Like a homeless person scrimmages through the bins hoping to find scraps of food, so have I been refreshing my browser every few minutes hoping to find news of a signing, any signing! Some will think that scrimmaging through bins is an apt analogy for Arsenal’s transfer dealings, but whatever your position on Arsenal’s management – I say “management” because I don’t want to isolate Wenger as the only person responsible for transfers – even the most positive supporter must be feeling frustrated at this point.
As this is my first article, I don’t want to give my personal views on any individuals of the management hierarchy, as I do not want my future articles being read with preconceived ideas of personal prejudice in mind. I will never assume to know more about managing a football club than one who manages a club professionally, least of all someone with the reputation of Arsene Wenger; bearing in mind that regardless of our frustrations, he’s still regarded as one of the best in the world.
So, while we cannot make judgements based on our limited outside knowledge, we can however, draw intelligent conclusions from what has been said by the professionals who DO run the club. In this way, we can form a logical opinion based on direct information, and not one based on Fifa Football Manager.
What follows is not my personal opinion, but questions that I would like to put forward; questions based on direct information which I hope will prompt you to then express your opinions logically in the comments section below.
Let’s begin at the beginning….
At the start of the summer we were all drooling in expectation as Ivan finally confirmed that we have the financial muscle to compete at the very top level of transfers. First question that springs to mind: Gazidis is a very intelligent man, is he not? If you’ve ever watched his performance in front of a camera you’ll quickly realize that he’s as smooth as they come. So why would an intelligent CEO blab to the whole world that we have a fat wad of cash to spend? Would this not alert clubs to increase prices when dealing with us (case in point, Madrid’s dramatic increase in their valuation of Higuain)? Also, considering Arsenal is quite “thrifty” when it comes to spending makes Ivan’s declaration all the more suspect. (On the point of being thrifty, why would intelligent people wait until the end of the window when prices are inevitably higher?) Could it be that it was a deliberate act from a man who chooses his words very wisely; an attempt to sabotage Arsenal’s transfer dealings with the premeditated intention of not spending big in the first place? Sounds a bit farfetched, so let’s continue…
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Then came the constant under-bidding for world class players, and always way below the selling club’s valuation. I understand the need for negotiating and getting the best possible price, but our bids have been so low that we’ve insulted clubs and players; again this is direct information, not a theory. You would think if we insulted a club once, unintentionally, we would quickly realize this is not the way you prompt a club to sell to you, and no player wants to feel devalued before even joining a club, so we would correct this rather embarrassing behaviour and move forward; but we’ve done it several times after that. Another ploy to prevent buying players but make it seem like they’re trying? On a side note, when John Henry openly mocked Arsenal on twitter (“What are they smoking at the Emirates”) why didn’t the Arsenal management respond to that comment? Another interesting question that warrants consideration…
Then we have Arsene’s quotes from his various press conferences, again, direct information so let’s analyze. (Please do not grill me for not quoting his exact words).
When Arsene was quizzed about transfers during the Asia tour, he said that he’s focussing on the tour and doesn’t know what’s happening with transfers because he’s not in London; once he gets back he will look at things. Seems a bit lax, don’t you think? After all, why would he not know about transfers just because he’s in another country, doesn’t he keep in contact with the team in London (phone, email)? And while Daniel Levy was jetting around the world at that time working on deals, why was Ivan getting a tan in Asia instead of doing his job? Does this mean that his focus was on increasing the global fan base instead of improving the squad?
So Arsene returned to London and we expected to see the ball rolling, but nothing happened. I’ll fast forward to the present day, and we’ve still not spent a penny. His latest comments raise many questions: “We work 24hrs a day and analyze every single player in the world. We are very careful about doing our job well”. That’s great to hear, that our management puts this much focus and effort on transfers, however 2 questions from this. If you analyze every single player in the world, and you ONLY want a player who can strengthen our squad, AND is better than what we currently have, I fully agree. However, are you telling us that after analyzing every single LB in the world 24hrs a day, trying to find one better than Gibbs, your conclusion was Andre Santos?? I could name many others but one example is enough to raise this question. Secondly, if you had a team that worked 24hrs a day, for 2 months, on ONE task, and failed to produce anything, would you call that team successful?
He goes on to say that they’re ready to spend the money but cannot find ANY players that can improve our squad. I’m sure any one of you could give me 10 names of players who were available this summer who could do that?
I could raise many more questions, but to sum up, I think the biggest frustration is that I do partly agree with Wenger; we do have a core of players that can compete for the title (not the team to win the title like he claims) and this summer was the perfect opportunity to add the missing ingredients to the existing core we, but we have so far, failed. Yes, we do have 2 weeks remaining, but which club will now sell their best players knowing there isn’t enough time to find a replacement? The season is under way and managers have already planned their season with their current squad, so I really can’t see one of them upsetting their entire season’s plans by selling top top top players to us, and least of all not with the way in which we offend clubs with our derisory bids.
I have no doubt that we will buy players – numerically we cannot go a full season with the amount of players we have – but they will be squad players at best, not game-changers. So we must now come to terms with the fact that we have missed our opportunity to be title contenders this season; FA cup possibly, but the league title, certainly not. If it’s true that the strength of a team is shown by the strength of its bench, then a look at our bench for the Villa game said it all.
Even if some of us are labelled as biased, either pro or anti-Wenger, an outsider’s perspective should be considered for some balance to the argument, and so Jaime Carragher said “I’m an ex Liverpool player so Arsenal has got nothing to do with me but they still frustrate me”.
I’ve tried as far as possible not give my personal opinion, but rather raise some logical questions which we really must ask. Like you, I am frustrated. So fellow Gooners, after pondering over some of the above questions, do we have the right to be frustrated? Do you still have faith that marquee signings will be made in these next 2 weeks? I look forward to reading your thoughts…