So the first pre-season friendly took place last night. I didn’t see any of it as Number 2 son’s club had their own friendly at the same time but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored an utterly exquisite equaliser late on and if you haven’t seen it, the club website has highlights here. There must have been some, I’m sure.
I’ve never got excited by these matches and I don’t intend to start now. Results don’t particularly matter – certainly not for individual matches – and even establishing a pattern in pre-season has no relevance when the competitive matches begin. Although being gubbed 4 – 1 by Dortmund offers the chance of a snigger and smirk.
Elsewhere, the club confirmed the signing of centre back Rob Holding for a £2.5m fee from Bolton Wanderers. He’s been a long-term target with the club linked with him last summer so it’s obvious that the manager rates him. I’m sure Arsène will offer the usual platitudes about the player in the coming days.
Holding is excited at the prospect of joining Arsenal:
“It’s something you dream of as a kid”
Yup and you’re lucky enough to make it happen so the very best of British to you, sir.
We’ve been here before with young centre backs of course. It was inevitable that someone would suggest Holding’s arrival would mean Calum Chambers departure. The Daily Express never fails to tread where others aren’t daft enough to land their feet. Watford, it seems, are ready to put in a bid as they made it clear the rumour first started in the Daily Heil. Who am I sure have probably blamed the St Neot’s Shopper for the ‘story’ in the first place.
It wasn’t the only transfer news of the day, of course. Paul Pogba is going to Manchester United which means Juventus are going to sign Gonzalo Higuain because they obviously see him as a good replacement for the midfielder. The Napoli President is having it, refusing to sell to Juve on principal and warning Higuain that he would be the worst kind of traitor if he did. Expect him to pitch up in Turin next week…
Arsène and the club appeared to contradict Ivan Gazidis’ words but in fact simply reinforced them.
On Thursday, Gazidis said:
“We’re making progress in what is a fiercely competitive world, against competitors that have the capability to spend far more money than we do. We’re doing it by being very, very disciplined; spending money where we believe it makes a difference, but also giving young players a chance and believing in ourselves and our values.”
Yesterday, the club told us:
“We remain in the market, so stay close to Arsenal.com for any further transfer news.”
Whilst Wenger chimed in:
“We are very active. If we find the right candidates then we will spend the big money”
It’s all the same thing; we’ll sign if we find the right player. How you define who is the ‘right player’ is what causes debate and consternation. Gazidis, I think, was the more open in commenting on the approach to the situation. We aren’t going to rush in and spend millions in the market.
The sign that the club is acutely aware of the negative press came from Wenger himself:
“I am sure that my chief executive didn’t want to dampen the expectations on that front.”
Yes, that’s exactly what Ivan wanted to do but the ferocity of the reaction, the underlying cynicism over the club’s recent transfer record caught them on the hop. They have moved to rectify that, not by changing the message, simply wording it in a fan-friendly way.
The problem they have is that it doesn’t alter the cynicism. We’re too tired of the same platitudes from the manager and failure to deliver. Talk of the club spending big means nothing when they spend nothing in the rest of the summer.
Yes, the solution is getting the right players but when you don’t get them, you need to move onto the ‘nearly right’ players not stop looking. I don’t know if we stop looking, that’s just my perception. Yours may be different but please don’t state it as fact. You are not ‘In The Know’; I’ve never come across anyone who is.
We shall see if this summer is any different but I’m not holding my breath that it will be.