And so it came to pass. And pass. And pass. And pass. And pass and pass and pass and pass and pass. Dear God, has this transfer not happened yet? Ts have been crossed, rubbed out, crossed again and there is a veritable dot-to-dot above the Is. In a certain light I’m told it resembles Herbert Chapman.
But finally today, we’re told by the BBC from London (or Salford but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it), subsequently ‘verified’ by every media outlet, that Santi Cazorla is an Arsenal player. Well, not quite. He’s joining the squad in Germany which is normally a sign that a deal is done. It surely can’t be jumping the gun to believe that this one is finally sealed although until either party announces it, there is still room for something to go wrong. The presumption has to be that whilst the paperwork has finally found its way to the right office on the fourth floor, international clearances are still awaited.
He might well be an Arsenal player by the time you read this. We wish you well in your Arsenal career. Expectations are high, the pre-season demanded activity in terms of transfers and that has more or less been delivered, the less or the more depending on your outlook. Cazorla may not be the last with strong rumours that Sahin will join this week, the season-long loan suiting the club’s short-term purpose with Jack Wilshere out until October and Tomas Rosicky sidelined through injury.
The squad has not been named by Arsenal, presumably to allow them to herald the arrival of Cazorla – like a surprise birthday party that everyone knows about, including the birthday boy or girl – although Nicklas Bendtner and Sebastian Squillaci are not amongst those who have travelled. If they thought there might be a way back for them, this pretty much nails it that they have no part in the plans for the coming season at Arsenal.
Andrey Arshavin is in a similar boat but it is slightly different; you suspect that the manager would not mind him staying but won’t stop him leaving. Long linked with a move to the banks of The Thames, Arshavin appears unimpressed by the Cottage on offer – and if that is the case, he won’t be impressed by the properties on Loftus Road either – he may like the banks of The Bosphorous more; Galatasaray have registered their interest with an opening bid of £4m. Arsène is having none of it; £7m is his asking price but I wonder how set in stone that is, particularly if he has still got to pop down to the supermarket for one of the bargains on offer. The Joselu promotion has finished with Hoffenheim snapping up the bargain although it is not clear if Wenger had actually seen it.
All of which lifts the mood around the club. Until you then read Alisher Usmanov’s broken record interview in Forbes Magazine Russia. With two billionaire investors unwilling to talk to each other, the battle for Arsenal is as much about hearts and minds as it is about shareholdings. Kroenke has the power, Red & White the PR armoury. The latter came to the fore when van Persie’s statement gave a gratefully received opportunity.
Yet the mileage gained in that moment is beginning to unravel. Opinion has turned against van Persie. Many would happily see him leave the club, maybe most. Many, maybe most, would see him play out the final year of his contract but leave next summer. The prevailing attitude is that Arsenal are far bigger than any player; we have been stung too many times in recent seasons by key players leaving.
In seeking to continue the debate over ownership, R&W have misjudged the mood. Signings – confirmed or not – have bouyed the atmosophere around the club. There are still issues on the pitch to deal with but the over-riding feeling is that they are being addressed. Whether that comes to fruition or not depends on events in a fortnight and beyond. It’s not that I don’t care about ownership, I don’t want to think about it right now. I want to be excited by Cazorla’s arrival, by Podolski and Giroud being here now, imagining them all to be chomping at the bit for the coming campaign.
We know and understand that R&W view that the club should be funded differently. I would agree that the football landscape has changed, irrevocably but not to the exclusion of Arsenal. Misrepresenting the club’s ambition is trite, easily seen through., ambitions are to win the Premier League but beyond that it is widely accepted that from a commercial point of view, qualifying for the Champions League is preferrable to the domestic cup competitions. Are R&W stating that this not the right prioritisation? If so, their commercial plans are flawed.
There are holes in R&W’s arguments and they cannot be ignored. More than anything else, Mr Usmanov, Mr Moshiri, consider this quote from the interview,
Disregarding the series of trophyless seasons, you have to accept that a few of the current board of directors were at the helm during the greatest moments of the Arsene Wenger era
True yet let me pose this question. How many of your proposed board have any knowledge of success in football? One? David Dein? David Dein made an immense contribution to Arsenal; he drove the club into the modern era, ensuring that we were at the forefront of the game, no argument will be brokered to the contrary but he did not act alone. Nor is he or has he claimed to be, flawless. He wanted us to at Wembley every season so much that he wanted to buy the stadium. He introduced you to the club, he introduced Stan Kroenke to the club; he was thede facto architect of where we are now.
If Dein is not involved then their argument is even more specious. That is not a defence of the current board; I have little time for them either, simply that R&W made it an issue. No doubt they will be making Henry, Bergkamp, Overmars, Ljungberg and Adams directors should they accede to the Arsenal throne.
Dein is a problem. As much as he has ambitions for the club, his son creates an issue which cannot be ignored. Darren as a player advisor precludes Senior returning unless Junior relinquishes his contact with the staff. Anyone who believes otherwise would do well to heed the warnings of problems caused by Allardyce and Ferguson offspring in this area. Even if a professional relationship were maintained, there is no doubt that inferences would be drawn. It is utterly inconceivable that both could be sitting on opposite sides of the fence.
Too much of this is PR; not enough substance. If Red & White has a genuine blueprint for Arsenal, publish and be damned. Let the argument move onto specifics; this isn’t an election, there is no democracy for sale.