08 May 2013

A 2-2 draw, the Puma deal, Ferguson retires. Not a bad day....

Arsenal fans were greeted today by a pair of wonderful news items and third solid one: the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, the announcement of a new sponsorship deal with Puma, and a draw between Spurs and Chelsea. Between the first two, our long-term future looks much, much rosier than it did earlier in the week. It's not that Man U will suddenly slump from the top of the table, nor will the infusion of cash from the Puma deal drive us to the top, but, all the same, it's quite a good day for us. That third item strengthens our hold on 4th while keeping 3rd within reach. Not bad. Not bad at all.

First, Ferguson's retirement. Congratulations and all to him on a storied career. Moving on. There's bound to be speculation about his replacement, currently focusing on Everton's David Moyes (checks all the right boxes: grouchy, Scottish, dislikes Wenger...). Whoever it is will inherit a strong squad and buckets of cash to spend in the summer. Who they bring in will matter a great deal, of course, and will certainly have an influence on who's there next year. I doubt that Ferguson's departure will dampen Ronaldo's interest in returning, for example, but it might just hasten Rooney's departure. Before I get too busy rumor-mongering, though, we'll leave those issues aside. Of more direct predictability is that the new Man U manager will likely have less, um influence over referees and the FA than Ferguson has had. He's been one of the Prem's most-successful managers of the last twenty years, presiding over an impressive run of league championships and other honors. It seems that the only one he couldn't win is the Champions League. Therefore, for him to step down presents Man U with a tremendous set of shoes to fill. One way or another, there's likely to be a slight dip in Man U's stature, if not its position on the table, especially if the wrong manager is brought on. Something tells me they already have their man all lined up. I doubt Ferguson would simply jump ship without Man U having a plan of succession. They're not Chelsea, after all.

One design making the rounds. Not wild about those stripes...
That's all fine and dandy, but the even-better news is the announcement of the new deal with Puma. I've never liked Nike, seeing them as relative latecomers to football. I haven't seen details of the deal yet, but it's apparently a record-setting deal in the realm of £30m per season, absolutely obliterating the terms of our Nike deal, which was closer to £8m per season. To make another comparison, Man U's current deal with Nike gets them about £19m per season. Liverpool's deal with Warrior gets them £25m. Good God. All of these are eye-popping sums of money. However, having money means little to nothing unless you put it to good use. We've seen some pretty snazzy new facilities go up in recent years, so I'm not alone in begging that this money be used on the players, old and new, who use those facilities. I've long been opposed to becoming just another Chelsea or Man City, brazenly throwing piles of cash around until they get what they want. I know that money makes the world go around and that we all have a selling price, but let's maintain some sanity around this. For one thing, once we splurge on a player, we run the risk of not just overpaying for him but also of breeding resentment among our current players, some of whom will look elsewhere even if we do make them a better offer. In some cases, that's a good thing, to be sure, but it's still something to be mindful of. Before we go out and go crazy in the transfer market, then, let's enjoy this for what it is: one more step towards restoring ourselves to glory. To cadge from Arsène, this might mean the end of sausages, but we need not indulge in caviar three times a day. As tough as it's been at times, we've known that we'd have to finance the new stadium and therefore be much-more judicious with spending. Now that we're about to emerge from that burden, we don't have to go crazy. This isn't Brewster's Millions.

Last but not least, yet another result has gone our way as Chelsea and Spurs fought to a testy 2-2 draw, leaving Chelsea in 3rd and Spurs in 5th. Although many of us were hoping for a Chelsea win to clarify 4th place on our behalf, a draw works almost as well. With Spurs now a point behind us, we control our fates. By winning over Wigan and Newcastle, we stay in 4th with nothing Spurs can say or do to stop us. We retain a decent chance of catching Chelsea as well, but I'm less concerned with that than I am with holding 4th. We'll take a closer look at those issues later. In brief, Chelsea has a trip to face a stubborn Aston Villa, fighting to avoid relegation; their Europa final, and a visit from Everton, all in the space of eight days. Spurs have an easier go of it, with a trip to face Stoke, who look to be safe from relegation, and then hosting Sunderland, who are still in the thick of that fight, at least for the moment.

We very nearly bagged a hat-trick of great news today. I'm certainly not complaining. I'll take it.