Top players will leave Arsenal. When did we first hear that?

By Tony Attwood

If you occasionally drop into this blog you’ll know that I am writing a year by year review of Arsene Wenger.   The last article dealt with the 2003 Cup Final and the start of the “49” unbeaten run.

I was just getting my notes together for the start of the rather important 2003/4 season when it struck me that in the summer of 2002 and in the summer of 2003 there had been endless speculation about a player leaving Arsenal.

What actually happened in those two summers was that the press was endlessly harping on and on about Patrick Vieira and how this summer he was going to leave Arsenal.

The saga, if you remember it, went on and on and on… only in the summer of 2003 Vieira, along with Henry, Pires and Bergkamp signed a new contract.

(Actually there is a rather amusing little twist on this because in 2009 the Sun ran an exclusive saying that Vieira was wanted by Wenger, and was coming back to Arsenal.  They are never satisfied these guys).

There’s a further irony in the time and date here because the summer of 2003 was also the date when we signed Cesc Fabregas, aged 16.

This reminder that the “they are all leaving Arsenal” type of headlines go back at least nine years (I haven’t bothered to look back further) suggests that no matter what else happens they will continue to be run.

My point is that the 2003 Vieira to leave Arsenal headlines came at a time of having had a league season in which we were top of the league by five points and then slipped right away towards the end of the season.  So the press, aided by their lackies in the blogsphere, ran a load of “leave the sinking ship” stories.

No many players did leave the sinking ship (Seaman went to Man City and Luzhny went to Wolverhampton) and the transfers in were modest (apart from Cesc there was Lehmann, Senderos and Clichy).  But it is interesting to remember the doom and gloom that was spread around at that time, as a result of letting that five point lead slip.

Vieira was off (for the second summer running) and that would herald a complete collapse of Arsenal with Pires, Henry and the rest following him out the door.

Ah the summer of 2003.

I don’t actually know if the “Vieira is going” campaign was the first such in Arsenal’s modern history – but I would love your help in finding anything earlier.  If you can remember any such campaign pre-dating the 2002/3 campaign to get Vieira to go, could you write in.  I am trying to get the whole thing in perspective.


8 Replies to “Top players will leave Arsenal. When did we first hear that?”

  1. Im really fed up with players like Fabregas and Nasri who frankly were nothing before coming to Arsenal made them into what they are today. When you invest and groom a player only to lose them in thier prime age of 24 reflects badly on what kind of a club ostensibly we are and have been a selling club always conservative and always sell on when we receive exorbitant offers for our players although £35m for fabregas and £20m for Nasri have to be considered bargain buys in todays game especially if a very average english centre back costs you £18m+. With both Nasri and Glichy although I am happy to have lost Glichy we were at fault for not securing them on longer term contracts ealier we have also been at fault in assuming the FAIR PLAY RULE would impose a limitation on clubs spendign habits. We ll Man City have just legally bypassed that with their ETIHAD deal so there goes that theory. Now add the emergence of stroner european clubs backed by wealthy owners such as PSG, Roma, Malaga and the like and it really worries one about where Asenal will be in the future a place in the top four is going to be the best we can hope for and this for a club who has the best stadium in the league and charges the highest season prices and has the most expensive and corporate hospitality sector in the land. I renewed my season ticket unfortunately thinking things might change now I seriously regret that and dont intend going to the emirates cup or to any games to show my disgust at how both the Board and Wenger are failing its fans and the direction of the club. As for Nasri let’s boooooooooooo him all the way to city and pack his bags for him STAND UP GUNNERS FANS AFTER ALL WHEN DO U EVER OPEN THE PAPER AND READ THE NEWS AND GET SOME GOOD NEWS…….and to think we turned down £100m punds rights issue from USmanov just to spend on player…………………………

  2. I know u dont like offpic posts, but its not easy to post comments on blogs that are so true… I am a norwegian gooner and despite of all the horrific incidents in my country last night i still follow Arsenal and I will travel to london next weekend to attend the Emirates Cup! Top players leaving Arsenal is typical negative Arsenal press so its no surprise…

  3. many runmours but surely the most worrying thing is we let our players get into the last 2 years or the last year of a contract without getting them to sign a deal

  4. It is time Arsenal start to ban the reporters of Newspapers that deliberately mislead. Arsenal have had far too many nasty reports and ‘tapping’ of star players. One or two bans of the relevant Newspapers will begin to have an effect.

    If Untold publish on Facebook the papers that are anti Arsenal, it gives the Arsenal fan the option of not buying those titles.

  5. I clearly recall the Anelka saga in 1999. That was probably the start in that prior to that Wenger was just starting to build and our better players were either new(ish)or defenders, about whom there is always less speculation. The one key exception to this was Bergkamp – but his circumstances were fairly unique!

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