Polarised transfer viewpoints contrasted
Supporter viewpoints have become increasingly polarised of late and the club's business in the transfer window has mirrored that polarisation, some aspects have been pleasing and very positive but other aspects of our work and how we have gone about it has been far from perfect and bordering on dysfunctional. For every view there is a contrasting angle as follows.
How the business was done
There is no other place to start than the nature of how we completed our business, whilst rivals Manchester United and Liverpool both did their business early by signing their first choice targets, allowing their teams to gel, Arsenal by contrast left 5 moves right until the last minute with 3 matches already played for only 1 point secured. It for me is no coincidence that we were beaten by clubs who had long got their work done and dusted.
Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri situations seemed to hang over the clubs plans, whilst it was an admirable position to attempt to keep our best players it was also surely inevitable that their futures lie elsewhere. Fabregas is an honourable guy, he was club captain with four years left on his contract and clearly he loves the club. There was never a risk he would be anything but professional had he stayed so we were right to fight for him, if only to secure a realistic fee.
My criticism is though is of the Samir Nasri situation, Arsene Wenger knew the player would not sign a new contract and fee haggling was never an issue. The manager decided he would keep the player and allow his contract to expire a position the board righting over ruled. Given the players performances at the end of last season what did the manager expect had he stayed? The situation was allowed to linger and seemingly cloud judgements on whether replacements were needed, this would have also affected fiscal resources. The approach overall felt incoherent as if there was no grand master plan, at the end it felt somewhat desperate and off the cuff.
However to their credit and in contrast to last season business was done, first choice targets may not have not been secured but at least holes were plugged with moves that were a touch on the pragmatic side. A situation significantly more acceptable than very little achieved last summer.
[VERDICT] - Pragmatic moves fill holes but late moves and indecisiveness leaves a dysfunctional feeling. 5/10
Quality and quantity of work
The disappointment following Carling Cup final and subsequent collapse of form left a bitter taste. It had been story of apathetic performances, continued persaverance in players quite obviously not up to task and failure to invest year on year in vital positions, namely the keeper and centre back positions.
A big big summer was not a nicety but an absolute prerequisite to halt the free fall in fortunes, to protect the club's stature and reverse the recent trophy drought. A lot of work lie ahead, a lot of self imposed work. The remedy quite simply 'Change' an overhaul was required. The deadwood would need to be removed en mass, a fresh group of fringe players brought in and top draw signings made to improve the first eleven.
'Super quality' was the agenda proclaimed the manager, whilst German international Per Mertesacker significantly improves the back line in one position the losses of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leaves the team weaker from an attacking perspective, at least on paper. Supporters would have been looking for wow signings, players with the potential if not the immediate calibre to replace Fabregas particularly.
A direct replacement like for like by one single player was never practicable, more realistically the 2-3 top top young players would have indirectly filled the void. Despite interest, and bids, for the likes of Gotze, Hazard and M'Vila ultimately none were signed leaving the club short in that area of the park. Most disappointingly the move for Juan Mata broke down. Arsenal had seemed to have a clear run on a player that was both available and on low wages. Had the Nasri situation clouded matters or were they waiting on Fabregas too?
More positively the gaping centre back hole was finally plugged and the majority of the deadwood either moved on or moved further down the pecking order such that their presence is irrelvanet, thinking Almunia and Squillaci. Clichy, Eboue and Traore have been sold whilst Bendtner, Denilson and Vela have been loaned out. With the addition of 9 players the club have achieved change and perhaps without signing any stand out names we have signed senior players, proven premier league performers, including captains. New players with new motivations.
[VERDICT] - Less stars, but less holes and less clowns. An acknowledgement that went before needed to be changed. Volume of work done commendable but star quality in attacking terms still to be rectified. 7/10
Level of investment
'Super quality' does not always mean big money, Arsene Wenger has proven that on numerous occasions in the past. Per Mertesacker at £9m for example: captain at Werder Bremen, 26 years old, capped 75 times for Germany. You would have to question how much we would have needed to pay had Per been English, would we as fans been happier paying £20m for an English version of equal merit? Efficiency of spend has always been of paramount importance for a club financially outgunned, the work done therefore to lose so much deadwood off the wage bill has been welcome and much needed.
BUT as I commented on Twitter on deadline day, why raise £4.5m in ticket prices if you do not utilise the transfer provisions available let alone the £40-50m transfer profit. It will be a question at the AGM that will embarrass the club, one that supporters will be unrelenting with and one that no amount of spin can wash over.
Ending on a positive note it is better to make £40m profit than £20m with £20m of deadwood unsold, we are in a good position to invest further but it is vital we do so, including new contracts for Van Persie and Walcott. January is an opportunity to do further work, to sign players to replace the fading Rosicky, Arshavin and temporary Benayoun as well as cover off any holes left by injuries. This is something we have spectacularly failed to do in recent years, again improvement is this aspect is vital.
[VERDICT] - Benefit of the doubt should be given since several big moves were put in motion with solid club record offers. Perhaps the sheer amount of work needed meant this was always likely to be a two part fix. Arsenal must use January to finish the job, they have the money and the time to cement plans. 6/10
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