After 3 years as a steward at the Emirates, I now have a club level season ticket, which now means I can at last go to the game in my Arsenal shirt rather than an orange jacket and celebrate and taunt oppositions like the rest while watching some of the best football on the planet.
The one player that may/may not be with us is El Capitan Cesc Fabregas. He has come out to say his future is in Arsenal’s hand. And bless the predictable media writers getting so excited with the Barcelona rumours you would think they’ve just had an overdose of Viagra pills. Then again, every time Cesc has come out to say he wants to stay in North London, the media somehow interpret that differently to how regular people see it and convince the rest of the world by changing the geography of the planet to say that North London is actually inside Catalonia.
Some Gooners along with myself see his words differently. Undoubtedly, most of the footballing world following this story would love to know the content of the conversation Cesc has had with the manager. Wenger’s philosophy and his trail of thinking is very deep and apart from Adebayor and possible one or two others, every player that has worked with him have had nothing but respect for the man.
Cesc and Arsene have always held a father-son type relation similar to how Alex Hleb saw his relation to Wenger.
Even in such a turbulent point in his career with fans calling for his head, media scrutinising and the Daily Mail going as far as putting him in the list of top 50 flops in the premier league this season, Wenger has asked Cesc not to let his football get affected. Such is his concern for Fabregas’ development, Arsene will not let anything get in the way of Cesc becoming a great footballer and he knows himself that one day Cesc will leave. Nor does he care that when he does become the best midfielder in the world he may have blue stripes down his red top and even be among those that will play against Arsenal in the Champions League.
Arsene will never stop a player from achieving his best and this is a man who doesn’t just work for the greater good of Arsenal, but also for football as a sport which is why he told Cesc that he will deal with the media and the questions thrown and he will bear the brunt of what is to come. And now the media has little choice but to leave Cesc to the World Cup and chase Arsene for answers.
Cesc has been brought up well both as a footballer and young lad. His confidence, passion and determination have given him the stepping stones to become a great of the game. A very large part of the media and even some quarters of the Arsenal fans argue that Cesc is a Barcelona product. But these people donot look at his career objectively. He was at Barca from the age of 9 where they taught him the basics of the game. And a large part of the media and fans believe that is where he became a fantastic footballer.
Wenger has looked for certain elements that make great players and they are things you cannot always teach. A great touch, vision and timing are some of the key elements for Wenger to pick a player that will further develop. Cesc had all of the elements at the age of 14/15 but he was nowhere near a complete player at the time. And there is no better education a player can get than to play in the first team in the most difficult league in the world. Barcelona could not have given him that at the time we did. And I believe that was the making of Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal. From the age of 16 onwards is when a player can really make his future (Wayne Rooney, James Milner, Rodwell, etc) and we gave him that opportunity and showed that faith that Barcelona wouldn’t. By profession, I am a Design Engineer in Control Systems. But I wouldn't say my primary school will get the credit for me being in a job today. They gave me the foundations but it was in University and A-Levels where major development in my education took place.
Someone please explain why Messi, Iniesta, Valdez and co all remained at Barcelona but Cesc chose to leave? Barcelona had a rich culture of promoting within their ranks. Why then did a boy of 14/15 leave his home town, his friends, family and club that taught him the building blocks of football and come to London - which let’s face it, most Europeans don’t like because its “too rainy” or “not enough sun”.
For someone like Reyes and Ibrahimovic who were/are at the peak of their careers, they can make excuses to dislike a city and not move because at that age you are independent and can resettle easily. However, for a boy of 14/15, the same cannot be applied. He left his education at Barcelona at a young age where his hero Guardiola was made and where he got the signed number 4 shirt from Pep. It doesn’t add up that he found it necessary to move to London.
As far as I know, Spanish law does not allow players to sign a professional contract until they are over 17 (correct me if I’m wrong), which is why we managed to sign him from Barcelona. Surely he had been told something different in regards to his future than what Messi and co were briefed. It wasn’t difficult to see Messi was going to be a great player at 14/15 and the same applies to Iniesta. Why then did the top clubs not “steal” them from Barcelona seeing as it was “that easy”!
All that can be concluded from that is Cesc was not put into the same band of players that would graduate from the academy and he felt it was necessary to go elsewhere to ply his trade at that age. He knew who we had at the club at the time – Vieira, Gilberto, Edu, Ljungberg, Romford Pele (Ray Parlour). He knew he wouldn’t be among the first team players in that first year at the very least.
When Wenger wants a player, he will go out of his way to get him. Aaron Ramsey speaks about the extra effort Wenger put in to meet him in person and discuss his development.
And just like when Arsene convinced Fabregas to come to England seven years ago, I do believe that Wenger might just have convinced him to stay another season. Arsenal fans are not stupid. We KNOW he will go back there one day and it is a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Personally I had hoped for 2 seasons by which time I believed Jack Wilshere and/or Ramsey would be ready to be in the first team. But the last thing we want is someone having to play for us not because he wants to, because a paper he signed 2 years ago said he had to.
I don’t believe that Cesc is a player that kisses the badge as a PR stunt. His passion to fight for the team was demonstrated in the league game against Stoke City away. When we were 2-1 up, Cesc went in with a tackle from behind and fouled a stoke defender facing his own goal. The referee let it pass as the game was heated enough as it was and as Cesc ran back to his own half, he gestured a silence to the gremlin Tony Pulis.
Cesc goes on to say in the interview, "It's not up to me anymore and it's just now about Arsenal and wherever it has to be and that's it. I don't want to say anything else, I just want to be focused for the World Cup because it is the most important thing - the rest is the future and I'm not interested in the future."
He has always maintained that his future will be Barcelona, but it seems to me he’s not quite ready to leave us yet. Perhaps this is just being optimistic and I have my red tinted glasses on. However, there are few that could argue with Wenger when he says that the Spanish league is in disarray. To be in a league where 99 points won the title sounds exciting. But when you look down the list you realise the gap between 2nd and 3rd is nothing short of a joke and the competition is lacking in that league.
Whether the Spanish league picks up again or not, whether Fabregas will be our number 4 or not, the fact is we have moved on from major disappointments in the past and we will move on when Cesc leaves. For a while it may seem like the end of the world but that's just nothing short of a sad feeling which will diminish over time. There is still a long summer ahead and let’s not hit the panic buttons until the end of August at least.
Keep the faith!