By Drewza on January 4 2013
This is the time of year I like least. The constant transfer agitation is killing me – online media agog with wish lists and hate speech about players ‘they’ want in and players ‘they’ want out. It’s a circus. Already.
Therefore it’s surprising to hear from Arsene Wenger that he takes any of it seriously. But he does. Fans’ opinion bothers him, it seems, despite stressing that, with 1600 premiership and 200 Champions League games under his duvet, he doesn’t have to listen to the likes of us out here.
“It’s very difficult because the level of expectation is very high,” he said yesterday.
“People want to see Lionel Messi. They don’t want to see a promising guy.
“First of all the name gives hope. When a guy has no name people are already sceptical. So it’s much more difficult for us.”
First and foremost I agree that fans are the last folk on the planet that should pick teams. I am also of the opinion that managers, like theatre directors, should be very careful how much they are influenced by what the critics say. On matters of quality and how you pick your team and what you are trying to achieve with the players, formations, composition, style, shape, tactics, content, preparation and form – leave that to the boss. But we, the fans, are entitled to have our say. We can speak as loudly as we want – as long as we don’t hurt anybody. (And on that note, well done to AC Milan and Prince Boateng for showing those fans just what they thought of racist chants and abuse).
What I don’t accept, however, is that we, the fans, should somehow diminish our dreams, however extravagant they may be, to suit the prudence of AFC.
The level of expectation is indeed high, and so it should be for a club that has a proud history of accomplishment. And everybody wants to see Lionel Messi. Why not! A player like Lionel Messi should be on the radar of a club that wants to win the Champions League, even if it seems like an impossible dream; yes, even if it feels like a joke in the current Arsenal climate.
May I say: Arsenal’s reach goes far beyond the confines of north London. And Wenger’s magic or just plain stubbornness and indecision plays havoc with our lives across many continents, including this one, Africa. We take our dreams seriously.
Has cynicism replaced daring innovation in Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? Have the forces of boardroom pragmatism become so entrenched that to dream is now difficult for the club?
Maybe I am reading too much into this, but it doesn’t get any better when the boss talks about the unexpected rise of Michu (who’s been scoring goals for fun at Swansea) from relative obscurity.
With so much deadwood in the team – so many comparative failures – it does seem that Wenger goes into in a state of shock and trauma at transfer time preferring to make no decision at all rather than a bad one. Once bitten twice shy.
My guess is that Wenger will get his mojo back only when he’s done a spring clean, or got rid of the winter waste. His Arsenal needs a tidy-up. He can’t blame the fans for that state of affairs.
The club has carried deadwood for years. Bad mistakes are swept under the carpet. When players either lose form or Wenger loses interest in them, they have been carried over season after season: Chamakh, Bendtner, Park, Squillaci, Diaby, Djourou, Arshavin… It’s pointless arguing the individual merits or otherwise of these players since their cases vary significantly. The fact is, they are, to a greater or lesser extent, victims of Wenger’s judgment and, some might argue, caprice.
At long last, it looks like Chamakh might find a home at West Ham. Djourou might go to Germany – Hannover 96. Squillaci may go somewhere or he may just join the Emirates locker room staff.
Djourou is a perfect case of Wenger listening to the fans – wrongly, I believe. Djourou was hounded and scapegoated for being an adventurous, out-of-position full back. His reputation never recovered. To all intents, Wenger dumped him and left him to hang out to dry.
It’s a shame, because now he’s off and we don’t really have cover should Koscielny or Vermaelen get injured. For Djourou’s sake, I am glad and wish him well (should the transfer be completed) in the Bundesliga.
Which brings me to Demba Ba. In truth, I am a little dejected we didn’t get him, especially as he had proclaimed a kinship with the club. And I know that Yogi’s Warrior doesn’t dig him and arseblog thinks he’s probably best avoided, but Wenger himself said that Ba’s bad knee was probably over-exaggerated.
“I like Demba Ba personally, he is a similar type to Giroud who we just bought. It was one or the other one.”
And that is where I agree with Wenger. We don’t need Ba, actually. We have Giroud. They aren’t that similar, perhaps, and you could lament until the cows come home and the moon never rises that we’ve missed out on a beauty in Ba, but the fact is we have what we have and this team still hasn’t consolidated into the perfect, purring engine it promised to be in the prototype yard.
I am much more perturbed that we might ‘lose’ Zaha to the predatory S’Alex because what Arsenal needs now is not another maybe-interim-do-a-job imperfectly striker, but a dangerous midfielder, and an attacking winger who can put in a decent cross. Get Walcott signed as an option, get those 2 positions covered for now, and at least we have some legs for the home stretch to take us through 3 competitions over a busy 4 and a bit months. And if we don’t get a Ba or some other, then please, Mr. Wenger, use Olivier Giroud. That’s why you bought him.
Put your money where your mouth is. Or should that be, put your mouth where your money is…? I tell you, all this transfer agitation is killing me…
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