Yesterday saw the annual shareholders Q&A taking place with the manager. There wasn’t a huge amount of new information to come from it, but it is always nice for the shareholders, who are also fans, to ask questions to the manager and hear what he has to say. For more detailed comment on, and quotes from, the Q&A, check out The Goon Blog which has a three part post on the event: Part One; Part Two; Part Three. Arsenal Insider also has an in-depth post on the evening.
Wenger spoke about how Almunia and Fabianski were exposed to a lot of pressure in the summer, but neglected to mention the fact that all of that pressure was put on them by the manager himself by carrying out his open quest to sign Mark Schwarzer, always refusing to confirm who would be the club’s no1 for the current season.
There were some questions about signings and club ownership but the manager did a Matrix style dodge of the latter by just saying that he is a club employee and it is not his position to try and influence the ownership structure of the club. Regarding signings, he said that he is happy with the business that we did in the summer and that he always makes sure to meet a player before signing them. Unlike Ferguson, who signed Bebe without even having seen the player, neither in the flesh nor on DVD. I don’t understand why someone would sign a player without ever having seen him play or met him, especially when you consider that millions of pounds are at stake.
Anyway, on the financial side of things, the manager defended his spending policy by pointing out that in his time at the club we have built both a state of the art training ground and a new stadium which are the envy of most clubs across Europe. Whilst this is a very important point to remember, it also seems clear that there has been some money there to spend and the frustration that the fans feel, and vent, stems from the fact that we know there is money available and that over the past few seasons we have always been just one or two signings away from being a trophy winning team, but the necessary player investment has not happened, or at least the investment that the fans have perceived to be necessary anyway. Knowing the team is so close to being great, but for the required investment not to happen is hard for fans to take.
However, the manager should be applauded for keeping the club in the Champions League, and competitive, throughout the transition phase from the start of construction on the Emirates until now, despite such a restricted financial environment. To an extent, I can understand the slight reluctance to spend the available money as he knows that if the signing doesn’t work out, then he has chucked money away that he couldn’t afford to chuck away. Unlike someone like Redknapp, Wenger thinks long-term, but fans think short-term and get frustrated. He did reveal that the club is trying to get him to look at lucrative pre-season tours and it is something that he is open to as long as it isn’t in the same year as an international tournament and that it is for the right reasons.
There is an article in The Daily Mail where Keown talks sense and Townsend talks through his chocolate starfish about Wenger’s call for players to get more protection. The frustrating thing about this whole issue is that people are conveniently ignoring that Wenger isn’t calling for more protection for Arsenal players, he is calling for more protection for ALL players and an end to reckless tackling where players have no intention to play the ball. There is a difference between a hard and fair tackle where a player is honestly going for the ball, and a tackle where the player is more interested in stopping the other player than going for the ball. Anyway, it seems like the media and the English managers have once again begun circling the wagons and Wenger’s calls for change will get lost under the tag of ‘whinging.’ Warning, the above link has a horrible picture of the Eduardo injury towards the bottom of the article. Surprise, surprise, Graham Poll also misses the bigger point that Wenger is trying to make.
Following Wenger’s calls for a crackdown on bad/reckless challenges the media have, predictably, trotted out the xenophobic and moronic views of Allardyce and Coyle. The former being a long-time walrus lookalike and the latter probably being a bit bitter that he didn’t get Wilshere on loan again this season. I’m just waiting for them to complete the unholy trinity by cracking out the comments of Pulis over the coming weekend, whether or not the article with his comments will come with a picture of a naked head butt remains to be seen. Googplaya talks a lot of sense on the issue here.
Speaking of stupid tackles and recklessness, Aaron Ramsey has been talking about his comeback from injury. Fingers crossed that his recovery continues without any major setbacks, though I suppose some niggling muscular injuries are to be expected:
“No, I won’t have any second thoughts. I’ve seen the X-rays, I’ve seen the scans and the leg is strong so I won’t be thinking about the injury when I go in for a challenge. I have started running now and I have had good days and bad days but it is coming along and hopefully I can get back soon. There is no pain anymore.
The only good thing to come from this is that it has helped me realise how much my career means to me. Now I can’t wait to get back training and playing.”
Jack Wilshere has been talking about his breakthrough into the first team and how much he enjoys playing alongside and learning from Cesc. Let’s hope that he will have more than just this season to learn from our Catalan captain:
“It is perfect playing with Cesc and Alex in midfield. Playing with people like Cesc Fabregas makes it easy for you. He will talk to you and talk you through games. You saw what Cesc could do against Braga – it is perfect for me to learn from him.
It is good to get games and hopefully I can push on from here. I am just trying to break into the Arsenal first team. Last year, I had to go out on loan to get some games because there were some world-class players at Arsenal, but I have come back with more experience and the boss thinks I am ready to challenge for a place. All I can do is challenge and show them what I can do.”
On the injury front, there must have been some flying pigs over north London on Wednesday evening as the team came through a full game without picking up any new injuries. The news got slightly better when it was revealed that both Vermaelen and Diaby have been penciled in to be back for the West Brom game. Though it is disappointing that Vermaelen won’t be available for the trip to Sunderland tomorrow and his recovery has been a bit slower than expected. The squad for tomorrow’s should be the same as for the Braga game but there should be some rotation of the starting eleven.
Cesc and Clichy have been talking about how they feel that we can win the something this season and the fact that the Champions League final is going to be taking place at Wembley just serves as extra incentive to do well.
Right, I think that I have written enough for today, hopefully you have managed to stick with it until the end.
Have a good Friday. I have a busy weekend of high school festivals during the day and evening drinking sessions ahead. I will TRY to make a post tomorrow with a match preview, but may not have the time.