Més que un club: They’re Assholes

– The picture above is from an event that Cesc Fabregas attended two days ago. It was in his hometown and he told his adoring Spanish fans that he hoped to see them “more often and closer.”

– I’ve stated this as recently as a few days ago. I do not have a problem with Cesc Fabregas wanting to leave. Do I want him to leave? Of course not. Do I understand why he’d want to go home? Of course I do. A great man once said that Cesc’s penalty kick against Barcelona cemented him as an Arsenal legend, even if it was his last kick in an Arsenal shirt. I’d agree with that. He helped keep the club stable and in the Champions League when we could not afford to be major players in the transfer window. That will become apparent in the years to come, when we’ll be financially healthy and winning numerous trophies.

– What do I think happened? I think Barcelona has strung Cesc Fabregas out to dry. Read what Wenger said after the match against AC Milan in the Emirates Cup. “Barcelona gave up a long time ago.” Their actions don’t speak to that of course, with their daily regiment of unsettling Cesc and Arsenal now as routine as a roto-rooter inspection at Captain Caveman’s house.

– Today, Andres Iniesta, World Cup hero himself, appeared on Barcelona television and made his views clear. Of course, this was just a week or two after he stated that Arsenal should be respected. It’s as if they have nothing better to talk about, they only won the first World Cup for Spain.

– Captain Caveman wrote on his blog that he never said the quotes about Cesc and Arsenal, that an English paper fabricated it. Well, given their history of phone-paper sex they’ve conducted, why should I believe him? I’ll never forget the Champions League Final where Thierry was systematically hacked by Captain Caveman, who looks like a deformed Bret Hart, and Rafael Marquez. If they got the yellow cards they deserved, the match could have been very different.

– Next up is the Lionel Messi aka The Fake Argentine aka Barry Bonds. “When a player wants to come, and a club want a player, a deal can always be reached. And I am still confident he will arrive this summer.” Messi should ask his newly elected President how feverishly they’re working to deliver Cesc this summer, cause like I pointed out above, Wenger said they’ve given up. “I think Barcelona have acted in the right way. Yes, of course Barca players have come out and said we want Cesc at the club, but what’s the problem with that? Of course we want him to come home.” Hey Lionel, I’d like to invent a time machine, go back to 1956 and make love to Brigitte Bardot for hours, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Barcelona are broke, they’re desperate, and they’ve lost the battle. They’re playing Real Madrid’s game of using the media to pressure us into a sale. In other words, they’re acting like scumbags. The only way we sell him is if they pay us what Cesc is worth. Because we know this, Cesc will not put in a transfer request and he will play football to his utmost capacity when the season starts. I am not one to think that Cesc will give it less than his all.

– Finally, the cherry on top of the BarcaShit Cake was from their former president Joan Gaspart. He claimed that Wenger wanted to come to Barcelona but Peter Hill-Wood refused to allow that. Well, if I believed this was true, which I don’t, what is the purpose of saying this out loud? If you’re a gentleman, you don’t kiss and tell. Barcelona have a few gentlemen in their ranks, but it’s mostly a pompous club filled with talented, pampered babies. They’re an incredible footballing side, but this current crop have no class. But people always like winners, look how many bandwagon fans the New York Yankees have (I forgive you Emmanuel Eboue, but only you). I’m sure Wenger enjoyed listening to that.

– We’ve ripped Barcelona off before, and we’ll rip them off again when we’re ready. I guess they have a right to be upset at us, Overmars, Petit, Henry, and Hleb in recent memory. You know what those players have in common? They all love Arsenal more than Barcelona.

– Back to Messi for a moment, he also revealed this:

“Cesc told me about his recent chat with Arsene and the respect Cesc has for his current manager is huge. He says Arsene has the best footballing mind in the world, and that he owes the boss everything for the player he is today.”

Do not underestimate what Arsene Wenger means to Cesc Fabregas. Do not take Arsene Wenger for granted. In the rambling pleas for Cesc to return to Barcelona, Messi revealed something that was private and illuminating. It was clearly not an easy decision for Cesc to declare to Arsene that he wanted to leave. He expected Barcelona to make it easy for him by agreeing a fee that he’s worth. Instead, they’ve faxed two offers and conducted a public courtship of him while never seriously wanting to sign him. For his sake and ours, I hope they stump up the 50 million pounds that Cesc is worth and everything can be resolved.

– And if Barcelona can’t come up with the money, what part of FUCK OFF do they not understand?

Arsene Speaks

Arsene’s post match comments were telling. He has said what I have been thinking for weeks. Cesc must make it clear that he is at Arsenal and end the madness.

That alone won’t make Barcelona or Barcelona’s players stop making annoying comments about our captain but it will go a long way to help us all move along, even if only temporarily. Arsene has been fed up with all the chatter but what can he do? “There are a lot of things I don’t master in football and the rumours are one of these things.” He went on to address the tapping up question as well, “They [Barcelona] certainly have a case to answer but it is always the same – how can you prove it?”

So the door remains open for the player to set the record straight. “Cesc has five years to go and that is it…Who can stop the speculation? Only Cesc maybe, I don’t know, maybe not even Cesc.” Quite unsettling!

Common sense says that Xavi, Puyol, and Lerch (with his fucking US navy style buzz cut) should realize that they cannot afford the player. Until such time – and even then there’s no guarantee that we’ll sell – you’d think that they’d go about their business. You’d think that they’d be more worried about the upcoming campaign. Jose Mourinho is not an ordinary manager.

I used to have time for Barcelona. Some great players have worn their colors. They are Real Madrid’s bitter, bitter rival, a status that would endear almost any club to me but that doesn’t make up for acting low-rent and classless.

In other news…

Wilshere’s football instincts were glaring yesterday.
The new signings looked comfortable.
Eboue is to be respected – if Sagna goes down with injury, I won’t fret.
There were no injuries, not that I’ve seen reported anyway.
Wilshere/Frimpong got good experience against Seedorf/Gattuso.
Randall may have given Arsene the green light for a permanent loan.

I was exchanging thoughts with Supah Strikah after the match. He felt that Fabianski might have done better on Pato’s goal. He felt that he didn’t take charge. I commented that it might be harsh to blame him yet I understand the sentiment very well. Let’s be clear. When ever a goal is scored against us, as long as those two clowns are in the nets we will always feel that they could/should have done better. That’s the kind of reputation and support they’ve earned.

Interestingly, Arsene made this point about the goal, “You can’t fault him [Fabianski] for the goal and he did everything else well. The only thing is there wasn’t much command on the free kick. From outside it looked like no-one took charge of the organisation and that’s a little bit down to goalkeeper.” I would add that organisation is also a captain’s job. And it was a bit disappointing to see the taller Djourou mis-time his header and then Vermaelen (captain for the day) beaten to the ball by the admitedlly dangerous Alexandre Pato. Vermaelen can and will do better. Djourou? I’m not so sure.

A fellow Gooner reminded me that he predicted Chamakh would “hit the ground running”. He seems to be settling in nicely. I need to see that, as my confidence is beginning to wane after years of supporting this group unequivocally. The addition of an effective striker is a good thing. Big ups Yardie! You’re right so far.

I just had a vision of Chamakh going nuts when we play Scum, making their shit stadium what Arshavin has done with Anfield. Hopefully our new striker will continue where Bob left off and score against _pur_ for fun, where ever we play them. Having ‘almost signed Rivaldo’ once, now they can claim the same about Luis Fabiano. To compensate for losing out on another Brazilian, Harry Redknapp has bought Anapka, which is a bit baffling. Why do you need another donkey when you’ve got Dawson and King?

So we wait on additional signings as time ticks away. All is not doom and gloom but I’d be really happy if Arsene plugged a few gaping holes. El Cunto said he’d take Friedel. I would too.

Celtic today! The Boss says he’ll play his best side. Oxymoronic since Clown No. 1 will be in goal.

Chat later,
Agent 86

No Surprises

We’ve been prepared for this moment ever since Cesc burst onto the scene and announced himself as a super prospect when he started playing alongside Patrick Vieira in 2004. I had heard a story that before Cesc signed for us at the age of 16 that he begged Barcelona for an opportunity to prove himself and his pleas were rebuffed. Now, I don’t know if that story is true or not, but I don’t remember Barcelona pitching much of a fit when we initially signed him. It’s only after his cerebral brain proved to be old enough to play in one of the top leagues in the world at the age of 18 that Barcelona claimed outrage. Regardless, the fact that Cesc would want to return to Barcelona was never up for debate, it was a matter of when.

– Hopeful Gooners wished upon a star that he would stay until he was 30. Most Gooners might have imagined him leaving to replace an aging Xavi. Pessimistic Gooners thought the date was right around the corner. Having just watched the Arsenal Season Review of last year, the last couple of months probably made Cesc more anxious to leave than ever.

– Consider what happened. We were destroyed by Messi in the Champions League. Fabianski singlehandedly exploded a grenade in our face. Barcelona repeated in La Liga. Spain won the World Cup. Pique and Puyol whispered sweet nothings into his ear for the last three months.

– On a complete side note, the subject of Cesc’s controversial transfer when he arrived at Arsenal was not controversial at all. In England, anybody aged 16 can sign a professional contract with anybody they want. Not all of Barcelona’s famed players come through La Masia at a young age. Puyol was 17 when he joined, Busquets was 17 when he joined, Pedro was 17 when he joined, Jeffren was 16 when he joined, and Messi was 11 when he joined but from a foreign country and mainly came over to enjoy human growth hormone treatment. There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but what is the difference with what we did with Cesc and what Barcelona did with those players? Nothing. So, when they claim that Cesc isn’t worth more than 35 million pounds because they reared him, it’s code talk for “we’re broke”.

– My colleague stated that he wasn’t bothered about Barcelona players talking about their desire for Cesc to join Barcelona. I’d agree with most of that, but I don’t appreciate it when the line is crossed. For me, the line gets crossed when Puyol starts to almost refer to Arsenal as a “prison” and when Xavi says Cesc “deserves better than Arsenal”. The people of New Orleans deserved better. Cesc is being paid 90,000 pounds a week and plays for one of the most glamorous sides in Europe. I don’t mind them talking all the time, but it feels like a systematic ploy to drive the price down. Talk about Cesc all you want, just don’t slander our club. Puyol claims we should “show more class”. Well, Wenger said he wouldn’t complain about Barcelona’s constant stream of Cesc foreplay, classy enough for you? They must all have their separate days in which one of their teammates will talk about Cesc. Keep talking, it’s not as if Wenger is listening.

– Perhaps the thing that really bothers me is that there’s clearly truth behind these words. Cesc does want to leave. There’s no doubting that. His respect for Wenger and the fans are what’s preventing him from going even more public or handing in a transfer request. All we had heard from Cesc is that he had a conversation with Wenger that was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to go through. We can infer all we like, but Wenger is not talking about it. Instead, Arsene is adamant that he’ll stay. Taggart did this two years ago with Cristiano Ronaldo.

– My colleague has also raised the point that this saga has done harm to our team. He’s asked whether or not Cesc will be fully committed and whether or not the other players will fully trust him. It’s a valid thing to consider, but I think once Cesc knows he’s going to stay for the year, he’ll buck up and give it his all. He’s a true professional and he’s not going to sulk; he simply respects Arsenal too much. Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers a few years ago. In his first game, he was booed at Staples. Regardless of that, he played to his full capacity and the team performed so well that he rescinded his trade request and started a run of three consecutive Finals runs culminating in back to back Championships. That saga tested me fully as a sports fan, because that was the same summer that Henry left Arsenal. When the word circulated that Cesc wanted out, I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t crushed.

– As much as we do not want to have an unsettled player on our squad, what is most important to me is establishing a hard line of negotiation. Quite simply, we hold all the cards and Barcelona knows it. Take a club like Lyon for example. Jean-Michel Aulas is amongst the best transfer operators in the business. He extracted 26 million pounds for Michael Essien and 26 million euros for Diarra. Both players stated that they wanted to leave and he still got those fees. To accept anything less than 50 million pounds is an insult. There are only a handful of players who have a higher transfer value than Cesc Fabregas. I do not mind him leaving, but I do mind him leaving for less than he’s worth.

– If that doesn’t happen this summer, then it’ll happen next summer. Something inside me (and this 100% pure speculation) thinks that this may Wenger’s final season. That’s not to suggest the board will fire him. It’s also not to suggest that if he wins, he’ll come back. I just have a feeling that he wants to have his squad together to mount a challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League and that’s why he’s desperate to hold onto Cesc. Let me repeat that I’m just making a guess and that I hope he’ll stay for many more years. But if that was the case, it would signal his intention to go out with a bang.

– Either way, this whole Cesc saga has been a chore. What I know is this. If we don’t get proper value for Cesc, it’s bad for the club. If we sell him for the proper amount, we can replace Cesc (Ozil and Hazard come to mind, not on a one for one basis, but just talented players who are out there). If we keep him for another year, I know that Cesc will be as committed and will want to go to Barcelona with a Premier League medal in his wardrobe; that’ll have to be good enough for now.

Fair?

– Joan Laporta yesterday claimed that a “fair market value” for Cesc is 35 million euros. Sounds like they really want you Cesc. Meanwhile, Barcelona themselves are asking 36 million euros for Yaya Toure, a 27 year old who was virtually a reserve for them last year. They sure have a firm grasp on reality. The ugly side of Barcelona becomes more and more repulsive every day.

– Didier Drogba may miss the World Cup. Michael Essien will miss the World Cup. My distaste for Chelsea excluded, it’s a shame that two of the finest African players will miss the first World Cup in Africa.

– Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand is also out for England. Now that Theo is out of the squad, I could care less about what Fabio Capello does with this group with zero depth. Just watch the United States frustrate them.

Three C’s

– Chamakh. He’s now officially an Arsenal player. He’ll provided needed depth in our forward line. Chamakh was one of the best players in Ligue 1, and that’s not a backhanded compliment. From what I’ve seen, he’s a bit of a link player as well. Granted, his strength is his post play and his leap, but he can play a passing game as well. That may end up being very important for us. I thought one of our crucial flaws last season was the fact that we had nobody who could replace Robin van Persie in our system. I’m not suggesting that Chamakh is a false nine, but he’s probably a better fit for it than Arshavin was.

– Cesc. If Cesc wants to leave, fine. He can go. But as one of the biggest clubs in the world, we cannot settle for less than 45 million pounds in a summer where James Milner may be sold for 30 million pounds. I don’t know what kind of position Barcelona think they have, but it’s very weak. All they have is Cesc’s desire. It’s a good starting point, but they have nothing else. Xavi and Laporta can whine all they want to the press. They have no power. Cesc has four more years, and that’s really the bottom line. Barcelona are 400 million euros in debt. They spent nearly a fifth of that money on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, jettisoning Eto’o (a true warrior and winner) in the process, and Dimytro Chrygrynsky. Not very wise moves, you can conclude. They want to include Hleb as part of a swap deal? Are these jokers kidding?

This whole situation kinda reminds me of when Kobe demanded to be traded from the Lakers. Kobe had only a few teams he wanted to be traded to, and he could veto any trade. On the other hand, the Lakers were only going to trade him if they got a king’s ransom for him. Eventually, the Lakers front office held firm, a young player developed into a key player (Bynum), the team stepped up, and then traded for Pau Gasol. After a run to the NBA Finals, the trade demand was rescinded and it looks like Kobe will finish his career as a Laker. Looking at that, we can view Cesc’s desire in another way. It’s a wake up call. It’s time to see more consistency from our players. It’s time to see Wenger splash the cash he now says he has. Cesc will not take it as far as sulking on a bench if he doesn’t get his transfer to Barcelona. Wenger will have the opportunity to show Cesc that we will win trophies. But let’s make it clear, no player is bigger than the club.

– Champions League Final. I predicted that Inter would knock out Chelsea and Barcelona. I cannot confidently say that they’ll beat Bayern. In fact, I think Bayern will edge it on penalties after they finish 1-1. I just feel as though there’s not much between the two sides, and as Wenger has pointed out, Bayern is “scoring goals for fun”. Keep in mind that Howard Webb is the referee. That means English style refereeing, and that probably favors Mourinho.

Master vs. Pupil. Sneijder and Robben, the Real Madrid rejects. Eto’o’s redemption. The underrated Olic. The Black Italian. Wingers. This game is well worth watching.

There are 2 Sides to Barca – When it Comes to Transfers, They’re Cheap and Ugly

Inter the Future

– The match between Arsenal and Manchester City has been unanimously called dull. Everybody is right. The only thing to take from the match was Robin van Persie’s tackle on Adebayor. The less said about the match the better.

– I don’t know why Manchester City are being allowed to bring in Fulop on emergency loan. Their reserve keeper was fielded against us. Could they not use a reserve goalkeeper to back up Gunnar Nielsen? I don’t get it.

– Who do we want to finish 4th? Truly a nightmare scenario. Do we actually want Sp*rs to finish 4th? Possibly so, if it means keeping Manchester City down. If Manchester City gets Champions League football, they’ll find it easier to sign world class players. They’ll sign good players regardless, but it would be a big step forward for them. If Sp*rs get 4th, it’ll be terrible for us, but imagine the humiliation when they’re knocked out by the champions of Czech Republic. Maybe we want Aston Villa to sneak it, knowing how mediocre a manager O’Neill is. We definitely do not want Liverpool to somehow get 4th, because that would mean they would have beaten Chelsea, and if that’s the case, Manchester United will have won the Premier League. That’s a true nightmare.

– Everybody assumed Inter Milan would be put to the sword by Messi. I knew better. If I’m being honest, we made Barcelona look great. Mourinho would do no such thing. And in the end, his plan was simple. Field two holding midfielders, use Sneijder to provide creativity through the middle, deploy quick wingers to make runs between the full-backs and centre-backs, and rely on the solid defense (with the inspirational Lucio as a pivot point). Furthermore, they kept the pitch dry. Can they hold on against to their lead? Barcelona may score two goals, but I think Inter will also score once. That means Barcelona need to score three or four to win the tie. Messi’s “ascension” to immortality continues here.

– You may not like him, but Jose Mourinho is a winner. He’s proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. If he successfully prevents Barcelona from defending the Champions League at the Bernabeu, he’ll be the Real Madrid manager next year. Guaranteed.

– Following Inter’s blueprint, could we have done the same against Barcelona if we were fully fit? I think we could have, but I still don’t think we would have played that way against Barcelona. Wenger wants to outplay Barcelona, and to get there, we’re going to need to improve a lot.

– It was nice to hear George Boateng condemn Phil Brown for his embarrassing halftime pitch talk way back. English people wrote it off, but that is the kind of thing a megalomanic does. Humiliating your players often leads you nowhere. That’s why Almunia has a “wrist injury,” even though it’s plainly obvious he does not.

– Tony Pulis is furious that information about a fight between the players was leaked out to the public. He’s apparently preparing to ship out ten of the players. A harmonious ship, huh? I can hear him already, “we’re not that kind of team.” Sure.

– I hope Liverpool fields a team of reserves against Chelsea. I would love to see the look on Alex Ferguson’s face when he reads that Damien Plessis is playing instead of Gerrard. That won’t happen though. Regardless, you have to give some credit to Chelsea. They’ve scored an insane amount of goals and have had three games where they’ve scored seven goals. They don’t have much of a style, but they bang them in. You can’t ignore 93 goals in 36 games.

– Check out this goal by Sergio Canales. Stunning. I wish we signed him, but he’s off to Madrid. Bastards.

– To close with a quote by Wenger. “For a while, we were not investing maybe because we had built the stadium, but I think our financial situation is now becoming much stronger and we will be capable to buy the players we need to buy.” There are a few things to point out here. One, it reveals that Wenger was handcuffed by the stadium. Did he complain? No. Did fans still asked for his head. Two, he used the word “need”, which indicates that he sees clear areas that need to be improved. Last, it shows that Wenger understands that next year will be crucial to this team’s development. Another trophyless season will be a big problem, and he knows it. I would love to fast forward a few months and have next season start now. But first, let’s enjoy the Champions League and the World Cup.