Why replicating the quality of the ‘Invincibles’ stars is almost impossible.


Would it be possible to replicate the incredible quality of the Invincibles: Vieira, Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Campbell?

An in-depth reply by Richie to The Gooner’s post ‘Lack of world-class talent keeps Arsenal from reliving glory years’, posted on Friday 9 December 2012.

Managers no longer have the power: since ‘Bosman’, players have the power.

Take Van Judas: he refused to be sold abroad and refused to re-sign. He would only sign personal terms with our biggest rival; the choice was cop for £24 Mil or get nothing within a year.

Cesc’s replacement wasn’t an easy find and Arsene nearly replaced him almost instantly with Juan Mata. But after landing at Heathrow, and on his way to the Emirates to sign the contract already agreed upon; his father and agent get a call from the Chav’s doubling everything, transfer fee’s, and wages etc… the rest is history.

As for not replacing like for like, that’s only possible if you are playing fantasy football.

Even if money was no object, name me 5 players the equal of those you identify as not being replaced.

I cannot think of a colossus like Sol anywhere in Europe; Vidic might come closest but even he isn’t ever going to be Sol. The only player I’ve seen in recent times who has the sheer physical potential to develop into a Sol-ish type is an Italian by way of Nigeria: Angelo Ogbonna. Not surprisingly, MU are amongst others supposedly interested. Cost for the potential Sol-ish type: a cool €25Mil, and that’s a payment in the hope he totally fulfils his potential.

Next, Patrick, who I suppose has a facsimile in a player I saw play in an Arsenal shirt way back: Yaya Toure (incidentally he wasn’t as good as Diaby back then). Can anyone actually imagine Yaya besting Patrick in a midfield dual? Vieira was a one-off; you don’t buy PV’s off the peg, and I can’t think of money no object replacement; can you? If I had to buy a midfielder as an all-round PV replacement, I suppose the obvious choice would be “the Bastian” Schweinsteiger.

Next up Bobby, who you identify with no little conviction as the player you liked best in an Arsenal shirt. I suppose if you were looking for a (money no object) replacement winger you’d have to pick the second best player in the world Ronaldo: a snip at €80Mil. Who’s the winger after Ronnie? Nani? (Ha! Ha! Ha!) Bale? (Hee! Hee! Hee!) Ashley Young? (Not even funny).

O.K how about another Frenchman? Ribery: nowhere near Bobby’s class. The only winger in the world I think could hold a candle to Bobby Pires, should’ve come to Arsenal to continue his development; and then under Arsene’s guidance he would’ve really fulfilled his potential. However like so many others he chose the money – shame Eden Hazard.

The only player I’d currently mention in the same breath as “God” – probably my all time favourite Arsenal player – is another Dutchman who at his best could do a fair imitation of the genius at work. Although, even he wouldn’t really come up to scratch which might leave me no choice, other than to pick: “The No.10”, Messi – a wonderful footballer no doubt; but a totally different type of No.10. So, he is not exactly an obvious replacement either.

How about the best of British then? Yes I know it’s laughable, I mean no one would choose Rooney over DB10 would they? So, another orangie then: Wesley Sneijder.

That just leaves the small matter of Thierry’s replacement. There was a time when only Torres looked even capable of lacing Henry’s boots, but since his £50m move everything’s gone South which kind of rules him out. The same might be said of Villa at Barca, although that’s through injury. We’ve just sold Henry’s successor at Arsenal, so let’s disregard Van Judas, which means a new face is required. There’s no one with Henry’s speed, and intelligence; so, I’ll plumb for more of an Ian Wright type all round striker: Radamel Falcao.

So let’s recap.

We could relive our previous glory if we replaced like for like:

Sol          =             Angelo Ogbonna                €25+Mil

Patrick    =             Bastian Schweinsteiger        €35+Mil

Bobby P =              Eden Hazard                      €50+Mil

God        =              Wesley Sneijder                €45+Mil

Thierry   =              Radamel Falcao                  €50+Mil

I think, it will come as a massive shock to all if they realised that it would “only” cost about €200m  minimum to relive our previous glory. I say minimum, because the above prices are conservative ‘guestimates’ and could cost considerably more (and salaries are not included).

So to conclude it all: replicating the incredible quality of the Invincibles: Vieira, Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Campbell, is currently almost impossible for Arsenal.

Written by: Richie.

144 thoughts on “Why replicating the quality of the ‘Invincibles’ stars is almost impossible.

  • Absolutely right. People talk about signing world class players as if we haven’t tried, or that they’d come to us without the big money of Chelsea and Man City having their say first. Things have changed, and the way Wenger assembled the Invincibles isn’t possible now. Sad, but true.

  • Herb wrote (in previous post):

    ‘For me, if it’s true that Mr Wenger turned down the chance for the club to be taught first-hand the very essence of ‘Total-Football’ from a Dutch legend, it puts a huge stain on his time at Arsenal.’

    Fully agreed Herb. DB10′s quality and loyalty deserves total recognition!

  • Firstly, Manure don’t have a squad half as good as the incredible and look what they have achieved. Secondly, the invincibles were nowhere worth those figures when they came (even if you take into account inflation and the state of the game at the time).

    What is missing is heart, steel, purpose, intelligence and ability.

  • Cheers Total. Don’t you feel a little betrayed by Mr Wenger?
    Thanks Richie, many valid points, some irrefutable. But we would probably all agree that our transfer funds could have been used a lot more efficiently, and the wage policy is beyond reasoned comprehension.

  • Hi Richie,

    I admire the analysis you’ve done in attempting to replace the Invincibles – like for a like. You offer a very convincing point that at their peaks, the 5 Invincibles players I listed would be near impossible to replace. However, one must keep in mind that some of these players were not the world beaters they were at Arsenal during their time with previous clubs. You have also chosen to replace them with the most expensive players currently at the top of the game and may be unaware of alternative names that should garner attention as adequate replacements for the Invincibles players.

    Exhibit 1 – Sol Campbell and Angelo Ogbonna. Ever heard of a man at Montpellier by the name of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa? He’s been likened to a young Sol Campbell and has the versatility to play anywhere along the back line. While two inches shorter than Campbell, Mapou has the same never say die attitude, leadership, reliability and composure. He seems to relish playing in the big games and has the pace to succeed in any league. He’s got the intensity that Campbell had and is an imposing presence on the field thanks to his no nonsense approach. However, he’s not as much of an aerial threat as Campbell and isn’t as adept at finishing. Mapou prefers to stay back and assume his defensive responsibilities first and foremost. Still not a finished article, but he could certainly succeed and approach a world-class level if given the right tutelage.

    Estimated transfer fee: £7-10 million

    Exhibit 2 – Patrick Vieira and Bastian Schweinsteiger. In the case of Vieira, I will concede that there are currently no players who could adequately replace him right now. His combination of presence, immense skill and leadership is very rare. Defensively he took a no nonsense approach, was a hard tackler that struck fear into the opposition and worked relentlessly to get the ball back, much like Etienne Capoue of Toulouse. However, offensively, he was exactly like Yaya Toure/Abou Diaby when healthy. He really defined the box-to-box role with his intensity, on-field awareness, skill on the ball, finishing and galloping runs forward. Thus, there is no direct replacement and it would take a combination of two players to replace Vieira.

    Exhibit 3 – Robert Pires and Eden Hazard. While Eden Hazard has the goal scoring ability, incisive passing and flair that Pires brought to the table, there is another replacement in the form of a young man by the name of Remy Cabella at Montpellier. Pires has identified Cabella as the next talent that has a technical game comparable to that of Cazorla and himself. Cabella has remarkable ball control and dribbling and the skill to execute at full speed. He’s got plenty of pace, can score from range and brings an abundance of flair much like Pires did (just watch him take on Gibbs and our defenders in tight space and his chip shot attempt vs. Arsenal that struck the crossbar). At only 22 years of age, he’s already shown a knack for scoring goals too; he’s currently tied for the lead at Montpellier with 5 goals in 16 games (11 starts), while also providing 4 assists. Jesus Navas and Isco both in La Liga are two other options that could replace Pires at about two-fifths the price tag of Hazard and would arguably be just as effective (as Hazard).

    Estimated transfer fee: £5-10 million

    Exhibit 4 – Dennis Bergkamp and Wesley Sneijder. I think Wesley Sneijder is a good comparable and as you pointed out, even he is still a step below the great god. However, Sneijder does have the same determination, flair and finishing ability that Bergkamp brought to Arsenal. He effectively creates space for others and makes those around him better. Given his current situation at Inter Milan, where he’s been frozen out of the line-up (since September 26th) because of a refusal to take a pay cut, I think he’d be available for a bit of a knock down price compared to the 45 million you valued him at.

    Estimated transfer fee: £25 million

    Exhibit 5 – Thierry Henry and Radamel Falcao. Of all 5 comparisons, this one struck me as the least suitable replacement. I’m glad you pointed out that Falcao is more of a do-it-all type striker like Ian Wright and that the only similarity between himself and Henry is that they are world-beater type strikers. Despite not being as good or clinical, I think Karim Benzema is a more suitable replacement than Falcao. He hasn’t been as prolific as Falcao in the past two years, but the flair, pace and ability to create something out of nothing is reminiscent of Titi. Cristiano rightfully demands the spotlight at Real and the majority of their offence is set up with him being the end product. Combine this with the fact that Benzema must split playing time with Higuain and you can see why it’s difficult for him to maintain form without any continuity in playing time. However, La Liga is a higher quality league where defences are more adept at shutting down technical players. In the EPL, Benzema would likely be a nightmare for opposing defenders and goalies; this can be supported by the recent success of top La Liga players dominating the EPL over the past few years (Michu, Cazorla, Silva, Mata etc.).

    Estimated transfer fee: £35 million

    My post is not intended to take away from a high quality article that aptly points out that it would still be incredibly expensive to replace all 5 Invincibles players. It’s simply to bring to light that there are cheaper alternatives to the names you mentioned with as much ability and class. Several fall under the radar because they haven’t been as dominant or play for less talented squads. Again, one must keep in mind that Arsene nurtured several of his transfer purchases, grooming them into the stars they eventually became.

  • Hi Toks, completely agree! Wenger purchased undervalued talent and groomed them into the stars they eventually became. You’re absolutely spot on in your assessment of what Arsenal are currently lacking.

  • Hi Herb, in complete agreement. If we add up the transfer fees of players like Arshavin, Gervinho, Richard Wright, Jeffers, Santos etc. we could definitely have had higher quality players come in. Arsene’s policy is to not overspend on players, but if they are at a world-class quality, I think he should splash out on them opposed to buying several lesser players to try and compensate.

    The wage policy is a constant source of confusion and frustration. How are Chamakh, Squillacci and Arshavin all earning more than 75% of our team? Is he refusing to pay others more because of these past mistakes? Again, perhaps Wenger’s just lost his touch and his eye for scouting talent is not as successful as it once was with other top clubs having the financial power to outbid him for their services.

  • Also, my original article was never meant to claim that we should replace those 5 stars with like replacements. It was simply intended to show that there is currently a lack of top quality players in the squad.

  • @ Terry and GLIC

    is this the sort of Avatar you wanted???

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha brilliant vid GLIC and very well suited for Terry.

    Now to Richie’s post

  • @ TA

    in regards to your comment yesterday, well done on the success of BK. It’s a great site, top notch people and the articles are quality. Long may it continue!

    @ Richie

    great post, stuff the big names (although i would give my left testicle to see Schweinsteiger and Falcao play for Arsenal). We have the players (some could be improved upon), but i just think what Toks said @ 00.18 was bang on! We need some desire, determination and a bloody good system. Look at Swansea for christ sake, their players are average but the system works and the players believe in it! If you don’t believe in the system than we might as well give up now!

  • TA, fully agreed with oz, glic, terry, vcc and everyone else. I’m very happy to see BK succeed and there’s only more to come. Both yourself and the crowd of commenters/posters you attract is why I keep coming back!

  • So if we pretend we are gone TG does that mean you’ll bugger off? That’s the plan guys, TA turn off the lights we aren’t here 🙂

    Jokes aside, glad to have you as a regular on here, great comments, great posts, and a fellow BD fan also

  • Thank you oz. If you all pretend you’re gone, I’ll just have to continue the banter myself and write amazing articles only my eyes can admire ;). All kidding aside, top quality comments from yourself too mate.

    If no January transfers happen (fingers cross 2 and a loan deal do), then all we need is for this man to show up consistently:

  • TG 🙂

    That is fabulously detailed, quality response. And you are making a very good point: next generation of super quality could still be assembled.

  • Thanks TG – Your contributions have been truly fantastic and your enthusiasm and energy, combined with your footie knowledge have added loads to BK! 🙂

  • Oz, your initial support and continuous contributions, most notably through your prematch reports and vids you find, have been, and are, of great value to BK/me. 🙂

  • TA + Richie…….if you guys wrote a book I’d buy it for Christmas and put it on the tree as a present to myself, that’s how good your posts are. Can’t get enough of the quantity and quality.

  • http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/gervinho-aims-to-emulate-arsenal-legend-robert-pires-8076533.html




    So, Pires-wanna-be can’t score from five yards while nobody is around him, Henry-wanna-be has been mostly Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde and is about to leave, Bergkamp-wanna-be is an excellent striker when it comes to aerial domination but he would probably injury himself if he tried to replicate Bergkamp’s goal against Newcastle and Vieira-wanna-be is more successful in replicating Samuel L. Jackson in “Unbreakable” than replicating Paddy.

  • its a shame that RVP was the most natural replacement for God but after 1 good season in 8 years he think he is bigger than club. good riddance! (sad to see he is banging goals elsewhere to be very honest).

    surprisingly the post didnt mention Freddy. His timing into box was second to none. i rmbr he scored in 7,8 games in a row, mostly are crucial 1-0 or 2-1 goals that turn 1 point into 3.

  • Hey BV,

    Spurs didnt spent much on bale (ya i know he is a C**T) neither did moyes spent much on Fellani. also MIchu and Chico cost like 3mil in total.

    the point is, there are real gems out there but wenger is blinded but his faith in french league/players

  • it is part of the game to take gamble on a player. for every Gervinho or squillacci, there are djemba2, Downing, andy carrol, veron (both mc & chelsea) kezman etc.

    HOwever the different between arsenal flops and the rest is that, AW will keep playing them and hoping that they will turn out right and a big “i-tell-u-so” in your face. what he has to lose? if the signing was fine after 5,6 yrs, he is a genius. otherwise, the players will be shipped to fulham/birmingham and never be heard again. its win-win situation for him.

    the boss need to know when to stop-loss and be more ruthless. i cant bliv players like denilson, Squalicci, djourou fabianski are still attached to the payroll. its unacceptable. period

  • Arteta 🙂 hahaha!

    What if I say: if you don’t set yourself a target, you are less likely to succeed – get the best out of yourself. Look at Bendtner: didn’t he fool everybody?! 😛 I bet he looks in his mirror at night and say: night, night clever boy who fools them all, wuhahahahaha! 😛

  • Kaboom 🙂

    Nice to see you back here. Is kaboom your name? It also could be the sound of a Cazorla (once in thirty shots or so) screamer in the top-corner! 🙂

    There are others worthy for consideration and Freddie could definitely be considered, but Richie responded to a list of top Invincibles The Gooner had referred to. The Gooner had to draw the line somewhere, and although Freddie was very good, I reckon Pires was just that bit better; so I would have left him out of a top-five as well.

  • Hi richie, 🙂

    A really excellent Post full of interesting stuff, and showing fantastic detailed knowledge.

    All of the Invincibles were bought for peanuts, or on a ‘free’, then developed by AW into a brilliant and formidable team.

  • hi TA, Kaboom is a “stage name” my parents must be really mad to name me as kabbom!! haha

    i love bobby but give me freddy any day~

  • Hi TG, 🙂

    I love your posts, but I also love your detailed responses, especially the discussion you have just had with richie, overnight. (to me anyway!) 🙂

    You have a point when you say that richie was perhaps right about the costs incurred if we bought ready made comparative replacements for the Invincibles, however AW did not buy in ‘finished product’ players at that time.

    On the other hand the game has moved on, and whereas AW was able to make full use of his scouting system and contacts 12 years ago, especially the French market, nowadays every other big club is also doing the same thing – just with more money.

    In that case, richie could be right that we would have to buy known and expensive players, altho’ maybe not at the level of transfer values he mentioned. [We just would not do that].

    Anyway — good stuff, very enjoyable reading your comments. 🙂

  • Hi TA, 😀

    BK going from strength to strength!! 🙂

    I am not to bad, and I hope you are good too. How is your new baby?
    You are making me think of getting a puppy, again, too, but might face some opposition!! 😆

  • Hi Redders, little Henry is super-cute – except for the continuous little nibbles on everything that sticks out: fingers, buttons, zips, shoe-laces etc – and is indeed almost as demanding as a baby!

    It was my daughter and wife who were almost desperate to get a dog, and I agreed in the end with considerable reluctance. Yet, during the day I am left with him and he takes up a lot of my time; but it is all worth it. 🙂

    Good to hear you are not too bad 🙂

    Just a shame Arsenal are just not providing us with much to feel good about 😦

  • TA…Henry will be your best friend, trust me. I have one who never leaves my side. Unconditional love.

  • TA,

    When puppies are that young, they have sharp ‘baby’ teeth and want to try them out on all and sundry. My advice, after many years of having dogs, [grandparents, parents and my own] is that if he nips you with those ‘needle’ teeth, when playing, it can unintentionally hurt.

    Make an ‘oww, you hurt me’ noise, and look injured, they soon realize it is not acceptable to nip anyone, and that early training can pay off in spades in times to come.

    When the baby teeth fall out, it becomes less of a problem. 😀

  • Cheers VCC 🙂

    I am looking forward to that sort of animal loyalty!

    I guess it is just the big impact on my daily routine and night sleep which was the biggest surprise. But I am getting used to it.

    When I am writing one-liners as comments on BK, it is because Henry is lying on me (he needs the warmth as he is only 2 months old on Saturday) and I can only type with one hand on the lap-top! I also find it hard to find time and energy to write posts at the moment, so I am very glad others are writing posts as well 🙂

  • Great post Richie.

    The days of the invincibles are over and the world moves on. For me its a question of evolving and adapting to your enviroment.

    Lets go back to 4 years ago. Would Arsenal have not chalanged and maybe even won leagues if the Club had the capabilitities to keep that Fabregas, RVP, Flamini etc etc, team together?

    We will build another team and it will be stronger and better than before.

    On the question of Dogs, i am not a fan, they look at me funny. But for the life of me i cannot fathom how these creatures are related to wolfs? What happened? Alien insemination?, a cruel twist of fate?, effects of radiation?, secret government genetic experiment?, what??

    Wolfs are hansome and noble animals and then you have my neigbours Terrier, ugly muvva. who hates my guts. whats going on here?

  • Cheers Redders 🙂

    I don’t know how many times I have had to No Henry, Henry NO! I will give him an oww if he goes for my finger or toe next time!

  • What? There’s a rumour “God” offered his services to Arsene and Arsene refused?
    Sorry guys someone’s going to have to put some meat on the bones before I believe that one!

  • Terry Titmouse, 🙂

    My 10 stone, black coated German Shepherd used to complain about Greeks bearing gifts, because when he nipped them they were just too scrawny — well the one’s with the telescope were! 😆

  • Oh i see. Dogs dont like me because ime a thin Bubble and happen to have a Cock.

    Next time one pisses up my leg or chases me down the street this new knowledge will provide great comfort. hahahaha

  • Red Arse…..Im waiting for some one on here to come along with the talent of predicting 6 correct numbers for the Saturday lottery.

    Then we can all go to Barbados, dance and sing on the beach “Walking in a Bergkamp wonderland” 😉

  • I’m may be in a minority of one (it won’t be the first time) but I agree with a wage cap/structure. I think Theo for example is paid very well for his limited ability’s and I think the contract increase he’s been offered is very generous. I don’t think any of our current squad merit 100k a week, and I don’t care if Abromovich would pay them more, I don’t care if Oily Money Citeh would double their wages, I wouldn’t. The fact is those 2 clubs are not paying the going rate, they don’t have to. Both clubs lose money like there’s no tomorrow and SAF is desperately trying to keep up by spending almost a million a month on Van Judas’s wages. SAF won’t care what state he leaves the clubs finances in as long as when he retires he’s had the glory. Others might think everyone jumping into the fire why shouldn’t we, but I don’t! Our club has never been a big spender which is why Wenger fitted like a glove.

  • Terry ..you should be so lucky……Last October the 15th my 10 year old Boxer was attacked in the local park by 2 Staffs, who had no collar, muzzle or lead on. One had hold of the side of his face, the other had hold of his left side. The owner and I was punching them, kicking them, I even stamped on one of them. Eventually we was successful in dragging them off.

    When I related this to a work colleague ( who is a bit of a country bumpkin) he said i should have stuck my finger up their ARSE. He was being perfectly serious!!!!!

  • TA….Apparently, if one does this to them they make a hasty retreat. I don’t recommend it though. 😉 🙂 :0)

  • VCC,

    That’s good advice, but you need to be careful which end you stick your finger in! Just ask Terry.

    Glic tried to stop him fighting with some hairy arsed woman at the Emirates, earlier in the season using that technique, with unfortunate consequences. 😆

  • Thanks for the vids, TA. 🙂

    I have had my eyes open to You Tube by the marvellous vids you and others have directed me to.

    Come on Dennis!!!

  • VCC, that sounds bloddy horrendous. Are those staff types the ones with the elongated jaws? How come thst geezer allowed them out without a muzzle?. Sounds like he is the one who needs something up his arse. hahaha

    There must have been a change in the law or something because up to a
    couple of years ago North london was full of Hoodies walking round with evil looking unmuzzled dogs.

    As i said i am not a fan of Dogs but i realise its the owners that count. These wankers around here were just using them as status symbols and to scare people. I lost count of how many times i had to cross the street to avoid the hassle.

    Though i admit, if i see a dog the size of a mouse i still cross the street. hahaha

  • hahaha, Redders, theres nothing wores than a hairy arsed women. The other day i saw this beutiful looking girl who had her back exposed displaying a nice rug of hair. My initial thoughts were urgghh, but then my mind thought thats tremendous material for a hair transplant. hahahaha

  • That’s a strange statement about SAF, Richie. Do you really believe if he was so irresponsible and reckless with the club’s money, he would still be there after 26 years? And in spite of being paid LESS than Mr Wenger, he is delivering, and is most definitely keeping up. MU sit top of the PL after inflicting a first home defeat on their noisy oil-rich neighbours in two years, and they are one of the world’s largest brands. Has Mr Wenger replicated that level of success at Arsenal?

  • I’m not surprised, Total, you probably reserve ‘God’-like status more for the manager than you do the person you dedicated your blog site to.

  • Facts Herb Facts. Again put some meat on those bones.Less than SAF? I’ve heard this rumour before from the doomers but only facts will back it up. The Swiss Ramble who’s work I respect showed it to be false. Manu’er are the biggest money makers in our league, so SAF could always afford to buy and pay players for more than us, remember way back when he bought the most expensive defender in the leagues history? Rio from Leeds. How could Mr Wenger replicate that level of success? It was a rigged field in favor of the one before the Russians money arrived, now it’s a rigged field in favor of 3. Balance analysis is whats needed, I repeat SAF’s paying Van Judas nearly a £Mil a month.

  • Do you really believe RvP left solely for money, Richie? Didn’t Henry sign a four-year contract in the summer of 2006 reported to be £200,000 a week?
    When asked what he’d do if he had £100m to spend, Mr Wenger said he’d give it back.
    Have Abou Diaby or Tomas Rosicky significantly improved as players, or helped our club’s fortunes, in the six years they have taken a lot of money out of our club? What has Arshavin given us for the £15m we paid? An ageing midfielder from Everton for £10m who we now play out of position, Walcott not good enough, Squillaci, Gervinho and Chamakh shouldn’t be allowed to look at an Arsenal shirt let alone wear one. Vermaelen has no leadership qualities whatsoever, Podolski is heading the same way as Arshavin, and we just can’t utilise our main striker, Giroud. All that adds up to a huge mis-management of our resources.

  • @The Gooner; Of course I compared them when they were at the top of their game because your article “Lack of world class talent keeps Arsenal from reliving glory years” didn’t say lack of supporters trust in Arsene’s abilities to develop those with potential into the new invincible’s of the future did it? According to your article it is “world class talent” that we need now. You were not calling for us to be successful in 5 years time were you?
    I am a francophone having spent 3 years in Paris and a further 2 in France, so my knowledge of French football isn’t too shabby. Personally I doubt there is a player in the whole of the French league that Arsene doesn’t know about, they are often his first port of call not because they are French but because they cost less and often have a higher level of technical abilities. The same reason players from the Spanish league are preferred. Do you really think Arsene doesn’t know about Mbiwa and Capoue? First Yanga we were first linked with him back in April before the start of the current season. These two excepts below are taken from the news papers.
    “On 7th December 2012 Arsenal announce they have agreed a deal to sign Yanga-Mbiwa for a fee of £6.9 million. He will join up with his new squad on the 1st of January. Since the above announcement; Chelsea have joined the chase to sign Yanga-Mbiwa and they will be his preferred destination.”
    “Arsenal face a battle with Spanish giants Barcelona for the signature of £9.5Mil rated Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had lined up a move for Capoue after cooling his interest in Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila.”

    As a foreigner while in my first stay (no sky in those days, so no Arsenal) I chose to follow the only non French club in their league. (Monaco it’s a principality) It’s not exactly true to say Arsene purchased unknowns and nurtured them.

    His first direct buy for Arsenal was Vieira who I’d seen play for and captain Cannes (who incidentally had another notable in those days one Zinedine Zidane) as a 19 year old (the youngest captain in the French league) it was no surprise to me that a big club came in for him. AC Milan snapped him up, and it was no surprise to me that Patrick hated it in Italy. In 95 the racist atmosphere in Italy wasn’t pleasant and he jumped at the chance to escape it and play in London (probably the least racist city in Europe, possibly the world) for Arsene. He stated at the time he would never play in Italy again, which is why many of us were shocked when he returned.

    Bobby P wasn’t an unknown either, he’d been a star at a small club Metz but he’d been picked up by one of the big French clubs Marseille. We only got him on the cheap (£6mil) because Marseille had a problem with him; he was refusing to play for them, because he’d had a row with the coach.

    Thierry came to Arsene as a youngster at Monaco, don’t believe the hype; He was a striker not a winger and a damned good one too but Arsene had some great strikers already in place and more waiting in the wings. The Monaco academy was stuffed with young talent when Arsene left. The forward line was Hateley (English) Fortana (Ivory Coast) and Fonseca (Argentina) Arsene had George Weah (European footballer of the year) too. Those coming out of the youth academy were Trezeguet, Thuram and Scifo. Arsene offered Henry games if he’d play on the wing, which he did. No contract shit about “I only wanna play central”.

  • Oz I must disagree because I think Swansea have raided La Liga and picked up some great players, my Spanish Nephew is a bloody weath of info on players in La Liga and ID’ed those same players before they moved to Wales as good buys, he’s only half a Gooner the little shit, (he loves Barca) he was a regular at Highbury and he’s visited the wonderful “Princes Stadium”TA 🙂 a couple of times, hell he’s even been as far north as you can get and still be in England (St James Pk) to watched our boys. I’m trying to get him to be a scout for us.:)

  • Thats why we blog on this site, we’ve got quality articles being thrown at us by TG & TA they deserve only the best we can throw back at them.

  • Herb I know your a big fan of SAF’s but if you want me to list all the failures he’s bought it will be longer than my arm and yours. Look at Arsene’s purchases in the round and it’s hard not to be impressed.

  • Richie, I have no argument when it comes to Theo’s contract not being worth over £75k, but if wages are a sticking point when landing top quality players then something needs to be changed. We can’t keep compensating with lower quality players to make up for failed signings and for Wenger to be stubborn and insist that he play for one, and play them out of position for another.

  • Fantastic blogging today and TG and Richie especially have been in top form. The whole idea of blogging is to learn from each other, to give each other support when times are rough and to celebrate the past and current good moments.

    TG’s post on Friday gave us a good picture of how we don’t have the world class quality anymore we used to have, with an in-depth analysis of how good those Invincibles were.

    Richie, writes a post that is mostly in support of what TG writes by indicating how difficult it would be to replace like for like in the here and now.

    And then TG follows it all up with a fine comment – which could have been a post in itself again -saying it could be replicated again in the future, pointing us to some fine talent across Europe.

    In a nutshell: respect for the past, eyes wide open towards our current situation, or should that be predicament, and there is hope for the future. Top stuff guys!!!! 🙂

  • TA, while you may be correct, there’s a lot of concerning news surfacing from past Arsenal stars and the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust. Even the stingy bloke Gazidis is saying AW has money to spend! The Bould-Wenger drift seems plausible but again there is no word from either that it’s true. At some point, the onus falls on Wenger to change his transfer policy, but at 63 I’m pretty sure he’s set in his ways. The AST seems to believe that Wenger has a dictatorship over the club and is in charge of transfers, wages, coaching, tactics, player development etc etc. and it’s too much for one man, yet he refuses to diffuse the responsibility. Very interesting news, but it’s hard to confirm all of it without actually being a member of the organization.

  • A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the M25. Nothing was moving.
    Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.
    The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
    “Terrorists have kidnapped all of our MP’s during a sitting of Parliament,
    and they’re asking for a £100 million ransom. Otherwise, they are going to
    douse them all in petrol and set them on fire. We are going from car to car
    collecting donations.”
    “How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.

    The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”

  • Richie, great insight on Pires, Henry and Vieira. No doubt that these players were already talented before joining Arsenal but they certainly weren’t the finished articles that football fans across the world acknowledge them as now either. Of course I know that Wenger is aware of Capoue and Mbiwa, just wasn’t sure if you did, but I’m glad you are knowledgeable about Ligue 1! I enjoy watching the league and think they produce some quality footballers that are heavily underrated around the world.

    I think my original article has been slightly misunderstood too. I never claimed that we’d be able to or should replace a like for a like. Just that if you compare the world-class talent on the Invincibles to what we have today, it’s a far cry from being close to the same quality. Those five players I identified played at key positions that helped us dominate games. If we’re to replicate a past model of success, we just need to have more high quality players playing in our squad (specifically in those positions). I’m also a little more lenient than most when it comes to defining world class talent too. I certainly think that if Vermaelen can consistently return to his 2010-11 form that he could be considered a world-class defender. I believe Santi is a world class player at the all-important creative role and Jack is a burgeoning world-class talent capable of leading and driving our team forward. As for potential world-class caliber targets, I believe Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to be at a world-class quality for a striker. My point is that the players replacing the Invincibles don’t have the be at the exact same level as them; they just have to be at a high enough quality to bring us to the level of other top clubs.

    Also, what do you mean the racist atmosphere was only hostile then in Italy? Do you see how fans treat Balotelli?! Hahaha the bloke gets ripped on by his own country!

  • Hi Redders, I liked your comment over on ‘AA’, re Matthew Syed’s article, that reminds us that we owe a lot of gratitude to Mr Wenger. However…
    Anointing him as Arsenal’s greatest ever manager is a massive call
    He arrived at one of England’s elite football clubs to find them in very rude health, with all the building blocks in place to nurture into success. There is absolutely no doubt that he improved the club drastically with the training and dietary measures he introduced, as well as his footballing philosophy. But he was also taking over a winning club, with players who had already won major trophies, which include the Title, and success in Europe. Can we really claim that by calling it ‘Wengerball’, Mr Wenger invented his own tactical brand? He wanted to play ‘Total-Football’ like the Dutch played in the 1970’s with Johann Cruyff, and he had the perfect architect in Dennis Bergkamp with which to build it around. It is more likely that Mr Wenger was aware of the work Cruyff was doing at Barcelona and wanted a similar model at Arsenal rather than Barcelona ‘copying’ us and improving it. But what he did build, was magnificent, magical, and the spectacle he gave us was exhilirating. And putting together ‘The Invincibles’ is a truly remarkable achievement.
    The thorny issue of the stadium move, which doesn’t even have a proper football name. The whole thing has had a bad karma around it from day one. Aesthetically it ticks all the right boxes, but whether or not it qualifies as a spiritual football arena remains to be seen. But there is no doubt Arsenal ventured into this project with eyes wide open, and fully prepared for any given financial scenario. As Sagars (TalkSPORT), said last night, the people who make the decisions at Arsenal have made £millions. Was the stadium move just about lining people’s pockets, or putting Arsenal on the world map as a major football force?

  • Exactly TG – a lot of ‘journalists’ out there having to feed hungry beaks at home.

    His transfer policy is not the problem but keeping his players is.

  • Cheers Redders, really appreciate the kind words :). Always enjoy reading your quality posts too as they provide a lot of insight as well!

    My point is that there is a lot of quality talent out there, and that if Wenger was not so stubborn with the failures he’s signed in the past, he could have had better players at quality prices and they’d likely be producing more. I just think he needs to take a more proactive approach after an obvious mistake, though I can’t completely condemn his unwavering faith in players, or else talents like Cesc, van Judas, Wilshere, etc. may not have come up through the academy that quickly or have stuck with the team.

    In the end, everything is hit or miss and for every success, there’s an obvious failure. Some players just cannot adapt to the English game or to Arsenal’s system. However, in my mind, there were several players that I never thought were of a high enough quality for Arsenal, yet he did and AW has not really done anything to correct it (besides benching them and shutting them out completely). Chamakh, Squaillaci and Santos are the most recent ones, and despite being depth options, they’re eating a large chunk of the wage bill and could have been replaced long ago. AW also has what I view as some squad players currently being forced into starting roles due to a lack of quality.

  • TMHT @ 11:50.

    It was just that Terry, bloody horrendous. Yes Staffs have mouths that are ideal for tearing and ripping, they have long snouts, and the one which had my dog by the face made a bit of a mess of it. The guy was full of remorse, and couldn’ apologise enough. He was also bitten by his own dog during the attack, whilst he was trying to prise the dogs mouth open to release my dog. I was with my Daughter at the time and she was in a right state. You can imagine what my chosen words were to him, but at the time all i was interested in was getting him to a vet straight away. He had no chance with two of them coming at him, and he was also on a lead which I did not help by trying to pull him away. It almost made me physically sick.

    When I next meet you I’ll tell you what I carried up my sleeve for up to about six weeks after that attack. The guy or the dogs have never been over the park since.

    I did manage to trace him and got him to pay the vets bill though. He paid in full.

    The police did not want to know and told me to contact the local council and complain to them, which I did. The park manager told me to go round the guys house get his name and telephone number. So in other words he weren’t interested either.

  • Herb, you are depressing me with that news mate! It’s something I’ve tried to ignore for years and believed it was just the tabloids spreading poisonous news about our club to the public. However, the longer that mediocrity persists, more and more information is released that suggests those reports are true and if there isn’t change soon, we could be on the brink of turmoil. I think the board has been a limiting factor in the success of this club for a while, but the average fan is only starting to realize it now.

  • TA, thanks for the glowing feedback and summary. I think you’ve captured the blogging of myself and Richie very well. Let’s not forget the amazing work you did with the preview and recap of the Bradford City game in-between! Really, your articles were the only positives that I took from that result…

  • VCC, are you referring to your zimmer? Sorry mate, I had to in respect of glic not being able to comment until later 😉

  • TA, I think one is directly correlated to the other. Instead of praying for an answer internally when losing a player, if funds permitted, AW could have proactively scoured the market for a suitable replacement. I’m not saying a like for a like, but a player of top quality that could have contributed in a similar way.

  • Haha thank you TA, I certainly was not having a dig at you Herb! I respect all the posters on this site way too much to ever seriously do that. I was simply saying that what you just posted is becoming a clearer reality day by day and that it’s starting to depress me that it’s true (board lining their pockets at the expense of giving the fans silverware).

  • TG, I am hoping Arsene now has more money to find better replacements and yet I want him also to recruit from within. Finding the balance is key, as I am sure you will agree 🙂

  • Hi Herb, 🙂

    Just seen your comment.

    I am not surprised at what you have written, as we have been this way a few times before.

    It would be impossible for me to change your mind, because, in any event, you know that I respect your opinion even tho’ I think you are mistaken.

    Someone you did convince was The Gooner, altho I think you misunderstood him saying so. For his benefit, and so he knows what we are talking about, I think it might help to repeat the points i made, to which you were referring.

    – AW is the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal. He is one of the greatest of all time.

    – He revolutionized Arsenal football Club with his ideas and his vision, along with Danny Fizman, so we have the best stadium in England and one of the best in Europe.

    – He introduced fantastic flowing football that has only recently been bettered by Barcelona, albeit in the same style.

    – Every other manager, including Guardiola, has copied his training techniques and introduced them at their own clubs.

    – He has done all that, and more, without the artificial injection of huge sums of money, with did not originate with football.

    And the list goes on.

    What concerns me is that already the antics of those with a short memory, and even shorter tempers, his legacy is starting to be tainted, and I fear this will erode the reputation of a good man and a great manager.

    We are all fallible, and no one is above criticism, including Arsene, and that is OK, provided it is done with decency and due respect for a special man to whom all Gooners owe a deep debt of gratitude, whether they have the wit to agree with that, or not.

    As regards your comment referring to Saggers .

    He is involved in what is called, in the US, a ‘shock jock’ show. The more outrageous his broadcast opinions = the more he gets outraged reaction = more audience participation = job done. Whether he believes what he is saying is a moot point. What is clear is that he does not care about Arsenal — just more fodder for his show.

    Wenger as a human being and as a manger is under huge pressure from not just some fans, who make me feel ashamed, but also the media. They see a lion at bay and want blood. I have always stood up for my principles and also the picked upon ‘underdog’ and I have no time for the baying pack. Mob mentality is very ugly and brings out the worst in people — not the best.

  • Redders,

    I was planning to write a post in support of Arsene, and you have just provided me with the perfect pointers! 🙂

    Well said, Sir! 🙂

  • Guys…..I’m still waiting for 5 entries into the UMF League for this week end =
    The Gooner

  • VCC, Ive studied the form and am convinced i have a full house. If i was you i would stick all your lolly on it.

    Arsenal win -5-0
    Swansea win
    Utd win
    Stoke win
    QPR-Fulham Draw

  • Red, excellent observations and I believe that it’s all in AW’s hands from here on out to prove that he’s not the stubborn mule and “has been” that people have made him out to be lately. He has to show that he’s willing to be more flexible and take this team forward after the 7 years of misery that we’ve endured. He has done a lot with the academy and keeping faith in his team, but he should not see it as covering up a mistake by pursuing some top quality talent in the transfer windows. Simply put, the young talent hasn’t developed as quickly as he had hoped and he needs to bridge the gap that currently exists. He’s brought in some quality players and we have an above average squad that is just short on confidence and fresh tactics right now. An infusion of further talented players in January will go a long way in resolving some issues at the club, while also keeping our own top players happy. As you well know, I’m not an advocate of splashing out a ton of money to bring people in; rather, there are a lot of talents to be had in the £10-20 million range that we could capitalize on. It’s crystal clear that Diaby will always struggle to stay fit, Chamakh is not a quality alternative striker, Arshavin won’t succeed on the wing and in Wenger’s system, Santos shouldn’t be anywhere near the EPL etc. I’ll say it again, it’s all in the hands of AW to be that agent of change to turn things around.

    However, not to be a debbie downer, but Vieira himself claims that Arsenal are trying to be too pretty with their football right now. Yes, AW did bring a more appealing brand of football to Arsenal when he first arrived, but it was also much more direct and physical in the glory years than it has been for the past 5-6 years.

  • Hi Redders, I hope I’m not one of those who make you feel ashamed.
    Even the messages coming from the club are contradictory. Mr Wenger says there’s no embarrassment going out to a League Two side in the C1 Cup, whereas Ivan Gazidis feels the need to apologise and declare it’s not good enough, but if we keep holding on there’s Jam tomorrow! Or 2014, to be more precise. Is there any other club you can think of, who have to repeatedly apologise to their supporters? Is there any other club who feel the need to ask their supporters to wait for success?
    I understand that TalkSPORT’ is a ‘shock-jock’ vehicle designed at playing on people’s emotions for an immediate reaction, but at the same time they can’t broadcast untruths, such as the Bradford City player up against Marouane Chamakh (£50,000 a week, according to Durham), on Tuesday, took a pay cut to join Bradford just so he could play football, and earns £225 a week. Guess which one looked the better player and showed more desire for their club. These are basic management decisions that some people – and I don’t necessarily mean you personally – want our manager completely absolved of blame from. Call it as it is or don’t call it at all.

  • Herb,

    No I was not referring to you. When I originally wrote that comment (before I knew you would read it) I was referring to those who criticised AW in a disgraceful and disrespectful way.

    You have never come into that category. You have always been respectful (with Arsene Wenger and everyone else) and you put your case in a forthright way but without insult or blasphemy.

    Rest assured, I see you as a good blogger, and if you are in doubt about what or who I am referring to — if it is critical — it is not you! 🙂

  • Herb,

    Now I am disappointed. I thought we had moved on from generalised complaints.

    1. No manager or director can forecast when their club will achieve success, therefore your understanding that the club are asking you/us to wait until 2014 does not make much sense, does it?

    2. Those radio shows know full well that they can say almost anything, either out of stupidity or because no one can be arsed to take legal action against them.

    3. Who cares what some has been player or manager from any other club says about your own club? Seriously?

    4. No one is asking anyone else to ‘absolve’ AW from these ‘decisions’. What decisions?

    Everything mentioned by you and answered above has nothing to do directly with ‘decisions’ made by Wenger.

    That would be akin to someone asking ‘Has Herb stopped beating his dog?’
    That question makes the outrageous assumption that — “Herb has a dog! And he beats the dog! What evidence is there for such a question to be asked? let alone asking if he has stopped beating it. How do you answer? Yes? No? It is just so wrong.

    Herb I am quite happy to discuss Wenger’s tactics, decisions to buy or not buy such and such a player, or whether he is too ‘stubborn’, or not, to spend money on buying players.

    I will not discuss any other generalizations which are simply not based on fact or are disputed. What is the point? And I am sure you would not want me to discuss something I find impossible to understand.


  • Thanks for your entries guys. Here’s the individual odds for all that have entered so far.

    OZ…………… 13-1
    Herb “………. 23-1
    TMHT………. 97-1
    VCC………… 9-1
    The Gooner

  • VCC, tell that to glic as I’m convinced he’s purposely trying to lose based on his selection history.

  • Evening Muffaletta`s 😆

    Fine post richie and fine comments.

    I`m tired and will now go and put my Arsenal Onesie on and relax, it`s cold so I will put a Onesie on little glic…..an Arsenal sock ! hahaha

    I have been thinking deeply over the last few days, yes my fellow BKers, I`m the forth in the line of the great philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Glictoris ! hahaha
    I have been taking in the fine comments of you all and articles I have heard from talkSPORT and read from The Sun. It has left me concluding two points……a f**king headache and a sore todger !. The head ache from too much info` and the sore todger from taking some respite watching BabeStation because of the info` induced headache ! hahaha

    The Invincibles were a one off and even the combined wealth of the Chavs and City may never be able to replicate that achievement . So Arsene has no chance !.
    I`m fear Arsene has possibly taken us as far as he can !. I have never seen such attacks on him as in the last few days.
    I know the media will put any trash out to sell papers, but it is the ( if true ) talk of ex-players which is more telling, as in Ian Wright saying , Wenger turned down DB10 for coaching job, Tony Adams saying Arsene is not that great a coach and previously saying GG was a better coach and as much as Stewart Robson is despised (I have found his “talking tactics” on Arsenalplayer very knowledgeable), he is another saying Wenger has limited ability as a coach !.
    As I have said previously, can they all be wrong ?. There are some great intelligent writers on Arsenal blogs like BK, but should we dismiss what ex-players, who have a far greater inside knowledge of our club than we do ?
    I think he derserves the chance to try and pull a rabbit out of the hat, but times have changed and unless he changes, I fear for not only his reputation , but his health aswell.
    It will be a sad day when he finally calls it a day. So please Arsene change with the times.
    Money will be spent, but more important is style of play and tactics, this maybe where he either rises to the challenge or falls. The quality player haemorrhaging and Chamakh etc replacement plasters over the last few years have done nothing to heal our plight.
    Challenging times ahead, a loss at Reading and the knives will be sharpened ready to be inserted and there are “fans” who actually want us to lose so they can be the stabbers !.
    I honestly dont know what the answer is ?
    Who would have thought it was just a game of football !.

  • Hahaha VCC, I hope glic feels I did him justice there. The reference fit in beautifully with one who never leaves your side and you have unconditional love for mate ;).

  • I agree poor Balotelli must wonder where his loyalties lay? But he gets stick from his “own” because he’s black and Italian, not despite it. But believe it or not things have improved a lot in Italy since 95.They’ve become far more used to seeing black players in their leagues in the last 17 years I haven’t been for the last 2 years, but I used to visit regularly in the 90’s and I still feel the urge to return every other year or so. Dispite thr racism I still love so many things about the country.

  • Total
    If you are spending all the time with little Henry, you are the one he will bond with and as Vicky says, you will feel the force of his unconditional love. I have the same with my pup, he stalks me everywhere and has no interest in anyone else. I`ve never known a bond like it, mans best friend doesn`t even come close !. 🙂

  • Muffaletta yourself Glicster Fixter! :devil:

    You listening to Talkshite all day has obviously fouled your soul my friend. 🙂

    Those ex-players are desperate to say something too, because they are in sport-show business themselves now. Wenger would kill them verbally in five seconds if he ever would be bothered to respond. Wenger will once again show everyone what he is made off; I have no doubt about that.

    Night all 🙂

  • VCC, it appears that glic doesn’t need any encouragement haha. I see below he’s at it again! By the way, my predictions will come tomorrow after the press conferences. Just need to make sure some players will be fit before confirming my decisions. Apologies about the delay.

  • Total 🙂

    Hope your right, personally I`m giving up trying to work it all out as it`s giving me another headache, I think I need some respite !. hahaha

    Nite 🙂

  • VCC

    I probably need Redders to confirm this, but your name is also your age in Roman numerals !

    195 years old !. Your not bad for your age, I wouldn`t have put you a day over 194 ! hahaha

  • Bang on the money Redders, great comment.

    The thing that sh*ts me the most is when fans like Kaboom say:

    “Spurs didnt spent much on bale (ya i know he is a C**T) neither did moyes spent much on Fellani. also MIchu and Chico cost like 3mil in total.
    the point is, there are real gems out there but Wenger is blinded but his faith in french league/players”

    Arsene spots gems (has done since the beginning) but if he signs a player who doesn’t deliver or misses out on a player fans use it against him all the time! Fellani signed in 2008 and was crap! Everton supporters ridiculed him all the time, with some losing hope that he’d ever come good. Now he’s blossomed this year (as a attacking midfielder NOT a defensive midfielder like we need) and all of a sudden its “why didn’t Arsene sign him ages ago?

    I wasn’t aware that Arsene controlled the world players market?

    No ben arfa…sack him
    no michu…sack him
    no cabaye…sack him
    no cahill…sack him
    no hazard…sack him
    didn’t sign up Messi when he was 16…sack him
    my weetbix get too soggy if i put to much milk in the bowl…SACK HIM!!!!

    It’s all getting a bit ridiculous to be honest!

  • Morning to all! 🙂

    TG allows us all to go Christmas shopping with an in-depth analysis of January transfer target. A real treat!!


  • Herb that was a “misquote” AW never said “He” wasn’t embarrassed. He defended his players saying he didn’t think they should be embarrassed.
    There is a mile of difference in the two. (I could be embarrassed by my 8 year old and I am often, but she’s got nothing to be embarrassed about, she 8) Arsene said his players were disappointed and should feel frustrated, not embarrassed. If Arsene hadn’t defended his players I would’ve been more shocked, because that’s one of his strengths he always defends both Arsenal and the players.
    Herb I lay the blame at Arsene’s door for things he is responsible for like team selection, substitutions, training methods etc. But if you don’t pay any fee’s for a player it’s normal practise in the industry that the players wages make up for his non-signing on fee. The precident was set in modern times with Sol, we got him for free and he got his fee in wages. OK maybe a mistake was made with Chamakh and Arsene’s not been able to turn him into a better player, but Arsene’s record in the transfer market stands out as a shinning example, and can be compared to the best on any level. Criticism where it’s due but credit also where it’s due.

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