Gervinho - the first part of the overhaul?
Firstly I'll apologise for my absence these past few days. I started in a new job role (same employer) a couple of weeks back and this has meant a new shift system. The early shifts make for something of a long day and are not conducive to writing a post every day - the combination of trying to spend some time with the family and a new-found tiredness come together to make this less of a priority. That being the case it's just as well it's been quiet. I think that, had there been something happening, I would have found the necessary time to write a post. I'm sure I'll gradually get used to the different shift times etc. The good thing is that, by moving in to this new job, I will hopefully still be able to see the vast majority of Arsenal's home matches in the flesh, and maybe some away games when time off permits. Had I stayed where I was that would have been near to impossible.
Enough about me, and on with the important stuff. Ivan Gazidis met the Arsenal Supporters Trust last night, as I'm sure you've seen reported on just about every other Arsenal site today. The key points, as I see them, are the fact that Arsene Wenger is going nowhere, and that this will be a "busy Summer" in the transfer market for Arsenal. It still remains to be seen exactly what that means, and Gazidis contradicted himself by saying this:
"It is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of players. Some new signings will be coming in and some of our existing squad will be going out. As Arsène has said, it will be a busy close season for the club."
But shortly afterwards he made it clear that the level of "spending" would not necessarily be what the fans would want - i.e. there will be little or no speculating to accumulate:
"It is important to recognise that [last season] was not a disaster," he said. "We have a young squad and we don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
"The trick will be to identify which parts to keep and which parts to turn over. And we will do that within our financial capabilities."
So which is it? We will be busy and spend the necessary money to challenge, while also selling on the dead-wood? Or will we be making some bargain-basement purchases of players nobody has heard of while moving on Denilson and Bendtner, but keeping the likes of Rosicky and Eboue?
Time of course will give us the answers and it is still early-doors. However, the fact that Manchester United and Liverpool are making early, and expensive, moves for players does rather highlight the issues for Arsenal supporters. Back in 1997 most of the transfer business, and there was lots of it that year, was done before the players came back to training in mid-July. The same thing happened in 2001. I would suggest it's no coincidence that we won the Double in both seasons that followed. We also made a truly big name signing in each of those years (Marc Overmars in 1997, Sol Campbell in 2001).
Arsene has seemingly not yet had a holiday. He's been doing his pundit bit for French television on their post-season international matches. Given that this is the very time he should have been resting, ahead of getting down to some serious transfer dealings, I find it really quite annoying. There is no doubt that Arsene needs a break - the strain was disturbingly visible on him in the last month or so of the season. That being the case he should have had it in the last three weeks - instead of that he has been working for someone else while being paid by Arsenal. I hate to compare Arsene to Harry Redknapp but the Tottenham manager has had his holiday and is now on a "working" break in Denmark scouting at the U21 Championships. Harry, no doubt, will be networking while he's at it and any transfer dealings he does in Scandinavia will not be too taxing for him (ahem). The serious point to make is that Arsene needed a break and hasn't yet had one. Now, when we should be getting down to business, he will either be finally getting a holiday, or working without the necessary break - a scenario that will be bad for him and for Arsenal.
As I said here a couple of weeks back I will not be commenting on transfer rumour unless it's something that looks like a goer. Today Lille have announced that Gervinho will be leaving for England and now they will be talking to Arsenal. It's long been reported that Arsene has been tracking the striker and it will be little surprise to see him sign for Arsenal. I know little about him, apart from the fact that he looks a lot older than his claimed age. I also know that he scored 15 goals in Lille's Title winning effort last season. I have a concern over a forward that scores only 15 goals as his side wins the French League. I hope to be proved wrong if, and when, Gervinho comes to Arsenal (he would seemingly be the replacement for Nicklas Bendtner) but 15 goals doesn't exactly put you in mind of the type of goalscorer we require.