Recently, I wrote about the potential new signing, Aaron Ramsey, after we had been tipped favourites to sign him.

Last week, Cardiff boss, Dave Jones, spoke in favour of United signing their talented young player. “We have no doubts whatsoever that Aaron could make the grade at somewhere like Manchester United,” he said. “We would not let him go there if we had any doubts. United are the major force in European football, if not the best club in the world, and with the squad of players they have that domination is set to continue for some time to come. I believe Aaron can go there and play a valuable part in that in the future.”

However, it has today been announced that the Welsh lad is turning us, the English and European Champions, down, for a move to the Emirates instead. Why?

“Cardiff City were informed on Friday morning that Aaron Ramsey’s preferred destination this summer is at Emirates Stadium with Arsenal,” read a statement on Cardiff’s official website. “We will now continue the dialogue with the Gunners with a view to Aaron’s move being completed. The move unlike other options, however, does not include a loan back period at Ninian Park for the 2008/09 season.”

Doesn’t Want To Return To Cardiff

United tried to sweeten the deal by giving Cardiff an option of keeping Ramsey on loan for the duration of next season. This would be a perfect solution for both clubs. Cardiff would get to keep their player, whilst not paying his wages, and United would get to see Ramsey playing regular football. This would be ideal.

However, this agreement does not take in to consideration the feelings of Ramsey. If the loan option was written in to his contract, then he would have little choice but to remain in Cardiff. This doesn’t sound too bad, but if Ramsey is really keen to get away from Wales and come to the Premiership, then he is being put in a compromising situation. To turn down the loan move would mean the club and fans who have been investing all their time in him would know he’d turned down the chance to play for them one more season.

Arsenal did not include an option to have him loaned back to Cardiff, meaning Ramsey’s decision is made for him. He was probably lead to believe that this means he’ll be playing a substantial enough part in Arsenal’s season to not need a loan period away.

Playing Time

Wenger has obviously made Ramsey aware of the comparative size of the squads. With a first XI yet to be decided upon at United, the likes of Hargreaves, Carrick, Park, Nani and Anderson can be found on our bench, with competition for the first team so fierce. In contract, if we look at Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford in April, Theo Walcott was the best of the bench, joining Nicklas Bendtner, Justin Hoyte, Lukasz Fabianski and Johan Djourou. The full squads are leagues apart, and Ramsey will believe he will have a much better chance of making the first team at Arsenal over United. And he’s probably right.

However, it is important to note that Theo Walcott, who has two years in age on Ramsey, as well as almost three seasons at the club already, played in just 39 of Arsenal’s 58 matches last season (67% of the possible playing time). He started 11 out of 38 Premiership games and just 20 games overall, (which includes several League Cup appearances, which is a Cup Wenger gives to the second team). Walcott has now been at Arsenal for two and a half years, yet rarely gets to start. In contrast, at United, 20-year-old Nani in his first season at Old Trafford played in 40 of United’s 56 matches last season (71% of the possible playing time).

“If they are good enough, they are old enough,” said Sir Matt Busby, which is still the way we do business. If Ramsey feels he’s got a better chance of breaking through the ranks at Arsenal, then so be it. I personally would prefer a player who had the confidence in themselves to get to the top regardless of their age or the competition.

Expectation At United Too High

Last week, Eric Harrison, who brought the “kids” of the 90s through the ranks, gave Ramsey a warning of what would be expected of him if he was to sign for United. “He will have to have a top class attitude, show 200 per cent commitment and be thinking Man Utd 24 hours a day,” he said. “I know all that sounds corny but that’s the levels needed if you want to succeed there, because if he gets carried away he’s got no chance. All the boring stuff that you don’t hear about these top players in the newspapers, the hard work, the training, all the right things, that’s what’s required to give you any hope of making it there. If he goes to United and his attitude is right, then he will have the chance of a fantastic career as part of a great team. But knowing the club as I do, everything has to go in his favour for it to happen. Being signed for all that money is all well and good, but not only have you got to impress the manager and the staff, the hardest thing is impressing the other players because they will quickly suss if he’s not up to it. You’ve got to go there and show you’re worth your place – and that’s not easy.”

It is possible that 17-year-old Ramsey doesn’t feel ready for this sort of pressure yet. United are the biggest club in the World and have just won the best two trophies going. In contrast, Arsenal have had yet another disappointing, trophyless season, despite leading the table for much of 2007-2008. He won’t feel the same pressure and need for results at Arsenal as he would at United. The fact that Wenger is sitting comfortably in his position after four years without winning the title and three years without winning anything clearly shows the difference in pressure and expectation between the clubs.

Essentially, if Ramsey doesn’t want to play for United, that’s his look out. If being shown around Carrington last Friday by captain Gary Neville and if joining the team of his idol, Ryan Giggs, isn’t enough for him, then we certainly won’t be losing any sleep over it.

I do wonder though how easy Ramsey will be sleeping in years to come when reflecting on this life changing decision.




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