Another season is evaporating with all too familiar remaining targets, whilst improvement is evident and morale is high, the bridge to the elite remains distanced. The forest of uncertainty guards the entrance, with Arsene keen to plod the yellow brick road to the stars one last time. A project of epic patience is finally reaching its business end, a conclusion of either riches or regrets awaits. Arsene’s judgement day is nigh. Suitably focused? Then we may begin…
When functioning amongst the nouveau elite, as we now aspire, the rules change. Ruthlessness, a prized approach. Sentiment left to history. Whereas the very existence of Arsene Wenger belies these elements, the achievements of yesteryear and the advanced final restructure have led us here. Across all other personnel however, the story MUST differ.
Mourinho is the master of ruthless efficiency, Alex Ferguson often cut marquee players loose long before seemingly merited. Both managers bonded by the grandest of successes on a consistent level. If there was ever a recipe for achievement in a sport notoriously fickle, the age old tagline of ‘what’s best of business’ should be the modus operandi. Jose famously disposed of two time player of the year, awards established amidst multi European trophy winning campaigns, Juan Mata and the greatest heist that Paris has laid witness to - £50 million in exchange for David Luiz, although in fairness the sideshow (bob) that follows him is surely tantamount to PR platinum. Alex Ferguson famously ejected star after star just when each approached, (note: approached) their waning. Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and, of course, David Beckham.
Arsene, with his fairy-tale approach to management, never truly shared this mentality. Whereas he has seen premier talent depart, it was usually during the peak of their power and most often, with little choice. Players prized away by fortune and potential, never more prevalent than during the 3rd act – perhaps Wenger’s greatest lesson. A teaching that forms his new ideals. In summary, less Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner and more Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. If an option fails, persistence is not the only answer.
All of which progresses me to our current roster, and the imminent, annual strategy review – Summer. To facilitate additional recruitment, and fend off potential bench-related unrest, something’s gotta give. The fall guys are becoming increasingly difficult to identify, long gone are the Marouane Chamakhs’ and Gervinhos’ of previous troubles. Now, the suggestions point towards home grown puppies like Jack Wilshere and Wojceich Szecsney, captain Mikel Arteta and, in some quarters, one Theo Walcott.
For what seems like forever, the defensive midfield shelf has never been adequately stocked. In recent times, Flamini and Alexandre Song have failed despite intense perseverance, and square pegs in round holes have been all the rage – Ramsey and Wilshere. Mikel Arteta perhaps fitting both descriptions. Risen to the rank of El Capitano following the departure of Robin and Tommy, despite his obvious pitfalls, he seems primed to follow the route of recent such appointments and depart soon after. Seemingly played out of position ever since his buccaneering enterprise at Goodison Park, an era where Mikel deservingly earned high praise for dictating play and scoring Gerrard-esque, decisive goals. Would the real Mikel Arteta please stand up!
Shoehorned into a holding role, his legs have now headed on a one way route to punditry (one must assume with that barnet and/or temperament) yet Wenger (before the reawakening of Fran ‘The Destroyer’ Le Coq) continued to answer his greatest challenge of recent memory (AKA the DM role) with his inclusion. Whilst advancing Mikel back to his preferred position is no longer an option, and with said challenge still far from a suitable (ruthlessly efficient) conclusion, 2 options present themselves. Persist with square pegs, or prepare accordingly to recruit effectively. As shown here, some (influential) fans are at least following this philosophy.
Khedira leaving on a free in the summer is confirmed. Lose Flamini and Arteta and go get him?— GoonRambler (@GoonRambler) March 26, 2015
I’m quick to agree with this view, and feel adding Khedira would be a significant upgrade to the DM role and the squad as a whole. However, with Sami’s apparent sabbatical from the front line and potentially astronomic salary requirement, there are alternative more in-form and cost effective options as shared last week.
Stationed in close proximity, is perhaps the most challenging of decisions to be made. This is where sentiment truly reigns supreme. Jack Wilshere, the boy wonder. He who creates the widest division amongst fans and pundits alike. The hipster response is to defend and protect, using a multitude of stats and facts to support, such as:
"Wilshere's running out of time" When Giroud and Koscielny were Wilshere's age they were playing in Ligue 2— Doug Nichols (@TheTXI) March 24, 2015
Arsene Wenger, who creates quite the juxtaposition as a conservative hipster, is firmly in the YES camp. His unwavering commitment to unveiling the next Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes type of influencer has often led to derision from across the spectrum. However, patience has its limits and when opportunities such as the following are spurned, might there be a Plan B?
With many potential suitors yet to detract from their pursuit, whilst our midfield remains woefully short on power and our loftier rivals scouting the likes of Paul Pogba, action truly is needed and the sale of such an asset would surely release the required capital.
According to reports, Man City will go on a £200m summer spending spree. Arsenal's Jack Wilshere again linked with a £30m move.— Michael Gooner (@MickTheGooner) March 22, 2015
How do these suggestions resonate? Arteta and Wilshere OUT, power and strength IN. The final act of Wenger’s reign is upon us, and something’s gotta give…
Advancing slightly, and we find the curious case of Theo Walcott. Seemingly top dog during his previous contract wrangle, shortly after the departures or RvP, Cesc and the rest, he now appears peripheral to the first XI. Desperately short of match sharpness, his lack of inclusion becomes more surprising by the week. How is the boy supposed to rediscover confidence without given a chance? Of course, this could all change throughout the notoriously draining run-in, but as it stands there is a line of debate emanating that suggests operation-ruthless-efficiency could include Theo14.
Swap him for Reus NOW or risk a protracted contract wrangle where he’ll inevitably be offered more elsewhere, especially now due to his struggle to re-grasp a starting position. Such a negotiation could result in neither Reus nor Theo as familiar predators, with a penchant for striking early, are already circling.
I’d loathe to lose 2 of our somewhat weighty British core, and if hard pushed, would likely opt for Theo to leave over Jack. But that’s just the sentimentalist in me ;-)
Finally, and perhaps most digestible from the faithful, it seems Wojceich is set for pastures new. To be seemingly dropped, period, from the team despite several seasons firmly established doesn’t bode well. There might also not be a better moment to prize a hugely experienced, yet still hungry and very able, goalkeeper from several of Europe’s giants – Casillas, Cech, Valdes.
My view – Go all out to lure one of the afore mentioned legends to help develop Ospina and Co. whilst adding much needed additional leadership as the curtain comes down.
As with all such debates, solutions inevitably divide supporters. Ultimately, one chap decides. Whatever the outcome, the preparation should be fully operational now – long before the merry-go-round strikes up its familiar tune. In order to compete with the most devastating operators in European football, the blueprint is clear – there’s no room for sentiment, only a mantra of ‘what’s best for business’. There’s some big decisions to be made, and whatever side of the fence you stand, let’s hope Arsene makes the right ones!
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