What game are you playing, Mr. Usmanov?
Alisher Usmanov, May 2013: “This team has no superstar and he (Stan Kroenke) doesn’t show any wish to create a winning team and (he) would probably be happy with another third or fourth place finish.”
Alisher Usmanov, August 2014: “I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football. In my opinion, in line with the existing rules, the club has the correct decision-making process in place, including their selection policy, especially now, when they have the means to buy the best players.”
I have to admit, I never liked this man. I never liked how he seemed to bully his way through the club, his continuous and exaggerated statements about how rich he is and how much money he could throw into the club often made me sick.
Of course I was not happy with the Arsenal selling best players to direct rivals; of course I was not happy with us watching other teams winning trophies and battling for silverwares while we were just hoping to finish in the top four; of course I was mad at other fans and pundits label us as feeder club, a declining force and other compliments like these.
However, the idea of becoming another Chelsea or Manchester City was just too much to swallow.
This man seemed to encapsulate all the features of a fickle sugar daddy, surrendering to such an option would have meant throwing all the can’t buy class, we don’t buy superstars, we make them banners straight to the bin.
I didn’t want to gamble on the Arsenal nor seemed to want Arsène Wenger, the board and the owner.
I was quite surprised to see David Dean on the other side, pushing the Russian to takeover and actually helping him by selling his stakes, but then I remembered he quit because he didn’t agree with the move to the Emirates Stadium – and I got the picture.
This duo – and their Red & White Holdings – were teasing fans with promises of trophies and world class players and blatantly describing themselves as those who really cared for the team, really cared for the club – not that silly American and his board!
Maybe it’s just because I witnessed some of the most spectacular falls in Italian football – like AC Parma and Fiorentina – but I really couldn’t stand that man and his attitude.
I’d much prefer spending nine years like those we just went through but see my club become the ultimate example of healthy, sustainable football club instead of winning a trophy or two and crash to lower division football as it happened to the two Italian clubs I mentioned above.
Did you know that Parma used to field a team which included the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Lillian Thuram, Juan Sebastián Véron and Hernan Crespo despite having a tiny 27,000 seats stadium and no real income except the owner’s wallet? Did you know that Fiorentina went from defeating us at Highbury to Italian third-tier in approximately two years? They used to play Gabriel Batistuta, Rui Costa and Edmundo and suddenly were forced to play Christian Riganò, Felice Evacuo and Luca Ariatti: can you imagine that?
I know those crooks that cry out all their ambitions and then run away with the money (if there’s any left) and Alisher Usmanov reminds me of them.
His sudden change of mind is suspect, he used to talk about himself as the only one who knew how to drive the club to glory and now he’s referring to the club and the board as “we”: we begin a new era where we can win trophies.
Too easy Mr. Usmanov, I might be tempted to think that this lightning turn is generated by the perspective of the great piece of business which is holding almost a third of a club that is now rich, winning and extremely attractive for sponsors and advertisers.
That’s not about making the fans happy; it’s all about making more money – isn’t it?