answer would have been ‘nah’. There’s no doubt we need a midfielder, but he seems very similar to the ones we already have. He’s a Ramsey, a Wilshere, a Rosicky. A tidy, ball playing, more attacking than anything else midfielder.

As Villa broke through the centre of our midfield to win the first penalty on Saturday, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in wishing we had Arteta, a Gustavo, or another disciplined holding player who would have been there to prevent that happening, one way or the other. As good as Cabaye is, he doesn’t fit that particular bill. However, it seems churlish to complain that we’re actually after a player considering the summer we’ve had.

The reality is that we’ve reached a point where pretty much anyone, because they have legs and feet and a head, would improve us. So if we can get a deal done for him then grand. If it annoys Alan Pardew in the process, then all the better, and he took no time complaining about the timing of our bid.

“Why they couldn’t give us the respect and honour of waiting until Tuesday morning? It’s beyond me,” he said. Arsenal’s bid was made on Friday. See? More grandstanding and posturing from a man who has undoubtedly done exactly what he complains of Arsenal doing. Perhaps he wasn’t told about it until yesterday, but that’s not an Arsenal problem, it’s a Newcastle one.

In terms of the deal happening – the fact that the Cabaye travelled to Manchester and then was sent back because his head wasn’t right suggests there’s something in the offing there. The other thing to consider is that Newcastle’s Director of Football, Joe Kinnear, and Arsene Wenger are actually good friends. It’s a weird relationship really, especially as Wenger keeps very much to himself with other football people, but they’ve been friends for years. If that has some influence, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Anyway, I am not counting any transfer chickens until they have hatched. One hundred and ninety six times bitten, and all that. We’ve been here before. The links are strong, the will is apparently there on both sides to get something completed, then it goes dead and the player signs for another club. Let’s see if we can actually push this one over the line.

Finally, the team travels to Istanbul today for tomorrow’s Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce. We’ll have team news and any other breaking stories throughout the day over on Arseblog News.

And other finally, the reason why we’ve been trophy-less so long has been uncovered by the inimitable Lepold Mendacious. Read The Eve of Destruction over on the ANR.

Till tomorrow.

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