He is yet to return to England and there are already headlines involving Jose Mourinho. It wasn’t to be too much of a surprise to uncover the details of the latest story, with Arsene Wenger and the Portuguese manager’s spikey history still fairly prominent in the mind. But it was an unnecessary call for Wenger to bring up the situation well before the time was right. Even more so, you worry to a degree about Arsenal’s summer activity, with the story likely setting up a few months of excuses and disappointments.
In fairness to Wenger, he was probably asked about the possibility of Mourinho returning, rather than opting to explore the subject himself. I have no issue with him stating what many view as the obvious: that Chelsea will spend heavily once again this summer. It’s nothing new really, and anyone could have suggested it.
Yet it’s the manner, tone and use of specific words that are likely to irritate Arsenal fans. Wenger says he’s “afraid of what Chelsea can do in the summer,” almost giving up the fight well before it’s begun. With so much still to play for in the remaining games of Arsenal’s season, as well as the enormous and unmistakable importance of this summer for the club, it is vital that Wenger concentrate fully on his own house, ensuring that Arsenal are not made to look much smaller and weaker than they actually are.
It’s the words you’d expect from a club much further away in terms of size, importance and resources to that of Chelsea. Arsenal, should they choose to use their own resources to its maximum, have nothing to fear from what goes on in west London. I’ve heard Wenger talk up the Premier League on numerous occasions, going along with the well-known chorus of it being the leading football league in the world. Well this is what you’re likely to face, and this is exactly what Arsenal fans especially have seen for the best part of the last decade.
Mourinho is not the insurmountable challenge he once was. Borussia Dortmund is currently the best example of that, with Jurgen Klopp arguably beating Mourinho at his own game. Dortmund did not speak of their fear in Bayern Munich when the Bavarians spent heavily on Javi Martinez, Dante, Mario Mandzukic, and Xherdan Shaqiri last summer. Klopp understands how good and how strong his own club is, and there is every likelihood Dortmund could prevail in an all-German Champions League final. Despite the shock of the Mario Goetze story, it’s about keeping your status and focus intact.
Are Wenger’s words an admission that perhaps Arsenal will not be so free in their spending this summer? Many, many smart clubs and manager could stretch £70 million a long way, putting together a team good enough to take on the very best in Europe. Dortmund’s team of Wednesday night was put together for just over £30 million. It will be about Wenger rediscovering that element that made him such a genius in the transfer market. Very good players are scattered around Europe, all of whom can take Arsenal to the next level. But we need to see a little more action and progressive thinking from the club in the transfer market. Honestly, why should Arsenal fill themselves with worry over who Mourinho could buy? Luka Modric cost upward of £30 million and has yet to transform this Real Madrid side into something of equal or better quality to their team of last year. At the same time, Santi Cazorla was brought in for half of that fee and has gone a long way to replacing the void left by Cesc Fabregas.
There’s a level of frustration in the manner that Arsenal conduct their transfer business, and you sense small hints of what may come this summer in a few of Wenger’s words. What we’ve come to know from Arsenal is that they will not enter into bidding wars with other clubs. They will also not shake too far from their own valuation of a player. For a club of Arsenal’s stature, that is the defeatist mentality that keeps the team cruising along at a predictable and unimaginative pace.
The winning mentality comes from the top, and despite what Wenger said, I don’t believe he has anything to fear in terms of what Chelsea can do in the summer market. Arsenal are a club with plenty in the way of attracting top players, and with the right attitude this summer, it really shouldn’t matter what goes on at other clubs.
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