Spending Big Is Not The Right Answer. Spending Wisely Is.
The media has found a new Arsenal niche in recent weeks. They are the voice of the Arsenal fans. Or so the various red top scribes have proclaimed. For once, we are told, they are in touch with the views of the majority of Arsenal supporters. That being the case, you know what they have written today – and every day – so there is no need to buy the newspapers they are employed by.
Sorry what? Nobody asked you for your opinion. Oh? Perhaps that is because you do not shout loudly enough? Maybe it is because your opinions are not simple enough to be put into a soundbite that looks hysterical on the page.
And hysteria is certainly today’s byword. My goodness me, when football reporters go overboard, they do so in style. Tony, from The Sun, jumped in feet first and found that he does not come up smelling of roses. His headline writers had jumped in afterwards and landed, pushing him further down. He was in good company as Bri, his Daily Mirror peer, joined him.
The mass deliberate misinterpretation of words continued unabated this morning as, having failed to get Arsène to admit he is cracking under the strain, they decided to get supporters to do so instead.
“I’m not going to spend” screams your SupersoarawaySun. Which actually leaves out a crucial word, “big“, from Wenger’s actual words. That substantially changes the meaning of the sentence.
And do you know what, I do not want Wenger to spend big. I have never subscribed to the theory that you have to have a spine of the team born within these shores. Or that the side which costs the most, will deliver a title every season. Neither of those is true in it’s entirity, the former is actually unproven. The latter contributes but looking at Chelsea, well, there are no guarantees.
The squad is the crucial issue. Players leave and join but every summer it should be improved. You do not have to spend big, simply spend to get the right players for the right positions. Arsenal have suffered this season from injuries to crucial players, the sort that you can never really have a deputy for, the sort where the team needs others to step up to the plate in their absence.
In those moments, you appreciate the roles and performances of the absentees more but also, surely, there must be a dawning realisation that a player of the calibre of the one missing is not going to be happy with a ‘stand in’ role. You could have a World Class replacement sitting on the bench every week, waiting for Cesc to be injured or suspended. That would be like offering Laurence Olivier the stand-in for a leading West End play in case Richard Burton called in sick.
Wenger though is sure to have riled some with his mindset,
The team average is 23 years old, why should we expect to have a huge turnover at the end of the season? There is always a need to improve the team but if you look at our season you cannot come to the conclusion we need big changes.
That would be completely stupid because if we had beaten Liverpool and Tottenham this week we would be just two points behind Man United and we have to play them at home.
And that’s without speaking about being 4-0 up at Newcastle and then only drawing.
In highlighting the team’s strengths, he puts their weaknesses into centre stage, the spotlight firmly on the mental frailties. Little wonder Petr Cech and Sir Alex Ferguson have sought to exploit them.
Wenger is aware of them also, believing that the conceding of leads is a mental flaw to be overcome,
…it is a vicious circle problem and you can only deal with that with calm and by dominating your nerves. There are a lot of things you need [to keep leads], first of all experience and calm. Our defenders are under pressure because they are criticised for not holding on for results. That makes the problem a little bit worse. I feel what is important is to continue to play whatever the score is. I feel we need to keep our nerves more and communicate better.
Some might say that – myself included – that continuing to play is the problem, five minutes of defensive tightness would have seen at least two more points on the Arsenal tally, possibly four, in the past week.
That flexibility in style is the much vaunted ‘Plan B’ that is sometimes missing, the difference between champions and challengers. That is the next part of the journey this squad – or a significant part of it – must undertake. They are questioning each other openly which is good sign, growing maturity in their professional lives. Rather than waiting to be told the problem, they are identifying it. Providing the solution themselves is the next stage.
It would be nice if some recognition amongst all of this rancour, were given to the progress made this season. Only one other season since The Invincibles has seen a genuine title challenge mounted. Given the clamour for this sort of progress before last August, it is necessary to acknowledge this campaign’s huge positives.
Arsène noted exactly why the squad will not be undertaking the massive surgery being demanded,
I would say we are on a 16-game unbeaten run in the Premier League so at least we don’t have a losing mentality. It’s down to us to transform the draws in a winning habit. When you are on a 16-game unbeaten run, with the quality of the Premier League, the situation is not as black as you paint it.
That is the first thing not to be forgotten. The second?
I understand that your job [in the media] is to create crisis after crisis but I have distance [from that].
Posted on April 23, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 169 Comments.