Kos the (former) Boss?

Player power hits Arsenal


From a hero of the 2014 FA Cup Final to zero?


The Gunners has been immune, to some degree, from the major player power incidents of other top English clubs.

United has the Paul Pogba matter, and Chelsea has had numerous incidents in recent seasons.

So it seems – with captain Laurent Koscielny’s refusal to participate in the USA tour – that player power may finally have hit Arsenal.

My initial view is this is worrying – and “uncharacteristic”. I don’t know Koscielny, so of course, I cannot comment fully on his character. But then his behaviour seems odd for a player who comes across as reserved, diligent, and hard-working.

What are the implications for Arsenal then?



Modern football?


Much is said of how modern football has created “mercenary” players. But Frank Stapleton was a player who left Arsenal for Manchester United decades ago, and in a bitter manner. Perhaps, given events over the past decade or so, it was a distant omen of things to come….

Footballers though have always held a job – and ultimately it’s viewed the same as with any other vocation. It’s about prestige, money, status, or just bringing food on the table.


Frank Stapleton left Arsenal to Man United many years ago under a cloud.

So perhaps the money of modern football has just brought to the fore what was always there.

Note many top footballers were born and raised into poverty. Arsenal legend Ian Wright, for instance, has often spoken of trying facets of his upbringing. Certainly, many players whether in the past or today were raised in working-class areas and families.

Koscielny’s family is Polish in origin, though he was born in France, and thus is descended from immigrants. So maybe he too only sees things as a means for betterment, who knows?

What is certain is that we’ll see this occurring more so in the modern game, based in some part on the money involved.



The truth



What we know is that Koscielny has refused to go to the USA.

We don’t know the reason why, as of yet.

It could be that “Kos” is eager to leave, and there are stalling points in his departure date or rights to leave.

It could also be that Kos has had enough of the limelight at Arsenal, and wants out.

BBC journalist David Ornstein did put out an article stating there was a difference in expectations between Koscielny and the club. This was especially true concerning his contract issue, and the fact he had stated he wanted to leave the club.





Kos has been a stalwart of the club for several seasons. He had a sticky first season, which culminated in a noted error causing Birmingham to win the 2011 League Cup final.

Though since then, he has enhanced much and has gained plaudits both in England and France. He played in the 2016 Euro final loss to Portugal, and bar an injury in the Europa league at Atletico Madrid, he could have been in the French World Cup squad that went on to win the tournament.

He also has been very professional in his Arsenal role, and a captain that fans and players respect. Well, up until now that is.


Kos lifting the 2015 FA Cup, after our 4-0 win vs. Villa. From high times to a current low.

However, this could tarnish his relationship and standing, amidst his reliance and consistency over the years.

It’s a shame if things have turned sour on Kos’s accord, or if there has been a breakdown.

Kos in my view squeezes into Arsenal’s top ten central defenders ever. Some may laugh at that, but few have been as consistently better than he for seasons.

It is a sour taste to what has been a successful Arsenal career. He may have started off slowly, but then he recovered to be one of the top players in the latter Wenger period.


Player power hits home


Some Gooners may have thought that Chelsea or Manchester United were more prone to player power than we were.  Chelsea for one has a clearly different culture than Arsenal, and perhaps the need to win there was (or is) stronger or more instilled. Petr Cech even said as such, when he played for us. So a win at all costs attitude will sometimes take out managers – which Jose Mourinho found out at his cost.

But then players, regardless of where they play, mix and come ultimately from the same cultures or academies. Or countries. So it’s unrealistic to say that we should be immune to player power.

We’ve certainly had unhappy players before who wanted out – Fabregas, van Persie and Sanchez all wanted to go on to bigger and brighter things. But we’ve never had a player, until now, who has refused to comply with club instructions.

So now that player power has hit home – what do we do?

I think as this can happen at all clubs now – maybe the Premier League or other authorities need to have stronger rules in how this is done.

Maybe players who “down tools” should be denied international football – or have to pay back the club any bonuses received. Or, as an extreme move, be banned from all football by FIFA.

People don’t always get on – though there is a line between natural disagreements and not following club instructions or fulfilling professional obligations.

The concept of players “striking” for me is an offensive one. Players can be mistreated, but compared to corporate actions in other industries, players have it pretty sweet in comparison. Often employees strike if payment terms aren’t being met, or working conditions are unsafe, or they are being physically or emotionally intimidated by management. Football clubs aren’t paradises, but these instances seldom arise to the degree in other industries. Footballers, especially at the highest levels, play on pristine pitches, have expert training facilities and receive bonuses and perks ranging from goals scored, titles won, or property for close relatives.

Some workers also have obligations to meet from their pay, which won’t affect footballers in the same sense. A London Tube worker striking couldn’t handle a lack of pay to the same degree as a Premier League footballer. If the footballer manages his money well, inclusive of lucrative bonuses, he can withstand things to a higher degree.

Clearly, the football authorities need to examine the issue of player power. And it’s possible that Koscielny won’t be the last instance of it at Arsenal or in the Premier League.


Koscielny hasn’t made himself look good here, and there may be more to this than meets the eye. We as fans don’t know the ins and outs of the scenario.

But it is a disappointing facet to the close season all the same, and not the ideal preparation for the USA tour.




Perhaps what the issue here is that it’s Koscielny. If it were a player who was not as prominent, people won’t care as much.



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One Response to Kos the (former) Boss?

  1. Victor Thompson July 16, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    Thank you for this article. I am very sad about what has happened, but I can`t recall anything in Kos`s career which would help to illustrate why he has taken this stance. He wants to leave and I don`t see any hint of another club prepared to pay him an exhorbitant salary in lieu of a transfer fee as Sanchez did. At 33 I don`t think a big club is going to come in with a bigger salary than he is already getting so I have to rule out a mercenary purpose.

    Ramsey thought that his negotiations had been completed and that he would be staying at a club which he has loved since he joined as a schoolboy. To his shock, his contract was whisked away and he was sold in short shrift to Juventus. That, I think, is a clue to what has happened here. There is a new regime which even Emery has no say in. The new negotiaters are playing hard ball with the other side and with our players. There is no room for good will. This is hard business and Koscelney, in my opinion has fallen foul of the new policies.

    He has said that last year, he understood that he would be returning to his home club to finish his career, much like Santi Cazorla. Santi was allowed to leave and he has amazingly continued to play well at Mallorca. Maybe Kos is not as fit as he thought he was and he may not believe that he can play at the top for 2 more years and thought that if he was to ask to leave a year early, the club would not stand in his way. He had severe injuries in his latter years, some of which were to the head.

    At the end of the day, what has it cost the club? They have two young CBs coming up and Sokrates as well. They should have signed Jonny Evans when they had the chance. He would have given them another 2 years beyond Kos at little cost and we would have beaten Chelsea to 4th place. Who was to blame for that?

    How did this reach the stage where Kos was actually ready to go with the team when he just decided that he was not going to be part of the team anymore, because whatever his future meant to him, it outweighed his further commitment to Arsenal. Was it family matters – I don`t know and neither apparently does the club, but if ( as it looks ) it was not money then I for one am prepared to take a humanist view of the matter until I am in possession of all the facts. This is not Van Percy, Sanchez or Cesc. There are no beckoning riches or trophies so I can see nothing wrong with an honourable servant of the club asking for special dispensation to leave early.

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