The ONLY players money can't buy
I'm sad to admit that I was drawn in this year. I really, honestly, believed that things were now different. The stadium is no longer a financial albatross (the lies about it never having been so were exactly that, and that is just one of the many things Wenger cannot be forgiven over), we'd won two trophies in two seasons, everyone knows we are just a signing or two away from being a genuine competitor to win the Premier League. With all that money and the obvious areas of deficiency ready to be addressed it was clear that things were on the up. The likes of Lukas Podolski and Abou Diaby, and a very large amount of wages, were shipped out of the club making plenty of room for the new players. We addressed the goalkeeping issue, at last, so just a friend for Coquelin and a top striker was required. Now, here we are, five days from the end of the transfer window, and sod all else has happened. I should have realised that this would be the case. Why did I fall in to the trap? All the time Arsene Wenger remains all powerful at Arsenal it will surely ever be thus. And before anyone pulls the big money signing of Mesut Ozil out of their backsides to demonstrate I'm wrong I'll point out that Ozil was a signing of the Boards making to appease an increasingly vocal unease among the match going supporters. The signing of Ozil was not part of any grand plan from Arsene Wenger. He fell in to our laps because Real Madrid needed money to pay Spurs off for the chimp. His signing was a massive boost for six months but he has largely been a flop.
Today Wenger has spoken about signings and the usual rubbish has spewed forth. We've had the perennial favourite of "we work day and night" uttered this morning. I'm just waiting for "big transfer fees only guarantee big wages" and I'll be able to claim for the full-house on Wenger Transfer Bull***t Bingo. The most worrying quote today is the one where he has said (and this is a new one to be fair) "I am always confident there might be a last minute situation or solution". What the Hell is that all about? Last minute solution? If it's last minute then, like Ozil, it almost certainly won't be the solution. Do you remember those wonderful last minute deals of a few years ago that saw us bring in Arteta, Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Park Chu Young and Yossi Benayoun? That all worked out well, didn't it? Whatever happens now it won't be a deal that has been being worked on and negotiated over any period of time. Panic buying is rarely any good and this will almost certainly be no exception.
So why are we here again? It is clear to me that the problem lies in the power that is held by Arsene Wenger. It's been said here before but, once targets are identified by him, he should have no further input in to the transfer dealings aside from meeting the player to discuss how they will fit in to the team. Anything, and I mean anything, to do with the financial side of a transfer should have nothing to do with Wenger. It seems obvious that this is not the case and that he is the problem. Arsene has his valuation of a player and that is that. He often talks about people not wanting to sell. It's rarely the case that anyone would actually want to sell a top player, but you're job as the buying club is to force their hand by making them an offer they can't possibly refuse. Ultimately Arsene's valuation of a player is totally irrelevant. Yes there are ridiculous transfer fees being paid for some players, but that is sadly the going rate and that is the way football business now works. If you can't beat them (and we can't) you have to at least try to join them. I don't particularly have any desire to see Arsenal wasting money, but we are currently not doing what we can to remain competitive. That is the crime here. Arsenal simply must make use of the (considerable) resources at their disposal otherwise we will simply drop further and further behind.
In terms of Arsene being too involved this is a fairly modern phenomenon, something that has happened since David Dein was kicked out of Arsenal. I'm no fan of Dein but it can't be argued that, when he was doing the transfers, we had a man who understood how to sign players. I can't know for sure that he would "ignore" Arsene's valuation of a player but it seems pretty obvious to me that when Dein was schmoozing the selling clubs we might have paid a bit more than we wanted to, but ultimately got the player. Take 1995 as an example, when the financial shackles were released by Arsenal for the first time in many years, Dein went out and got Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt. Both players commanded big fees for their time, maybe even a bit over the odds, but the players were who the Manager wanted and Dein went and got them. He paid £3.5m for a totally unknown (in England) French youngster called Patrick Vieira when that kind of money seemed ridiculous - but it meant we beat others to the signing. Arsene wanted Thierry Henry who had seemingly failed at Juventus, but Dein went and paid them more than they'd spent to sign Henry just a few months earlier. And the deal that really stands out to me is Marc Overmars. There is no way Wenger would have valued the injury-prone (apparently injury-wrecked) Overmars at £5m+, but Dein went and got the business done without Wenger being able to interfere. The rest is history as Marc combined with Dennis and co to win us the Double.
To say I am frustrated right now would be an understatement. I may yet be made to eat these words by Tuesday but, as I said the other day, the dawdling might have already cost us the Premier League this season with cheap points dropped at home. I just feel so annoyed that the optimism and promise that followed the FA Cup win in May has been allowed by Wenger to be destroyed yet again and we find ourselves in a malaise once more. It really is like a never-ending groundhog day where Arsenal signings are concerned and it's gone way beyond being funny.