The Incomprehensibles.

August 14, 2013

So, here we are, three days before the opening game of the Premier League season and we have yet to strengthen the team in any meaningful kind of way. I don’t count the free transfer of Sanogo as he is clearly a player for the future, not the here and now. Well, that’s what I had assumed when we signed him, but given the fact that we have done no business since then, he could well end up getting a fair few games this season. Given his dodgy injury record and a potential hamstring problem already, he is clearly not a player we can currently count on to be a reliable back-up. Far from ideal, but that’s where we currently find ourselves.

The fact that we could have shifted 30 players out by the end of the transfer window makes this whole situation even more incomprehensible and indefensible. At the start of the summer we were told that business would be done, certainly before the start of the season, by Gazidis. Clearly he wanted to strengthen the team as the club now has the means to pull off some big deals. By big deal, I don’t necessarily mean the £40m+ kind of deal that we’ve been pissing our entire summer away on Suarez. A Luiz Gustavo deal for £15m-16m would be a big deal for us, not so much on the financial front but on the footballing front as a proper defensive midfielder is exactly what this team has been crying out for, probably since Gilberto left if we’re being honest.

Back in June Gazidis said:

“I’m not going to talk about individual players today…what I’ll say is that it has been quite a slow start and I think that’s because there was such a managerial musical chairs going on… But I think it’s important that whatever happens in the summer that it is only relevant when we start playing in August if the team is better and is performing better.”

At the time he said this, we were all pretty pumped by his comments and began to get carried away with the absurdly fanciful notions of getting Cesc back, myself included. Though, looking back, this should have been the sign that we had all jumped the Arsenal transfer shark, on a unicorn. We clearly had set our sights absurdly high due to the fact that we actually had a shedload of cash available. Things have gone steadily downhill from that euphoric high atop Turd Mountain. There were times when we all tried to polish Turd Mountain with fanciful ideas of signing Higuain (who we never even made an official bid for) but, as we have now discovered, a polished turd is still a turd. A great big steaming one at that. The fact is that the squad is weaker than it was when we ended the season.

I have no doubt that Gazidis meant what he said, however I fully believe that he has been hung out to dry by Wenger and Kroenke Tonk Stan (KTS), an owner that is all too happy to sit by and say/do nothing as long as things are looking rosy on the financial front. Wenger has appeared to dither from one supposed target to the next with his own idea of said player’s value being held in some kind of infallible light. It is as insane as it is infuriating that we find ourselves in this situation on the Wednesday before the season starts. Wenger’s stubbornness to budge from his own personal player valuation figure coupled with his dithering over whether or not to sign said player is, on one hand, admirable but when you have cash available and a squad badly in need of strengthening it is incomprehensible. To have an owner that won’t push hard for strengthening is also incomprehensible. Wenger and KTS are The Incomprehensibles.

The club needs an owner and board that are willing to push the manager more and make him more accountable for this total catastrofuck of a summer. Gazidis should invite Wenger in for further contract talks, only for Wenger to walk into the office and find Ivan rolling up and smoking said contract because, at the moment, the manager is far from deserving a new deal. The board’s collective cajones have gone walkabout.

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Okay, rant over. For now.

It’s not all doom and gloom as we are now down to just having Bendtner and Park left to shift and we will have successfully gotten all of the deadwood of the books, thus freeing up upwards of £400,000 per week on our wage bill. That’s £20m+ per year extra that the club has to play with. Add that to the increased revenue from commercial deals and we are sitting pretty financially.

So, credit where it’s due for clearing the majority of the players we moaned about for the last two or three seasons off the books. I do fear that injury prone Abou Diaby will be the unlucky recipient of our deadwood ire next season.

But, you can’t score goals with a pile of cash. Having said that, a great big pile of cash stacked in the middle of the box would still be more mobile than Emile Heskey. There are a little over two weeks left until the transfer window closes and the clock is ticking. There is still time left to do some deals but I fear that we are hurtling toward deadline day disappointment. If that is the case, then we are likely to see the Arsenal fan equivalent of Game of Throne’s ‘Red Wedding’ on Twitter on September 2nd. (Decided I had to use that line before Mr. Mouse, @arse2mouse, stole it from me.)

I’m usually pretty optimistic about all things Arsenal and Wenger, but this summer has left me disillusioned and close to breaking point. However, all is not lost yet and I’m clinging on to the vain hope that Gustavo’s announcement tomorrow is that he has decided to join Arsenal because they are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. I saw reports of Barcelona possibly joining the chase, but if Gustavo’s motivation for moving is more playing time then Arsenal would be his no-brainer destination. I guess that just leaves the big question, will Arsenal convert ‘an interest’ into an actual bid, or will this be a sequel to the Higuain saga?

Right, I’m off out to buy a few cans of craft beer and hit the beach. Checking out Japanese women in bikinis while having a few cans of beer is a surprisingly good antidote to summer transfer window blues.

I’ll be back with another post in a day or two, assuming I don’t get incinerated at the beach like I did this time last year. You can follow me on Twitter at @colm_smyth – I promise that I’m not always this moany, but everyone has a breaking point.


Arsene Has a Cunning Plan (We Just Don’t Know What it is Yet)

August 13, 2013

HWSAY

The season starts on Saturday…it starts on Saturday!!!!! How amazing is that? Great… really, err, yeah, brill…ah, who am I kidding? Things are just ludicrous at the moment. My glass has been half empty, then full to the brim, then as I get a slap of reality to the face the glass breaks and all its contents (the last remaining water on Earth) seeps into the sand of the sandiest of deserts. And whose fault is it all? It’s Arsene Wen…I jest. It’s basically my fault for having such an investment in something I can do next to nothing about, apart from scream (sometimes for joy) and moan. But I’m in. There’s no escaping now. Only thing left to do is wait and be optimistic. Maybe weep a little.

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Looking at our dead-as-a-doornail transfer activity, one would assume that at any moment Arsene is ready to hatch a master plan so cunning you could dress it up as a lady and sell it to John Terry. But maybe we are all missing the point…all of us – the crowd. Looked at positively, we have ridden ourselves of just about everyone who was considered to be useless. Looking at the list, we can’t deny that it’s been a good summer in that respect. So, that’s positive number one. Secondly, we haven’t lost anyone (significant) – imagine sitting with Arsene as he’s spelling out the reasons you shouldn’t jump off the ledge quite just yet. I see Arsene a bit like Walter White (Heisenberg) from Breaking Bad. If you don’t know the character (get watching), his basic aim in life is to get the people around him to understand that his actions are for the greater good, and especially for the people he cares about the most.

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“Now, I get that, Arsene, but please, FFS, sign Luis Suarez right now or I’ll jump, goddamit!” (And I’m in the ‘please don’t sign that wanker’ camp. But I’m desperate).

Gazidis, the man of riddles, has been at it too. When you hear something like: “We can do some things which would excite you. We can think about all kinds of things. We could do that [buy a £20million player], we could do more than that” it really is enough to drive even the most patient of us to despair.

moi

This is the current state of affairs for long-suffering Gooners. However, there may (please sense the irony) be hope. We have a great squad with many players coming through that we would have considered average a season or two ago. With a good non-injury run under our belts (haha, I know), we could put in a solid start to the season, especially with the run of games we are facing.

We have Jack, Theo, Ramsey, Kos, Santi, and the rest, looking like they really can make all the bad stuff go away. That’s what they’re there for, right? To make us happier. I genuinely believe that they want to do so, too. If we could just sneak in a talismanic madman or some unheard of footballing genius just to make our nerves a little less jangly, wouldn’t that be just great? OK, so it’s not going to happen. Wenger’s never going to do something so obvious. But maybe therein lies the answer. Maybe he knows that the team are primed and ready for anything. Maybe they can hold the fort until the end of the transfer window, and just at the final minute he’ll bring in that extra body we need. Yep, that’s Arsene. That has to be the plan. It’d be masochistic if it was anything different (Why go into the season weaker than the last?). If this is the case, my hat will be taken off, screwed to the floor, never to be adorned again – the man would be a bonafide genius in my eyes.

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So, in conclusion, maybe we should trust again in the genius that is Arsene Wenger. He has done it before and can do it again. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that all these players have blossomed at the same time and the team is primed and ready to fight on all fronts. If we could do it, the romance would be spectacular. And as Walter White said in a recent episode, “If you don’t know who I am then maybe your best course of action would be to tread lightly.” Substitute “know who I am” with “understand me” and “tread lightly” with “trust me”. Perhaps it’s the last course of action Arsenal fans have left.