Gunning for Glory – Arsenal focus
So that wasn’t so bad was it. The summer lull has flown by, a new season is just mere hours away, and Mr. Wenger, as promised following last season’s predictable, and now annual, collapse has been “busy” in the transfer market this summer addressing all the problems which are prevalent in this team. Right?
Yes my friends, tricky winger – Gervais Yao Kouassi (AKA Gervinho) has been added to the squad, Nasri has signed a new (undisclosed) long term contract and Fabregas has publically come out to declare his commitment to the Arsenal cause and has asked Xavi to stop ‘poking’ him on facebook. Yes, the 2011-12 English Premier League season is upon on, and as usual, the football writers are declaring ‘Arsenal in Crisis’. Wow, its good to be back. So where do I really begin then folks?
Well I suppose there is only one place to start and that’s the Cesc Saga (Borefest I hear you say?). The ‘will he, wont he’ situation simply has to be put to bed. It’s not doing any favours to the club, to the player or general fan morale, and is purely a right pain in the Áras now at this stage. The valuation is £40 million; Barca have allegedly had two bids of £27 and £35 million turned down over the summer, whilst a team of Barca briefcases were in London last week to thrash out a deal with Ivan Gazidis. I’m sure it went along the lines of this:
“Barca Execs: We think £40million is unrealistic. Wear and tear has surely reduced his transfer value from last summer by £8 million pounds. Like, you kidnap our player at age 16, spend 8 years educating and developing him into the fine young midfielder he is today (top assist rating in European football for 2010-11) and expect us to buy him back with real money……like come on!!!!!. Xavi has a bunk-bed ready in his house and everything for him.
Ivan: Ah sure, no bothers, it was just a joke really that got out of hand. Sure how were we meant to know he was gonna develop into a world-class midfielder. We were only over in Barca for a mad stag weekend back in 2003, and ended up having a feed of drinks with this little Spanish kid out on the lash with an extraordinary funny name. We got him to sign a contract in-between kidnapping a monkey and getting felt up by shemale Puyol lookalikes. It was a dare really, so apologies for the inconvenience caused”
Yes, Barca, its that simple (morons!). If FC Barcelona seriously believe that the transfer of Cesc will cost anything less than £40million, then they are deluded (having already spent €26 million plus bonuses on Alexis Sanchez). All the body language from the player suggests that he’s ready to leave London to head back home and to be honest I don’t think any Arsenal player or fan would begrudge him that opportunity at this stage. He’s given great service to the club and it’s just a pity that his time at The Arsenal wasn’t more successful in terms of trophies which he deserves.
However, I actually believe that in order for this team to grow again, it would be best for all involved that the situation be resolved properly. Cesc’s heart has been in Barca for quite a while now, and there’s only one solution to that. I know I would get heavily criticised for such views, but players come and go. That’s life, that’s football. I know he’s world-class, but so was Ronaldo at Man Utd, and the sky didn’t fall in after his protracted transfer to Real Madrid in 2009. The difference then was the deal was done early in the summer. The big fear here is that it’s looking more and more like an August 31st transfer in this case, which should be avoided at all costs. To replace Cesc is no mean feat. We expect players such as Wilshere and Ramsey to step forward this season to fill some of the gaps, but the £40million should be re-invested in experienced and proven talent.
The six years without a trophy has put serious pressure on Mr. Wenger and the crowds poor reaction to a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls at the Emirates Cup last week is not actually all that surprising. Arsenal’s season has become somewhat predictable and there’s a real feeling out there amongst Gooners that Arsene has lost a significant section of the home fans’ support. Arsenals fixture list over the first month of the season is jam-packed with tough games with Newcastle (Away), Udinese (Home, UCL qualifier), Liverpool (Home), Udinese (Away, UCL qualifier) and Man United (Away), and if a bad start happens, one wonders how much time Wenger will have on his side.
The club board keeps stating that, under the current financial model at the Emirates, there is money to spend on new players if and where required. The boss has already acknowledged that there is weaknesses in this side (particularly on set-piece defending) and since stating that last May, nothing has happened on the defensive side other than to sign a promising rookie right back in Carl Jenkinson and the sale of Gael Clichy. No offence to the lad, but if he ends up being the only defensive reinforcement, then some fans are seriously gonna lose fate in the current set-up.
Empty seats at the Emirates were noticeable last season, no matter what the announcer declared and the 6% rise in some seat prices for this current campaign has only fanned the disgruntled flames of some supporters. The same fans are looking at rival clubs in Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool flexing financial muscle and team-strengthening over the summer, whilst Arsenal seem to be caught in a rut of decline or at best stagnation. Fans need hope, and to instill hope, belief is needed in the cause. Put simply, Arsenal need to be freshened up with some new signings in the right positions with proper quality. Being linked with Joey Barton on a free transfer again doesn’t help.
My own feelings, for what it’s worth, is that a new centre-back and defensive midfielder are the minimum requirements. An ideal acquisition would be Daniele De Rossi of A.S Roma who has one year to run on his current deal, a seasoned Italian international who still has his best years to come. But alas, the world is not perfect and my transfer recommendations will more than likely fall on deaf ears. What can’t be allowed happen in this summer window is haggling over a couple of thousand grand which occurred with Mark Schwarzer last summer. If the player is identified and will improve the squad to meet the season’s goal, then it’s the role of the Chief Executive (i.e Ivan Gazidis) to get the transfer done. Simples. Leave the haggling to the Monty Pyton boys in the Life of Brian.
Then there’s the Nasri situation, which has ridiculously dragged on as well all summer. The club are playing a real game of Russian Roulette (apologies Andrei) with the stance of refusing to consider offers for the midfielder who can leave for free next summer. If the talk of £20-22 million is on the table from both Manchester Clubs, then one has to seriously consider this offer. Nasri did have a wonderful start to the campaign last year before fading into blandness from February onwards.
I’ve always been a fan of Nasri’s potential but reason needs to enter the equation when a player is bull-headed on not signing a new contract. What’s better for Arsenal – keeping an unhappy player (whose had a purple patch for 6 months out of a 3 year spell) at the club who can speak to potential suitors at Christmas about leaving for free, or pocket a very respectable transfer fee now and buy a name with a further 4 year contract and value maintained. I’m no financial management guru but if Arsene goes down the road of Mathieu Flamini and gets burned again, I’m not so sure he will have another summer to put it right.
But anyhows, I’ve waffled on for far too long here, but that’s what happens when you’re a fan whose had to endure a summer of no football (there was a Womens World Cup?), the loss of The News of the World showbiz magazine, and looking out at another dull drizzly Irish Summer! Thank goodness for Sunway Holidays.