Talking Reds by Kevin Whitcher
There is no question that Arsenal have enjoyed a pretty decent run of results since their poor start to the campaign. Since conceding four at Blackburn, the team have played 12 games in all competitions and lost once, at Spurs. From the edge of the relegation zone, they have steadily climbed the table to now be regarded as serious contenders for their habitual top four place. As the new players play more, we are starting to see the benefits of some of the summer purchases, even if a few were signed much later than they should have been. Mikel Arteta is looking like the best of the bunch; Andre Santos seems to be steadily improving; Gervinho is gelling with his fellow attackers; and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the rare occasions he is spotted, shows tremendous promise.
No-one’s quite sure about Per Mertesacker, and there are some fears that he might prove more of a liability than a Godsend, which doesn’t make sense given his international record. Messrs Park and Benayoun have not really been given much of an
The club complain about the ‘petrodollars’ that fund Manchester City and Chelsea, and yet are part-owned by a man with billions to spare opportunity, but it would be fair to say that neither has exactly set the house on fire. Still, they were doubtless brought to the club as squad players, so miracles can’t be expected.
The recent Arsenal AGM saw Arsène Wenger deliver his customary speech, although significantly he did not take questions from the audience this year. Perhaps that will not happen again, and certainly the separate annual event where shareholders are invited to pose their questions to the manager is unlikely to ever return with Wenger unless Arsenal manage to win another trophy under his stewardship. Yet, he is under no obligation to indulge shareholders, so all I can say is that it was good while it lasted. In his AGM address he emphasised the importance of unity and supporters getting behind the team, whilst also setting the ambitions of this season as qualification for the Champions League rather than winning the domestic League. In a sense, it’s refreshing to at least hear a realistic assessment of the talents of his squad, but it does raise the question as to how, having moved into a new stadium over five years back with the express aim of remaining competitive, expectations are now so much lower.
The club complain about the ‘petrodollars’ that fund Manchester City and Chelsea, and yet are part-owned by a man with billions to spare. The cold war between the existing board and Alisher Usmanov has dragged on a long time and is doing Arsenal no favours. What is being gained by the stubborn resistance to the Uzbek when a bit of glasnost might see the club able to hang onto the best players by matching the wages that Manchester United and Chelsea are paying and bringing some star names into the club rather than the bargain basement fare we’ve become accustomed to. As fans are paying the highest prices in world football to watch their team, it is not unreasonable to expect some big names, aside from those such as Robin van Persie that have developed at the club. Barcelona mix and match, both developing and buying stars. Their success speaks for itself.
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play is not going to be Arsenal’s salvation and the board and the manager are guilty of tremendous naivety if they ever believed it would. So it’s time to change the ethos at the
2 onlinegooner.com club. Both Gazidis and Stan Kroenke re-enforced the predictable message of self-sustainability at the AGM, but all that it has achieved in recent years is financial success – which in turn has not even been re-invested in the squad. The club are posting profits most years because Arsène Wenger is making money in the transfer market, through getting more for sales than he spends on incoming players. That’s okay if you are getting decent prices for players that have served their purpose like Freddie Ljungberg, but when the club’s crown jewels are departing because they want to win trophies and can’t see it happening where they are, you’ve got problems. Next summer is going to prove an interesting one as Robin van Persie has already declared he doesn’t even want to think about a new contract until the current season is over. Sadly, the writing looks to be on the wall, unless the club has a change of ethos and starts spending in January to avoid the usual collapse in the challenge for honours.
The make-do-and-mend approach is laudable, but with just a little ambition, a little speculating to accumulate, Arsenal could be up there with the big boys. They already are in terms of turnover,
but what fans want to see is some turnover in the trophy cabinet. I hope Arsène can prove the doubters, such as myself, wrong, and bring major trophies back to the club once more. However, my gut feeling is that to do that, some loosening of the purse strings is required. Then, decent runs like the recent one the club have enjoyed can actually result in something tangible that fans can celebrate. Let’s all just hope that next spring does not see the phrase ‘Groundhog Day’ bandied about once again.
Finally, a quick note on internal matters. This issue was originally supposed to be on sale for the home game v Borussia Dortmund but had to be delayed a few days due to circumstances beyond our control. Our apologies to anyone who hoped to buy their new issue at the Champions League fixture. Also, a reminder that our next issue, which is due out on Boxing Day for the home game v Wolves, will feature our 2012 calendar. As only subscribers are likely to read that issue before Christmas Day, I’ll take this opportunity to wish all The Gooner readers an enjoyable festive season, with the hope that your best presents come in the form of transfer news after the New Year.