Arsenal Times
And then he kissed it
By AJ the Gunner
July 31 2008

The going of Hleb to Barca prompted some mixed feelings for AJ the Gunner: Hleb's kissing of the Barca badge has caused debates amongst football fans as to where the loyalty of a footballer lies. Questions about player's commitments will always be big issues in football.

  There were those who felt it was simply Hleb's way of letting Arsenal fans know how badly he wanted to leave, while others used it to buttress the fact that some footballers can't be trusted when their loyalty is called upon.

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 I guess footballers have a right to decide where their loyalty lies at any given point in their career, after all it's their bodies that are bruised on the pitch. Just as we fans have a right to our emotions too, after all our support helps turn the wheels in the game. I was disgusted with Hleb, but then I thought to myself, why bother getting upset with a player who was fantastic to watch but had no end result. Fancy football with no goals and not enough assists to show for all his effort was a big minus to us. A waste to be precise considering that glaring missed chances were part of our problems last season with Hleb a major culprit.

What I really can't stomach is when players like Hleb or Flamini say they have left Arsenal to join a big club with big ambitions. Do they really mean that Arsenal is not a big club with ambitions?  Many Arsenal detractors have stated that we have no ambitions to win anymore but are busy breeding players for the bigger boys [fancy that]. Can we really blame them? Four trophy less seasons with only "nearly did' to show for all our efforts is enough for anti-Arsenal tongues to start wagging. Come on Wenger no more excuses, our pride is now at stake.

Young or Old?

The issue begging to be analyzed is it really worth buying young players and turn then into great players when it's a big gamble to trust a footballer's loyalty anymore. For all the faith Wenger showed to Flamini he still jumped ship at 24 years before he gave us his best. Listening to his press conference really ticked me off because I felt he used the chance Wenger gave him to his advantage.

I've often wondered whether our policy of giving one year contract extension to players 30 years and over is still enough to inspire loyalty in players of this generation. Won't the fact that there is really no job security for our older players create an uncertainty about loyalty and commitment once they start nearing the dreaded 30? We have lost some great players who still had more to offer the club due to this policy.

At this point for me unless Wenger's strategy is really to buy young players and sell them to make good profit for the club, I really don't know if it's worth it. But considering it was claimed Wenger admitted (This is almost certainly a twisting of Arsene's words by the media.Ed) that Arsenal are a selling club and had been for some time, one begins to wonder. Is the club being honest about our true financial situation?

Left to me, I would buy experience, blend them with our youngsters, use them, sell them when they have given their best and can still fetch a reasonable amount of money. This may sound ruthless but when you have players like Adebayor who just had one great season, with loads of misses to shame a world class player,  holding Arsenal to ransom by demanding an outrageous wage increase or he will leave the club,  then I say it's time to be ruthless.

Just when Wenger is on the verge of creating another great team that could go on to achieve great things.  We have some players who are busy placing more importance to what they believe their worth should be valued at. Others have left as a result of this even before the dream of greatness is realized. Can these players be trusted to stick to the end or are they just in it until they become established players and can command high wages elsewhere?  I worry that this may just make it a bit harder for Wenger to build another great team. Whatever happened to "LOYALTY TO THE CAUSE?"

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