Deadline Day With Hopes And Aspirations
It’s a day where excitement will be barely contained; transfer deadline day is here, Sky Sports News understands is an even more derogatory term than normal. Their reporters though are in trouble as their major source is in the midst of a media lockdown. ‘Appy ‘Arry being unable to talk via the window of his Range Rover has robbed them of fifteen minutes of clips and stories each hour today about how they are constantly being linked with players who Arsenal were linked with several years ago, step forward this window’s contender, Marko Marin of Werder Bremen.
What will they do? Make up puns based on Thomas Eisfeld? I almost did with thoughts of a headline such as “Eis-py with my little eye” or “Eis, Eis, Baby“. Couldn’t quite work out how the more musically acceptable, “Eis-py for the FBI” was going to work which is when that came to a grinding halt.
Ivan Gazidis spoke with Fox News, stood tall, looked Warren Barton foresquare in the eye and made their ridicule look as puerile as it was. Barton – those of us of a certain age will recall was constantly lined up for an Arsenal move on the basis of being a supporter – tried to ingratiate himself with a section of the support by trotting out hackneyed half-wits about transfer spending. It brought a robust defence of the manager but the problem is he does not spend it on those whom his critics desire.
That said, investment is an ongoing process and a balance has to be struck between the here and now with the future. The Summer was badly handled; panic buying has become the byword to describe the late activity. Timing is everything and the timing of those signings lends itself to such a description no matter how wrong it is.
A crucial point is valuation and that is one that Arsène is constantly beaten over. His valuations are below the market, he should pay the extra £5m the selling clubs want, etc. Again, an easy finger to point but noticeably those critics have been very quiet over the transfer fee paid for Gary Cahill by Chelsea; £7m was the valuation Arsène put on the player to the derision of his detractors. He should, the received wisdom of the time was, go to the £18m demanded by Bolton. Would he have been able to prevent the bad start to the season? Maybe, perhaps not, an unprovable consideration.
New signings might not be needed. The cavalry has begun its’ charge over the hill, not entirely in formation and more in a sort of limp arrival. Nonetheless the return of Bacary Sagna is welcomed not just because of his abilities but also the confidence he seems to inspire in Theo Walcott. Whether the inconsistency of his recent spell is cured by having the French international behind him as opposed to a centre back trying his hardest to make the best of a bad situation, we shall soon find out.
Thomas Vermaelen hoped that the win over Villa would have an immediate impact on the Premier League form whilst Theo thought more of the trophy aspect,
This is a great opportunity for us because some of the big teams have gone out. But I think if we do start thinking a bit too far ahead, maybe we will be disappointed at the end of it.
This is a cup competition that we can win and we need to believe that we can.
You can tell that Theo has been around his manager constantly, offering the view that a top four place is more important than a cup competition. I understand that, the desire to compete against the best in Europe on a regular basis is something that a club of Arsenal’s stature should be targetting at the very least.
Yet players constantly talk of the need to win something, for medals and when cup competitions are ranked lower than fourth place in the Premier League, you question whether the players are focussed enough on a tournament to want to win it enough. Wembley last year was a point in question; a prime opportunity to win something and it went horribly wrong. Things went wrong on the day, injuries, they all conspired but there was enough talent to win it. Would the same happen at an FA Cup Final?
And it raises uncomfortable questions for us as supporters to deal with collectively. Is a season that ends in fifth with the FA Cup a failure or is fourth place with no trophy a better outcome. Personally the trophy would make it a successful season but it is difficult to reach a consensus on that with some observing that both are failures.
Both carry failure in one form or another and to be honest, Ivan observing we are still in three competitions is utterly stretching that point; we are not in the title race and have not been this season. There are but two competitions left for Arsenal to genuinely aspire to winning and the Premier League is not one of them.
Happier days on Arsenal On This Day with a thumping of Tottenham at White Hart Lane to enjoy. Interestingly, Arsenal’s two biggest wins in that encounter have both come at Tottenham rather than at home.