I’ll start by posing a question. Or two, to be precise. Why the hell would anyone to buy a selfie stick and more to the point, take one to a football match?
They’ve gone the way of the rattle, the stock image of any football match in a monochrome world before it became a weapon to use on the terraces and all manner of objects which some have latched on to down the years, through to inflatables and the more sinister snood. The Premier League moved to ban them; it’s a shame that they can’t ban the concept of the selfie entirely…
Yes, it’s that quiet.
Arsenal’s transfer activity was given a boost yesterday when the latest wunderkind made it clear that it was his intention to join the club. Krystian Bielik, about whom everyone is becoming a YouTube expert, was quoted as saying,
“I’ve made a decision to join Arsenal and I’m not going to change it. I am looking forward to an agreement between the heads of the clubs. I realise that the negotiations may take some time.
I am, however, confident it will happen soon.“
It might be quicker than he thinks. Reports this morning suggest that having been rebuffed with a bid of £2.3m, Arsenal are to return to Legia with a further £1.7m of petty cash to turn their heads. If true, it undermines the circulation of the lower figure being not short of double the amount. Or raises awkward questions over the negotiating techniques employed by the club, depending on your viewpoint.
There is no issue with continuing to feed the youth academy with players. It’s a necessary process to augment the squad. We know not every player is going to make the grade although at 17, this sort of investment might be expected to bring those returns.
It only becomes an issue when investment in youth comes at the expense of deficiencies in the first team squad. We know there are holes to be filled; if we see it, the manager is more acutely aware of it given he has to fill in the teamsheet every week.
Squad building is a tricky process in football. Reality is so often detached from the stories in the media. Chelsea’s imminent signing, Andrej Kramaric, mistook the shimmering glass edifice of John Lewis in Leicester for the bright lights in London, popped into a taxi to the nearest club and now finds himself in a relegation battle. Xherdan Shaqiri so long linked with Liverpool, had a nasty shock yesterday to find the Premier League club hot on his trail was in fact Stoke City. And they have reportedly met Bayern’s asking price.
Time for a step back. Of course the club could act faster. Arsenal’s reputation as a club which leaves its business to the last minute was not easily won; it took years of stretching transfer windows beyond their close to gain such a label.
It’s this which is the biggest millstone around Arsène’s neck. Last year’s title challenge floundered on injuries; the solution was a panic-driven move for an already injured midfielder. The previous signing had beaten the club’s transfer record; from the sublime to the ridiculous.
With other clubs addressing their deficiencies in what seem forthright manners, Arsenal are quiet. It doesn’t mean nothing is happening, it means we know nothing with opinion and the rumour mill as the biggest sources of information. It’s a world away from Arsene’s observation at the AGM,
We will try and rectify that in December ahead of the transfer market in January.
Would that it were so simple.
With a couple of Premier League games this month and an emminently winnable FA Cup tie at Brighton, maybe the urgency to strengthen the defence lessened as Koscielny returned from injury. I assume that Arsène’s updates always pointed to the Boxing Day trip to West Ham as a realistic target. That knowledge, combined with an inherent loyalty to his players, may have slowed his desire for new blood.
Fair enough, he is paid his salary to make decisions. With that comes the criticism when it goes wrong and hindsight empowers a million I told you so‘s. Easy to be wise after the event, uncomfortable with the realisation that has been a consistency in the demands for defensive strengthening over several seasons.
We shall see. Nearly four weeks remain in the window and only three games to play. The earliest any new signing will debut is against City and to be honest, unless it is due to injury, I think that unlikely anyway. Maybe that influences the club’s thinking. Who knows?
We’ll just sit on the sidelines hoping and being hopelessly ill-informed. That’s the lot of the supporter; the eternal hope.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
From The Vaults
A journey into the past, when the FA Cup Third Round was played on one day unless the weather or policing dictated otherwise. This time, 8th January 1949 was the first time that the two North London clubs were drawn to face each other in the competition. Given it was the 103rd first team fixture – depending on how you define such matches, of course – the surprise is that pair had not met in the FA Cup previously.
Off the back of a disappointing festive period which had seen a solitary point gained from three matches, Arsenal would have been relieved to be facing a team from the Second Division. Rivalry existed but even so, most would have expected the comfortable margin of victory achieved.
click to enlarge