I have been talking about our problems all season. There is a need for some additions to the squad, the need for better defensive coaching and focused training, and about the improvements to the medical, legal and other support staff.
In general my approach has been to identify a problem based on valid and tangible observations, followed by a search for possible options and finally choosing one which seems like the most balanced. This doesn’t mean that I’ve uncovered all our problems and have a perfect solution for each but only that the approach is honest and attempts to veer away from personal biases.
In contrast, I’ve seen a completely different approach in the media and on some other Arsenal blogs and comments. That approach is based on pinning the blame on certain individuals and the solutions are almost always down to buying new players and selling the ones the writer does not like.
Such a solution is based on a fundamental assumption – the proven players bought for big money will come in and deliver from day one. Another issue it does not consider is the fact that even these players can get injured. The smarter proponents of this theory mention that we must buy even more to have the necessary depth and cover all possibilities.
I don’t want to get into the complications based on finances, motivational issues for those on the bench and so on. Let’s keep this discussion limited to the most basic assumption that a player signed for big money WILL deliver.
We have enough examples in the likes of Shevchenko, Robinho, and Berbatov, among others who failed to live up to their price tag. With the benefit of hindsight some fans can pretend to have the insight that they always knew this would happen. Very few, if any, predicted this at the time of the signings.
A similar example can be seen from the relative failure of Man City this year. Adebayor, Lescott, Barry, Tevez and Given are all seasoned professionals. They pretty much cover the list of demands Arsenal fans are making – A top class keeper, CB, DM, and goal scorers. You can throw in the likes of Bellamy and Johnson as wingers and they also have extra steel in the form of De Jong and Vieira.
Just read some start of the season posts and see how many Arsenal fans thought City will do better than us this season. Certainly, very few in the media gave us a chance. Yet, their proven players just proved one thing – There is nothing like a proven player and there are no guarantees that signings can achieve success.
In order to justify the buying philosophy if you really want to tell me that the players City have are no good and that Hughes or Mancini are not top quality managers then it’s already a meaningless discussion. Saying that our players are rubbish and our manager is stubborn and City are no good either is just stupid. Anyone who is even remotely qualified to pass such judgments should really be making millions managing big football teams and not spending time commenting on blogs.
The tricky part is that once we put our blinkers on and go down the “buy or die” road, there is no end to it. Real Madrid are a perfect example of this. City might become another unless they get their balance right. Liverpool are in the same boat. Last year they were close to the top and this season many considered them among the favourites but now everyone at Merseyside is talking about 4-5 signings!
Villa, Spuds and Everton have spent quite a bit of money but is their success proportional to the money they’ve spent?
In contrast, United lost a proven player and that too one recognized as the best in the world, and didn’t replace him, yet they are still right there at the top!
In short, buying players is a good option but not the perfect fool-proof solution many would have us believe. At the end factors like injuries, balance, stability, co-ordination, tactics, motivation, experience and confidence make a big difference. Finding players who can make a positive impact on all these variables is not linearly linked with the amount of money that is spent.
Football management is an incredibly complex job and those of us who cannot see beyond some silly computer game will never truly appreciate the greatness of the top people in this business. I’m not trying to justify our weaknesses or saying that we don’t need improvements. Nor am I trying to defend Arsene, he doesn’t need defending as far as I’m concerned. My point is that our problems are not so simple that they can be solved by two sentence solutions that contain four or five names.
I have no expectation from the media or from some Arsenal writers. They are no hopers. But after our recent run of crazy losses even many rational and fair-minded fans seem to have lost the plot. I truly hope that these fans will see through the myth being propagated by the media and elements of the blogosphere. We need improvements but we also need a positive atmosphere, belief and genuine support.