“[Alexis joining Manchester City] was not very close, it’s very difficult for me to speak about that because what I want now is the player to focus on his career, on his season and Arsenal.”
Thus spake Arsène. It depends on your definition of the word “close”, I suppose. I mean, he wasn’t Ross Barkley ‘close’ to joining City yet closer to leaving Arsenal than Diafra Sakho was from leaving West Ham.
I almost fell for the Deadline Day drama. Working with Sky Sports on in the background proved an interesting experience, one which I hadn’t endured for several years. I gave up late afternoon, my mind numbed by the constant and bewildering flow of maniacal nothingness. Reporters stationed at the clubs pummelled us with a thousand ways an hour to say nothing.
There was nothing mesmeric about ex-players and former managers being wheeled out. Asked the same question as the previous hour’s guests, they gave the same answers. Same words, different accents.
Alexis was the focus of their Arsenal attention. Denied a move, he will be the malignant force in the dressing room. Let’s not forget the reports which claimed the other players don’t like his attitude; he’s already a pain in their arsenal. Sitting sixteenth in the Premier League and off the back of progressively abysmal away performances, the players need shaking out of their comfort zones. A frustrated Alexis may be a positive influence after all.
And Manchester City are livid that we didn’t rollover and give them a player. As if £55m (plus add-ons) is giving a player away. Apparently, they will try to ‘loan’ Alexis in January; confidence in their squad is in short supply at the Etihad it seems. Will the loan fee be in the region of £30-40m?
I Was Born With A Plastic Spoon In My Mouth
Still, it gives us Thomas Lemar’s position in the ‘Nearly Signed XI’; a substitute as he presumably “was not very close” to joining Arsenal.
The question of whether this was a good or bad window won’t be answered until May. It doesn’t look good, you have to say. A positive start with Kolasinac and Lacazette disappeared into a six-point gap to the leaders and a manager wrapt in the swirling fug of appeasement. Left backs made hay in the centre, while full backs didn’t know their right from their left; £50m sat on the bench aghast at the collapse on the pitch.
With the situations clearer, will the mists addling Wenger’s brain be lifted?
There’s no surprise Arsenal made a profit this window either. We had a lot of players to shift so it was never going to be a big ‘net spend’ but I expected us to make more of an effort to bring in new blood. There are some questions which baffle.
Alexis, Wenger was adamant, wouldn’t be leaving. He didn’t; he’s still here. But it’s like saying Arsène never breaks contracts: it’s not through lack of effort. Martin Edwards, former Manchester United chairman, tells in his autobiography of several meetings with Wenger in 2001/02 when Fergie initially talked of standing down. Another club chipping away at the veneer of loyalty.
The bigger question is why Arsenal broke off negotiations with Monaco when the cost got to £60m yet went back with €100m on deadline day. If we had the money now, we had it then. Aah, but no bids for Alexis were received; flush them out by signing Lemar, a player who allegedly wanted to join Arsenal in the summer. That was before he saw the sh*tshows at Stoke and Liverpool.
If You Think I Don’t Know About The Little Tricks You’ve Played
Ornstein’s contrary claims of £150m and being skint were ‘club sources’ playing games. As soon as the former total came out, expectations were raised. That’s your problem, the party faithful claim; it is but that quickly turns into one for the club as perceptions turn to militancy.
What was the motivation for the former and latter; it hardly quells the discontent with the club’s direction. Unless it was to destroy the Man from the BBC’s credibility…job done.
Forget about the £27m ‘profit’; it’ll be a lot more when the reckoning is done in this year’s accounts but it’s chipping into the lost Champions League surplus. That plus what we earning from the Europa League just about evens out.
The only cash concern is the £60m which has just gone up in smoke; that’s going to hurt next summer. We know how much an outstanding young talent to replace the Chilean will cost: €100m. It won’t be lower next year; that £60m is going to hurt somewhere, particularly with Özil’s future, as yet, undecided.
Arsène can talk about how it was a financial choice we made but it wasn’t; that was a PR decision. When the gap to the champions next May is 20+ points, that’s the real cost: progressively worsening Premier League performances.
And the legacy is further eroded as well. The second decade is going to be remembered more readily than the first. He’ll find history’s benevolent vision is a long-time coming as a generation of fans grows up knowing only mediocrity in the league.
Thruppence and Sixpence Every Day
A lot of ifs, buts and maybes. The one certainty is that it poleaxed Ivan; maybe that’s the game here, has been all along from Kroenke and Wenger’s ploy all along? Rid themselves of dissenting execs, calm the dressing room and float on the sea of mid-table mediocrity? The latter may not be a target but when there is no challenge to a manager over his and XI’s performances, it’s where you end up.
Please have your tickets ready for inspection, ladies and gentlemen.