Arsenal’s PR department aren’t as daft as they sometimes seem. The club is in a fix and needs to get a positive message out to the people. Put it on their website, twitter or Facebook pages, and as sure as night follows day, it will be met with invective and frustration.
The words of the manager and CEO are met with cynicism and disbelief whilst those of the players are similarly distrusted; help was needed. Whispered tones on the telephone and the footsteps of shadowy figures were heard in the avenues and alleyways of London town. The only thing missing was a real pea-souper for the scene to be fully set.
And then it came. The sinister fog descended onto the Arsenal twitterverse; the Oracle spoke. Arsène, Ivan, Stan or whomever, weren’t lying; the club is trying to do business.
For the Valencia board, he had a specific message:
Arsenal yet to agree fee for Mustafi. #AFC considering Omer Toprak & Simon Kjaer as alternatives but Mustafi remains priority & keen to join
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) August 15, 2016
And for the entranced, he offered:
Price the issue. Arsenal want to hold back funds for possible striker signing. #AFC transfer budget factors in fee, salary, agent commission
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) August 15, 2016
Arsenal were in business and the Transfer Window Action Team was ready to spring into action.
It’s an interesting exercise in puff PR via a journalistic source. Ornstein tweets infrequently and is thus a ‘trusted source’. There is no transfer until Dave has spoken.
Last night, some were so oblivious to the angle being pushed that it was staggering. This is a club which signed one genuine first team addition last summer, winter and this summer so far. Rob Holding turned out to be a first team player through necessity rather than design; he wasn’t intended to be anything other than this year’s Calum Chambers: one for the future.
Yet we are asked to believe that a big-money striker is on his way, with a value such that we are haggling over a £25m fee for a defender. In this market.
And some fell for it. Revisionist budgetary values emerged. Arsenal’s transfer budget this summer reduced to £100m, of which £35m had already been spent on Granit Xhaka. That leaves £65m to cover fees, wages, and commissions for a centre back, striker and contract negotiations with Alexis and Mesut Özil. Yes, we truly are the paupers of Europe’s élite.
No matter that the procrastination has contributed to three dropped points already and in all honesty, next Saturday’s trip to Leicester is one to view with nervousness rather any confidence. And that’s despite their insipid performance at Hull which should be inspiring us.
Riches which might be added to by challenging for trophies are being denied by indecisiveness.
The whole situation beggars belief. We look to the past for inspiration but I find none. There’s no virtue in the club’s policy of waiting until the end of the window to carry out their business. At that point, intransigence doesn’t become more pliable to club’s who aren’t minded to sell now. They need persuading not antagonising.
Having been questioned by Thierry Henry at the weekend, Ian Wright added his views to the situation:
“I remember when they signed the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars and the real sense of excitement that brought to the place.
“And not just among fans. Star name arrivals get the players buzzing too because they make your job easier and you’re more likely to finish with a medal or two.
“But at Arsenal that feeling is simply not there.”
Wright goes on to capture the mood around the place at the moment. It’s emptiness; Arsène Wenger is ensuring his legacy is intact but not in the way he intended. If it continues this way, he will be remembered as the best businessman to manage Arsenal rather than the joy of the first decade of his reign. Far from being the doorway to Paradise, moving to the Emirates has become a millstone around his neck.
It’s another shambles and I am sure that internal reviews will take place to see if we could do anything better. As if they do; the one covering the medical situation hasn’t tangibly improved our injury situation, has it?
On which subject, he had his say over Aaron Ramsey’s injury when talking to the press after the Liverpool match:
“Look, [Xhaka] and Ramsey [and others] – they all came back later.
“I pushed Ramsey in and he got injured. It’s a very difficult situation to sort out because the players come back late because of the Euros and, on top of that, you play them and they get injured. If you don’t play them you miss them.”
It’s a strange situation to admit that you pushed a player who will run 11k or so most matches. Surely this is a man more than a centre back, who needs nurturing, particularly as he has a recent history of hamstring problems? Not in Wenger’s world and now Ramsey is out for a month.
Anyone going to Leicester this weekend had better take their boots with them. The pre-match entertainment might well be trials for the Arsenal.
It’s baffling how frequently the club finds itself with this scenario. It’s as if we never learn from previous mistakes…