The Chronicles of Charsenal are back! Remember, this a fictitious account based on the video game Football Manager 2012. If you're not into that, or the thought of a Arsenal-Chelsea merger horrifies you, you don't have to read it. If you're just going leave negative comments, please don't. You're not going to change our minds, and you risk the laser.
In May 2011, a trio of billionaires was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government they survive as soldiers of fortune. This is not their story[, but if someone wants to write that story, feel free.]
A few weeks later, eight envelopes were received by people throughout the world, postmark Brazil. They each contained a winning lottery ticket and a letter. A pair were received by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and freshly-appointed Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. They have since decided to retire with immediate effect, and move with their families to a shared estate in Spain. The remaining six letters, addressed to six seemingly-unimportant bloggers, each contained a summons for them to save their clubs. The billionaires sent to prison were the owners of two of England's biggest football clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal. According to the letters they received, they had been chosen to lead an audacious project to unite their clubs and resurrect them from the ashes of their owners' arrest. They agreed. After all, what else were they going do, support Tottenham?
Due to their sudden lack of funding, both clubs were in danger of falling out of the Premier League. Therefore, as stated in the letters, the clubs were to be united to save their league standing. Going under the slightly-ungainly title of Charsenal, they bought the newly-opened stadium in Regent's Park, roughly halfway between their former stadia, which had been sold in the struggle to keep themselves afloat. The first action of the new board was to appoint a new manager. They turned to recently-retired 33-year-old England international midfielder Alexander Singer. Singer had struggled throughout his career with injury, and had been preparing to enter the world of management. Having begun his career at Arsenal, he moved on a controversial free transfer to Real Madrid at the age of 25. Alexander returned to England just twelve months later, after a torrid spell in Spain. He joined Chelsea for just £2.5 million, and rediscovered his form, continuing until being forced by injury to retire at the end of the 2010-11 season. As a player with successful spells at both clubs, and being well-liked by both sets of fans, combined with the club's somewhat-perilous financial position, Charsenal were willing to take the risk in hiring him.
With a transfer budget of just £1 million, and the large squad and backroom staff inherited in the merger, Singer's first task is to organise a clear out at Regent's Park. The new manager inherited no fewer than 87 first-team and reserve players in the move. The first casualty was fitness coach Matt Birnie, who had come over from Chelsea, and was deemed surplus to requirements. He is set to be followed out of Regent's Park in the coming weeks by a number of members of staff from the physio and scouting departments in an effort by the new manager to rein in the wage bill at the club. The manager is not looking for instant upheaval, but a slow process of paring down the staff to those who are deemed essential. Only then will he be able to bring anyone in.
In his first press conference as manager, Singer reiterated his desire for gradual change and evolution in process of forming the club in his image. When asked about the prospect of a rapid clear out, he replied, "I need to talk to the staff here, understand what they do and how they do it. Then we will see." When asked about his tactical philosophy and the style of football he intends to bring to the new club, he said, "We need to make sure we have a balanced approach. It is little use having a brilliant front-line if you can't defend a lead." Singer is clearly a manager who wants his players to remain grounded and have a good work ethic, saying, "History guarantees nothing, and we have a lot to prove. Good old-fashioned hard work is important." Despite what some might see as a less than optimistic demeanour, Singer couldn't stop smiling, calling his appointment "a wonderful feeling."
In the two weeks following his introduction, Singer led Charsenal in three friendly matches. The first was against a reserve side featuring several out-of-favour first team players who have now left the the club. The game finished 1-1, with a goal from Juan Mata for the first team, and the Reserves' goal from Conor Clifford, who also earned man of the match for his performance. In the second, away to Vitesse, Charsenal improved their form, winning 2-0, through goals from Man of the Match Daniel Sturridge and Oriol Romeu. Charsenal's form unfortunately dipped again against Oxford United.
On the transfer front, Singer's clear-out has begun, with Charsenal agreeing deals with Paris Saint-Germain to take Chu-Young Park. Salomon Kalou, and Andre Santos on loan for the season, paying all of their wages with the possibility of a future permanent transfer fees of £3 milion, £5 million, £4.5 million respectively. They have also agreed the £7 million transfer of Marouane Chamakh to Real Madrid, and the £3 million transfer to Bayern Munich for Alex, who will receive £3,600 per week from Charsenal until the end of the 2012-13 season to move. Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba have been loaned to Valencia and A.C. Milan for £1.9 million and £2 million, with a future fees of £5.75 million and £8 million agreed respectively.
Though it's early in his Charsenal career, things have started well for Singer. He's been able to make a decent impact on the bloated wage bill and squad. The team isn't quite performing to their capability yet, but things are seemingly looking up. We'll be following the progress of Charsenal and their new manager in future episodes.
[Notes: I have gone for the purple kit, and the badge only I voted for. Sue me.]