This time next week internationals will be long forgotten as we bask in whatever it is we will bask after the visit of Norwich City to The Emirates. Until then, the World Cup qualifiers bring forth their heady mix of forced bookings, outrageous dives and past tales of glory from forty years ago. But they don’t go back far enough, The Empire had long since slunk to the farthest corners of the darkest recesses of imperial minds.
Eighty-five years ago, the smoke-filled corridors of another London club plotted the creation of another empire this time on the green fields of home, replete with their flags and white lines. Depending on which story you believe – and as Andy Kelly succinctly points out, there are three to choose from – former Plymouth Argyle player, David Jack signed for Arsenal on this day in 1928 for a then world-record fee of £10,890 from Bolton Wanderers. A certain symmetry exists with signature of Mesut Özil’s signature of £42m (or whatever it actually is), more than ten times the modern equivalent of Jack’s fee.
According to Twitter veteran Robert Pires, the German is but the first piece in the jigsaw towards stepping into the position of title challengers,
If you look at all the successful clubs who won titles and trophies, they always buy after they have been successful. There is no question that Arsenal are at a high level at this moment. They are playing to the kind of football played during my time at the club. And Ozil – well, he is world-class.
But their appears to be a new financial philosophy at Arsenal now. Arsene can spend money, more than he has been able to do before and I believe he should add to the squad when he can.
Whether there is a new “financial philosophy” remains to be seen. Certainly more money will be available yet Arsène has to balance his internal beliefs – recently railing against wages once more – with the pragmatism needed to build a squad which can compete for titles and not settling for the top four as the summit of their ambitions. Encouragement was received when Arsenal were listed by Julian Draxler as one of the half-a-dozen of usual suspects where he would like to ply his trade next season. Whether they are able to secure another German international remains to be seen. Much is made of the debt situation of Real Madrid but it did not stop them spending this summer, it will not next either.
It is not lost that the new future Arsène is trying to build compares to the ideas in Chapman’s mind. Innovations are more difficult for Wenger now, perhaps that is the least of his concerns, but both he and his predecessor had a common aim; the reinvention of Arsenal. In his fourth season in charge, Chapman was looking to build a successful squad, the first in Arsenal’s history in the top flight. Wenger, well the timescales are well known as he looks for a new beginning. We wait to see if he is able to do that.
January will soon be upon us and the media attention makes it seem like there is activity. Not that you can read much – if anything – into such speculation. Talk of Pastore strikes me as a managerial wish list being created on Wenger’s behalf. January is a curious window with recent history suggesting activity, if there is to be any, will be left until the latter stages. Before signing Reyes, Arsène observed that he preferred to sign players in the winter so that they could acclimatise and be ready for the following season. The game has moved on, the philosophy evolved as January is viewed as disruptive but if Arsenal reach that point in the campaign in touching distance of the top, the lessons of the summer suggest investment in those areas susceptible to injury would be wise, outcomes the manager will no doubt be acutely aware of.
Rumours abound that the wounded are walking with Sagna, Walcott and Cazorla supposedly in contention for returning against The Canaries. What truth in that is unconfirmed but it suggests that selection headaches Arsène is about to have, are the nice kind.