Arsenal News
Arsenal News

Arsenal News


Sorry Alex, you just never made it

When it comes to understanding the game, knowing exactly HOW it should be played, Arsene Wenger is your man. So when Alex Hleb starts questioning the wisdom of his coach, you have to wonder whether Belarussian vodka has gone to his head.

Hleb's comments this morning are laughable. For two years we watched glimpses of sublime skill mixed with a lack of footballing intelligence from the Belarussian which meant that, more often than not, he passed when it was easier to score, or fluffed his chance when it came his way.

Only last season did we see more of the player Wenger would have wanted him to be, dynamic, willing to shoot - and yet even as the season drew to a close, his performances started to revert back to the bad old days.

I wonder now whether the elbowing offence which ended his season may well have been down to frustration over disagreements with Wenger.

His agent said that Hleb found it difficult to settle in London, that it was too bustling a city. The player himself indicated that his desire to win trophies made him want to leave.

“My view of how I should be playing didn’t coincide with the manager’s," said Hleb. 

"I told him last season I wanted to leave and think he was quite upset about it. But ask him. It may turn out he’s happy to see me go."

Is it because Arsene Wenger is so willing to let the players express themselves on the pitch that they decide they can take liberties off it as well?

His friendship with Cesc Fabregas, allegedly, seemed to be the only glue that was keeping him at the club. Now that we know his respect for one of the greatest young talents in world football was never sincere, it makes it even easier to say goodbye and not worry about his departure doing damage to dressing room morale.

Hleb said: “When we get scoring opportunities, Fabregas is much more selfish than me. Given a chance to shoot, he always goes for it — unlike me.”

That's the Hleb who managed only six assists last season compared to Fabregas's 17, scoring just twice compared to the seven strikes from Cesc.

It's a wonder he's looking for a move to Barcelona (that notoriously quiet city), to a club where he won't be put under any pressure. After all, Spain doesn't have a host of demanding sports newspaper, elections which see a president almost voted out just two years after winning the Champions League and releasing a manager who won the title with flair and passion only 18 months beforehand.

“I don’t know where I’ll be next season but I’d prefer Barcelona. It is being negotiated and, hopefully, will be decided soon.”

Ask yourself this - when did Alex Helb ever score a match-winning goal in a big game? When did he make a series of killer passes which proved what an asset he is to a team. Rocastle, Limpar, Overmars, Ljungberg, Pires - sorry Alex, you don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.



I somehow doubt that Arsene Wenger will still be Arsenal manager in the year 2025, but if he's willing to stick around that long then he might just get the chance to spend big money on a recognised world class player.

Judging by his comments yesterday, such a move just ain't going to happen otherwise, which begs the question as to why the club built Emirates Stadium in the first place?

As I recall, the whole idea of leaving Highbury to move to a state-of-the-art new home was to allow Arsenal to compete on a level playing field with other big European clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and of course Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United.

There was no mention made about the club having to wait 20 years before we could compete, but given Le Gaffer's comments to the News Of The World yesterday - that Arsenal are a selling club and that we'll be selling our best players for the next 17 years to help pay back the stadium debt - then that seems like that is the situation we find ourselves in.

 Or is it?

I'm sure we can all recall the headlines last year that proclaimed Arsenal as one of the richest clubs on the planet. At the end of the financial year in May 2007, the club had brought in more than £200 million in revenues, generating a profit of more than £50 million. And that did not include any transfer activity.

Yesterday's News Of The World story quoted Wenger as saying that the club needs to assign £24 million a year to paying off the stadium debt, so quite why we have to contemplate selling players to achieve that is beyond me.

Which brings me to my point. The one thing that Arsene Wenger enjoys, which the Arsenal board does not, is an ongoing friendship with former vice chairman David Dein. A lot has been written about Dein and the way in which his relationship with the Arsenal hierarchy has soured since he brokered ITV's sale of 10% of the club to American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, before selling his own 15% stake in the club to Uzbeki billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

It's obvious that Dein believes that billionaire investors are the way forward for Arsenal and like it or lump it, there aren't too many people who would seriously argue that Dein is anything but an Arsenal fan. The man brought us Arsene Wenger, lest we forget, as well as setting up the deals to bring players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and even Emmanuel Adebayor to the club.

To argue that Dein is trying to hinder the club that he loves is a non starter as far as I'm concerned.

That doesn't mean I want to see a billionaire foreigner buying the club to use it as his executive plaything. Far from it. However, Arsene's comments make me wonder whether he is changing his tune about the Gunners' ownership as he faces the prospect of having to break up what is arguably the most promising squad in the history of Arsenal Football Club.

Today chairman Peter Hill-Wood is stating that Alexander Hleb has likely played his last game in an Arsenal shirt, but Emmanuel Adebayor should still be at the club next season. But for how long? And if the club's strategy is purely to pay back the stadium debt at the expense of losing our best players, when should we expect the likes of CescFabregas to leave?

Wenger's well timed comments will not go unnoticed and I just wonder if he is now extending his mind games to the Arsenal board of directors. Footballers are greedy and footballers are fickle, so if the Gunners are truly going to compete with other European giants then I'm afraid the infamous Arsenal wage structure is going to have to be torn up and binned.

And if the only way of achieving that is to allow billionaires to have a bigger say in the club - thus allowing the stadium debt to be wiped at the stroke of a pen - then maybe it's time that people like me take off our rose tinted glasses and wake up to the reality of modern day football.

What do you lot think? Am I talking out of a hole in my head, or is Arsene Wenger deliberately trying to crank up the debate on the club's ownership structure? Perhaps you think remaining a British club is important enough for Arsenal to be resigned to losing our best players on an annual basis? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts


If ever there was a reason to snap up Kroenke, this is it

At the end of the season, when asked about his transfer plans, Arsene Wenger indicated that his main intention was to keep the current team together.

While that was in some ways frustrating, the return of Carlos Vela, along with perhaps one defensive player, would have given us a pretty good squad, though not title-winning, I suspect.

So it came as a shock this morning to read Wenger's words that we must prepare ourselves for another decade of frustration and sales. Despite the club returning incredible financial figures that put us in the top five clubs in the world, it seems that the burden of the Emirates is going to be felt for some time to come:

"The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players," said Wenger.

"We manage at Arsenal to maintain all our football ambitions - national and European - while having to free up, for 17 more years, an annual surplus of £24million to pay for our stadium.

"The club's strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars and to count on the collective quality of our game."

So whoever comes in this season will only be around longer enough for Wenger to fatten him up and sell him on? It just doesn't make sense. Especially when we fans are paying very high prices to watch the team week in, week out.

No wonder Wenger admitted that he wanted the rules changed: "If I had the power to change anything basic in football, it would be the transfer system which makes mercenaries of players. If they are bad ones, they stay, and if they are good, they think only of leaving. I have fought for them to earn a very good living, but I impose respect for their contract upon them."

Whether that is a thinly-veiled attack on the Hlebs and Adebayors of this world, only Wenger knows.

What is certain though, is that we cannot afford to compete unless another investor comes on board.

Step foward, Stan Kroenke.