This morning we all awoke to stories about how our captain, Thomas Vermaelen, is looking at leaving Arsenal. About how he is unhappy at the club and is fearful for his World Cup spot. Some of the headlines in this mornings paper’s include:
“Thomas Vermaelen may consider move to boost Belgium World Cup hopes”
“Thomas Vermaelen hints he will consider Arsenal future”
“Arsenal club captain Thomas Vermaelen says he may leave the club”
“Unhappy Thomas Vermaelen may quit Arsenal”
“Thomas Vermaelen could QUIT Arsenal”
“Thomas Vermaelen hints at Arsenal exit”
“Thomas Vermaelen: I’ll quit Arsenal if I don’t win first team spot back”
When ever a story such as this comes out, I tend to ignore the headlines, as they are attention grabbers and often not even associated with the actual story. I have read an article which is of complete different tone to the headline itself. I also rarely take note of the story itself, and concentrate on what the player actually said.
Often in journalism, a journalist will get some quotes, and then twist it into the story they want to print. The story that will sell more papers or get more hints for their website. They can twist quotes to an extreme, where it ends up that the story barely resembles the quotes, or context of the quotes.
So what did Thomas Vermaelen actually say?
“I’ll have to think about that when it’s necessary. January is still a few months ahead. Of course, never playing will not be the ideal situation for me to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure,” Vermaelen told the Daily Mail.
“People ask me if I panic because I’m not playing a lot but I’m not. I have spoken to the manager but it will remain private between us. Things can happen in a split second and change my situation. That can happen tomorrow or next weekend.
“In that case, we will speak differently in January. I have to be ready for that”
Now these quotes can be taken in many different ways. I can see how many papers have gone with the “Vermaelen looks to leave Arsenal” route as that sells more papers. But the true facts of the matter are Vermaelen has merely said he needs 1st team football. That his is not panicking. That he has spoken to the manager and that anything could happen.
Now a few thoughts on this
1) I am please that Vermaelen want’s 1st team football and is unhappy he is not getting it. I want my players to be ambitious, not be happy picking up a pay cheque and sitting on the bench. It makes them better players as a result. If he were happy being 3rd choice, he would not be a player I would want in the side.
2) He confirms he has spoken to Arsene Wenger over the matter, and that what was discussed will remain private. This is not a ‘secret meeting’ like some are reporting, but a usual meeting between a player not playing and his manager. Discussions such as these should be kept private. Why should the press or public know what happened in the meeting?
3) Vermaelen will get his chance. As he says: “Things can happen in a split second and change my situation”. With Laurent Koscielny pulling out of the recent French International’s with an injury, it would not be a surprise to see Vermaelen line up alongside Mertesacker in the centre of defence this weekend. And if he plays well, Koscielny might find himself on the bench when he returns.
4) It is good that we finally have these type of problems. For too long, we have had a bare 11 of class players with not much underneath. We have been criticised heavily by the press for not having depth. And now we have it, they seem to be intent on stirring things up. Guess they do whatever sell hey? Anyway, it is up to Arsene Wenger to rotate his squad and keep everyone happy. I am sure he has the man management ability to do it.
Going through all the news reports this morning, only one source tells the true story, with itv.com going with:
“No panic from Thomas Vermaelen over lack of playing time.”
Whilst he might not be entirely happy with his current situation at Arsenal, he is clearly happy at Arsenal, and his extended spell as 3rd choice centre back should have driven him to train harder, stronger and longer. This will make him a better player. And at the end of the day, if he has not done this, and when he gets the chance he does not take it, there is no problem with him leaving.
His World Cup place is not at threat. Vincent Kompany is a guaranteed starter. Then Belgium play with either Vertonghen on Vermaelen playing centre back with the other at full back. There will be no issues.
Remember, whenever reading a story in the British Press. Ignore the headlines. Ignore the story. Read the quotes.