Is there a right or wrong description to Arsenal’s approach to building? One side of the argument will state that it’s a methodical approach, while the other sees it as nothing but madness. The thing about football is we’ll never truly grasp the complexities of it, with modern gaming, the Internet and everything else at our disposal making it seem as though the game can be managed by anyone with a half-decent knowledge on what’s going on.
I was quite intrigued by a few comments on Twitter about Arsenal’s lack of spending so far. Apparently this summer is much of the same as what’s come before. Those who had fire in their blood were quick to question Wenger and the rest of the board for potentially screwing up yet another summer, with reports coming out of Spain that the deal for Gonzalo Higuain was not as close as what was initially thought. Those who opposed the “knee-jerk” reaction claimed that they had complete faith in Wenger and that he’d come good on his word.
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So how do we create a distinction between right and wrong? For one it could certainly be argued that Arsenal have a knack for shooting themselves in the foot and that the stories about Florentino Perez playing hard ball is evidence that nothing really changes. The Juan Mata incident is still fresh in the memory. When Arsenal were linked with Mario Goetze in 2011, Yossi Benayoun ended up arriving instead. There was a massive improvement in picking up Santi Cazorla last summer, but was the Spaniard’s signing a matter of fortunate circumstances, or would Arsenal have bought him regardless of Malaga’s financial situation?
But then at the time of writing it is only July 8th and there is still miles and miles of open road for Wenger to “come good.”
Arsenal is a club that sits right in the middle when discussing most football operations. It’s a club that is a perfect example of people using it as a device to fit their own agenda, with almost any minute detail able to be transformed into a stick with which to beat the club or a flag signalling unwavering support. The problem with this is that we may never be allowed to fully take a step back and really analyse what is going on, again partly because the complexities of football behind the scenes is beyond our ken, but also because anytime we choose to do so, we’re labelled as something unsavoury by those supporters who are battling on the opposite side of the tug of war.
Strictly as a football club, supporters still can’t agree on whether Arsenal are one or two players short of winning the league title, or so far beneath the heights of Manchester United that a complete overhaul, including the manager, is needed.
This summer has been labelled, by both supporters and the club, as something new, different and completely necessary in bridging the gap. It’s not to say that football supporters are completely oblivious to what’s going on purely on the basis that they are just football supporters, and there is a feeling that a lot can be achieved this summer through a change of mentality. The club, however, may not have quite caught onto that notion yet.
The thing about being patient and apologising, in a way, for the club’s desire to be methodical will only last for so long. Can you ever really throw the word “patient” out there when dealing with sporting matters? It has its place in the game, of course, but it doesn’t always apply. The idea of being patient with regards to football building in the transfer market is one that assumes there are no other teams in the race for the best players. Higuain may be on his way, and a lot of respected journalists are claiming that the deal will be done. But such is Arsenal’s history on this front that you really struggle to distance yourself from the prospect of the club dropping the ball.
Manchester City have already begun their rebuilding, but in a way that isn’t too much of a concern. City, for now, have had different targets and appear to be chasing names that aren’t seen as topping Arsenal’s wish list. But that’s only for now, and it only takes an afternoon for a club to switch focus to a potential good deal and offer a sequel to the Juan Mata story.
Arsenal’s late-season charge to the top four showed that there is some mettle in the players in the squad, and an injection of quality will take the club onto a new level, there’s no doubt about that. But all the promises and money available isn’t as convincing as action. As mentioned, patience doesn’t really work when clubs need to be ruthless to get ahead. It doesn’t mean spending lavishly in the way others have done and will continue to do. But getting your targets in early and knowing that they’ve been secured is part of the battle.
Arsenal are in a very good position to make up a lot of ground in the major competitions next season. Arsenal are the only club out of the top four who haven’t had a managerial change. There’s stability, in theory, and a chance for continuity seeing as this is the first summer in many, many years where an important member of the squad isn’t departing. But you absolutely have to question whether the club themselves understand the healthy position they’re in and whether enough is being done to capitalise on the opportunity.
Do Arsenal need to show more urgency this summer?
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