Carlos Vela has just signed a new six-year contract. There’s an indication of Arsene’s faith in his talents if ever you wanted one. The Mexican putting pen on paper takes the number of contract extensions signed this year to eleven. Apart from Vela, senior players like RvP, Eduardo, Song, Walcott, Fabianski, Bendtner and Denilson have agreed fresh terms. Youngsters like Ramsey, Watt and Wilshere have also renewed their commitment to the club. Talks are on with Gallas, Rosicky and Merida.
To me, this is a clear indication that Arsene believes in every single player in this squad. He has been talking about keeping the squad together for a long time now. We haven’t managed that over the last three years with departures of Henry and Ljungberg in 2007, Hleb and Flamini in ’08, and those of Toure and Adebayor this year.
Have we seen so many players commit to the club in a single year? Is it because these contracts were running out or is it a conscious effort on the part of the club to keep the squad together? Have the players learnt from the careers of those that have left? Is it down to the fact that these players genuinely believe in each other and the potential of the squad?
Whatever be the reason, I think it is important that we don’t see too many changes to the squad every year, particularly with the first team regulars. Thankfully, everyone seems to be buying into this thought process.
I think our game style is such that it demands a very high level of understanding on the pitch. Every player has to be in sync with what the others are doing and are capable of doing. I believe any team that likes to dictate the play will need such harmony. When the team is playing well we can easily miss the intricacies of the movement as it looks natural and easy. On the other hand when the team struggles we can see the passes go astray or the links breaking down.
The recent injuries have highlighted this issue once again. We have seen many forced changes to the starting line up while some players have had to change their positions from game to game. It cannot be easy for a young squad to play the beautiful game against high level opposition with so many frequent disruptions to the structure. I don’t think many people realize the standards that have been set for and by the Arsenal players.
We have seen the improvement in Song over time and we have seen the adaptation made by Van Persie. I am confident Nasri, Vela, Walcott and others will develop into high quality and consistent performers capable of playing in different positions. All the youngsters deserve their opportunities and need support.
Of course, there are always those who believe in the here and now philosophy. I don’t believe in short term results and I am not sure Arsene will cater to that either. That does not mean we should not add to this squad. We should always add top quality talent just as Arsene has done by signing Nasri, Arshavin and Vermaelen.
The biggest fact is that championships are won by squads and not individuals. Some individuals, like Ronaldo for instance, get into the limelight, but the squad continues to compete even when these individuals move on. Other clubs have been able to buy large squads by spending hundreds of millions. Arsene has created something much better with chump change. Now, more than ever, this creation needs to be united from within and without.