Benjamin Franklin once said: "There are two certainties in life: Death, and Taxes."
These days, Arsenal fans must feel like adding a third item to that list - a summer transfer saga involving one of our star players. But mercifully, this time around, the build-up of rumours, gossip, mysterious interviews and general tabloid nonsense has been cleared away nice and early, as Emmanuel Adebayor's move to Manchester City was signed, sealed and delivered on the same day that Arsenal drew their opening pre-season warm-up against Barnet.
So much has been written about Adebayor's time at Arsenal over the last few days that a full review of his three and a half years with us seems somewhat redundant, but it nevertheless remains striking that he was a player who seems to have divided opinion like no other.
It is rare for an established player to be so divisive. We debate the merits and talents of the many prospective youngsters we have at the club, and opinions will always vary, all the more so when there's less evidence to go on. But has a striker ever scored 30 goals in a season, and yet still attracted the level of criticism that Adebayor did in the following 12 months?
His flirtations with AC Milan cannot have helped over the summer, no doubt, and Adebayor certainly became a scapegoat for what was a painful summer, with several key players leaving the club, and Arsène Wenger failing to bring in suitable replacements. It's hard now to go back and filter through all the media stories to deduce just how close Adebayor ever got to moving to Milan, but it seems likely that discussions happened, and had an agreement been reached between the clubs, a move wouldn't have been held up too long by Adebayor pondering whether or not he'd fit into the social set of the Milanese fashionistas.
I have to say, it warms my heart a bit that in an age where a player's loyalty can be measured by the size of their salary, fans still feel that they've been slighted when their own passion and commitment is obviously unmatched by their heroes. I don't mean that I condone the boos and jeers that Adebayor received, but I fully believe that Adebayor started the season needing to not just repay the sizeable contract he'd been awarded, but also make good the bond between himself and the fans that he had worked so hard to create the season before.
Other pundits have already had much to say about Adebayor's perceived levels of effort last season, particularly in big matches, with perhaps his performance against Manchester United being a carbuncle upon the whole campaign. But I cannot help but feel that Adebayor has had a steeper hill to climb than most when seeking to find space for himself in the hearts of some fans, one that is not fully explained by reports of his disloyalty in the media.
One of the main causes of the disdain with which he was treated must surely come from his style of play, for Adebayor has never been the most attractive of footballers. At Arsenal, we're used to the silky skills of the Henrys, the Bergkamps and the Píres' of the world, yet suddenly we had on our hands a striker who, whilst effective, seemed to be the blunt battering ram, compared to the Gallic rapier of his predecessors. Even at his best, the tall Togolese appeared clumsy, lacking in the grace that many fans had become used to admiring, physiologically almost pre-destined to be looked down upon. When talking to some, it's as if an arcane formula for the 'perfect footballer', totally subjective of course, takes all precedence over results on the pitch.
It is amongst these fans that Adebayor never really stood a chance. 30 goals a season was not enough to hide the fact that he didn't have the flair, or innate ability that many would have liked, and perhaps for them, the ends would never justify the means. I can understand, of course, the frustration with the inconsistent finishing or the prodigious ability to be caught offside, but I do feel that Emmanuel Adebayor was sold short by many Arsenal fans.
For me, the virtue at the heart of every top team is consistency. The Premiership is filled with players capable of incredible feats once or twice a season, but it is those who can deliver the results game after game that are truly valuable, and in 2007/08, Arsenal had on their hands a man who could provide this. Yes, he was frustrating in possession, yes, he had a tendency to be caught offside, yes, he missed some good chances. But his size, strength, pace and running meant that he was a man who could put himself into positions to score goals, who defenders could not mark, who could beat a man in many different ways, and the results were the cornerstone on which we built our title challenge.
So the man himself may have gone, and we'll all get a kick of cursing his name when he returns to the Emirates (and no doubt scores a goal or two against us!), but I'm a great believer in focussing on your own game rather than worrying about the opposition, so I wonder how our forward line moves on from here.
To me, it seems we can get by without buying a direct Adebayor replacement. The problems in our squad are obvious, and personally, I believe that whether or not Wenger gets around to sorting out our central midfield issues (he's already a season overdue on this, but that's another story) will have far more baring on our season than replacing Emmanuel Adebayor. Robin van Persie is coming off a strong year, and more importantly he stayed relatively healthy. Eduardo is coming back from injury, and if he even halfway lives up to the enormous mythology that seems to have built up around him, he will also play a big role for us next season.
Andrey Arshavin, our little Messiah, looks just as capable of playing centrally as he does on the left flank, whilst a handful of youngsters such as Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott and Jay Simpson will be looking to make a name for themselves. For me though, most interesting option is Nicklas Bendtner, a man who like Adebayor attracted a huge amount of (incredibly unfair) vocal criticism, bore it on broad shoulders, and finished with a respectable tally of 15 goals. He improved markedly from first half to second, and on top of being possibly the best header of the ball in the league, his superb movement in the final third, and an improving ground-game that will put him in good stead. Most importantly, though, is that he seems to share Adebayor's ability to use his physique, speed, but also technique to get himself into goalscoring positions.
For me, the big worry is whether or not we're going to be able to put the ball in the back of the net consistently enough next season to challenge. Almost all of our players have question marks over them, but that is not to say none of them can step up and shoulder the burden. Of course, there will be a temptation to look outside of the club for replacements, and the usual suspects (Obafemi Martins, Klass Jan Huntelaar) have been linked, as well as a few new faces (Marouane Chamakh, Demba Ba), but I'm not going to spend a lifetime assessing players we may never sign.
Generally speaking, I'm more interested in players who have a consistent track record of sticking the ball in the back of the net, as well as a certain amount of footballing ability and intelligence to go with it, and I have to say, not many of the names we've been closely linked with inspire me with much confidence. Nor, for that matter, does Wenger's most recent comment on what he might be thinking of doing with the undisclosed fee that must be burning a big hole in his pocket. But that has as much to do with the confidence I have in the players we already have as anything else, and a conviction that our biggest worries lie elsewhere.
So as for Adebayor, well, it's hard to feel sorry for a man who's just jumped ship for ~£130,000 per week, and as much as I've lost respect for him given the way he's comported himself over the last 12 months, I also wonder if he was never really a face that fitted at Arsenal, a man who was never quite destined to make it here.
So long Ade, thanks for the memories. It's been (sort of) fun, and if nothing else, you've sure given us a lot to talk about.
Posted on 21 Jul, 2009 at 01:13 PM - Reply
Wenger got the very best out of an average player. Will Mark Hughes have the coaching talents to help Ade progress? Doubt it. Come November Ade will establish his place in the Man City team - on the bench. For Arsenal he was a good squad player. If anything went wrong for the club he was the first to mouth off to the press rather than knuckling down and working harder on the pitch to get the club results. We need to strengthen with 3 additional players and now we have the cash. I wish any Arsenal ex-player good luck but Ade will struggle without Wenger behind him.
Posted on 21 Jul, 2009 at 08:21 AM - Reply
nice piece. i love the devil's advocate twist in it, and that makes this one of the most honest postmortem adebayor articles i've skimmed through since that golden saturday.
but, i must have my pound of flesh. i blame the scapegoats -and adebayor is my scapegoat; not for last season's shenanigans, but for his weakness in front of goal [not to be mistaken with arsenal's weakness, though there is cause and correlation]
Posted on 21 Jul, 2009 at 05:50 AM - Reply
had he not been injured midway through last season, would he have left?. who know's. its a shame he's left, i'm a big fan of ade.... but hey we gotta move on, and by moving on i mean buy new players, preferably a striker and a defensive midfielder.
Posted on 21 Jul, 2009 at 05:28 AM - Reply
Style over substance is the fans' favorite way of emulating Wenger, they'd rather see ADE do nutmegs and wonder touch, pass, and run moves than see him score; It is the same way Our team plays with when we decide that passing around is more important than scoring a goal.
Big mistake losing a starter in principle, we are a selling club, can't wait to see this season's top scorer sold next summer, we earn no respect and can not hold on to any of our players for the most part.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 06:34 PM - Reply
I won't miss him. He was a very lazy player who at alot of matches just did not turn up.
We have coped when we lost King Henry we will definately cope without Ade
As for it not being about money!! Does the Pope pray
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 05:02 PM - Reply
Very well written article Asa. A good summation of the conflicting way a lot of us feel about Adebayor. I wish him well also except when Man City play the Arsenal.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 04:26 PM - Reply
Interesting article.Let us wait and see who AW brings in.But surely,he must bring someone of high quality.We surely need it.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 02:18 PM - Reply
Interesting article, I agree we didn't give him the patience he probebly deserved after a 30 goal season, but I can assure you, he will not be loosing sleep over it with an extra £50-£70k in his pocket each week... I think that, regardless of now much love we showed him, and how many time he bumbled through an interview talking about his love of the club, he was ultimately going to follow the cash... Which, lets be honest, you can't really begrudge. But, the lack of intelligence and sensitivety of the man is what irritates, ie, 1st interview in a baby blue shirt and hes talking about shjowing his love for the his new club? Nice one Ade, real class mate...you might do well to remember your hollow professions of love for your last club and fans, put you in the position your now in...with an extra £50-£70 grand in your back pocket...Carry on like this mate, and if your lucky, a certain Mr Peres from Spain might come calling next year and you can maybe sign for £100m and then profess your love to those bunch of idiots...Good luck and don't spend all that cash at once ya hear, after all there is a ressecion going on, apprently...
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 01:48 PM - Reply
Good article that stabilises the one sided argument for Ade. Dont get me wrong he was Mr. offside for us and his idea of working hard on the pitch was to run aimlessly out onto both wings but his departure only continues to reflect the uncertainty at this club.
When tax for footballers goes rocketing up it's obvious why the money meant a lot to persuade him but when your in a queue of 9 for a starting place and your in a lesser equipped team to win a trophy with a newb manager then why did he go? Possibly because its so easy for the players to leave and blame it on the 'inexperienced squad' and finding the 'right club to win silverware'. If we start to have consecutive seasons where we dont sell our players then the midset of a stepping stone club will dissolve and the determination to win WITH Arsenal will increase.
Wenger doesent help when his Arsenal mantra is to give faith to youth alone. Surely this has an adverse affect on transfer targets and current players who are over the age of 25 and feel they should be playing every game but wont because Wenger will give too much game time to youngsters. Great for the rotation but it only breeds a get out clause for the experienced players to move on when we get mown down in semi finals because of a team who weren't mature enough, look at Eboue! When we finally have a season with very few injuries the competition for places should be intense every week and help inject energy into the lacklustre bottom table games that we lost last year as well as the business end of trophy runs! Btw Simpson will be the perfect replacement for Ade anyway, and hes English.
A gooner from Nepal
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 12:57 PM - Reply
Maybe Ade was judged harshly by fans on his potential talent(which he has in abundance); but one season of brilliance cannot compensate for all the negativity he brought about in the club and dressing room. His legs were like human ambush rioting not just opponents but more frustratingly disrupting the free flowing Arsenal version of the beautiful game. even a hippo would look more energetic than him during his lazy backtracks to avoid offsides (does he know what it means?) and yea not to forget his unbelievable dancing goal celebrations (i would prefer a punch in the air or a simple handshake with your mates and on with the game again)..Nobody is bigger than the team, and mind you Ade is not a Henry or Bergkamp and even they wouldn't have such erratic attitude (that's y they are great professionals)..so yes, he's gone for the good of all..Goodby Adebayor, you wont be missed!!!
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 12:15 PM - Reply
Best header? What, better than Tim Cahill? Give me a break. I'm glad Ade is gone, but lets not pretend Bendtner is something he's not.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 10:42 AM - Reply
30 goals...and how many missed chances? I was one of those that were willing to give Ade a chance after last seasons shananigans...and it turned out to be a VERY frustrating season watching him miss chances and lose possession game after game after game. I think we have enough forward options...a guy like Arshavin will play a huge role in developing guys like Vela and Bendtner. With RVP and Eduardo taking care of business in the mean time.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 10:02 AM - Reply
Does the author really RATE Nicklas Bendtner so high??
You really think he is that good....The footage begs to differ.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 09:07 AM - Reply
You wrote what i have been thinking. so long ade. c'mon nicky!!
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 08:49 AM - Reply
i guess its time for us to line up our starting 11 if not 15.
all other teams have bought players and the most we do is signup or looking to sign up a 16 or 18 year old.
Cmon' Prof. its time and unless we have a scorcher of a striker this season, all will look like another futile attempt to deceive ourselves.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 08:48 AM - Reply
Lol nice go at trying to be 'fair and balanced'.. but you forgot to mention the assistance he got from the 07/08 midfield, and that because Hleb & Cesc (except for early in the season) weren't exactly free scorers, they would of course be trying to lay chances on for him rather than take them themselves.
I don't believe all his chances (including amazing misses) were just down to his positioning and quality. He was good but the midfield was also good and focussed on making chances not scoring them.
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 08:39 AM - Reply
Top article mate, spot on with everything. I think it was Ade's attitude more than anything else that put Gooners off. You get the feeling that he already thought of himself as an Arsenal legend, and modelled himself on Henry. Trouble is, he ended up having all of Henry's bad traits (arrogance, laziness) and none of his good ones.
I feel a huge sense of relief now he's gone, and I think it will be reflected in the atmosphere at the Emirates next season. Last year you could tell people really weren't happy. The place was negative and morose.
Hopefully The Home of Football will be a happier place now he's gone, and we can finally win some trophies!
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 08:37 AM - Reply
People go on about his 30 goal season... I'm sorry but like it or not 6 of those was against the worst defence in premiership history.
And his goal:gilt edge chance ratio is poor.
Add to that the fact that he is an annoying twirp and there is only one thing we can say... good riddance!!
Posted on 20 Jul, 2009 at 08:17 AM - Reply
He always had an attitude issue, Togo, Monaco etc.
08/09 he did not try as hard as he did in 07/08.
Barring injuries we should be ok.
DM I still needed though
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