Words: 555. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.
It feels like the start of Arsene Wenger’s last season as Arsenal manager and I’m not hopeful he’s going out with a bang.
What a strange moment that will be when it finally arrives – someone else in charge of Arsenal. After so many years of Wenger I don’t know what it would feel like but having gone through another summer of false hopes, transfer inertia and generally under-whelming business being done sadly I’m looking forward to the day even more than I was at the end of last season.
The past few days have encapsulated the reasons off the pitch why a growing number of supporters feel change at the top is inevitable. The signing of another big money teenage prospect, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, came a few days before the sale of two of our best players, Fabregas and Nasri, was all but confirmed. Throw in speculation that we are pursuing the Birmingham centre back Scott Dann and you have a healthy recipe for a disillusioned Gooner.
No logic to transfers
It’s not the individual transfers that annoy me but the logic behind it. We bought Fabregas young and cheap and are selling him youngish and expensive. We bought Nasri young and expensive and are selling him young and more expensive. The £40m-odd transfer fee profit from the deals is welcome but their best years lie ahead of them and what will the money be invested in? If previous experience is anything to go by, in paying inflated wages to mediocre squad players and buying unproven teenagers and giving them lucrative long-term contracts.
Think of other players brought in recently as teenagers – Clichy, Bendtner, Merida, Senderos, Djourou, Traore, Song, Denilson, Walcott and Ramsey are some that spring to mind. None of those have totally bombed and all have had talent, though not to the same extent as Fabregas. But they haven’t helped us win anything beyond Senderos’ 2005 FA Cup medal and Clichy’s bit-part role in the Invincibles.
We buy teenagers cheap, they don’t win medals, they either disappear on a free or get sold at a healthy profit, any money made goes back into the pot for more unproven teenagers and the cycle continues. Throw in the fact that we are now selling the best of the bunch, Fabregas, before he reaches his prime and the logic of it becomes even more questionable.
So where does that leave us just a day from the start of the season? Massively reliant on Robin Van Persie, I would say. Wenger hasn’t managed to create a fully-functioning team unit since the first half of 2007/8 and with Fabregas and Nasri leaving, equivalent-standard replacements not being brought in and the defence not even being added to, we’re need our new captain to become the kind of talisman that can elevate an average team into winners.
If he can continue his end-of-season hot streak for another 10 months and get in the reckoning for player of the year plaudits we have a chance of staying in the top four or even winning something. But even in typing that I realise how ludicrous the prospect is – this is a man who averages 32 games a season in his Arsenal career and is just as likely to break a bone as he is to win man-of-the-match. But that’s where Wenger’s transfer policy has left us.