Note: This was written prior to the Arsenal v Fenerbahce tie.
Since Patrick Viera’s winning penalty in 2005, Arsenal have been in steady decline. Sure we have come close, (Birmingham, Barcelona finals), but except for them two occasions even a final has been elusive.
Roll on to the first game of this campaign and well, the decline is clear for all to see. Amidst the anger in the clock end was bemusement, how could the club have three months to assemble a squad and yet have brought in only one player. On a free transfer. This was promised as the summer of all summers for goners everywhere. No longer were we supposed to suffer by praying and searching any media outlet for potential transfer stories. None of the promises have yet materialised and I feel this four-point plan could regain pride and passion to Arsenal.
Signings are the main factor in improving the club. Having seen bids rejected all summer, one has to question the role of the aptly named Dick Laws and Stan Gazidis. When David Dein was at Highbury, we were big players in the transfer market. We would not have sold RVP to Manchester and certainly would not have sold both Nasri and Fabregas oh, and Clichy in the same summer.
The biggest signing Arsenal could make is Dein; the top transfers would soon follow as Wenger seems to trust his judgement on deals entirely. The fact that it was Wenger who appointed Gazidis also make this whole backroom team look like a group of friends looking out for each other instead of US the fans. They are merely custodians of the cash that we put into the coffers, so should in turn listen and act on our views.
Overall, this summer has been an embarrassing time for Arsenal fans, the Suarez, Higuain and Cabaye bids all well low of the selling team’s valuation, whereas the rest of Europe has seen players moving for their release clause (Cavani and Falcao).
I would change the entire transfer strategy and invest in the following players;
Begovic, Williams, Albiol, Felliani, Arda Turan, Rooney and maybe Cesc if he was to leave Barca. With the cash already sat in the bank, also the money already being brought in by player sales, and the huge cut to the wage bill this year, makes these deals financially viable from a business perspective as well as a footballing one. It just is not acceptable to have Ramsey at centre back marking Benteke with Podolski at left back due to having such a thin squad.
For too many seasons, the teams’ tactics have looked inept. One clear example of this is the way in which we defend set pieces. Zonal marking can work with certain teams however not with Arsenal. We have Steve Bould sat on the bench and wandering around London Colney having no major input. This club legend, our supposed assistant manager, was part of arguably the greatest defensive unit the Premiership has ever seen yet he has no say. I would instruct Bould to work with the defence, with the focus being on crosses and set pieces as they are the two areas we look most vulnerable from. This seems so simple but it just hasn’t been happening at the club.
The apparent lack of a ‘Plan B’ is also very concerning as it seems we do not have the ability to mix up our style of play. Why can we not change to a 4-4-2 if our style of play does not seem to be working? Giroud and Walcott can play off each other well and we can play the odd long ball and look for a knock on. I’m not suggesting change our style of play, I just merely think it is naïve to go into a season with just one tactical game plan.
3) Medical staff
Ever since world-class physio Gary Lewin left, we have had so many injuries it’s unbelievable. You cannot blame player conditioning and the medical staff for contact injuries admittedly, however, the majority of Arsenal player’s injuries are strains, pulls and tears. This suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the way the player’s bodies are being treated. Whether this is due to over training, bad medical decisions or just bad luck is something that needs to be investigated and sorted as it curtails our chances of success every year. For example, RVP couldn’t play a whole season for Arsenal, nor could Fabregas, but both seem to be 40 games a year players now.
4) Honesty with the fans
Arsenal fans have been patient on the whole since the move to the Emirates stadium. We were promised good times after a few years of transition, we were told we would be on an even financial footing with our major competitors. Part of this is true as we are a rich football club now. However, the mantra at Arsenal has always been to reinvest profit, from player sales to match day revenue the money goes back into the team. This does not and has not happened for a while now yet the board and Wenger keep saying it will be. Then there is the fact that, before the day that season tickets went on sale, Gazidis and Wenger were at the AST meeting bigging up our bank balance and getting the fans excited with the promise of marquee signings. These promises have yet again been broken and it is not acceptable. We love our club but much like many marriages, you put up with some of the crap but ultimately you do not want to be lied too.