Arsene, It Really Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
Being a club legend allows people preferential treatment in football and why wouldn’t it? If you’ve given everything you can to a club and brought success along the way, of course you’re going to be given a pass. It’s the reason Chelsea fans ignore the fact that John Terry’s a despicable prick and, more importantly, why Arsenal fans have had so much patience with Arsene Wenger despite going eight long years without a trophy? Well, until now, at least.
Before we get into it, though, there’s no denying Wenger has earned that club legend status. He’s the man who lead us to an entire season unbeaten in the league, earning the first (and probably last) gold Premiership trophy in the process, the man who’s kept us relatively competitive while the club built and paid for a brand new stadium (find another club that can build a stadium using mostly their own resources and stay on course) and, owing to all his innovations in regards to player diet, scouting, etc, arguably the most revolutionary manager in premiership history. He’s provided Arsenal fans with some of the best memories of our lives and for that, we will always be grateful.
The past is the past, however, and a club such as Arsenal should be looking to compete with the best right now, especially this year. With every team that finished above us last season seeing managerial changes, it only seemed logical that by adding some world class quality to our stable foundation this would be the year we could finally look to break the infamous trophy drought (and trust me, this isn’t being written by one of those people who say ‘this is our year’ every year). It all started so well, with Higuain seeming all but certain within a few weeks, but as you probably know, that didn’t go quite to plan.
The details on what exactly happened with Higuain are pretty blurry, but the fact of the matter is that he was for sale for a reasonable price (£30m on him would equate to about a million per goal in his first season… I’d take that.) and is exactly what we need – even Giroud, the man who he’d probably have replaced in the first team, has gone public about the fact that the club need a striker! For me, it reeks of a manager who is either unprepared to pull the trigger on a big deal, or one that is genuinely just out of touch with market value. It’s happened time and time again (Alonso, Cahill, Mata etc.) and it’ll keep happening until he puts his ego aside and just stumps up the cash that it takes to bring in the top players. This ‘we refuse to deal with an overinflated market’ rhetoric is complete hypocrisy too, we sold Alex fucking Song for £25m to Barcelona! He can’t expect every club in the world to sell him players at a cut price and then demand crazy prices for his own players. That was a great transfer fee to get out of him, but you just cannot have it both ways. What is the point of being the most cash rich club in the world if you’re not going to make use of it?!
Strangely, the press, pundits and fans of other clubs all seem to think that we’re just baying for that one ‘marquee’ signing and that really isn’t the case. I’d be perfectly happy with Arsene only spending £7.38 on a player if he was going to come in and step us up to the next level, the problem is that you don’t really get many great players for that price. Regardless of how much we spend on any one player, the fact is that our squad is paper thin at the moment after shipping Gervinho, Chamakh, Djourou, Squillaci, Andre Santos and a whole bunch of kids off to the island of misfit players – even with those players being as rubbish as they are (and the clearout being as sorely needed as it was), we’re down to the barebones with our squad with the season already underway. The game against Villa on the opening weekend showed us exactly how far we still have to come and despite beating Fenerbache and Fulham, you can take a look at the benches from those two games and see exactly how close we are to a serious crisis. Our first XI is capable of beating anyone on their day (see: Bayern away last year) but one or two injuries and we’re back to fielding kids in big games (see: that time we got hammered 8-2 by Surrey’s favourite team) and it’s just not good enough for a club looking to compete at the top.
The atmosphere in the stadium for that game against Villa was vile and the sentiment is clear with chants of ‘spend some fucking money’ reverberating around the stadium for almost the entire closing half hour of the game, it really is pressure time for Arsene to do exactly that. Ideally, we need to bring in a keeper, centre back, holding midfielder, winger and striker in to really add depth to the squad and put us in a position to compete. The worrying part of all this is the mangers insistence that “we will only buy if there are players available that are better than what we have,” if he genuinely hasn’t been able to find players meeting that criteria, both him and his scouts are just not up to scratch because we’ve seen dozens of players moving who would’ve improved us no end. Hell, even Spurs have managed to bring in quality additions and they have to work on Thursdays!
The most wall-punchingly frustrating part of all this is that we shouldn’t even be in this position right now. He’s had over 90 days to improve the squad and get us ready and he hasn’t, leaving us to pick up the scraps in terms of transfers and letting the results suffer on the way. It’s horrible having to feel this way about a club legend like Arsene, but there’s no doubt that if he fails to bring in what we need and make a proper push for the title (I’m not expecting to win it, but to still be involved in March would be nice) then he’s thrown away his last opportunity and has to go (who would replace him is a whole different discussion for a different time). I would love for him to prove me wrong, but I really worry that he won’t, at least not to the extent we need him to.
Still, the fans know it, the players know it, the fucking Gunnersaurus probably knows it and you would like to think that the man in charge of running the club knows it: it’s time to spend the money and prove to the naysayers (God knows there’s loads of them) that we’re still the same club that less than a decade ago were the most feared in Europe. Arsene, we love you and we appreciate all you’ve done for us but fuck ‘the race for fourth’, we want to actually compete again!
Ryan De Freitas
Ryan is an Arsenal fan and also Editor & Creator of Louder Now , a fresh online review and news site on the alternative scene. Follow them on Twitter @GetLouderNow