Brilliance Or Tour de Farce? The Summer Awaits


That cartoon is from 1983; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

Just when you thought it was all over…up pop Spain, prolonging the agony of the season with a meaningless two-goal victory as part of the warm-ups for the Confederations Cup. Yes, Fifa who make great claims to care for player health and well-being, who demand clubs play fewer matches, have a tournament in a Summer which would otherwise be clear of all football. They claim it is a dry run for the World Cup but that is typically revisionist; the first three were in Saudi Arabia and it is only since 2001 that any geographical link has been established. Only in football.

The tournament will presumably mean the absence of Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal from the Asian Tour due to start next month. Yes, that’s right, in thirty-two days time, there will be meaningless club matches to dissect and devour, such will be the insatiable desire for the numbing transfer window to end. It puts the club’s efforts to get signings completed into some perspective. Arsène observed that the tour is a good chance for the players to experience new cultures, people and life generally. The obvious caveat is that it will be structured, organised and sanitised beyond any recognition, limiting the expansion of young minds.

Tours such as this, beyond bringing on match sharpness, serve the benefit of allowing players to get to know others better. There cannot be a better way of integrating into a squad than spending three weeks in close proximity to your teammates and the club know the pitfalls, pratfalls and benefits of immersing players into their new environment better than any of us. It is why you have to wonder at Arsène’s previous philosophy of waiting until the last-minute for signings. Bargains are not always there to be had and it is easy to present deals as panic buying even if they have been worked on for several weeks, à la two years ago after the unspeakable events at Old Trafford.

Whatever the situation, a transfer puts the manager between the devil or the deep blue sea. For every Vieira, there is a Stepanovs; for a Henry, a Chamakh. Signings are the gambling side of a manager’s nature. Oh, they can research, scout, talk and watch all they want but they are taking a punt on a player, safe in the knowledge that they will be judged in hindsight using facts that were not available to them at the time, knowing that everyone is a critic.

Who would want to be a football manager?

Elsewhere, the Summer of the Long Shorts continues with Vito Mannone linked with Parma and Genoa. Abou Diaby, God bless ‘im, has been linked with running again. Speaking to the French media, the Arsenal midfielder noted that he expects that deal to sealed in coming weeks although he was taking his time, to make sure that the move is right for him. I would wish him a speedy recovery but I don’t want to tempt fate; any recovery would be welcomed. And as it is the close season, can we not be buoyed with a new optimism for the coming campaign, that he might play a pivotal role. It is after all, the least he deserves, surely?

’til Tomorrow.

77 thoughts on “Brilliance Or Tour de Farce? The Summer Awaits

  1. What do u mean by for a Henry, a Chamakh?? ur head.. It was wenger who benched chamakh…wasted him.. all his goals are far better thn Giroud. . he came for free 2 the club even when others were pursuing him..

  2. Consolslel’s now limping around the avli, Diaby must be fitter. Beer stil cold, thank Christ and I’ m home next week for which I am grateful.

  3. Interesting that Spain out a full team last night and a full bench against the Irish

    Santi got 10 minutes and Nacho got to finish the crossword

    How very very different to England, barely able to raise eleven blokes with boots against the Irish

  4. anicoll5

    That is something one always notices when these successful international sides play they look very much like a club team in terms of how they all get along.

    England look like they cant stand to be around each other.

    On another note with the U21. I dont tend to watch them but how different is the side from the one that won all of its previous 9 games without conceding. It seems slightly harsh all this stuff pearce is getting considering he has reguarly put out sides that beat spain, italy and germany in recent years. like i said i dont atch but why the dropoff

  5. Have to agree with Jabba,those England players especially the senior players don’t appear to enjoy being around each other. As for the confederations cup? The one player we won’t to have the whole summer off was Santi,there’s got to be an argument for Arsene to not play him till September after giving him the same pre-season break as the other players,stupid bloody internationals!

  6. I imagine that Pearce has managed his last U21 game Joe. Given that he had successfully got the team into the last four finals, which no other other Euro country had managed, a bloody disappointing way to go home, nil point.

    One interesting comment I heard during the Spain Germany came was about a young player, U19, I think, failing to attend the Spanish national call up for a friendly. He wasn’t injured but pleaded fatigue. The Spanish FA banned him for 2 years from all football, later reduced to six months on appeal.

    Bloody hell ! I imagine a few international managers at all levels would like that backing.

  7. Anicoll, I’m sure they would! I’m equally sure AW would hate it!! Together with ManU we’ve been one of the worst culprits for complaining about call-ups for international friendlies.

  8. I wonder what the balance really is between stars and flops in Wenger buys: rather than just saying for every Henry there’s a Chamakh. Not that the point isn’t well made YW, but there’s probably a balance nearer success….. for examples…..

    Unequivocal successes: Lehmann; Lauren; Sagna; Campbell; Viera; Petit; Edu; Gilberto; Lunberg; Pires; Henry

    Mainly Positive Contributions: Luzhny; Grimandi; Flamini; RvP; Hleb; Reyes; Nasri; Wiltort; Kanu; (and – so far – Mertesacker, TV and Kos)

    Oh dear: Almunia (?) Stepanovs; Cygan; Jeffers; Pennant; Chamahk

    I’m sure everyone will have their (anti-)favourites, but isn’t the buying record pretty good really or have I just forgotten more of the lemons?

  9. “I’m not coming out here and defending anyone. I’m sick to the back teeth of doing that in this tournament,” Pearce said.
    “They should be here answering questions on why their performances were so poor. I don’t think it’s my responsibility

    Anyone think that this approach works with players nowadays?

  10. Half the Lemons

    I would agree in that Arsene record matched against most other managers probably smashes them out of the water.

    I think he has been less successful in recent times but then there is allot more competition these days


    they lost every game in the tourn so what he says now doesnt really matter. He must be incredibly disappointed in taking a team with such a great record and them falling flat on their faces

  11. Very fair Half Time

    I think you’ve Anelka who I would definitely put in the success category, albeit just for two seasons

    If you can have Pennant in the failures can I have Cesc on the successes ?

    I’s probably stick Ade and Eduardo in the 50% successes too

    Real howlers are few and far between

  12. Ancoli

    I agree – I suppose one ought to distinguish between young players joining for little or no fee who might turn into first team regulars – of which Fab is the roaring success – and those bought to go straight into the first team (squad)…. The first type are more of a gamble, but with lower stakes and the possibility of great reward than those bought to go into the first team squad… There’s the “never quite made it” group too (egs: Senderos, Djourou maybe even Denilson).

    Complicated isn’t it? But yes, the Stepenovs and Chamahks are rare.

  13. Ade is a success 30 goals in one season bought for 4 sold for 20 odd.

    arsene worst signings which cost money in my opinion

    Wright, Jeffers, Diawara, vivas, van bronkhorst, inamoto, cygan, diarra, silvestre, santos, park, gervinho

    its a small list there are obvioulsy quite allot who came as trumped up youngsters but its incredibly hard

    he has struggled to get true value out of some of his bigger signings but all in all he is gets it right much more often than wrong

  14. Joe,

    Interesting list, lots of left backs and current players.

    I’d forgotten van Bronkhorst, a reasonable footballer with no position in an EPL structured team – did OK with Barca though.

  15. Half Lemons

    Was hugely excited by Van Bronk signing but we never had a position for him as we were set at left back and he couldnt translate his box to box stuff for the prem.

    Santos and Park were to bad notes out of the sramble on the last day were we managed to pick up 3 very useful contributors as well so not all bad.

    If think if your hitting on 60-70% of your transfers your doing very well. if you hit on 20-30% of your young signings your doing exceptionally well.

    its if you bugger up the major signings you put your club in peril

  16. I thought Van Bronk did well and never let us down when he did play. He faced some severe opposition in trying to nail down a midfield slot. In the seasons since I would have been delighted to have him in the squad as he was an all round footballer.

    I’d forgotten about Richard Wright, I remember the fatal Sunday it all fell apart against Charlton at Highbury and he went off at half time. He never got his confidence back.

  17. Anicoll

    What a transfer press conference that was. Richard Wright the best young keeper in england to take over from David and then Sol Campbell bloody well porks out was utterly delighted it was incredible.

    Shame about Wright but these things tend to happen to english keepers.

    At the time with regards to van bronk 8.5m was allot of money for us same iwth Gerv now not an utter disaster but we far from a hit

  18. Whether the pressure is on Arsene to spend or not, I don’t really much are at this point. Though, I wouldn’t mind some news of something because frankly it is a boring summer to date.

  19. anicoll5, 1:04
    Why did you have to mention that, I have only just put it to the back of my mind.
    Transfer season, if only we knew the real targets!!

  20. Yogi:

    Great post. I never could quite figure out why so many people thought that Arsene’s strategy of buying late was somehow inspired or brilliant. It never made sense to me. I guess back in those days we thought that Webster’s definition of brilliant strategy was “whatever Arsene did”. Interesting days those were.

    Half the Lemons @ 11:18:

    How in the world could you forget DB10. He was probably the single most brilliant signing ever made by any manager, ever! I think that its fair to say that Arsene has been one of the better managers in history as far as getting value for the money he spends. Everyone has a few clunkers and I think its harder today since everyone has caught up with our scouting. However, the table that showed the increase in value of our team compared with the purchase price tends to confirm that we are still the best value shoppers in the PL.

  21. I don’t think I have chuckled as long from any comment made on the blog for the last couple of years as I did with the JJ’s Susan Boyle comment. Dukey is still the best and most consistent with the one liners but he will have to work very hard to top that one for individual honors.

  22. Bill

    Bergkamp was a Dein / Fiszman signing, who happened to fall into Bruce Rioch’s lap; he arrived at the start of 2005/06, over a year ahead of AW so it’s a stretch that Armstrong would be proud of, to link his signing to Wenger’s reign.

  23. I would never forget DB10 – the best player ever in the EPL but signed by (I feel there should be a drum roll here….) Bruce Rioch!!!

    Proof that sometimes even bad managers get it right just as good managers get it wrong!

  24. Miami:

    “Whether the pressure is on Arsene to spend or not.”

    Ivan basically said that there is no pressure on Arsene from within the clubs hierarchy so I thought putting on pressure was being left to us. 😉

  25. Yogi:

    Those were the days before fox soccer channel and internet blogs, very few of us Yanks knew or cared much about European football and we had no way to follow if we did care. I am sure you are right but in my heart I will always give Arsene credit for buying DB10. In those days Arsene was omnipotent and he knew he was coming here and he influenced DD/DF from where ever he was. 😉

  26. BTW Inter sold us Dennis for about £7.5m just as they bought Ronaldo (the fat one) for £20m. The top transfer is now 4 x that – but another Dennis for £30m would be a fantastic bargain…. can’t think of a candidate though….

  27. I think if the club doesn’t manage to reinforce substantially and well, there is no exculpatory explanation available. Funds are available and the need is clear. Players better than many in our current squad will be available. The only point now that can be made is about value–the players were available but not at the right price. Since it is urgent that we do more than desperately fight off Spurs, Everton (and possibly this coming season, Liverpool) for CL qualification, I expect there will be a push to improve the squad. Whether the level of enhancement of our talent on the team will be enough to challenge genuinely for the title is the main issue. I don’t know if we have the money, will, or ability to secure the players necessary this summer to do that next season as that isn’t an easy task. I think most fans will accept this scenario as long as it is building momentum, we aren’t losing our best players, and we are closer to winning something and do better in the cups while insuring CL qualification on an improved points gap over the 5th place team. That’s a realistic objective.

  28. Jonny:

    Interesting article. I honestly don’t think Arsene really responds to outside pressure. Its certainly good for the manager to avoid getting caught up with every whim of the press and fans but when the pressure gets as intense as it has become over the years then you know something is not working and you have to be willing to modify what you are doing. In short there are both positives and negatives to being immune to outside pressure.

    “Rather than big-money signings, Wenger has instead forged his transfer legacy at Arsenal by unearthing the young gem or unpolished diamond, if you’ll forgive the cliché. Cesc Fabregas, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and Robin van Persie would be considered amongst his greatest successes, all brought to north London aged 21 or younger and for less than £10million combined.

    But there is a great deal more pressure heaped onto the success of one £20m player than two players at £10m each – that’s just the way it is. At £20m-plus, signings become ‘marquee’, a word that simply heightens expectation.”

    That’s an interesting segment from the article. Arsene has been the master of the value purchase and he has made his reputation and built one of the best teams in English history by that method. However, times have changed and although he is still good at working that segment of the transfer market, I think we have gone as far as we possibly can by buying $13M and below undervalued players and trying to turn them into superstars. We have reached as high a plateau as we can using that strategy. Clearly its much more difficult to outperform other managers and talent evaluators when you are working in the higher priced segment of the market but we have to accept that it will be a necessary evil if we want to see this team move back into the elite team category. IMO.

  29. Limestone:

    I honestly believe that we can make a significant jump in one season. However, I also agree that just the feeling of real progress will be as much as we can realistically expect. What is frustrating is the sense that the club has been satisfied with what’s happened in the past and we accepted our fate for the last couple of seasons. We all realize that losing Cesc and RVP in successive seasons made winning a title close to impossible. However, we still should have tried our best no matter what the odds against us. Had we done that, we probably would not have won, but at least we could have felt better about what we did and the players and fans would not be concerned about our “level of ambition”. Additionally, we probably would have been good enough that we could have avoided the dogfight to reach the minimum level of success and not been in position of having to win on the final day of season to keep CL football.

  30. Reading that 365 article, strikes me that people are overly obsessed with the size of a transfer fee. If you have a srewd manager and can attract the best talent with decent wages and the club’s own reputation you shouldn’t need to pay in excess of 20 million, or “marque” as the article classifies it. Excessive spending is not cool to me. I’m looking at you, Real Madrid.

    Even United have only gone above 20 million half a dozen times, with mixed results it has to be said…

    1 Dimitar Berbatov Tottenham Hotspur £30.75 million September 2008
    2 Rio Ferdinand Leeds United £29.3 million July 2002
    3 Juan Sebastián Verón Lazio £28.1 million[44] July 2001
    4 Wayne Rooney Everton £27 million August 2004
    5 Robin van Persie Arsenal £24 million[45] August 2012
    6 Anderson Porto £20.4 million[46] July 2007

  31. Well, if it has been up to AW this whole time, then certainly the pressure is on because the club, the supporters, the players, and he himself most of all will want to do much better than we have done the last two seasons. Given the status of our youth players, I think the only way to improve seriously for next season is through the transfer market. The only two players I would hope to have more from next season through development and improvement are Wilshere and the Ox, possibly Ramsey. And these are question marks for young players who develop unpredictably and inconsistently; and Wilshere’s fitness is an open question for me on which we can’t just gamble.

    I don’t expect a full season from Rosicky, Diaby. I think Podolski, Giroud, and Walcott can do a little bit better, but the gains are not going to be dramatic, I think. Walcott is a bright spot because he has been improving the last two seasons, not only in his numbers but in his skills. But I don’t expect him to dramatically out do his best season to date. Similarly, I can’t see Cazorla dramatically improving on his best goal tally ever. He was terrific and is a quality player but not a young talent we expect to be improving in leaps and bounds. His adaptation to the league was quick, but I think completed.

    So my conclusion, given that we have a modestly talented but solid and experienced group overall, is that our only way to really do much better is to bring in new talented players. Several of them. Preferably early in the window so that the team can prepare together for a full pre-season.

    I am excluding tactical and other preparatory aspects about which I know little and could hardly comment on–are there gains to be made in diet, fitness, coaching, tactical set up, video analysis, psychology and morale etc…? Who knows? We love to argue that more preparation on opponents and tactical adjustments against particular opponents might help us on occasion–but we saw more evidence of such adjustments this year. We also saw some defensive re-organization and improved team defending latterly. AW made his name with new diet and fitness regimes–are there new and better methods to institute? Our medical staff has a new facility and seems to be cutting edge plus we had a great season with few injuries that dragged on apart from the perennial Diaby and Wilshere sagas. Do we expect to have the same situation next season? These things don’t cost the kind of money that talented players do (or the big investments in facilities and equipment have already been made). If the club is doing everything it can and using all its resources, it will be improving these tactical and preparatory aspects all the time and use the financial resources available to improve the team’s talent as much as possible this summer. These aren’t mutually exclusive or individually sufficient. Both aspects are needed to try to put some distance over the chasing clubs and to bridge part of the gap to the league winners.

    That’s, anyway, how I see where we are right now. The status of the other clubs will be interesting to consider as well given the transitions underway at all three clubs ahead of us. But it is an opportunity we should seize aggressively.

  32. Bill, perhaps but it will probably require doing a great job at the higher end of the market, which we haven’t seen AW do. It will be interesting to see if and how he does at that level. More likely is a two stage progression of enhancing this summer and putting distance over the chasers before really mounting a challenge after another summer of reinforcing for the season after.

  33. Markus

    Transfer fee’s are going up as more competition enters the market around our band of players.

    We need to improve the 1st team not he squad. Buying projects takes time for them to settle. Time is the one commodity that Arsene doesnt have anymore.

    He needs players to hit the ground running and and the 2-3 max that he needs this summer need to be signifcantly better than what we have.

    Fellaini has prem experience is at a wonderful age and is exactly the typpe of player we need, we are lucky that he is available for 22m.

    I dont need to tell you that we need a huge upgrade up top. we talking 25-30 goals a year there is a premium on that sort of player. Again i think we will be lucky to Higuain for such a fee

  34. Markus, I think the only real flop there was Anderson. RvP, Rio and Rooney were good purchases. 3/6 is pretty good. Berbatov wasn’t bad–he scored lots of goals–but didn’t like being second fiddle and not starting the big games; he’s still a good player but was too expensive compared to better buys. Veron was an excellent player but didn’t work out at United for a number of reasons. 3/6 is pretty good. But the club lost big money on Berba and Veron, and no doubt will on Anderson.

    But I agree with you that fee isn’t the only thing to emphasize. I want AW to bring in top talented players who will be able to improve the team next season. If he gets relative bargains like Cazorla that’s great. But we need players of a similar or higher standard and the club should be prepared for that even if we aren’t getting a super deal.

  35. I am playing Devil’s Avocado here a little, but one could argue that 4 out of 6 (2/3) of those signings worked out and that Man Utd still recouped reasonable money on the ones that didn’t.
    Veron was sold on for £15M which arguably makes him not much worse a signing than AA.

  36. A bit off the topic of money but two of Ferguson’s shrewdest signings were Tevez and Henrik Larsen, neither of whom required a transfer fee.

    Cant help wondering if that is not a route in landing players we might not have made more of at a time when hard currency was in short supply (allegedly.

  37. Anicoll:

    We have had the best manager in the world at getting value from transfers in the low end of the market but its left us with a squad that had to win the last day of the season for the almost the last 3 seasons just to hold CL spots. We have maxed out what we can do with the strategy even with Arsene. Jonny said this the other day but we have to accept that its time to start taking some risks. You could argue that we could not afford to take risks in the past which may have been true to some extent but our financial has changed. Higher reward = higher risk.

    With regard to the ManU signings. Berbatov won the golden boot in 2010/11. That was by far the worst ManU title team since I have been following English football and they would never have won without his contribution. I would never argue that he was a smashing success, but that one trophy alone means that he was not a “bust”.

  38. We have to take ‘risks’ ?

    As someone else pointed out Bill every transfer, indeed every contract signed or even extended is a risk. Some work out, others dont

    Torres was a risk, Bergkamp was a risk, Andy Carroll was a risk, Schevchenko was a risk, Michu was a risk, Sagna was a risk. Gareth Bale was a risk that looked for at least a season a poor outcome.

    If what you mean to say is we need to spend BIG MONEY just say it !

  39. Bill

    Surely a manager who has managed to exist on a proper shoestring budget is more deserving of the title you bestowed upon Wenger of “the best manager in the world at getting value from transfers in the low end of the market”.

    Wenger may be low end compared to the sides directly above us. He has however presided over transfers on many players over the years in excess of £10m with varying degrees of success. Reyes and Arshavin for example were unmitigated failures, Cazorla a success to date, Gervinho one to provoke pub debate, Chamberlain one who most of us think and hope will be okay. He has done all this in recent years while presiding over the 4th or 5th largest salary costs in the league.

    When you add in others like Giroud, Arteta, Mertesacker all from the current side alone that is not the low end of any market. We’re just not yet shopping for the very top players. I am led to believe that is to change, this summer perhaps.

    I for one am not holding my breath.

    Where his apparent genius is seen is when analyzing the nett spend which takes into account the lovely monies received from the likes of City, United and Barcelona in recent seasons. We have been able to sell players at huge fees over the years, taking advantage on occasion of the very financial doping that we love to criticize.

  40. I think if someone was to look at our squad that got us 4th last year and taking there excellent consistent form as the barometer our squad can be split into this.

    Good hard working cogs

    Monreal, Mertasacker, TV5, Sagna, Arteta, Rosicky, Giroud, Podolski,

    High quality young players with excellent potential

    Scezesny, Gibbs, Jenk, Ramsey, AOC, Wilshere

    Players on the cusp of world class

    Kosciellny, Walcott, Cazorla

    That to me is a very solid basis. If we can add a couple players who are most certainly of the production of the 3 above but have maybe demonstrated that level for a couple more years we iwll be in a great position

  41. Truth is that I think Fergies best ever transfers in my time were getting Vidic and Van der Saar for less then 10M. I thought those 2 players anchored 4 title teams. Getting that sort of value was easier back in those days I think. There is still more value for defenders and some midfielders I suspect. Kos was a great buy. However, much harder to get impact goal scorers and goal creators (high technical skill positions)on the cheap. For the most part, I think you get what you pay for in those positions. Like all generalizations there are exceptions but you can’t base your transfer strategy on hoping you can find those exceptions (unless you are willing to have unlimited patience). Unfortunately, I think our situation has proved, unlimited patience is not a virtue since the players don’t have unlimited patience and they won’t hesitate to leave when they reach the elite status, or they may be injured or any number of things can happen while you are waiting for them to morph into superstars.

    Its time to take some risks and get more aggressive and stop building for some nebulous future greatness that will probably never come if we don’t become more aggressive. The fans and the players certainly deserve the club giving it our best shot. Go Arsene, Go Ivan, Go Dickie, Go Stan.

  42. Anicoll

    Perez the RM president said it best after he bought Ronaldo. ”Quite often in life the most expensive things work out at being the cheapest in the long run”

    If your spending money on there reputation and ability its more likely your mitgating the risk.

  43. Ah Joe – you know Señor Perez

    He’d say anything

    On the basis of total return could the million Arsenal shirts sold in South Korea and Japan be marked in the credit column for Park, Inamoti and Myachi ?

    I thought not

  44. Joe

    Personally I would have Koscielny and Walcott in the group above.

    The former certainly showed good form from March onwards and formed a good partnership with Mertesacker.

    Never ever in my wildest dreamy moments would it occur to me to use the words ‘world class’ and ‘Walcott’ together.

  45. Steve:

    Point well taken, “low end of the market” is probably not exactly accurate. However, you can quibble with the exact wording which was not ideal, but I suspect you get the main point I was trying to make. The main purpose of saying all that was to reenforce the biggest point and explain why I believe that we need to aim at the higher segment of the transfer market as our finances have improved. I can’t really justify saying we have to do something different without explaining why I think what we have been doing in the past will not work any more.

  46. Steve:

    Joe, I am a big fan of Walcott as our right sided attacker but I agree with Steve and he belongs in the middle group. Santi is really good and we could debate about him, but I think the only one who is truly on the cusp of world class is the Kos. Hopefully my rose colored glasses are not being overly active in his case.

  47. anicoll5

    The idea is you have a better idea of what you are getting if the player has played in a big league or excelled in the cl. Now its full proof plan but in any sport the better players with better track records cost more money. Its quite simple

    I would love to see where you get your figures on how many shirts we sell

    Giroud 12m no cl experience no experience of playing ina good league or Higuain 20m 6 years cl experience plus younger.

    would arsenal have done better by buying a ready made cb or wait 2 years for kosciellny to adapt?

  48. Steve

    It comes down to production with Walcott. If you score 21 goals and 17 assists your not far being world class.

    In the last 2 years Walcott and Bale production is nearly exactly the same but walcott in far less min.

    At some point if keeps doing that someone has got to put him in some sort of decent bracket.

    Just because his pace looks like his only tool still doesnt hide the fact that teams are terrified of him.

  49. Anicoll:

    “If what you mean to say is we need to spend BIG MONEY just say it !”

    Look back thru the archives for the last 5 years and I suspect it would embarrass me if you counted how many times I have actually said it. 🙂

  50. “I would love to see where you get your figures on how many shirts we sell”

    I make them up Joe – I am not a novice at this lark you know !

    “would arsenal have done better by buying a ready made cb or wait 2 years for kosciellny to adapt?”

    Like David Luiz you mean (falls off chair with helpless mirth)

  51. Anicoll:

    You are trying to prove your point by siting specific examples of high dollar transfers that didn’t work. Everyone understands that some will be busts. However, letting that sort of fear of failure drive our transfer policy and keep us from doing something that will help us be a better team seems like a really negative and backward way to think about it. You really are a negativista at heart. 😉

  52. Joe,
    Yesterday I was surprised to see you laud our transfer activity in 2010, when our only successful signing was Koscielny. Today, I’m even more surprised to see you obliterating the two good seasons Koscielny gave us since his arrival simply because he improved in that period.
    Somehow, I feel Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud trump Koscielny, Chamakh and Squillaci. I’d even go as far as to suggest that Arteta, Mertesacker and Chamberlain may have been better buys than the trio from 2010.
    Likewise, Koscielny’s performances since 2010 were usually at least acceptable. Yes, he took some time to adapt, but since his debut, he seemed to take the pressure of the PL in his stride. What we seen now is a player who always was quality, but now is also experienced.
    I understand that this may be a moot point: in my opinion, our main issue in 2010/11 was that Vermaelen took far longer than expected to heal a typical football injury. This caused us to play Koscielny next to players who are not of the same mould. This season, he shared space with a reborn Mertesacker, who also had a formidable season. This does have a bearing on players, you know, who they play with.

  53. Bill,
    Just as a reminder, I’ll point out that, by some estimations at least, Cazorla cost us 20m pounds. I think it’s reasonable to expect us to be able to pay slightly above that amount this time around. In fact, most of the “stars” “linked” to us are said to be worth between 20m and 25m. The median values of transfers seem to rise every year, and it’s only logical that what used to cost us 10m pounds can well cost us 15 or even 20 million now. I don’t think Wenger – or anyone for that matter – wants to defy gravity and miss a chance to sign a valuable player because inflation exists.
    Also: true value isn’t always measured by the price tag. Compare Jovetić and Aubameyang: two largely unproven talents, same age, leading lights in their respective teams. Very comparable. Price? The former is said to be worth about 30 million pounds; the latter slightly above 10 million. The cheaper option isn’t always the worse option.

  54. Zdzis

    It was a reflection of our activity both in an out.

    We didnt lose anyone when we got chamack and kos we actually strengthened or tried to from the previous year. I complained yesterday as its my interpretation that cesc wanted us to show some ambition that summer in his conversations before the world cup with arsene.

    In future summers I love some of our signings but not in relation to losing our best players. If mert, poldi, giroud, santi, yossi, gerv, ox etc were brought in to compliment song, Samir, cesc and rvp that would have been awesome but they weren’t.

    Our defence conceded 43 goals in 2010-11 the manager clearly stated it must improve. Signing a Frenchmen who said would take time to adapt and bulk up is not the best scenario to improve a piss poor defence. I love kos now but we are 2 seasons in to a probable 4-5 year contract. Signing players who can perform immediately is imperative this summer. Stars have egos and back themselves projects don’t in most cases in my opinion.

  55. Zdzis.

    Not sure how much cazorla cost. Whatever it was he was a good purchase.

    Honestly don’t know much about Jovetic and know nothing about aubameyang. I will take your word for it that they are equally good in which case I would certainly rather have the less expensive option if they are equal.

    I would rather have Higuain then either of the other 2 mentioned above. I would hope that we would go after him with all guns blazin even if his cost will probably in the mid 20’s. 15 M more then aubameyang. Goal scorers from Ligue 1 have been less expensive despite good scoring records and our recent luck with goal scorers from Ligue 1 most notably Chamakh and Gervinho and perhaps giroud has demonstrated why. They have not adapted well to the PL and have not been able to replicate anything like their success in France with us. I would be very underwhelmed if we ended up with aubameyang. Does not mean he might now turn out to be great but I would rather see us go a different direction.

    I would love to see us pick up mark schwarzer as a back up GK on the free.

  56. Arsenal players released – Andrey Arshavin, Samir Bihmoutine, Reice Charles-Cook, Denilson, Craig Eastmond, Sead Hajrovic, Conor Henderson, Jernade Meade, Nigel Oldfield Spence-Neita, Joshua Rees, Philip Roberts, James Shea, Sebastien Squillaci, Sanchez Watt.

  57. Bill,
    Honestly, I can’t find much at fault in Giroud’s first season. His finishing was a bit off, but he showed determination, strength, and did better than his transfer fee would ever suggest. In market terms, I’d value him at around 20 million pounds at the moment, with a tendency to rise.
    Is “players from Ligue 1 suffer in PL” a rule? There definitely is a difference,to do mostly with the physical burden. But it’s a difference you get in almost every case of a transfer from outside the PL, and sometimes even within PL. We had some hits-and-misses, but perhaps paradoxically, Chamakh did rather well early on. Hazard, Wiltord, Drogba, Essien, all came from Ligue 1, and as far as I recall, all had quite decent starts to their English careers – perhaps not as brilliant as their best seasons in France, but they were assets, not liabilities. I think the lengthy adaptation periods after moves from France are less of an issue today – and even if we fear that, it’s usually easy to predict whether a player will find it hard to adjust to the PL. Either way, I can’t see any point in valuing Primera Division over Ligue 1 as a source of players on such a flimsy basis (Spanish players are also typically lightweight).
    That said, of course I’d rather see us taking on a striker whose reliability is “tested.” That limits our choices, though. Besides, even if someone has a nice track record in Spain, Germany or Italy, how do we know it’s going to translate into England? Shevchenko, the epitome of a world-class striker, never made it; Luque, an exciting Spanish winger, failed miserably at Newcastle; Aguero had a great first season, but spent most of the second on the sidelines; Robinho’s only full season at Man City was a mixed bag. Veron, Crespo, Mutu, Borini… As already said, it’s always just guesswork. A lot also depends on how much responsibility you put on the new man, and how much he’s able to shoulder. This, I think, is why Giroud’s first season for us was so patchy: after RVP left, he knew he’d have to make up for one of the best strikers in England.
    In other words: I wholeheartedly agree we shouldn’t put money before sport, but I’m pretty sure many fans will be disappointed with even a perfect fit. As would you if it turned out we went for a player solely on the basis of his skill, and not in consideration of his achievements. Collecting Real Mad’s droppings makes sense (they bleed a lot of value), but that shouldn’t stop our management from thinking.

    I was surprised mostly because that season we replaced two good defenders and one not-so-good with one “untested” youngish dude and one aging Frenchman who soon turned out to be crap. Plus, we let Eduardo go and brought in Chamakh. By comparison, last season we dropped Song (who committed about twice as many defensive errors as he made chances for RVP to score) and RVP, and brought in a classy attacking midfielder and two reliable strikers (plus Nacho in winter). I agree hindsight helps, but even then, we only broke even (roughly), while last summer we actually achieved more than that. Just my opinion 🙂

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