So there we have it. Here we are. It’s finally over. until the summer that is. The over-dramacised, over-hyped, theatrical ‘Transfer Deadline Day’ has final set sail to return only to return at the end of August.
There is a very relived part of me this morning I have to admit. I can now concentrate on talking about football and not speculation. my Twitter feed will die down with ITKs and ‘i’m hearing’. Yep, definite relief.
Yet that is not my overwhelming emotion on this Friday morning. My feelings today are that yet again Arsenal Football Club has failed to deliver the required movements to really kick the team on this season. When the August deadline passed and no striker was incoming, we were provided with press soundbites of ‘there is always January’. Yet now we see that those comments were designed purely to instil that all important element of hope into the fans. ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got a squad that can cope, and if we’re not coping then we’ll go out and augment the team with quality signings that will ensure that we continue to eat at the top table. Well it worked until about 11.30pm yesterday when fans like me are once again left feeling like the club hasn’t done all in its power to ensure that we maintain competitive and improve as a club.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to wake up and see we’ve spent £12million on a good but not amazing central defender and we’re paying him £100k a week for the privilege. The signing of Chris Samba by QPR might be a good addition to the squad, but it is a huge roll of the dice by Harry. If QPR go down they will be in trouble of Portsmouth proportions. It is because of our thrifty way that we think like this by the way. If we signed a player for £12million and £100k a week, over the lifetime of their contract that’s £40million, which the way Arsenal work turns out to be £40million of the supposed £70million we have. That is why we Arsenal fans look so closely at the pennies. Because we know the team needs two or three quality players, yet if we go over the top on good but not great players, it will just make for yet another summer of discontent as we yet again fail to add to the squad.
But going back to my original point: I don’t want to see ridiculous money thrown at players. But there are players out there that could have added some genuine squad depth to this team. David Villa would have been a great signing. Jovetic would have been superb. Even Diame would have been a good bit of competition in midfield for when Diaby gets his inevitable injury on Saturday and is out for the rest of the season, followed by Arteta having a ‘little setback’ and turning three weeks out to two months. There are plenty of players out there that we could have called on to improve and yet we have continued to keep our powder dry.
Still, there was at least one signing that we were able to bring in that most certainly addresses a need, so I need to temper some of my angst at least in the knowledge that we have some competition at left back. The man known as ‘Nacho’ has joined us from Malaga and he will certainly add more depth and competition for the much maligned Andre Santos. Surely this is the end of the Brazillian’s time at the club so I’d expect him to be one of the first out of the door come June. If we can find a buyer that is willing to pay his surely exorbitant wages.
I know nothing about Monreal. I’ve read plenty from fans, journalists and players saying that he is understudy to Jordi Alba in the Spanish national team, which gives me the first indication that he will most certainly be challenging Gibbs more than the chunky Brazillian was. I’m not going to go into any major depth about his attributes, as it would be a false prophecy on my part, but I suspect we’ll find out all about him tomorrow (did he get clearance to play) or away to Sunderland the following weekend.
So we have at least added to our ailing defence. But to me it simply wasn’t enough. I read the AST statement about the money available to the club and with the new TV deal and other revenue increasing, failure to be in the Champions League will be off-set by that. Which again brings me back into questioning why on earth we haven’t done all we can to strengthen in key areas. The whole world knows where we need to strengthen, yet the stubbornness of the manager is all too prevalent. He is more concerned with sticking to his flawed socialist ideology of financial fair play. I say flawed because I am quite convinced that come the introduction of the FFP rules, we will see quite quickly how the big clubs get around it.
Arsene says the squad is good enough. Arsene says he has two players for every position. Arsene believes bringing in more players would create too much wastage. If that is the case, why is he only using a core of 12 or 13 players every single week. If he has so much faith in the squad why do we weaken ourselves by sending half of it out on loan? Will he start to utilise promising talents like Eisfeld or Gnabry? Or even Rosicky? You cannot tell me that Gervhino is a better player than Rosicky and yet he will probably come into the team as soon as the African Cup of Nations is over. You also cannot tell me that there are players that are within our price range that are not better than Gervhino. Crikey, there are players in some of the teams fighting for relegation that are better than Gervhino.
In reading this blog you could be forgiven for thinking that I am turning on Arsene. I can only assure you that this is not the case. I would like nothing more than for him to turn this around, put together a winning run and perhaps even send us on a cup winning run. But the probability of us doing that with this squad that, once you scratch below the surface is paper-thin in terms of quality, are leading me to question whether he knows at all. By not bringing players in he has made a rod for his own back. The doubters now have their biggest stick with which to beat him and he has no place to hide if the team falls away from fighting for fourth place. Just say that again out loud to yourself. We are fighting for fourth place. We are so far from the Invincibles now it is scary.
I will be going on Saturday. I will cheer on my team and I will hope that we can do something now that lifts us into the top four. But by not adding to the side as much as we’d hoped, I’m skeptical that we can do that.
Until tomorrow peeps.