so adieu thierry

Well it’s finally happened; Thierry Henry’s buggered off to Barcelona at long last. I heard a lot of Arsenal fans commenting on the radio yesterday about how surprising, even shocking the news was – but surely this was a move destined to happen. For one thing it’s been a courtship resurrected every summer for the last 5 years. I think most people regarded that as just a tactic to earn TH a regular pay rise. But by his own standards he had such a shocking last season. He seemed disaffected by the move to the Emirates, the captaincy seemed to rest heavily on his shoulders (Silva looked far more comfortable in the role), his team mates appeared almost as intimidated by him as his opponents, his injuries became more of an issue as his relationship with Wenger broke down, David Dein’s departure unsettled him more than it ought to have, he started commenting on the lack of ambition being shown by Arsenal in the transfer market, and he developed a sulk which manifested itself in petulant performances on the pitch. He’s such a gifted player – one of the best the Premiership has seen but I’m sure Wenger knew that last season was a tipping point and now was the time to cash in on a player past his best, just like Vierra before him. It’s smart business by Wenger as usual.

Replacing him won’t be easy especially since 16m quid isn’t exactly a fortune these days but that’s not my worry as a Man U/Boro/Blackpool/occasional Millwall fan. In fact not having him the Arsenal side will be a blessing going forward given the goals he usually tips in against MU. But the likelihood is that the younger guys especially at the Arsenal will blossom now and he might not be missed as much as fans are fearing. They do need an out-an-out striker and someone like a Michael Owen for 9m quid looks a bargain. Yakuba at the same price or even Martens at 13m pounds would deliver the goals and a profit.

The one realistic concern I guess for Arsenal fans is whether this spells a melt-down at the club. Dein gone, Henry gone; will a disillusioned Wenger be next, to be followed by Fabregas, van Persie etc? It could happen. The strong philosphical link from the Boardroom to the lynchpin players via an astute manager has been broken. Has Wenger got the stomach to rebuild the structure? Maybe, but you sense a serious move by Real might just make him think ‘frig it, you re-build it Hill-Wood’. I had a meeting with one of the key Board members at Arsenal a couple of years ago, when the sponsorship rights for the stadium were being offered around. He was very pointed in his comments about the situation at Man U. He thought the Boardroom changes there would prove to be massively destabilising and that Ferguson was a busted flush. His comments seem ironic now. If anything Arsenal are the club in danger of imploding if they don’t handle the Wenger situation adroitly. There’s a lot of debt there too and Champions league football is a necessity for the next, what 12 years? Having Kronke sniffing around like a corporate hyena must make the situation diverting at the very least for the Board. There may be others who are thinking ‘frig it’ too. It’ll be fascinating to watch…..

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About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

8 thoughts on “so adieu thierry

  1. Hi PP

    Am in deep mourning over this one, the club and indeed the league will miss the way a Tel on song plays.

    However, I do think his time had come – and I agree with your view of last season, and you can add into that the fact that despite his bleating about the club needing to buy big (and support him) and looking to play in the CL at a higher level – it didn’t inspire him to put his boots on and join in – 17 games and 10 goals ain’t good enough.

    A bit reminiscent of Paddys last season at the Arse.

    Maybe we are seeing the destabilising impact of foreign ownership in the PL starting to materialise, Rafa at the theives doesn’t seem over happy, the Citeh fans await their fate and I thinke even SAF can only survive through his own strength of personality, what happens at MU when he goes?

    I do have a plan for either the current board, or Kronke when he buys in. For the current board, let Wenger have Diens shares and become Director of Football (i.e. the Dien role) and recruit a manager under him.

    For the Kronke team, appoint Dien as Chairman, and deal with Wenger as above.

    In both scenarios Wenger gets what he wants, and would be happiest under the new ownership situation.

    Oh well, we await the outcome, but our season of development looks like continuing. A first line strike force of Van Persie and Adebayor, with Wallcot & Bendtner in reserve – oh bugger!

    May have to resort to stronger lager!

    Your as ever


  2. hi pgob
    top feedback. i think you’re right to be concerned about the creeping foreign ownership of the PL clubs. at the end of the day they are doing it to make money and eventually that money will be syphoned off and repatriated back to the US or wherever and taken out of UK football.

    when the next big thing comes along they’ll bugger off leaving our clubs indebted for life. but everyone’s rushing to do it or unable to resist it. arsenal may be the exception but somehow you sense they (remaining key shareholders)too will succumb to an iressistible offer.

    i still think dein might be back as kronke’s man. it would make sense. as for wenger, i think he might just keep all his options open for as long as possible. would he fancy the move upstairs now do you think? he may just feel like one more big job ar real or with France/England maybe.


  3. Thanks PP

    Having read your response it does set me thinking…

    What would happen if the foreign money began to work against the fans, making the product unattainable for the majority – if so would the clubs survive?

    The commercial reality for all clubs is about sponsorship, brand & merchandise – not necessarily ticket sales, for sure, however, for the higher finance to work they have to carry a groundswell of support for them, from the fan base, media & bizarrely their competition (would Man U and Liverpool be the same if they didn’t have the rivalry?).

    So, if we began to see Doritos Reds Versus White Red Bull played over 4 quarters (to optimise TV advertising) – would the Arsenal and Tottenham fans do an AFC Wimbledon to re-instate the local interest?

    And if this was the case would the product survive? Is there enough support from a world fan base to ignore the local influence?

    I’d like to think that those of us who pay to get to the games, and sit to watch a wet Wednesday night game in the FA Cup, miles away from home, have an influence in this – but I’m fast getting to the point of believing that we have almost become an annoyance to the owners & sponsors – unless we are paying for the merchandise.

    The parallel with F1 must be drawn at some stage I suppose, at what point will a Bernie Ecclestone character arrive and say to 12 global clubs that he will be running two week competitions at 10 venues around the world, televised and managed by his own company…….. etc.

    Wonder if I could persuade the Dragons to invest in the idea…Mmm!

    Sorry for the meandering thought train here, have been eating a lot of cheese.


  4. hi pgob
    you know i reckon that your kerry packer type idea – the World Soccer Series isn’t so fanciful. if Platini starts pissing around with the Champs league, to make it more ‘democratic’, he could drive the big clubs into the arms of a circus owner.

    i also think you’re right; the fans are becoming an annoyance. most big clubs now make the majority of their money from TV and image rights, sponsorship, performance-related winnings ie not fans-generated. it can’t be far off when the concept of fans travelling away will be banned (for security reasons – but what they really they mean will be to save on security costs).

    if i sound depressed, i apologise. fact is i can’t wait till the new season starts, the game is that compelling. but i do sense my grandsons will be watching an entirely different concept by the time they are old enough to go by themselves – if that’ll be allowed in the future…..


  5. Hey PP

    Following on from our ruminations above, we have had Bernie Ecclestone buying QPR (so maybe the F1 circus has come to town!), and a new Ruskie enters the fray at Arsenal.

    Now, as a committed fan to the cause at The Emirates, I am not sure about this guy Usmanov, so did a bit of digging…..ulp! His press makes certain other Russian Tycoons, Thai Overloards and American Hoodlums look second class.

    Colin Murray, a respected journo and ex British Ambassador to Uzbekistan has this to say about him – “Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist” – so just the guy to fit into the boardroom then!

    You can read the full story here it is not pleasant!


  6. blimey pgob

    don’t really see why such incredibly successful men like ecclestone and briatore would buy QPR – you’d have thought spurs might be the more attractive proposition, but maybe you need to be mega billionaires now to afford the biggest clubs like yer man, Uzzy.

    he sounds a bit like phil mitchell mate. maybe he thinks being based off the holloway road marks him out as an Eastender. i love to be a fly on the wall at any mtg between Uzzy and Hill-Wood who makes Brian Sewell look and sound like Arfur Mullard.

    David dein’s mixing with some rum characters now. he could end up chewing polonium 2107 methinks…


    ps how long will you give pretty boy gregory as manager once briatore’s in place? he’ll ship in some ugly f*cker I reckon.

  7. Spot on PP.

    If Bernie has set a target for Premiership football in 4 years he’s going to need very deep pockets and a miracle of the Lazarus proportion, raised from the dead.

    Grego must be counting the days, interesting thought about who could be shipped in, not sure how much the Ecc-as-like meister knows about football, but his money might tempt a decent manager in.


  8. hi pgob

    i just can’t see it mate without them spending a fortune. the team currently are no-where near the Prem. they’ll need 14 new decent players and 6 better ones each year and a capable manager and the transfer window’s closed. 4 years is fair enough but getting there is one thing, staying is another and their ground is too small to sustain prolonged involvement. so they’ll need to re-build as well. this could cost them £250m minimum.

    still if you’re involved in F1 that’s probably chicken-feed. another world to you and i mate. hope that flavio catches something itchy; he’s just got too much going for him.


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