It’s happened before, hasn’t it? Arsenal players talk to the media in disdain about the way the club is being run. Far from the fact that they are wrong – Arsenal is one of the best run clubs in the Premier League – employees quite simply shouldn’t talk about their employer in that way. Especially if it is just a ploy so the club hastens to offer a new, improved contract.
I’m sure you are aware that Bacary Sagna came out with a bit of an attack on the club the other day. Here’s a reminder:
“I am the last player from the 2007 starting XI remaining. In May, I watched Manchester City show off. I watched Samir and Gael lifting the trophy.
“That gave me desire for it. Were they right to leave? Yes. But when they left, we didn’t know. I expected the departure of Robin van Persie. We all expected it. It was ‘obvious.’
“But the Alex one, it was a surprise. He is 24, he has three years remaining on his contract. I still do not understand. It is a huge loss for the club.
“When you see the two best players of last season leave, you have a lot of questions. Sometimes in the street the fans talk to me. I can understand they are upset. I am just like them, I don’t understand everything. At Arsenal you come back after holidays, you make preparations, and you see two players leave and the season resumes — it has been like that since I have been at the club. I am used to it now.
“My own situation? At the end of the season, I will have one year remaining. Has the club contacted me about an extension? No, no one. Could I be tempted to leave? I just want to play again and be good again with Arsenal so far. Then, we will see. Each person has his own destiny.”
On the face of it, these comments are unsavoury. Sagna implies he is jealous of his former teammates and he is questioning his future at Arsenal. He doesn’t understand the “direction” of the club by the sound of things (that’s familiar isn’t it?) and he isn’t negotiating a new contract.
But we must remember that these comments were in response to specific questions on the club’s transfer policy. Everything he says is true – although he doesn’t mention that the lack of success is because many players did exactly this. They became disillusioned with the club and didn’t perform to the level we expected of them. This kind of mentality frustrates me because it is the players that win trophies. No matter what the manager and the backroom staff do, it comes down to the performances on the pitch. If players are annoyed that we aren’t winning titles, then do something about it. Don’t whine and jump ship at the first opportunity.
We also need to consider that no player is within his rights to come out with a statement like this. It’s a PR mess, and it makes the club look like it’s in “crisis.” As if the media needs another reason to throw that tag at us!
Wenger has responded to Sagna’s comments today on Arsenal Player:
“I believe any player or any employee always has to defend the company he works for – and if he is not completely happy with it then he has to go somewhere else.
“That is basically what I think, and that is what I say to everybody.
“It will be discussed [a new contract], yes. I expect him to stay and I want him to stay.
“The interview does not really reflect at all what he thinks about the club, and the love he has for this club because he has always shown total commitment on the football pitch – for the team and the club.
“That is much more important than a little bit twisted article in the newspaper.”
Wenger stated that he spoke with Bacary about his conduct, implying that he made it clear players cannot attack the club in this way.
But if Sagna is the next first team player to leave, it may not be all doom and gloom. Firstly, he’s nearing his 30th birthday so is unlikely to be a regular for the next four years. We need to give Jenkinson and Yennaris more chances so that, when Sagna leaves/retires/is unable to play every game, they are ready to step up to the challenge. And although he is one of the best right backs in the league, his crossing is yet to live up to the rest of his game. We don’t want an unhappy player in our ranks, especially when the squad seems to be so positive.
Having said all that, I believe Sagna will be a key player this season when he returns from injury, and hopefully he’ll sign a new contract at the end of it.