Vic Crescit is back! Will ESPN be better than Setanta?

A 2-0 loss to Valencia out in Spain rounded off our pre-season preparations on Saturday. Nothing to cry about really. I can remember a lot of successful seasons which kicked off with indifferent results in pre-season.
Friday bought us news of our draw with Celtic in the play-off round of the Champions League. I’m looking forward to it. I wanted Anderlecht or Timosaura ideally but Celtic is beatable. I’ve no doubt that the atmosphere at Parkhead will be great. It’s a pity I can’t afford to find my way up there for the first leg. The recession has hit my income as it has that of so many Gooners.
At least we’ve avoided Atlético Madrid and Fiorentina. Either of them would have been “game on”. We cant afford to be complacent against the Scottish runners-up but on paper we’ve got the beating of them. Let’s just remember the game is played on grass, not paper.
Before that though it’s a trip to Merseyside for the League opener against Everton for a Saturday tea-time kick-off next weekend live on ESPN. ESPN is an American owned network (it stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) who have taken over the British rights formally owned by Setanta. I don’t suppose they’ll be any more considerate of travelling fans, whether home or away, than was Setanta. Neither the Premier League nor the broadcasters seem to care much about the most committed fans who fetch up to the games week in week out and plonk down our hard-earned. I’m afraid they’re only going to pay attention when we all start turning up in fancy dress disguised as empty seats.
Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor have both departed for the Arab millions at Manchester City. I’m sorry to see Kolo go. He was never quite the same player post his bout of malaria but he always played with heart and no small amount of class. Adebayor I’m not sorry to see the back of. I was a big defender of his for a long time. His first touch was never out of the top draw and he missed a few too many chances. His attitude was always first class though and he scored plenty of goals until his temper tantrum last summer. His heart never really seemed in it last season. That’s inexcusable for any player at the top level given the salaries they receive. Good riddance I say mate.
I want to see class in the Arsenal shirt but if I have to choose between class and attitude I’ll take a striver. I love the game the way Arsčne wants it played but it only works if everybody’s in the boat rowing together. One of the reasons for Barcelona being such an outstanding side is that they work like Trojans at it.
Thomas Vermaelen, the Belgian defender singed from Ajax will be a good edition I think. He’s a little on the small side but reads the game well and has a good attitude. I confess I’d like to see a couple of additions as well as him. My priority would be another central defender and a holding midfield player followed by a top-drawer goalie. I shan’t however cry too much if we don’t make any further additions. I think we have a squad that can do well in all competitions this season.
If Emmanuel Eboué and Philippe Senderos follow Kolo and Ade out the door I shan’t be unhappy either. Eboué’s form improved towards the end of last season but he hasn’t matured as I’d hoped. Senderos seems like a nice lad but really isn’t good enough at the very top level I don’t think. We’ve got a transfer surplus of around £29 million this summer. Two more sales would ramp that up to around £40 million.
Losing these players will also create some space in the playing budget. I’d guess a lot of this will be taken up with improved deals for Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere however, plus increases to other players to account for the coming rise in the upper rate of income tax to 50%. If every player were to be fully compensated the latter could cost as much as £10 million a year, never mind pay rises. Not really what we wanted with all sources of income for the club either static or declining. Football still seems to inhabit its own little world however, isolated from the economic gales blowing the rest of us around.
Before I close today, your chance to have your say on a lot of the off-field issues facing our game like ticket prices and so on, courtesy of those good people at the Football Supporters’ Federation.

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