#9 v3 - Page 10

I believe players understand financial restrictions, but totally anti-formulaic greed is one thing that highlights that this club is going nowhere. ! The predictable rejection from both Grenier and Cabella during the latest transfer window; and in all probability again in the summer, is just signs of this aforementioned realisation within any player who has an ounce of foresight. ! One of the most saddening elements of the Ashley regime for me at least has been the dilapidation of Hatem Ben Arfa- a player who is obviously defensively frail and at times a luxury becoming hounded on a level which is not at all necessary or even justifiable. A player who has actively shown loyalty to the football club and provided the fans with some of the best memories and individual performances in recent times is now not even welcome on the pitch. ! Of course these weaknesses have become abundantly clear over the course of the season, but in my honest opinion whilst this could be improved this is not entirely the lads fault for numerous reasons. When you buy a player like Ben Arfa you do so in the full knowledge of what he is- a pure flair player. Hatem is the type of player you build a team around and with any logic or tactical understanding you would play, use or create a team that allows him to express himself whilst actively covering for any pitfalls in his game. ! Whenever I think of him I think of Laurent Robert during the Robson era and just how effective he was, if at times lax in other areas. Robson as a manager of clout, supported by a board with intent put together a side that was consistently at the higher end of the league whilst keeping the flair within the side. Currently Pardew is trying to construct a team of 11 grafters devoid of any flair or cutting edge and whilst I will hold my hands up and admit he is not the finished article, the fact that Ben Arfa is realistically set to leave for near nothing this summer is nothing short of farcical and disastrous. ! If he ended up at somewhere like Liverpool and stayed fit under a decent manager who could blend and tune his game he could be unplayable on a more regular basis. He would have been fantastic under Robson. There is not much is this article which has not done the rounds on the terraces in recent history, but at the minute, as I have done for a while now, I truly wonder where this club is headed in the longterm. ! Not only are we stuck within an ordeal which has no sign of ending, we are also continually reminded of our subservience to the owner of our football club and aware that everything is borrowed until he leaves- from the stadium to the players everything seems loaned and the passion and sense of community is slowly dwindling, as the meek and meager atmosphere of the latest derby signaled. In the summer I fear a massive out-flux from the players that have played well enough to warrant a move away from this travesty, leaving us with an even more average side. In reality we need 35+ million to give this club a chance of acquiring an ambitious position once again, but in actuality we will be lucky to even see the Cabaye money, and then we have to actually convince players to want to play for us- a much harder task than first meets the eye. By Leif Wild ! We do not want marquee signings but just realistic ambition, progression and astute adjustment in order to warrant our time and money. Toon fans have had a reputation for being unrealistic in recent years thrust upon them, but this is simply not the present case and in actuality this presumption is ironically providing a shield for Ashley’s tactic of riding the cusp on imminent failure by argument that his targets are realistic and finite in the current economic climate. 11