Based in London and writing for a global audience our aim is to produce EliteFootballTalk. Enjoy the site and feel welcome to join in our discussion on the beautiful game.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wenger deserves better than to see Flamini AND Hleb depart

This week I felt for Arsene Wenger with talk that Alex Hleb may be tempted out of Arsenal at the same time as Mathieu Flamini looks to be also heading for the exit.

I thought back to December 2005 when Arsenal lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea to make it three league defeats in a row and people were heavily criticising this was not the Arsene Wenger Arsenal that we had become used too. I remember that day Wenger played three in central midfield that looking very young, inexperienced and relatively lightweight against the power of Makalele, Essien and Lampard.

The Arsenal central midfield that day was Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb.

Just over two years later this young midfield was running the show in the famous home of the reigning Champions League winners AC Milan and had taken Arsenal to a five point Premier League lead with a third of the season left.

Wenger's superbly patient approach of putting his faith in young players moulded in his style of football was proving his doubters wrong. Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb had been coached and trained and developed to the point where they were now real contenders. This season it was not meant to be - but there would be every prospect that this young trio would continue to get better and better together season in season out.

So with what I have described as the Wenger MasterPlan reaching a boiling point it is disappointing that two of this midfield trio that Wenger has placed faith in look like they could be on their way out just as Wenger's long game is promising to come to real fruition.

Flamini was disillusioned last season and was on the verge of walking out before deciding to stay and playing at a superb level. He is available on a free and with a history of apparently falling out with Wenger it will not be too big a surprise if he wants to earn bigger money elsewhere.

On the other hand, Alex Hleb has not shown dissent in his time at Arsenal and looks to have fuly bought into the philosophy that Wenger has for football. To see him leave would be more disappointing to witness - he is a pure Wenger footballer and it would be a slight slap in the face for Wenger if the Belarussian was to choose that his footballing future should lie elsewhere.

Wenger has placed and expressed maximum faith in this young and fast-developing squad - privately and publicly - in the face of critics from some Arsenal supporters and the loud-mouthed footballing media who are impatient for success NOW. With next season promising to be one where Arsenal will push on again - (with RVP and Rosicky hopefully not out for five months, Theo now motoring and Vela slotting in, plus one or two 'real, real quality' signings to bolster things) it would be proper for at least Hleb if not Flamini as well to now repay the massive commitment shown by Wenger in these guys and stay with this team.

If this is not the case they can be replaced. I just think that Wenger deserves better than to have to see them both go just as this ambitiously and uniquely developed third-generation squad are ready to truly fight for both the Premier League and Champions League in the next few seasons.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article.

My biggest fear is not that they will go, but they do and all we do is replace them. We need to ADD to the squad not just replace it. Flamini and Hleb are key parts of the team only because the football Arsene preaches is conducive to their talents. Look at Thierry Henry or Cashly. They are shadows of players who used to rampage around Highbury. Very few have left Arsenal and moved on to bigger and better things.

I think Flamini is comparable to Edu. They were both fringe players, blossomed and left on a free. Edu was a Brazil international when he left, he is now a reserve for a team battling relegation.

Hleb is slightly more different, he is under contract (regardless of the Webster clause) and we are well protected. I dont think he wants to leave SO much that he is willing to buy himself out of his contract.

Im 100% sure that if they do go, Arsene will roll with the punches and bring in others who could do a job

4/27/2008 11:49 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drop this already, OK? Drone on about masterplan when there aint one. You cant have a plan in motion and see yourself five points clear only to drop it all down to third place, no Champions League, no title, no FA Cup, no league club, no trophies in all. And this was the season of the masterplan. Rubbish.

You Gooners are disillusioned, simple as. We quieted you and the Mancs at home while you both laughed at us in your gardens, now we have the last laugh and the scousers are coming for theirs on Weds. We are much stronger now and we are coming back. When you have a captain who cries like a baby, a manager who sees nothing but everything with hs own team, players who look good but dont produce good, then stop talking about a plan and more about delivering the goods.

Remember you guys think you're untouchable why it hits you so much. Like the mancs, though Barcelona wont beat them so we will and be crowned European champions. Long overdue.

4/27/2008 12:12 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Firstly, I am surprised Hleb and Flamini are in contemplation for leaving The Emirates. Hleb is silky on the wing, provides passes and support superbly, while Flamini is a rugged Gattuso mold of player for Arsenal, tough tackling, dispossessing, breaking up attacks and assisting in those for Arsenal. The way that Arsene Wenger has modelled the team, practically any signing that does come in provide the football Arsene looks for regardless the position.

In that sense, it can be perceived he can replace like for like with some ease. If he can keep hold of Hleb and Flamini, that simply would cement that area of the team for seasons to come and leave scouting for other areas. Otherwise the necessity to find replacements becomes cumbersome.

Maybe overall, the psyche of the players could be considered as an area to look into. The title race having changed for them dramatically this year, having led the table for some time, plus the injury to Eduardo as it was, may have left some with a misaligned focus, some of them may not even have acknowledged being affected to that degree. Maybe.

As for Anon (12.12PM), it's fine for one to speak out after the event, but there were little betting behind Chelsea going for the title, for the European Cup and further whilst they held 3rd place. Were it not for Arsenal's draws prior to the CL meeting with Liverpool, Chelsea may well have remained in 3rd place to this day.

Further, Chelsea were not as strong as excepted at Anfield and hold something by virtue of the most bizarre advantageous own goal. Very fortunate. But the likes of you, not all Chelsea fans, always talk after something has happened, rather than provide analysis and insight before a game occurs. Right now, with the 2nd leg at home, the away goal, and that we have yet to score at the Bridge Chelsea are strong to go through. We were strong at the Bridge in the league and I will pin on us actually scoring to a 1-1 and then penalties. After that it is anyone's call.


4/27/2008 12:34 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

here we go again bout the sodding wenger masterplan! you guys are just shit. i'll tell you what the wenger masterplan will be - he'll up and leave just like your beloved henry left! haha!

4/27/2008 3:06 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says... good thoughts 'T' shame about the sad people who vent their spleens on our site rather than their own.

The master plan that they will never understand is simple ..I will not write in in joined up writing so that the Chelski/Manure or pool fans can take it in.

Arsene...agreed a zero buying bdget nearly 5 years ago in order to get the Emirates stadium built. With me so far?

He also agree to concentrate on young, cheap ( or no cost at all) talent to ensure that (a) the club would still play the best football in Europe. (b) that the club would remain in the top four to bring in the planned finance and (c) to show how very average the buying trio of managers were.

Basially, yes without the influence on officials that the big money boys have, AFC would and should have been champions by February. Even Arsene the great cannot legislate for bent officials or other help from dirty players who put our stars out the game for 6 months at a time. BUT Arsene was two three disgusting decisions away from the lot, so the man had done good yet again.

That my friends is the master plan that we are so proud of. Win or lose ( and the rest have still lost more times than our kids) we know that AFC are respected world wide for their skill and teambuilding which cannot be said for either of the other three. Next year with Spurs, Newcastle & Man City doing the usual, I still expect Arsenes boys to be up there again.

4/28/2008 12:14 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

Solid as ever T.

Its no good having a 3-4 year plan if you are having to start again every two years - so its crucial that Arsenal hold to players like Hleb (less so Flamini in my opinion). I agree with the comment above that Arsenal need to build a sqaud, not plug gaps when players leave in the summer.

I think its a myth that Arsene doesnt have the money that the other big three clubs have. According to deloittes, Arsenal are narrowly behind United as the richest club in England and are comfortably in the top 6 in the world.

Wenger has a philosophy of not spending money and that is down to him, not the finances at his disposal.

4/28/2008 8:29 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...Good points Abdul but you should never let finance houses mislead you.

Arsenal as a company have great 'FIXED ASSETS' which when compared to other clubs in the world confirm our big stride to the top. BUT and its a big BUT...our fluid situation has been nearly stationary for the period I mentioned above. Only when the fixed assets of the old stadium are realised will Arsene then have a budget every season of approx £50-£70 mill. Mind you even then I doubt he would spend half of it, but it would give him the great option of spending that bit more to bring in players who want to come to the club.

4/29/2008 9:13 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks for the comments everyone - nothing to add

Always enjoy reading your viewpoint GP and thanks for your support to the site!

I'm writing a couple of hours before the Man Utd/Barcelona match tonight. I really hope for a great match.

My feeling is that Man Utd will win 2-1. Lets wait and see.

4/29/2008 6:18 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wenger doesn't deserve it? Why not? Lets face it, Wenger got beaten at his own game. When there is a young, world class player available in the market @ Fabregas, Wenger takes advantage of the loop holes available to him, offering the player a better deal+higher wages and the promise of regular first team football. Clubs like Barca get hurt and suffer whenever this happens. Now its karma. There are other clubs that can now offer the players he has a better deal and a better chance of winning something considering Arsenal have been without a trophy for a such a long time.

Its also good that idiotic fans like like gunnerspete get a reality check. Elitefootball are supposed to have a respect your opponent policy but disgraceful idiots like Gunnerspete are a disgrace to that policy. Hie continues whinning about officials rather to see the big picture and accept the fact that Arsenal are not good enough makes his argument petty, unrealistic and childish. For starters, he should learn to use man utd instead of manuare. Every team has had bad decision againts them. Every team from Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. So crying over spilt milk ain't going to resolve it. Get a grip, focus on your problems and work on resolving it.

Im so happy that its going to be a man utd vs Chelsea finals. Lets face it, if Man Utd win, it shows that they are the best team in Europe and another big step in ridiculing Arsene Wengers achievement. If Chelsea win, it would prove that not only are they the champions of Europe, but the bigger and better club in London. The pride of London.

Arsenal are respected for their team building? Which team isn't? The only difference is others are respected for their history as well. Man Utd have a chance of adding to it while Chelsea have a chance of over taking Arsenal as the top club in London.

I'm glad that Elitefootballtalk still have good posters like redsman and T. Its disgracefully to have them associated with fans like Gunnerspeter who totally don't comply with the respect my opponent policy. No matter what happens in the cl finals, i hope gunnerspete watches and live with that picture for a long long time :)

5/04/2008 5:11 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, like Arse-all deserve everythng because they play brilliant football. They play it alright but they dont get anywhere. Something is wrong when all they talk about why they got kicked out the CL quarter by Liverpool is the stupid Hleb penalty they didnt get. Didnt score more than one goal anyway so what, you want a penalty every minute then to win? Not Arse-all's style, they can play football so why moaning about one decision? Then they said Babel's penalty was not when what they did was get too happy at 2-2 and didnt concentrate. Whose fault is that, the linesman's? Then he talks about bent officials, big gob. How many fake falls did Arse-hole do to get their penalties?? Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp, and now Hleb, Fabregas, Eboue, Adebayorrrrrrrrr (thats him falling down) Arse-hole get what we get and hwen they dont they start crying about everyone but themselves

Arse-hole have had their fun nows its Chelsea's turn results talk and we stand matching Utd as Arse-hole are third when they were top of the league!!! Arse-end Wenger was decisions away from what?? Implosion ROFLMAO Shut up and get on with it you're so fantastic we you got nothing then?? Because you think youre so good you cant fail talking bloody rubbish Gunnerspete is just a wet water pistol the prat

5/04/2008 9:08 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah and Cashley Cole had the last laugh hes in the Champs League soon be a winner what he didnt get with Arse-hole looking at him and gallas who got the best deal remind me ROFLMAO

5/04/2008 9:10 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arsenal Fans Must Blame Wenger, Not Flamini
Arsene Wenger has invented a problem out of nothing by mishandling the Mathieu Flamini situation, and sent a very dangerous message to the rest of his team, writes Abhishek Thakur...

* »Comments (1)
* Print This Story
* Send To A Friend
* Contact Us

Arsenal Fans Must Blame Wenger, Not Flamini
galleria zoom


Flamini: A Second Rate Player?

Only three years ago, as Arsenal prepared to move to The Emirates the following summer, the headlines were dominated by the fact that Thierry Henry was moving into the final 24 months of his contract.

Attempts to get him to sign on sold newspapers throughout the season, and it was public knowledge that he would be on his way to Barcelona if he did not.

He did eventually commit in an emotional moment after the Champions League final – a decision he was to reverse the following summer – but the astute Wenger had taken no chances as far as the club's future was concerned.

The key point is that he understood the importance of the moment – they needed their skipper and star player as they moved to a big stadium and into a new era. He broke the trend, and Arsenal's wage policy, to hand the Frenchman a mammoth five year deal, one which put him at par with Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack as far as the rich list went. Smart move.

As Henry was signing, a certain Mathieu Flamini was moving into his final 24 months. Did anyone even care?

What You Did Last Summer

Fast forward to last summer, when Flamini was moving into the final 12 months of his contract. He was, once again, conveniently ignored. What was 'the professor' doing? He was getting Cesc Fabregas – who had light years to run on his deal – to sign a massive extension through to 2014.

So, before one demands loyalty, one has to ask whether Arsenal were loyal to him. The only reason he was not offered a new deal was because Wenger thought he was expendable at that point. He might as well have been shown the proverbial finger.

Put yourself in Flamini's shoes for a moment. Would you grudge him for feeling treated like a second rate player? You move into the final year of your contract and watch as a teammate signs on for seven seasons. The person who has to answer for this is Wenger. The Arsenal manager knew full well what he was doing, and it is he who must carry the can, not Flamini.

Personally, I strongly believe that the hugely improved midfielder should still have stayed. He will never mean to Milan what he could have to Arsenal, just like Henry will never mean to Barcelona what he could have had he retired at the Emirates. But that is a moot point.

What About Last Month?

Let us move on, assuming Wenger took a calculated business risk, and assuming he thought he could get Flamini to sign on. Let us now look dispassionately at what has happened over the last month. Let's talk business.

Within six months, the midfielder's stock had risen, and with that the interest of other clubs – particularly as he was available on a free. His agents advised him to hold out for a meaty offer. Wenger was to refuse, and made it very public that he would not be blackmailed into breaking his wage policy – the very policy he had broken to keep Thierry Henry at the club.

Another finger, only this time, the player decided to respond in kind.

Within six hours of Arsenal's final game, he was in Milan, and another 18 hours later, he had completed a medical and signed on for four seasons at around 4 million euros per year (equivalent to around ₤60K per week).

I would rate Flamini at around ₤10-12 million today, even if I was to be conservative. Now, Wenger will go into the market, and probably spend at least ₤8 million as he looks to shore up his midfield again. Flamini, in that sense, would have been a free-transfer, so that eight million could easily be amortised into an extra two million over four seasons.

Even from a purely business perspective, it makes no sense to let him go and then spend on a replacement. There have been some great French mathematicians in the past. Arsene clearly doesn't tow that line.

What Message Does This Send?

And the worst bit is yet to come. In doing all this, Arsene has broken up a midfield partnership that was perfect for the way he likes to play his football. We have seen some absolutely amazing stuff from Arsenal this season, and a lot has to do with how Flamini has combined with Fabregas. Arsene must now strive to recreate that from scratch, with a player who may or may not suit Cesc's style.

What is more, by losing a key player, he has sent a very dangerous message to his players. With a new deal for Flamini wrapped up, today, he would have been thinking of consolidating for an even stronger assault on Manchester United. Every Arsenal fan would have been thumping his chest proudly.

Instead, he has told Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb that he is unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this team together.

The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter and Milan interested in one or more of those players, who will surely have been disillusioned somewhat by the developments. Reports this morning already claim that Fabregas is unsettled after Flamini's departure. Real Madrid circle over him, while Inter refuse to give up on Hleb. The chest thumping fan has been replaced by a worried one!

'Hey gaffer, if you care so much about building a team, why did you not keep Flamini?' That could so easily be the refrain, one that Wenger might struggle to respond to as mega offers start coming in. There will be teams willing to offer Adebayor and Hleb ₤100K per week, and Madrid and Barcelona would probably hand Fabregas a bumper ₤150K. Worrying times at The Emirates, of their own doing.

Be it lopsided priorities last summer, poor mathematics last month, or simply a sloppy estimation of the damage this exit could cost, there is only one person who must answer for this. So, before Arsenal fans abuse Flamini, they must ask their professor how he managed to land the club just where they were two years ago.

To conclude, what would have been a summer of strengthening for Wenger now threatens to turn into three months spent desperately trying to hold on to his key players. His desperation could not be more clear than from his attempt to put Adebayor in his place on Monday, when he suggested that the Togolese could 'become a nobody' very quickly.

Talk about swinging the axe onto your own foot! Sorry Arsene, but you have got this one completely wrong.

Abhishek Thakur


Enough said!

5/07/2008 8:26 am

Blogger Tristan said...

This comment is posted in response to the previous comment.

"I would rate Flamini at around ₤10-12 million today, even if I was to be conservative. Now, Wenger will go into the market, and probably spend at least ₤8 million as he looks to shore up his midfield again. Flamini, in that sense, would have been a free-transfer, so that eight million could easily be amortised into an extra two million over four seasons.

Even from a purely business perspective, it makes no sense to let him go and then spend on a replacement. There have been some great French mathematicians in the past. Arsene clearly doesn't tow that line."

From an accounting point of view this sounds right.

From an economic point of view, which I am pretty sure Mr Wenger will hold as much as I would, he will select players from within the squad to replace Flamini, instead of buying another, which will probably, with proven technical abilities and experience to even be adequate for The Arsenal first team, cost no less than $15 mil.

Please watch and observe. We do have adequate cover in that position, much more adequate than you may think. That said, I still lament the loss of Diarra.

5/08/2008 4:24 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home


Locations of visitors to this page