Arsenal and a history of mismanagement

As the club is set to lose another star player, who is to blame?

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Ramsey - Should have been sold last summer

The news that Aaron Ramsey is to join Juventus on a free next season was met with mixed reactions. Some were disappointed to lose him, others felt that his absurd new wage packet - four hundred grand a week - meant we could never have kept him. What I hope everyone can recognise, regardless of their views on the man himself, is that the whole situation was terribly mismanaged.

Now, this would be more tolerable were it not something that has come to characterise Arsenal in recent seasons. How many important players have we now lost on frees or been forced to sell due to their refusing to sign new contracts? It’s a list that includes some big names: Ramsey, Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Van Persie, Nasri. Add to that Ozil, who we’ve retained, but only by paying through the nose, and Walcott, who similarly had us over a barrel when given his new deal several years ago.

The Ramsey situation is slightly different from the others, in that it’s the only one where we’ve lost a player on a free. The rest we’ve either held onto at great cost, or flogged, usually below their value, to salvage some cash, and some pride. But what is most concerning about this latest loss is not that Ramsey was an irreplaceable asset, or even that we’ll greatly miss him - personally, I don’t think we will, certainly not if keeping him was going to require us paying anything near what he’s to get in Italy. What’s really worrying is that it shows the club’s management have learnt nothing from the painful experiences of past years, and that, despite Wenger leaving, the incompetence on player retention has continued.

If anything, it’s got worse. At least with the likes of Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain we got either some financial compensation or a replacement player as part of the deal. With Ramsey, we’ve got nothing, because we’ve allowed ourselves to get into a position where the player holds all the cards. Why, if we weren’t going to give Ramsey a new deal, didn’t we sell him last summer? Failing that, why didn’t we flog him in January? Emery has said he doesn’t have any money to spend - surely, then, a bit of extra cash from that sale would have come in handy, even if it only meant a bit more money to spend on loan fees.

When we withdrew the contract we had offered Ramsey, I assumed that he must have upset the management in some way. Perhaps there is something we haven’t been told - some misbehaviour on his part, or a lack of decorum in negotiations. But we’ve had this player for eleven years, and he doesn’t strike me as the type to mess about in that way. Even if he did do something to offend his bosses, we should never have allowed him to get into a position where he had only one year left on his deal. A new contract or a sale should have been organised long before.

It’s hard to know who to blame. One would imagine that when Arsene was at the helm, he had significant input into contracts and sales. He also must be blamed in part for the poor results that drove previous players away. But what the Ramsey saga shows is that the mismanagement accusation cannot be laid solely at Wenger’s feet. There is evidently something wrong at the top of the club that goes beyond the manager.

Ivan Gazidis no doubt had a part to play, though he sometimes seemed more a tool of the owner than an individual with his own agency. But he’s gone now, and yet problems remain - we didn’t sell Ramsey in January, we’ve got Welbeck’s deal running out at the end of the year, and the Ozil situation is far from ideal.

Maybe Ramsey’s loss will give the board the kick up the arse that they need on this issue. But, knowing Stan and his cronies, I highly doubt it. The mismanagement is set to continue; we can only hope Unai can counteract it. Else, we risk suffering again and again from the embarrassment of players running down their deals, holding us to ransom, and carting themselves off to new homes.

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  1. peter wain

    Feb 15, 2019, 07:46 #113226

    As shambolic a performance as you will ever see against a conference side. Where is the organisation where is the passing where is the passion and where is the commitment. Quite how comedy dick keeps his job is hard to understand. Week after week we concede goals .Do we not coach our defenders? Obviously not from the results. We have no decent defender in the club and yet with no money we get in a midfield player on loan? Why? As he only comes on from the bench I cannot see what we are learning from him. We need to get rid of the owner and the manager. As we have no money do we really need a scouting set up? In the next few years all we have to look forward to is relegation at this rate.

  2. John F

    Feb 14, 2019, 20:51 #113225

    Earlier in in the season teams attacked us trying to expose the leaky defence which allowed space for a counter attack which Laca and Auba exploited but now they defend deep and hit us on the counter.We simply do not have good enough players to open up a packed defence apart from Ozil when he can be bothered.Dic k is not helping with his negative team selection s especially against teams like the part timers tonight and he will have to consider playing our own part timer against teams who come to defend as he has not got a good enough alternative.

  3. markymark

    Feb 14, 2019, 20:34 #113224

    I’m going to get a price on Benitez being our manager in 2020. Just got an odd feeling. As Sanllehi has won the corporate battle he’d probably easily replace 1 Spaniard with another . I’ve got s feeling we will be swapping managers every 2 years for the next 5 seasons or so

  4. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 14, 2019, 19:55 #113223

    If David Ornstein is correct at least we now know Ramsey had no intention of staying so why did we not cash in with Juve in January...

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 14, 2019, 19:53 #113222

    Look more and more like a Wenger team week by week. We sent Smith Rowe out on loan and get Suárez inn not sure I get some of the decisions being made just lately.....

  6. markymark

    Feb 14, 2019, 19:50 #113221

    Well we’ll await Kevin’s write up , but that was very very poor and no discussions over transfer budget will obscure that. Unai needs to sort things out quick as social media is going anti. Wenger was able to field 3 years of that but a new guy doesn’t have the reserves in the tank .

  7. John F

    Feb 14, 2019, 15:57 #113220

    It would be a very bad move by the club but I have similar thoughts as Ron on Lacazette.His facial expressions on Saturday reminded me of Henry in his sulk away season when he used to despair at the quality of service he was getting.The club and Lacazette may reach a agreement to cash in. I hate to say this but I have got a horrible feeling very deep down in my gut that the Middlesex Swamp Dwellers might do something in the Champions League this year.

  8. itsRonagain2

    Feb 14, 2019, 13:03 #113219

    True enough Bard but whichever way they look at it, they're going take a big hit on Ozil re his daft wage. Some club would be offering 15 -20 Million tops for him taking into account his wage (though nobody is going to pay him that again surely) and his putrid performances this last 2 years.

  9. peter wain

    Feb 14, 2019, 12:53 #113218

    the trouble is I do not believe the CEO. I did not suggest that the Rams were failing but they building a large new stadium and I bet the yank is using our money to obtain the finance for it. As foe selling Lacca that makes no sense we need to keep out better players and sell the rubbish defenders we have. Anyway we need over £200 million and I do not think we can raise that.

  10. Bard

    Feb 14, 2019, 12:32 #113217

    As own goals go selling Lacca would be in a class of its own after letting Ramsey go for nothing. Surely the need to get rid of Ozil is greater. Still this is Arsenal and the financial chaos as predictable as night follows day. What I will say is that I dont think fan rebellion will be too far away if the club make too many mess ups. I would guess there are a large number of disgruntled Wengerites happy to give the club a bloody nose.

  11. itsRonagain2

    Feb 14, 2019, 10:50 #113216

    i tend to very much agree that one of the better assets will be on the move this Summer and its likely to be Lacazette. There is the deadly combination of his good form, lack of games, clubs limited ambitions and wanting to cash in on assets habitually will likely see him off i think. Hes about the only one who i can think of that would be a desirable target to buy from Arsenal by a bigger club. Our other better players are quality assets in the making ie Guendouzi and Torreira.

  12. markymark

    Feb 14, 2019, 08:50 #113215

    Peter Wain - if you listen to the podcast ( really was good ) you’ll gather that you will find out only a lot later on so we will find out if money is taken out this financial year in 2020. The CEO is saying no plans to take out money so we will see. But look we need to keep balance here. The LA Rams are not failing , they are worth more than Arsenal . We are the poor relations . We are unlikeky to feed the Rams. The 45m transfer budget story doing the rounds is I reckon, preparation for the news that we will make a big sale to therefore provide 100m. It’s the only way they can now generate cash after the disaster of Ivan and the top economist Wenger wiping out our poetential asset growth So prepare for Lacazette going.

  13. peter wain

    Feb 14, 2019, 08:40 #113214

    Whilst it is true that the past few years have shown a lack of managerial intelligence which is staggering the Yank is only interested in Arsenal as a means to fund his other failing sporting enterprises. As the club is now private we will never know how much of our money has been syphoned off to pay for the LA Rams stadium or any of the other poorly run franchises that the yank owns. One thing for certain is that Kroenke is not a fit and proper person to own our club and the FA should have done something about the take over. The Yank has not invested any of his own money in Arsenal not contributed to any transfer fund and has no interest in the fans. He wanted Arsenal as a cash cow and we are now paying the price. Sky high season ticket prices matched only by less than top quality players purchased in the transfer market. This culminating in getting the new manager to say we cannot purchase any one in the January transfer window. For the next transfer window we are getting £45 million. As we need a new back four and goalkeeper that's not going to go far. At this rate it will take 10 transfer windows to replace all of the players who need replacing not to mention revitalising the youth set up. Yes we can blame Gazidis but ultimately the only true person to blame is Kroenke - forget managers its the owner who determines the size of the transfer pot and how many we buy. Who we buy is down to the manager. Our owner has shown himself to be a cheapskate happy to settle for second best but equally happy to fleece fans with high season ticket prices. Forget the top four we should all be worried of how we avoid the bottom four in the seasons to come.

  14. mbg

    Feb 13, 2019, 22:59 #113213

    So wingwang has come out from under his rock to tell us all he tried to sign Jadon Sancho, so another one of the many that he has missed out on, i wonder why, if true the lad had a fookin lucky escape.

  15. mbg

    Feb 13, 2019, 17:23 #113211

    Who is to blame ? Well when did all this start ? When did someone stert running the club as if it was his, Mismanagement, buying shyte players and paying them mega salaries, sticking by them and waiting for them to come good when it was obvious to everyone they were second third raters, renewing their contracts with raises, alowing what decent players we had run down their contracts, not taking advice, not being told what to do, doing it his way regardless of the consquences the list is endless. We're now suffering the consquences.

  16. Bard

    Feb 13, 2019, 16:00 #113210

    Interesting set of posts and a good article. My view is that the clubs will have to find a different way forward. There isnt much doubt that there is mismanagement at Arsenal which is why Ivan jumped ship and to avoid the flack but there is a general issue of managing contracts. If a player signs for 3/4 years and does well, another contract could be presented after 2 years. If he signs it all well and good if doesnt sell him. If he sits tight, let him spend the remaining years of his contract playing in the reserves. Im all for players getting the most they can but you cant have the players running the club, its a recipe for disaster. Arsenal's current crisis is caused by weakness and a lack of foresight. Its for another time but I think the mega transfers will be over soon because they arent value for money.

  17. GoonerRon

    Feb 13, 2019, 15:07 #113209

    This does seem to happen to Arsenal more than other teams so there probably is a strategic/operational failing somewhere. That said, agents of high quality players are wise to the fact that (a) clubs get jittery when a player goes beyond 2 years left on their contract and (b) get to 1 year left and the chance of a lucrative bosman / cut price & high salary deal with 6 months left is possible. Ramsey isn’t a good example as we pulled the contract renewal (which isn’t common and highlights a state of flux caused by manager / board room changes in the same summer), but take Hazard at Chelsea who will have 12 months left in the summer. Last summer with 2 years left, he’s easily Chelsea’s best player, has been there ages, had a tough season last year, entering his peak years, probably thinks he can do better, has lots of ‘supporter credit’ in the bank and isn’t minded to definitely sign a new deal. All the football pundits will naively say sign him to a new deal or sell him. Firstly, if Chelsea announced he was up for sale their negotiating position is weakened and they can’t sell him unless they have a replacement lined up as it would cause uproar (and his replacement isn’t easy to find, if at all). Meanwhile, his agent is making all the right noises about signing a new deal imminently, then uses delay tactics until a point where he’s had a great half season and is into his last 18 months. Chelsea could never countenance a sale in January when they’ve got cup finals and a massive fight for top 4 on their hands so it will probably get to the summer and the last year of his contract. Suddenly, his market value is probably £50m less than last summer, most of which will find its way into his signing on fee / salary / agent’s pocket if he leaves. Stick it out for the last season and Chelsea fans probably won’t get on his back and he will walk into a contract worth £100-120m at a bigger club. Even for a very wealthy footballer that is life changing, head-turning money.

  18. TonyEvans

    Feb 13, 2019, 15:03 #113208

    Hi Ron - all a far cry from how it used to be when you read of Gordon Banks (RIP) selling his world cup medal. Gone too far the other way now hasn't it.

  19. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 13, 2019, 14:47 #113207

    Credit to Ramsey for keeping his head down and playing when asked .Lets be honest his wages are so high at Juve due to no fee being paid for him no different to when we signed Sol from the scum ! What i don't understand is if the manager did not want him why play him and if the papers were to be believed why not take the 10 mill that Juve supposedly offered to take him in January !

  20. itsRonagain2

    Feb 13, 2019, 14:16 #113206

    Tony - Henry was an eg close to home. He chose to stay knowing he was off to Barca and club knew he was off too knowing that they have to then buy him. Both parties, ie club and player looked after Arsenal. For all we know, Ramsey didnt want to but we do know that there was a contract on the table and it was ripped up by Arsenal. He may have taken a giant hump over that but made sure he carried on playing decent so to impress Juve. Credit to him really.

  21. itsRonagain2

    Feb 13, 2019, 14:08 #113205

    Hi Tony - im sure they can run them down. If a contact is fixed term and players decides from day 1 hes going to leave at the end of it whos to say he cant? The club likes to get the player to renew well before the end but in the main, its to protect them so they can sell while the contract is 'alive' and demand a fee. Often the player knows this and plays the game with them, knowing hes leaving for a better contract else where. Perhaps Arsenal were lax in doing this or perhaps they had reason not to do so? We ll never know mate. Bosman stopped clubs holding onto a players registration after the contract had ended and still getting a fee before allowing him to leave even though player had served his time and the club held nothing to sell. It was like being able to sell a leasehold house when the 99 years lease had already expired. Its amazing how clubs got away with it for so long as contractually it never stood up legally. This is why club dash to the negotiating table half way through a lucrative contract. Its not really because they're that bothered about keeping the player at the end of it, its about being able to sell him on for cash. Once renewed said player and club crow about loyalty and how pleased they are that players loves the club and is staying for another 5 yrs etc etc when half the time they know its all rubbish and said player and club cant wait to sell and move on. The fans swallow it wholesale though. player hers hero worshipped and the club chief exec gets all the plaudits for a while. Once hes then sold with a few yrs still on the newly renewed contract they again dress it up for the fans to make it sound like the sale was inevitable and that the reason to allow him to go are all persuasive and so on plus the club can get a new player in better suited to the new coach etc etc.

  22. TonyEvans

    Feb 13, 2019, 13:49 #113204

    Hi Ron - true what you say; all of us on the outside can only speculate can't we. The Bosman ruling though surely should have acted to sharpen the minds of management not to let a player get to the last six months of his contract? Can players choose to run down their contracts even if clubs wish to move them on to secure a transfer fee?

  23. itsRonagain2

    Feb 13, 2019, 13:25 #113203

    Hi Tony - likely very true, but what if the truth of the matter is that the player, any player, chooses to run down the contract? Since Bosman, the players rule. This is only ever looked at as a critique of the management isnt it. The player holds the aces. The club can only take a horse to water, it cant make it drink. The only time it can work for both is when a club says to player, 'sign here' and nudges and winks to him that if a better offer comes in said club will allow the player to go. For all we know, there may be a lot thats gone on of which we re not aware of. The contract issues these days for footballers is very complex and there are so many involved all pulling for their piece of the action, agents, personal sponsors etc etc.

  24. peter wain

    Feb 13, 2019, 12:58 #113202

    A sorry statement of gross mismanagement which has been repeated time and time again. How can we expect to be considered a big club when our best players leave on free transfers. Worse still our budget this year is a paltry £45 million or half a van dyke. Hello yank but we need a complete back four put a 2 in front of out 45 million and we might be able to get the players in we need. Otherwise we are not competing for the title or the top four only the Europa.

  25. TonyEvans

    Feb 13, 2019, 12:29 #113201

    I can't argue with the thrust of this article. Ramsey was allowed to run down his contract - just like so many others, and that is mismanagement for me - pure and simple. Result is Arsenal lose somewhere in the region of £40M or £50M at a time when we need all the money for transfers we can get.

  26. itsRonagain2

    Feb 13, 2019, 11:44 #113200

    Don has summed it up to a tee. Yes, theyve lost some money but Ramsey isnt worth what he wanted. All of a sudden Ramsey is being portrayed as the equivalent to Pirlo! Its just a stick to beat the club with by muppets like Merson and his crew in that f----ing SKY studio. Good luck to him of course but in a prem league context hes no loss. Credit Emery for aborting the intended original contract agreement.

  27. Don Howe

    Feb 13, 2019, 10:55 #113199

    I’m not sure that anyone is to blame. The player clearly wanted an obscene amount of money and we have wasted our budget on Ozil. Hopefully Brexit will enable us to legislate out of Bosman and get a wage ceiling. It will mean few foreign stars but that’s no loss. Ramsey is one or two degrees above average. If juve want to waste their dosh then good. That said I wish him well. There have been some superb performances amid the dross when he couldn’t be bothered.