Could Arsenal Have Done Better In The Transfer Market?

Like most fans, and quite probably Arsene Wenger himself, I wanted to see decisive action from the Gunners in the transfer market. Sort out the situation with those who want to leave, sign replacements in time, have a good pre-season, and start the season with confidence and stability. I will be surprised if anyone, irrespective of their feelings towards the manager or the board, disagrees with that. But the simple fact is that it didn’t happen.

At this point one can either go on and on about how it should have been and why it’s all a mess or actually put in some effort to comprehend the behind the scenes activities.

I want to share my view of how things might have gone. This includes a fair bit of speculation but I’m trying to see if it all makes sense instead of some individuals looking like complete fools, which we know they aren’t.

Clearly, the most important transfers were those of players who went out rather than those who came in. I have no doubt in my mind, at the start of the summer, Wenger wanted to keep Fabregas and Nasri.

Given the way these transfers were protracted, it is understandable that some fans don’t really care for one, if not both, of these players. But that does not change the fact that their quality is very, very hard to replace. Almost everyone agrees about the talent that Cesc has but Nasri is a bit open for debate due to a lack of tangible contribution in the latter part of the previous season.

What I do know is that Mancini spent a crazy amount of money for someone in the final year of his contract (That might actually be the world record, need to check). And Mancini is neither a fool nor is he short of options/resources. Blanc and Ferguson also rate Nasri very highly and United too made a sizeable bid if reports are to be believed.

So it is clear that players like Nasri are not easy to find even when you have the money. His performance in the first game for his new team kind of reinforces this point. Anyway, my intention is not to eulogize a player who has left but to establish the point that Wenger wanted to keep Nasri and Cesc and for good reason.

We don’t know when it was clear that these players must be sold or whose decision it was. That makes any analysis extremely complicated.

Some very astute writers have mentioned that Wenger should have set a deadline for Barcelona. Pay X amount by so and so date or the transfer is off. It is a logical approach and indeed many teams do place such conditions. Why then did Arsene not do it?

Is it a simple matter of indecision? Do you really think someone who is working hard every day to improve this team, could clearly see the impact of dragging this on, and has more experience in such matters than almost all of us put together would not make the transfer simply because he cannot make his mind up?

Or do you believe Wenger (and anyone in the staff) does not know the concept of setting a deadline for transfers? Is it such a difficult thought or do we give the guy who has demonstrated more intelligence than most some benefit of the doubt here?

I don’t think setting a deadline could have worked till the first competitive game came up, which is when the Cesc transfer gathered momentum anyway. Any deadline before that, and Arsenal might actually have set one, would be meaningless.

Suppose Arsenal set a deadline before the Asia tour. Barcelona refuse to meet the asking price but tell Fabregas to hang in there as they are working on generating some money through fringe player sales. It’s not the right thing but we know they had been in touch with Cesc for over two years but that is a separate issue so I don’t want to digress.

At that stage if Fabregas refuses to travel, what choice do Arsenal have? Let’s not forget he is a human and not a machine who can switch his mental focus and energies at the press of a button. Should Wenger force him into the starting line-up? What impact would it have if he didn’t concentrate and the fans turned on him? What chance would Arsenal have of actually keeping him and getting some value out of him after that? It would have played straight into the hands of Barcelona if it became clear that Cesc had no future whatsoever at Arsenal.

My best guess is that Arsene left Fabregas out because he was in no frame of mind to play, especially in pre-season friendlies, and was trying to create a scenario where the Spaniard would choose to stay. Whether Cesc put his foot down and demanded a move or the board refused to back Wenger is hard to speculate. I feel if Cesc wanted to push a move through he could have done it earlier – he too must have suffered a lot – but he has shown a lot of class and values in his eight years at Arsenal so I find that hard to accept.

Ultimately, the only realistic deadline of a competitive game came and Fabregas knew that by refusing to play at that level he will be hurting the club that he loves. Excuses like injury cannot go on forever and being cup-tied would make things very difficult. Something had to give and the move happened in a manner that suited Barcelona and Fabregas but not Arsenal. With hindsight and all the facts, it might emerge that Arsenal/Arsene made some mistakes in handling this situation. Given the complexity involved, I will be amazed if some mistakes were not made. But please, let’s not turn this into a video game where one click can sell a player and another can buy one.

The Nasri saga was perhaps intertwined with the Fabregas move. This is pure conjecture but I believe Arsene would have let Nasri go earlier if Cesc was staying. Replacing two players of this level is just not possible in the current market on Arsenal’s budget.

If we believe the strong rumours in the press, sizeable bids for M’Villa and Goetze were turned down. According to reports Arsene was also interested in Jadson, Lucho Gonzalez, Gourcuff, Cahill, Jagielka, and others. Some of those might have little substance but there can be little doubt Arsenal have been actively looking for players.

When sellings clubs are not under pressure it’s hard to force the transfers through even if a club is willing to pay. If Cesc and Barcelona didn’t have the relationship they had, Arsene probably would have shown a lot more determination in keeping Fabregas than Bolton or Dortmund did, for instance.

There is an argument that Wenger could have sanctioned the moves for the likes of Gary Cahill at their asking price. It would have given the team a much needed boost and the new signing some time to settle in. After all he did that with Gervinho and, for whatever it’s currently worth, with Jenkinson and AOC.

The point that many people miss is that signing a player is not just about his fee or wages, both of which are major factors undeniably, but it is also about having a more comprehensive longer term plan. If Arsenal pay over the odds for two or three players, it would put a significant dent into the budget and would leave little room for a plan B in case someone flops or picks up a serious injury.

It’s not a simple matter of being stingy or stubborn. Why do you think Ferguson and Wenger (even Dalglish if I am not mistaken) were willing to pay big money for Jones but neither of them has splashed out on Cahill who is reportedly priced in the same range?

Surely, Alex Ferguson would prefer a player with three years of Premiership experience over a relative rookie, don’t you think? This is where, as fans, we need to respect the extraordinary knowledge and understanding of the game that these men possess. And we must acknowledge the fact that they are thinking things through, which is not the same as checking whether you have sufficient money in the bank to pay the fee demanded.

Managers need to put a value on a targets head because they know how much money they have, how many players they need, and also the contingency plan in case things go awry. If the price demanded is far in excess of that value, the deal would make no sense except to those who can’t go beyond basic arithmetic.

My theory, and again this is just guesswork, is that Arsene knew he will need big money to replace Cesc and Nasri (consider the bids for M’Villa and Goetze) so he could not break the bank for the likes of Cahill and/or Jagielka.

I think all through the summer Arsenal have tried hard to keep their best players, made a number of enquiries and some serious bids when that didn’t work, and finally signed the best possible players given the circumstances. They also made a couple of early signings to fill some gaps in the squad.

There is no doubt in my mind that some of these players were not first choice, which is also a factor in the time it took for Arsenal to arrive at these names. A couple are also short term signings who will quite possibly be replaced in a year or two. There is every reason to believe the club will again make big bids for really talented players, probably in January or the summer. Whether that will work out in Arsenal’s favour or not is an entirely different issue.

This also explains the need for the price hike. The primary intent is not to make money – although there could be better ways of handling things – but to strengthen the squad. It does not translate into spending for the sake of spending but demands a more meticulous and sensible buying strategy, the effects of which we should see within a year or so.

Some people think that the 8-2 result forced Wenger to spend. With due respect, that is just ridiculous. All through the summer it has been clear that Wenger wanted to strengthen the squad –by filling the gaps, by trying to keep the best players, and by buying replacements.

Spending crazy money on the likes of Cahill would, in my book, be classified as panic buying because that would completely disrupt the accounts and the amounts remaining for future signings. Buying five players in the last two days for slightly more than the cost of one is not a sign of desperation. It is a culmination of a lot of hard work that went in the prior months.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of opinion available on the internet and in the media but not enough thought. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is the only way to think about the whole situation but it does show the need to carefully consider and integrate various issues. Far too often, problems and transfers are analyzed and discussed in isolation. Nothing of any significance can be that trivial.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate what I said in the previous post. The transfers that Arsenal have done in the closing stages of the window are not ideal or without their own issues. For instance, one can argue that Clichy had been sold early enough in the window and a replacement should have been brought in sooner. I find it hard to argue against that.

Moreover, some players are injury prone, some don’t have premiership experience, one or two might be showing a decline in form, and so on. There are valid arguments against some of the signings. At the same time, one could highlight their experience, past performances, and individual qualities like set-piece delivery or height to support the signings. All these points are valid too and the ones you choose to focus on will only be a reflection on your mentality and nothing else.

In addition, I’d say that the venom in one’s voice or the degree of frustration towards the club or its employees, when not supported by necessary and sufficient fact based analysis, is nothing more than the failure of an individual to come to grips with the complexity of the situation.

I am reminded of a one-liner I read a long time ago – Always remember, two plus two equals five for extremely large values of two! It sounds absurd and I am using it completely out of context, but I feel in life often there are hidden complications – just like there can be hidden values after a decimal point on a calculator or spreadsheet – which completely change the outcome. Even when we don’t know these snags we must find a way to factor them into our analysis before we arrive at an opinion.

The simple and obvious answer to the question in the headline is quite possibly – “Yes”, but the real answer? I will leave that up to you.


48 Responses to Could Arsenal Have Done Better In The Transfer Market?

  1. Kubla Khan says:

    There are certain points that you raise which are worth considering, especially the human and emotive elements involved in these dealings and the large factual bits we don’t know. However, if permitted, I suggest:

    1. It is impossible to say that Fabregas would have stayed this season, he had already overstayed one,
    2. Nasri came as a surprise, a double blow. However, the club knew his position by June.

    I always believed and hoped to be proved wrong, but wasn’t, that Arsenal would not sign like for like, supposing that like for like could be found. Wenger, characteristically, HAD already signed his signings, Gervinho and AOC. These are the two signings of the summer. The rest are panic buys, even if we console ourselves that they aren’t.
    Some fans find it saddening that Arsenal haven’t signed a sexy name. There is no evidence that Arsenal actually bid for Goetze or Hazard or MV’ila. Indications are that they had no intentions either. The August signings are symbolic of the club going backwards on Wengerball. Mertesacker vs Hummels, Arteta vs Fabregas, compared to AOC or Gervinho earlier.

    All in all, the issues cannot be thought of in
    isolation from the club ownership, board politics, fan pressure and the managers personal vision. These are tough times.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree it is impossible to say Fabregas would have stayed. But is it possible to say with conviction he would not have stayed under any circumstances? That is the key question. Even last season many people had assumed, and the rumours were pretty strong, that Fabregas was going to leave and it was only a matter of when not if. Maybe this year would have been the same … we just don’t know what was the key decision/event that tipped the scales, nor do we know who made that decision or triggered that event.

      I don’t think a like for like signing is possible for Cesc. For Nasri perhaps it is possible but again we don’t know whether bids were made or not and if so who decided to pull the plug, especially in the case of Mata.

      I do agree these are tough times and we are on the same page about the inter-relationships between various issues.

  2. Yang says:

    Kinda agree many of your points, still transfer must be done differently. I mean, look at Liverpool, for example, they have had so many deadwood in team but it did not mean delaying recruit replacement.

    New players must come 1-2 season earlier before current player go somewhere else. As a manager, you need to plan ahead,bring in player and give at least 1 season to settle in etc. why waiting to see Csec and Nasris’s departure?

  3. legoon says:

    THe way we handled the summer transfers was nothing short of appalling.look who we lost and who we brought in and what and who we could have brought in.disgraceful sack gazidis kroenke should fuck off and bring back dein.Wenger has a lot to answer for to sort my arse out you mugs

  4. Farouk says:

    what a load of rubbish, 5 steps backwards, how the hell did he get away with signing benayoun and not get sacked. This is the worst period of being an Arsenal supporter ever!!!!! All the other signings are ok. With supposedly 70-80mil in the bank, how in hell did we not sign Hazard, Gorcuff, Gotze,Mvilla, why did he wait so long to give Eljero Elija a reply as the poor boy was keeping Juventus waiting so that Arsenal could pursue with his signing. I would have taken 8-2 beating every year from Utd then signing Benayoun even ON LOAN. and how nobody is questioning this I don’t know. We should have signed Gary Cahill aswell, he is currently the best English Centre back right now. What about Diego Brilliant Brizilian central midfielder with his experience was available for guess how much at 26yrs old he was available for £8Million, yes 8mil can you believe it and in the end he went to Athletico Madrid ON LOAN yes ON LOAN WE COULD HAVE GOT HIM ON LOAN instead of the pile of ***** benayoun, what do you hope to achieve with a signing like that????? we are crying out for an outstanding centre forward, with the funds in the bank we should have made a statement and went for someone like Benzema, even if he was not sure of coming just bid for the bloody guy and I am sure £27mil would have done it. if not how about Huntelaar where are these so called people working hard behind the scenes to try and sign decent players. its time to bring back David Dein for sure and Make Alisher Usmonov make his move and try and make a total takeover, if not we are going to remain behind and struggle to qualify for the Europa Cup. This carrying on, next summer Man City will come in for Song and Wilshere you will see. this is way too much to take. Sorry Benayoun nothing personal but you willl never be Arsenal class.

    • Charlie says:

      Ask Liverpool fans what they think of Benayoun, fans who have actually watched him play a few times, and they’ll tell you that Arsenal have a good player on their books. Ask any West Ham fan and they’ll tell you he’s a legend. He cost nothing, he was incredible at West Ham, still good at Liverpool and fell flat at Chelsea. Worth the gamble in my book.

      • Smarjit says:

        Spot on Charlie. I believe he is a shrewd signing. He was very good for Liverpool.Mr Farouk if you are so much against the signings stop supporting the club, start supporting Mancs. Now is not the time to lament our signings but get behind the team. Alwways remember we only have partial knowledge of what happens behind the scenes in transfer window.

  5. Rick says:

    Fine article. Pretty much spot on. Arsenal was in a completely different situation than Liverpool because Arsenal had to wait until the Fabregas and Nasri situations played themselves out. Of course Arsenal would have liked to have brought in the likes of M’Villa, Hazard, Goetze, etc., but such transfers are very difficult toward the end of the transfer window. But, contrary to what some believe, Wenger didn’t panic. He brought in a group of players who can provide depth, experience and leadership to this young squad. And they are not without talent. With no long term commitment to Benayoun and some other contracts expiring next summer, Arsene can work on bringing in his preferred options next summer. Park and Benayoun are international captains. Mertesacker was club captain and has 75 caps for Germany (the overpriced Cahill, just one year younger, has 4 caps for England). Most important, while Per may not be blessed with pace (as is the case with most big center backs), his size, positioning and aerial ability fills a great need for a team that has been poor at defending set pieces for some time. Santos is an experienced Brazil international fullback with pace and skill going forward. Arteta and Benayoun are creative midfielders with a lot of Premier League experience. Galactico signings these are not, but they are the type of players Arsenal needed at this time. A job very well done by Mr. Wenger.

  6. james says:

    Great, relatively balanced opinion as usual Desi but I also think you left out the fact that things changed once Kroenke was apparently ‘compelled’ to purchase a majority in the club before he’d planned to as a result of Fizman’s death.
    I personally feel something funny is going on behind the scenes, the Board is trying to put forth some facade of a strong morally upright team, which we are in some areas but the truth is they seem to have grown hopelessly out-of-touch with the fans’ mentality and have ended up hurting us in the long run.
    Arsene, and the club, have made egregious miscalculations as to a portion of our strategy that involves both offering 1st team opportunity to undeserved players along with bumper paychecks to buy some kind of loyalty from them. This strategy worked for a while but has become unsustainable especially with the unfortunate entry of those prostitutes in the North (the Arab Sheiks) . At the same time, the value of cold hard cash has risen because of the worldwide recession (along with the hilarious and unexplained fascination a number of our fans- and sometimes, I fall into this trap- have with the shady character Usmanov).
    I will repeat something I’ve said a whole lot: I think the bigger problem involved not paying money to keep some players who had that Arsenal blood in them, whether in a playing or ambassadorial position. Doing this could’ve left a thread between the new team and the Arsenal we really care for.
    About the transfers, I really don’t see how else we could’ve handled the Cesc situation, the punks from Barca got their revenge and that’s that- they knowingly wanted to destabilize us and they’re still involved in that local uncompetitive war with Real that will unfortunately lead to serious poverty in world football as great players end up not playing as much as they should just so they can wear legendary jerseys.
    Nasri should probably have been handled better but the truth is he fooled Gervinho the same way he fooled us: the money and the fact that he realized that Man City do have something going for them meant that we never could hold him unless we gave him 140grand (impossible considering our wage structure and the fact he’s really not earned that) or we brought some superstar just to make the proud idiot happy.
    All in all, it’s sad that we had to lose 8-2 to Marsh U, our fullback situation caused that, Sagna himself would’ve stayed back for 100 more minutes if we went 3 behind. The transfers we’ve bought are admirable and needed, I’m happy about them. We have experience and some amount of premiership experience. We fixed the glaring holes. There’s only 1 Cesc in the world. Mertesacker is a class player, you don’t star in your countries defense and make it past the quarters in 3 international competitions as an absolute fake in Germany. AOC might be my only regret but Gervinho makes up for it.
    It’s time to support the team, if you have problems, abuse the Board, leave the team and the manager alone till the end of the season, our haters outside are too numerous already!

    • desigunner says:

      I agree with the point about having some link with the previous legends and the younger players. Even an ambassadorial role for one of the big names could have been great but many of them went partly because they wanted to go (Henry, Vieira) or they had an issue with the manager (Pires after the CL final). Maybe having Bergkamp around would have helped.

      I also think the board can do a lot more. At clubs like Real and Milan the presidents have excellent relationships with star players – this is probably true for many of the continental clubs. I doubt anyone at Arsenal cultivates that or even realizes the need for that. In the end it puts too much pressure on the manager and his relationships with the players.

  7. Omar says:

    Hi Desi,
    Nice one, always love to come here & find your post. Its all make sense.

    Farouk 11:57 pm
    Read the post before you comment!

    @salehumar

  8. GoonerMike says:

    Excellent article that highlights the complexity of the situation. I think it took so long before the real items arrived as Wenger didn’t know how much it was going to cost to replace Fab & Nasri.

    I agree Clich’y replacement could have been done much sooner, but the main experienced transfers were not going to happen until after we secured the Champs League position, thus making any move attractive (Arteta said as much). Also, why don’t we have buyout clauses for our best players and couldn’t Silent Stan have arranged for Arsene a short term loan of say £25m to cover the coming and goings, so you don’t have to wait to sell befor you buy?

    • desigunner says:

      Good point about the buyout clauses. I am not sure if Arsenal don’t have those or they became irrelevant in the cases of Cesc and Nasri.

      I think a very short term loan might also have been a good idea. Certainly a question that should be put to Gazidis or Wenger.

  9. Gunner says:

    This is a superb article, the gist of which any reasonable person would agree with.

    However, the heart of the problem is, I think, as follows, and is not covered by the very salient points above.

    Van Persie has not signed a new contract. Nor has Walcott. A seeming inability for AW and the board to address this with a year left for both must go down as a failure, given what happened with Nasri this year. Both are waiting to see what will happen this year, whether there will be big signings next summer, etc. Same as Cesc and Nasri last year. A cycle perpetuates itself at this club: winning a trophy does not just mean winning a trophy. It means the team does not break apart all over again. The underlying instability makes an inspiring challenge into something that is sickeningly high-pressure, panic-inducing. Arsenal make mistakes at the crucial moments because of this state of mind. The calm in front of goal only comes if you can think ahead in a split-second. We have always had our best players threatening to leave, no one to show the way forward with confidence. A psychological block has developed: our players can’t see the way ahead. A damaging psychological pattern has been allowed to develop.

    Which leads me to my next point. We did not strengthen in the transfer window. We replaced players who have left. Fab – Arteta. Nasri – Gervinho. Clichy – Santos. Whether each is better or worse than the one they replaced is completely beside the point. We needed what we had (now replaced with new players) PLUS reinforcements. We needed a Fabregas with Arteta on the bench. A Nasri with Gervinho on the bench – or vice versa. We bought Santos – but lost Clichy. This is not strengthening. Strengthening, as we have found to our cost, is about the depth of the squad.

    We are in a state of inertia, and have been running to stand still for years now. The truth is that to strengthen significantly – to match the squads of Man U and Chelsea – we would have needed to buy two Artetas and two Gervinhos. Or bought these two and kept Fabregas and Nasri. We bail water out on one side, but it was seeping in all summer.

    To strengthen significantly, we need to keep all of our best players from this year, and be ready to replenish to a similar degree next time – losing none other than those we want to let go. The only problem is by then, the speculation around our star players leaving will be mounting. Unless we manage a breakthrough.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree with your observations but feel this is a related but slightly different issue.

      Tying up players to a big contract is tricky. At the end of 09-10 many fans didn’t really rate Nasri who had had an average season. That time he had two years on his contract like RvP and Walcott have at present.

      In such cases it can work both ways – it can develop into a bad situation like Flamini/Nasri if a contract is not agreed or into a big contract for a player who then doesn’t perform as expected like some of the others. I am not saying that will happen with RvP and Walcott but is it too hard to imagine that Van Persie is given a big contract and soon he is injured for the season?

      Point is these issues are difficult to handle and the club will learn as they make mistakes. Signing younger players and developing them is a new-ish approach and as with anything else in life it will have some rough edges that will be ironed out with experience and after some mistakes.

      I share your feelings about bench strength but if we look around most clubs struggle to keep the bench players happy and in form if they are class. Arshavin is a good example at Arsenal. Sneijder and Van der Vaart struggled at Madrid. Drogba is having issues at Chelsea and it’s affecting others. There are many such examples. Wenger might say Rosicky was just as good aas Arteta but has regressed a bit because he hasn’t played as often. If Arteta stayed on the bench with Fabregas playing regularly, there is a good chance he would also lose form. The names are just examples but the point is that having two strong squads is not easy to manage unless you have the kind of money City can afford to blow on wages.

      This brings along the need for rotations but that’s another complicated issue which I don’t want to get into right now.

  10. iain says:

    farouk, your an idiot. Elia is not worthy of an Arsenal shirt and he DID try for Gotze, Gourcuff and M.villa but they WERE NOT FOR SALE. Stick to Championship Manager will you

  11. Gunner says:

    VP has two years left I should say – putting him in the same position next year as Nasri was in this year. And am I right in thinking the same is true of TW and AA?

  12. Prabal Rakshit says:

    Desi,

    I feel Cesc’s departure was more due to a gentleman’s agreement between Arsene and Cesc last season that he would be let to join Barcelona. However what queered the pitch was the fact that Barca (deliberately ?) took a long time to come up with the required $40 odd million and deftly used the press to create pressure on Cesc to put a transfer request. sandro Rossell proudly addressed the Barca faithful how he got Cesc less than $40m.

    I agree with you that wenger would not have hoped that he would lose both Nasri and cesc in the same season. He might have possibly thought that he could tempt Nasri with a CAM post, but a number of factors worked against this (possibly).
    – Man City’s stratospheric salary offer would have been next to impossible to resist.
    – The board would nbo way lose on the $25m payment for a player in his final contract.
    – If Nasri gets to play as a Man City CAM, he would have the likes of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, Vincent Kompany, not to mention a very well drilled defence protecting his back. It will give him the right kind of freedom to joust forward. This is something unthinkable in present Arsenal squad.
    – Paddy Vieira (as Nasri acknowledges) would have been a great influence.
    – His agent (Jean-Pierre Bernes) has an ugly history with Arsene and Boro Primorac (read in http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/ben_lyttleton/08/19/jean-pierre.bernes.frances.most.powerful.agent/index.html).
    Nasri has done, what I feel professionals in all fields have done forever, chosen what is best for themselves, overriding what their’s team’s needs would be. While on an emotional level it is easy to slander him as a mercenary, cold hard facts say otherwise.

    One big reason why signings took a long time was of course the Champion’s league qualifiers against Udinese. I am sure no signing worth his salt would have joined us if we failed to qualify. Arteta for example mentoned this in no uncertain terms.

    The other reason could be what happened with Juan Mata. Arsenal had been following him for a while. Chelsea gets a whiff of it, and gazumps our bid with a better transfer fee and a wage packet. So Arsenal have to do all their dealings in absolute secrecy, have a couple of decoys (read pseudo signings) and then wait till the deadline day or closer to finalize it. Don’t you think there is a pattern in which CY Park and Andre Santos were signed, without a whiff in the media? Or the last minute raid at Chelsea’s barn for Alex, Malouda or Benayoun?

    Gary Cahill divides the blogger’s opinions like anything. Farouk above also refers to him as the best English center back now. BUt has he achieved anything o far to warrant close to 17m in the final year of his contract? Bolton tried their best to sensationalise this issue to no avail though. As you have put it astutely, if he was so good, why had Ferguson and Dalglish preferred Phil JOnes over him?

    The left back situation is one where I feel Arsene may have left it for too late. He knows Gibbs is injury prone and Traore was not good enough (otherwise why would he prefer Sagna on the left against Liverpool). MOrever our left backs have to do it with practically no defensive cover from the wings. Would it have made more sense to pitch in for the more conservative Jose Enrique, rather than going for the exciting but defensively suspect Andre santos?

    I believe it is time for the fans to reconcile to the fact that we would never be able to bid for a ‘marquee’ signing snatching them from the grip of clubs like Man Utd/City, chelsea Real, Barca etc. Our success would have to come through improvements in the field, tightening up our defensive organization, improving players’ fitness levels, doing an honest investigation into our injury fiascoes etc. And for most of the part it is Arsene and rest of the coaching staff who have to do this, not the suits like Gazidis and Kroenke.

    • Charlie says:

      As i mentioned in my comment the left back thing was genius. This left back will be a sensation for Arsenal and we were only able to get him because Fenerbache were found guilty of match fixing being kicked out of Europe and relegated to their second division. FFS Jose Enrique isn’t even an international. Grass is always greener apparently.

    • desigunner says:

      I honestly doubt there would have been an agreement between Cesc and Arsene. If that had been the case, I like to believe, Wenger would have sorted it out much earlier. To me, everything seems to indicate that Arsene was trying to keep Cesc.

      Very valid points about the CL qualifier and the poaching instincts of some other clubs once Arsenal are interested. It’s hard to estimate how relevant these factors are but no one can deny their existence.

  13. Brett says:

    Agree completely. We couldn’t get the guys we wanted so we made the best deals we could for experienced players which will help the young guys learn and be good enough until January. We may be in fifth or sixth place but with the pressure to make the CL, Wenger will spend the money allotted but not used in the summer window to buy his “super quality” players. We will ty again for the likes of M’Villa, Hazard, Martin, Cahill (who Bolton cannot possibly let go for free) and other similar younger players with more promise for the future. Blending this with the experience we just signed will produce a team capable of contending for the league and in Europe within 2 years.

  14. diamond dave says:

    great article!! i like to popint out, wenegr has said he will do what is right for the club, and he never listened to supporters before, and he was right, wait a minute!! did we all not stand there three years ago and say you need defenders to him? and what did he do nothing, they sell fab and nasri and clichy, and eboue, what must have raked in at least 70 million, i think it has been quoted he spent 25 million!! they sold three world class players, and bought in injury prone players, arteta 2 years ago suffered a serious knee injury he has never performed since he has lost pace and his passing is not as good, pat the big german, solid defender, but anyone with pace with turn him inside out, again hher was injured last season torn archilles, then we have the chelsea player, he has peaked past his best, if he was so good why is he not in the chelsea team, also why did nobody else go for him if he is so good, then we have our korean striker, i like him because i believe he will give everything but not convinced he be succesful, just like chamakah, then we have santos, where turkey fans and brazillian fans have both said he is not that good, it is funny frank mcklintock who i admire greatly a top player for arsenal, his thoughts and thinking is the same as the majority of supporters, these players are not good enough, if wenger claimed we where close last season, we are now thousands of miles away now, he and the board knew that fab,nasri,clichy where leaving, their job is to have replacemets ready of similar quality, all we got was i have believe in my team they are quality then cam man utd we looked like a non league side, then he panicked bought, sorry but these players i hope and will support them but they are not going to change the course we are on, relegation battle, what i can not understand is we will miss out on the champions league next year that means the club will lose 50 million plus, surely by spending on quality players surely that would have been re-cooperated that is buisness, to me gazidis, kroenke, and the board should f**k off, they hae down trodden us supporters and tried to treat us like disabled gerbals, they have ripped us off with ticket prices to be honest to watch a mediocore team, kroenke and his cronies are just interested in lining their pockets, also to note comments that came from wenger that he can not pay the wages like utd,city,chelsea, well to me it appears this idiot board with kroenke at the helm are living in the 1980′s with their policies regards transfers, they believe in the minimum wage, top class players command top class wages, they win you things, instead you bought us in players, that are second class, wenger has to go, so does kroenke we need usamonv and david dein back they knew how to run this club unfourtunately as seen by the performance of certain members with regards transfers they look like bil and ben and the flower pot men they did not have a clue they panicked, they think it will appease the fans, by christmas you will see what response this board will get, it is time to stand firm and express our desire for this board to go, they have led us up the garden path with promises after promises and we where misled, and so was the arsenal supporters trust with their questions to idiot gazidis, they are there to line the own pockets and what they have shown is they will do that whatever that takes.

    • Charlie says:

      LMAO, so this big German will be turned inside out by anyone with pace ? Did you watch the last two World Cups where Germany reached the semis, perhaps the game where they thrashed England or the European Cup where they reached the final ? Are we to assume that no forwards with pace played in the last two World Cups or the Euro Championship. Intelligent article with some brainless comments.

  15. crashcameron says:

    make signings BEFORE you need them. its not like United NEEDED Jones and Young, whereas the Gunners did/do. Wenger diddles and loses out. Le Prof has lost it.

  16. Don McMahon says:

    Good article Desi…well balanced view. yoo bad the AAA brigade has invaded the pitch again and are spewing their crap all over AW’s reputation.

  17. Charlie says:

    Excellent article as always Desi but i must point out one point that you missed. The question of why Clichy was not replaced sooner is answered very simply. In Andre dos Silva Arsenal have an outstanding Left Back, possibly one of the very best and obviously on Arsenes’ radar for a while. This time 2 months ago he was happy at the richest, most successful club in Turkey and preparing to play in the Champions League. Fast forward to 24th August and his club are found guilty of match-fixing, are unceremonially kicked out of all European competition and (i believe) are relagated to the second tier of Turkish football. This suddenly makes one of the worlds’ best left backs available for a fraction of his evaluation a few weeks previously. I can only assume that Arsene had been monitoring this situation since early July when the story broke where the likes of Kenny Dalglish (also looking for a LB) didn’t see it coming and when the opportunity came and the ban from Europe became official Arsene pounced.

    • desigunner says:

      That is a very interesting observation. I hadn’t thought about it before but it is quite possible that Arsenal were monitoring that situation and took advantage of the opportunity that arose. Now we just have to see how Santos adapts. If he does well then this transfer indeed will be a stroke of genius.

  18. Charlie says:

    Off the subject a bit does anyone else think that Arteta might take Cescs’ place in the Spanish team ? If you consider that Cesc will only play 15 minutes of competitive football a week while Arteta will probably play 180 minutes and might be superb it’s a possibility in my book. Cesc also has Xabi Alonso to compete against who will play regularly for Real. It still might become a disasterous move for him and he may want to come back to where he was a key player if his reputation plummets. All it takes is for him to decide that in the 10 minutes he has in a match he needs to make nothing but Hollywood passes to make an impression, those don’t come off and fans are saying he’s a flop.

    • desigunner says:

      Fabregas has already scored twice for Barca and again twice for Spain in Friday’s friendly – that too without a preseason. I see him growing in stature and becoming more of a regular for both teams. It’s hard to keep such a talent out, Guardiola will figure out a way of keeping him in the side.

  19. Archimedes says:

    Finally it appears as the “invisible hand” (read Kroenke) moved as the dealings and replacements does not exactly smell AW but was a necessary but temporary stop gap. The replacements are weaker than Fab and Nasri but equal or stronger than Clichy and Eboue. Mertesacker is definitely a well overdue reinforcement. Fab is badly missed but remember he is a croc, missing 1/3 of matches and you can NOT build a team around a croc, so although it hurts, he had to go. One of the play maker replacements must provide the assists and another attacking midfielder must provide the firepower from outside the box, in order to get the 4th place CL berth because no one apart from v Persie can shoot accurately from distance.

    Else AW has been behind the curve since Ligue 1 core of French and African players sputtered, it basically coincided from when France FIFA ranking dropped below England two years ago and now in the low teens. The world has caught up with the bags of tricks of French coaching and players like Squillaci, Chamakh, Kos did not deliver. Look instead to Germany and Bundesliga, which is full of value for money, young, world class or near world class talent ever since their coaches ditched power for pace and skill. Witness Dortmund`s team cobbled together on a Everton budget.
    Injury record of past two years also appalling, Vermaelen and many others were missing during the important spring campaign. The druids need to be replaced with something more scientific, e.g. Milan Lab, which was created by Ancelotti now cloned at Chelsea. Its successes are notable, shorter recovery time and longer player careers. There are plenty of examples that the club does not need to break the bank in order to retool such that if AW can`t get ahead of the curve again, he deserves to be kicked upstairs.

  20. salim says:

    nice article, some comments though come out of pure frustration rather than judging through facts. honestly, wenger did not do that bad given the situation of nasri/cesc leaving late, but he had his mistakes as well. i think arsenal needed at least one star in the calibre of cesc, or even nasri. honestly, arteta is quality but he is a bit past it at the moment, he needs to work his socks off to get to his best after seeing his AVERAGE perfomances during his last two seosons. benayoun is a good signing but i think he is injury prone, and the fact that he has not performed well for chelsea tells a lot. However, he did really well in this seosons preseoson duties with the blues. What i think we needed is at least one star player, like benzema or hazard to lift the team and fans spirit. we could have bought cahill to complement verminator/metersacker if lets say the latter fails to shine, and provide depth to the defense. honestly, i dont want to see the likes of njourou and squillaci again. almunia is also getting 60k a week(if am not mistaken) for nothing. we need to reduce the pay check through selling these players or even terminating their contracts and make them free agents. i think arsene should sign hazard in january, however, i am quite satisfied with the players brought in. we need depth though.

  21. Phil23 says:

    Something that seems to allude me is the reason why everyone thinks buying before the player is sold would mean getting the player cheaper. For example, if we bid 35m for Gotze before Fabregas left do people think that Werder Bremen would be stupid enough not to realise this is a replacement for an outgoing player? It’s not like it was a surprise that we lost Cesc. I believe that Arsene’s strategy of buying late paid off somewhat. Santos would never have been available unless Fenerbache were relegated. If we made an early 10m bid for Arteta it would have been rejected off hand and we would have had to up our offer to get him. If Arsenal hadn’t matched Lille’s offer for Park at the last moment we would surely have been forced to pay more than 3m for him. Finally, if Werder had kept Mertesacker they would lose him for free next year. If we had bid for him earlier who’s saying someone like Tottenham wouldn’t have come in and offered much more just because that’s what they do? I believe that we have now got the squad required to challenge in the Premier League although I don’t think we will do as well in the Champions League. My logic being that we should always be able to field a team with quality in all positions in the Prem but we don’t have enough world class players to beat a team like Barcelona. Then again, who does? Top 4 is the priority this year. All 5 teams are insanely strong this year and we start off with a gap to close already. If we make top 4 again this season I am sure that the world class talent will come. Not all world class players are solely fixated on wages. Fabregas didn’t seem to mind his wage and then he took a pay cut to go to Barcelona. Not the best example but you get what I mean! = )

    • salim says:

      well, park was not from lille, but rather monaco. anyway whatever the case, i believe has his shares of mistakes as well. we need the real arsenal back, even if it is to give usmanov the ownership then so be it. after all chelsea have done it, city are doing it and you can see the outcome at the end. i think without buying quality players, or at least replace the world class with other world class players, then arsenal will be in deep shit. and i hope that wont happen. we are just too behind given that wenger had an opportunity to do the business earlier but he chose not to.
      anyway, they know better, they got the experience and all we want this seoson is for arsenal to come up again, and fight for trophies. gunners4life

  22. Victor says:

    Nice work!!!

  23. Hash says:

    Can anyone tell me WHY the **** is Almunia still wearing the number 1 jersey??? No seriously why is he still there. AW should’ve released him!

    Anyways, Great Article Desi. I just hope we do make a marquee signing in the January transfer window. All signings made this season were reasonable but a star signing never happened. Hazard or Goetze…it will be great if we can buy any one of them in the January window!!

  24. Eddie says:

    Great article~ Many have played football manager too much and simply think put some more on market price then you can get whoever you want and discount some on the player your want to sell then you can get some more funds for your further purchasing. Also, we can read the players abilities figures and even level of potential and can almost certain to what extend the player can achieved. While in real world, it is far more complicated.

  25. oloyede says:

    nice article from desi bt some brainless coment .first i av 2 point out 2 u that before we hav fab n nasr we are a great club and we wud always be .in d case of fab what is essence of persuading a lady dt not hap in house not divorce you.as per S.N i think is nt commited n should learn from like of S Gerrad ,buffon e.t.c.anyway am not tryn 2 defend AW or board what am sayn is fab /nasr n cli sud nt distablise us .

  26. T2T says:

    We also need to take into account some of the excellent players coming through Arsenal; Afobe, Aneke, Lansbury, Miquel, Bartley, etc, etc.
    Two years ago, it was Ramsey and Gibbs, last year Wilshere and Frimpong – although both Ramsey and Frimpong lost a year because of injury.
    It will be interesting to see how the FFP pans out. Unless UEFA gives ManC some problems over the sponsorship deal, FFP is pretty much dead and the teams with sugar daddys can just keep spending.

  27. Claver says:

    But, why don’t we somehow get Usmanov and Kroenke to work together?

    Why don’t we petition the govt to get these guys shared ownership?
    If that’s the way to do it?

    Get Dein and Gazidis to work together to build a world beater of a club. Though I’m no big fan of Dein, however, he ‘seems’ an Arsenal fan and has a bagful of experience in dealing with sweaty palms.

    Then I’m sure, with the Arsenal brand, management (incl. Wenger), we would have enough leverage with the banks to raise our wages for the next 20yrs to compete, compete for the best talent, keep it, and become the biggest global club, bigger than Real or Manure globally.

  28. Kushagra India says:

    Desi agree with most of it but I dunno what stopped Wenger from buying Per Mert and Santos earlier they were known before and they prices remained flat….considering how poor defensively we have been it would helped our team immensely as presently we are already 8 points behind our rivals…

  29. torontogooner says:

    Desi, do you think arsenal could have taken a chance on owen hargreaves. i know he’s injury prone but it’s a free transfer and there’s nothing to lose. He would be a fringe player of course but in january if song and frimpong both leave for the ACN, having a player who can play DM, LB and RB around would not hurt. I commend mancity for taking a chance on him because there’s nothing to lose

  30. Claver says:

    Desi,

    Next time the media says we’ve won nothing for the last 6yrs, pliz write an article to say we have won a spanking brand new stadium!

    Others have won trophies we have won our very own stADIUM!

  31. Pgoon says:

    Judging by what I’ve read on this blog over the last year or two and if my radar isn’t too far off…are you a financial analyst by any chance or someone with a degree in Econ/finance…this is off topic but I’m just curious

  32. Brinks says:

    Excellent post Desi..cheers and thanks..
    To the frustrated lots, (most of them, I assume, started to watch arsenal when we were ‘invincibles’) who don’t know a thing about being a manager. Arsene has a lot of reputation in unearthing talents (ask george weah, henry if you don’t know) and that makes it difficult. When arsene makes a bid, others get to know that there is a valuable player and they come with big money bags thrown by their sugar dads and make a ridiculous bid.(Mata for eg-). It’s a situation that arsene can’t help because of the money that the competitors have. And if somebody thinks that a big money signing or a big name can completely change things around, he doesn’t know football. Poor old ‘Arry made a big name signing though for cheap money, in Van der Vaart and what did spuds get? Surprisingly, many gunners are finding a model club in Liverpool, which did not win anything for 5 years (just 1 year less than us), which never touched the premier league trophy and were out of champions league more than once in the past decade. Andy Caroll is worth 35 million? is that an example of doing good business? Having that much money spent, nobody is expecting liverpool to challenge for the league. Is that okay for you?
    if you guys want to vent out your frustrations, create a fantasy league of your own, buy messi, ronaldo, casillas, neymar and whoever you think, are the best. Win the premier league and imagine that you kick arsene out of his chair and replace him. all the best.

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