So Arsenal have started their summer clear out. It was announced on the official website yesterday evening that seven players were to be released. Of those seven the most high-profile names released were that of Manuel Almunia and Gavin Hoyte. The other players not offered new contracts were Rhys Murphy, Sean McDermott, George Brislen-Hall, James Campbell and Jeffrey Monankana.
Almunia despite his critics has been at the club for the best part of 8 years, Making over 170 appearances for the club. Biding his time as an understudy to Jens Lehman it is fair to say when his chance came to stake a claim for the no.1 jersey he never quite fulfilled the role to the expectations of the Arsenal faithful.
Not an awful keeper by any means Manuel fell victim to not being the great keeper that was required by a club of Arsenal’s standing at that time. Many pundits and fans alike make the claim that the basis of a great team starts with having a great keeper. A keeper valuable enough to win games for you by presence, organisation, agility and 100% concentration. Almunia never quite ticked all those boxes convincingly and therefore struggled to win over the fans and pundits.
Jens Lehman’s boots proved quite big ones to fill, mistakes did start to creep into his game towards the tail end of his Arsenal career and it was at this point where Arsene Wenger decided to promote within rather than sign a high-profile replacement.
It’s a shame Almunia never took his chance as first choice and despite putting in 8 years on the books his Arsenal career fizzled out to what seems like a swift exit out of the back door. A keeper that will always be remembered for not doing enough to save THAT shot in the champions league final there is no doubt he will look back himself with regret at what could have been.
Gavin Hoyte the other (sort of) high-profile player released by Arsenal seemed to have been around for an eternity. News of Gavin’s release is less of a surprise since last week he already said his goodbyes to Arsenal via Twitter. His profile was probably raised more by the fact his brother played for the Arsenal. It was claimed at one point he was a better prospect than his brother when coming through the youth set up so a big career was probably foreseen. I believe at one point he was even made captain of the reserve team however throughout his young career injuries have gotten the better of him. When given the chance to shine out on loan he hadn’t really grasped the opportunities with both hands. Still only 21 he still has plenty chance to carve out a decent career for himself though it may seem more likely in the lower leagues.
Rhys Murphy career definitely has been defined by all his injuries, I believe if it wasn’t for that he may have been given more opportunities in carling cup squads and such like. The injuries however restricted his chances and development. He made a couple of loan moves to Brentford and Preston North End and at one point seemed close to signing for Glasgow Rangers. Nothing concrete materialized but again Rhys is another player that if he can overcome the injuries could carve out a decent career and fulfil the early promise he showed when part of our FA youth cup winning team from 2009.
Best wishes go to Almunia, Hoyte, Murphy and the other players released in their future choices.
We were also hit with the news about Jack Wilshere’s knee. Although the knee surgery received in the Swedish clinic was a success it is rumoured recovery will be 2-3 months. Strictly a rumour as word on the official site is Jack will be on course for a summer return. I suppose we will have to wait and see as Arsenal has a history of getting return dates slightly wrong. We really need Jack back next season and I have my fingers crossed this will be the last of the injuries that require an extended period of time out.
Now that the futures of the end of contract personnel has been decided next on the agenda will be which players that are still under contract will be moving on. How much money was freed up from the release of these players yesterday? Not a great deal I presume. Almunia would have been on a decent wage whilst the other players being on the fringes of the first team squad would never really warrant bumper contracts at that stage of their careers.
Every penny counts with Arsenal and I’m sure they have already planned where the money saved on the release of these players will go. Let’s hope it goes more towards players that will be part of the team next season rather than a bargain purchase that doesn’t quite work out like Park.
Enjoy your day people.