Thank God we left here to compete, eh?
We should be used to this really. There have been few transfer windows since they were brought in that have been good for Arsenal supporters. This one has to be right up there with the very worst though. There have been painful departures in the past, such as Fabregas and Van Persie etc, but normally it's about how we've failed to strengthen. The window of the middle of 2015 has certainly been about failure to add what is required. What we have witnessed is a complete dereliction of duty by Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and everyone else involved in the management structure of Arsenal Football Club.
Back in 2006 we were told that we were leaving Highbury in order "to compete" with the richest clubs. Now clearly we are not in a position to compete financially with Chelsea and Manchester City (though actually allowing Usmanov to provide transfer funds would make Chelsea look like paupers in comparison). But we are more than capable to competing with Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and any of the Italian clubs. At the end of last season our Chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, gave quotes to the press about our financial capabilities and the inference drawn was that now was the time that the promise of 2006 was to be fulfilled. Following on the back of the FA Cup Final win it was clear that Arsenal were now ready to spend the cash that they undoubtedly have. With most of the stadium debt dealt with (we have habitually been fed lies by Arsenal that there was always money available when the annual finances showed clearly that selling players was the only way profit was forthcoming) and the extra money from PUMA and the TV deals we were back in the big time. Quite clearly we were ready to sign that top centre-forward and top goalkeeper that would provide the missing links in a decent squad. Three months on from those quotes and we have signed a top goalkeeper, largely because Chelsea got charitable to a man who had served them well and wished to stay in London, but no sod else. It is totally unacceptable.
Arsenal supporters pay the highest admission prices in the World. I have no time for Paul Merson, as regular readers will know, but he hit the nail on the head last night on Sky when he said we are being short-changed by the lack of signings. Aside from the pocket of Stan Kroenke (we should find out in the next few weeks how much his company has been paid this year) our money is doing nothing but sitting in the bank, gaining interest and adding to the "value" of Stan's shares - it is worth noting that two Arsenal shares were traded today, purportedly to Kroenke, for the cheapest price in a couple of years (convenient, isn't it?)
Every other club has augmented their squad (I stop short of saying "improved" as time will tell whether their signings have been good) while Arsenal have weakened theirs, at least in terms of numbers. Arsenal currently has 24 first-team players, which has actually seen them put Jeff Reine-Adelaide in the Champions League official list today for UEFA, of which 18 have to be named on any match day. Two of those 24 are goalkeepers (let's hope neither get injured or suspended), Welbeck might be fit soon, Rosicky and Wilshere won't, and Campbell and Flamini are as likely to be actually put on the pitch on merit in the Premier League as I am. A number of youngsters (and Szczesny) have been loaned out despite being needed to appear at different stages last season. On top of that has been the departure of Podolski and Diaby. Those two players alone have freed up around £10m in wages for the year. Just think of the players we should have attracted to Arsenal with nearly £200k per-week knocking about.
At the heart of all of this is Arsene Wenger. Here is a man who tells us he has a "team" of people working "day and night" to bring in new players. As someone who's more than happy to do nothing for hours on end, and would love to work for Arsenal FC, I want to know where I can apply to join this team. Given the lack of transfers we can assume the job description isn't too onerous with regards making an effort to get things done. Whether it be Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gonzalo Higuain, Edin Dzeko, or even Charlie Austin (plenty of Premier League goals in a terrible team last season) it's clear that Wenger's team weren't required to bust a gut to get any of these players to sign for Arsenal. So what have they been doing? I suspect they don't really exist.
We all know that Wenger likes to be an economist. And we also all know that football transfer fees are not the sort of place where an economist might be in a happy mental state. However, this is the way things are and if you can't beat them you sure as anything have to join them. I'm not advocating that we go spending £36m on unknown kids from Monaco, but I am advocating spending whatever it takes to get in the top players. Some Arsenal fans have taken a kind of vicarious pride in Wenger's decisions to keep the money tight and, in fairness, his fine ability to keep us in the European Cup without spending more than we have. Arsenal convinced many of Wenger's disciples that Financial Fair Play was going to level things up. Anyone with more than half a brain could have seen this was b******s and that UEFA would have neither the will, nor the capability, to punish the top European teams. Who in their right mind would think they might expel Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man Utd etc from the Champions League? With FFP now dead we actually have no choice other than to play the game that everyone else is playing. Thanks to the new TV deal and the sponsorship agreements Arsenal have we are actually in a position where we can do it! And yet Wenger has sat on his hands throughout the last three months and watched Arsenal fail to build on last season.
It has been clear since ten minutes in to his debut (missing an open goal at home to Sunderland) that Olivier Giroud is not a top class centre-forward. That is not to have a pop at Giroud who is a player I very much like. He is a good centre-forward and will get you 20-ish goals per season. What we need is a first-choice who will get closer to 30 goals. Yes, Giroud needs to be backed up more by the others - Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Walcott and Welbeck all fail to get the number of goals they should, but actually bringing in a better striker must have been the best solution. Thierry Henry did Giroud no favours by opening his mouth about him last Spring as he is now a target for the idiot-fringe that follows the Club. However, for all that everyone knew Giroud would make a great back-up striker, Wenger has not done the business. If it wasn't so serious it would be amusing - God knows supporters of most of the other Premier League sides are wetting themselves.
Along with many others I vented my spleen on Twitter last night. Still there are/were those willing to defend Wenger and the Club in spite of the bare facts. The most common refrain was for us to "get behind the team". That's where these clowns let themselves down. It is entirely possible to complain about the Manager and the Board and the owner, but to still back the players whenever they take to the pitch. I've been backing the players for over 30 years. My Dad has been doing so for over 60 years. We'll be there for the Stoke City game in ten days time and applauding and cheering them on to the pitch as per usual. But I absolutely reserve the right to criticise them and, in particular, the Manager if I so wish. The day when he has gone and Arsenal move on and use the cash at their disposal to give themselves a chance can not come soon enough. It is bordering on criminal to not make best use of our resources. More than that, it's actually insanity. Sadly we live in the time of the madness of Arsene Wenger, a once great leader and innovator who has been left standing still by the modern World that has grown around him.