Mirror columnist John Cross believes that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger should ditch his over-30s contract policy as he believes the Frenchman’s ways are both ridiculous and ageist. Does Cross have a point, or is he just singling out Wenger for a policy which many managers adopt themselves?
The Mirror writer has dug up the debate as Wenger is only willing to offer players over 30 one-year deals and it has cost them William Gallas, who wanted two and they stand to lose Sol Campbell, who may opt for Celtic as they have offered him a two-year deal.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson has a similar approach at Manchester United and if he holds onto ageing stars such as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs or Gary Neville the contracts are more often than not short term deals.
Also, I would hardly count Gallas and Campbell’s departures as being a major loss which will hurt Arsenal, but they will need to replace them.
Gallas’ time at the Emirates wasn’t so great despite many initially feeling that the Gunners had got the better of the swap deal with Chelsea that saw Ashley Cole go the other way. Some fans would argue that Arsenal ended up with a player who is even more petulant than the one that left the club (sulks, falls out with team-mates, stripped of captaincy etc). Chelsea’s Cole is still at the top of his game whereas Gallas has been mediocre for both club and country.
The case with Campbell is slightly different as he did fairly well returning to Arsenal after a period away from the club, Cross believes Arsenal will be made to pay for dragging their feet over his contract negotiations:
“I bet that Campbell would prefer to stay at Arsenal. Joining Celtic wouldn’t be about greed, but rather wanting to play for as long as possible. What’s more, would Sol want another summer like this one of being kept waiting? No.” (Mirror Football)
Whilst it is true that Arsenal could lose Campbell to Celtic, he is 35 and it is understandable that the Gunners may offer him only a year and if he wants to stay that badly then he should take it.
Although I don’t agree that Wenger’s policy is wrong regarding one-year deals for over 30s it does seem a little odd that injury-prone Tomas Rosicky, 29, was offered a five-year contract last season.
However, in general I don’t believe that there is a case of age concern at Arsenal and Cross is a little off the mark for suggesting so when offering short-term deals to older players as it is commonplace in the game.
It is always a risk on offering bigger contracts to older players and Wenger has done brilliantly to control the Arsenal wage budget after almost a decade of being financially constrained by their move from Highbury to the Emirates, so why change now?
What do the fans think of John Cross’ comments is Wenger being ageist, or just doing what’s right by the club?