Last minute sales push?
Ivan Gazidis busied himself yesterday with the press in order to tell all (or not very much, actually) about Arsenal's new found riches. We are about to re-join the big boys financially as the stadium debt is managed down still further. Arsenal have the money to spend £25m and £200k+ per week on any player the Manager wishes to, though he won't talk about individuals. Some wonderful soundbites to get the Gooners all a quiver as the transfer window opens wider. Except that soundbites is all they are right now. Coming just twenty-four hours before membership renewals close for next season the timing seems rather suspicious, does it not? And haven't we heard it all before anyway? I'd have been far more excited had Ivan invited favoured members of the press pack to Arsenal and shocked them by rolling out a major signing, as we did with Sol Campbell in 2001. All the time we are hearing the talk, but not seeing anything to show for it, I remain sceptical of anything Gazidis says in public.
Ivan is a very fine speaker and would make a good politician, such is his ability to spin and say the right things at the right time. Many continue to fall in to the trap he is setting by getting all excited and bandying around their fantasy football names for who we will bring in. Until such time as a World Class player is signed for big money I'll continue to ignore what Gazidis is coming out with.
There is a school of thought that things feel different this year, and I do feel that to a certain extent. Yes, we've heard year after year that the Manager has money to spend if he wants it, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. If Ivan's comments about new found riches are true then we know that Arsenal have been dishonest with the fans since we left Highbury. Personally, I would have far rather had the honesty that we were broke all along than be told we had the ability to sign players but chose not to. I'm sure patience with Arsene Wenger would have been greater from many fans had we been told the truth all along. Instead we were told that he was the man choosing to do the job with one hand tied behind his back. Now I don't really know who or what to believe. Again, only signings will prove we are serious this time.
In the absence of a major signing I have to believe that yesterday's very well timed statements were nothing more than a cynical attempt to get those in two minds to renew their Arsenal memberships. If people are that naïve then they should be prepared to be let down again. I renewed mine last week as the purchasing of top names is not a pre-requisite of my continued support, though I can't deny I'm all in favour of competing off the pitch in order that we can compete on it.
To add to my feeling of cynicism there were two very well placed stories breaking last night to get people sitting up and taking notice. The first involved a report on Sky Sports News that Arsenal were to announce a "record" deal imminently. It was a vague headline that probably has more to do with sponsorship deals (specifically Puma) than it does with a signing. The second was a Daily Telegraph report that Arsenal had "triggered the release clause" for Marouane Fellaini at Everton. People were seriously getting out of their prams at the prospect last night, and I would be delighted to see him at Arsenal (though I don't know how many games he would actually complete once referees saw him wearing an Arsenal shirt). If I could just temper that excitement briefly I would point to the seemingly reliable and respectable Telegraph being the same paper that reported Mark Hughes was giving a new contract to Jermaine Pennant, just a couple of hours before Stoke announced he was being released yesterday.
Nothing to see here? Who knows, but I am a cynical human being who won't believe it until I see it. Enough words. Let's see some signings.