30th August 2013
There is one word which sums up Arsenal’s business in the transfer window this summer. That word is omnishambolic. And yes, spell check, it’s not technically a word, but the latest acquisition by our rivals down the road has left me in no mood for your squiggly red line.
This evening Spurs announced the signing of Christian Eriksen, the Danish wonder-kid courted by, amongst others, Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund this summer. It meant that today, this actual calendar day, Tottenham signed more players than Arsenal have in the past 104 combined despite the well publicised fact that we are sitting on a veritable sh*tload of money.
Nothing occurred today to really push me over the edge on the Arsenal front. It was quite a dull day in fact. Broken record Arsene Wenger press conference aside, nothing happened at all. I even had time to pop out and buy some coat hangers. But as the hours passed, Tottenham, with infuriating, soul crushing, relentlessness, revealed the names of the players who had made their moves to the Lane official. Today it was Vlad ‘Probably Tough As Nails’ Chiriches, Erik ‘Amazing on FIFA’ Lamela and the aforementioned Christian ‘Come On He’s Way Too Good To Play For Spurs’ Eriksen.
If you believe boy bands and young people in general, summers fly by in a mishmash of sun, good times and memories. For a full time Arsenal fan, this is not how it has played out. This year, every single eventuality to make the transfer window as mind numbingly painful as possible has occurred culminating in an excruciating final few hours during which, at any random time, I may spontaneously explode. Let’s look at why this summer has been so horrible.
I classify the reasons for our pain in two rudimentary parts. Some are the ‘bad’ reasons. These are the ones that would never benefit Arsenal and on their own would have made for a pretty wretched summer. But then, more subtly, we have the ‘good’ reasons, which act to magnify and exaggerate the bad reasons by a seemingly infinite amount. These are the real killers that get inside you and initiate varying stages of madness.
Firstly let’s look at the ‘bad’ reasons. The main one of course has to be our inactivity in the transfer market. The stand alone fact that we have signed 2 players, both of them freebies with questionable ability to genuinely improve the squad, is simply unacceptable and, for a club of our size, always would be. But there are plenty more. To date, Spurs, our nearest and dearest most loathed rivals have signed seven players. That goes a long way towards representing a total overhaul of their squad and at their current rate, another highly lauded youngster will have signed before I finish writing this. (I’m not going to talk about Bale because he’s leaving, earning them lot big money and there’s nothing more to be said). Other positional rivals have significantly strengthened too and an injury crisis that indirectly lead to our opening day loss to Villa has left the squad so thin that it makes fat jokes about paper. Add in our seeming inability to negotiate with the top clubs for the top players, our failed (and frankly embarrassing) pursuit of Luis Suarez and the fact that Nicklas Bendtner is STILL HERE, and you can see why the majority of Gunners are less than content.
But then there are the ‘good’ reasons; the ones that threatened to make this summer not so bad at all before teaming up with the bad reasons to show that they were only teasing. Annoyingly, there are quite a few of these too. We came so very, very close to signing Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid of course. To think that a proven player bursting with a combination of creative panache and lethal accuracy was about to put pen to paper and sign on Dick Law’s dotted line was genuinely exciting. And although we mucked it up and it ultimately became a ‘bad’ reason, it brings me on to my next point. In May and June, Ivan Gazidis our chief-exec of 5 years came out with an astonishing stream of rhetoric. He talked about our financial firepower, likening us to the mighty Bayern Munich and boasting about how we could easily afford to accommodate big players and their respective big wages. His chest thumping whet the appetite of even the most sceptical of goner and instilled a real belief that this year, would be the year. The year when we would push on, showing our ambition on and off the pitch. But that did not happen.
The ‘good’ reason list continues. Our extremely positive pre-season, the efficiency with which the ‘deadwood’ was thrown on the fire and burned and the knowledge that the money was available all seemed to make it hurt even more. Like a mirage in the desert, these have provided hope that a wonderful trophy laden oasis is so close to our parched lips. Yet in a cruel trick the days have gone by and we have stumbled closer to that oasis only for hopes of drinking from either the water or a champagne filled [FA/League/European] Cup to be dashed. The ‘good’ reasons highlight why we have big such a huge opportunity.
I won’t lie to you; this piece was forged in pure rage originating from the Danish bloke signing for Spurs. I’m in a horrible position, like so many other Arsenal fans, where I really must admit that Spurs have outdone us in the past weeks and I’m even a tiny bit envious of the players they’ve brought in. I maintain that all of their signings would have improved our squad in some way and that all of them could have been convinced to join us, if we’d gone about it the right way.
Perhaps I should be thinking more positively. What I’m writing is pretty negative but that’s only because I tried looking on the bright side only to find that it was about as bright as an energy saving light bulb that had just this second been switched on. You never know though. We may sign Ozil, Benzema and di Maria in the 71 hours that, at the time of writing, remain of this window. I personally think all three moves are dead in the water; we missed good chances earlier in the summer and even those three moves would not suffice. But hey.
Ultimately, we were meant to be a club looking to push on, not content with a fourth placed finish year upon year. We were meant to be flexing our muscles and showing why we could challenge for trophies and elevate ourselves to become one of the big boys of European football. That has not happened and I’m not going to start apportioning blame because that’s a whole other article that someone else can write.
But one thing is for certain: barring a miracle between now and Tuesday evening, this will surely go down as a summer to forget.
Mean Lean's Response
This article was written on the 30th August, I have been struggling with food poisoning and a hang over from hell so I have been unable to post this. It is interesting how quickly things can change in football. This was very well written and you could feel the emotion in the writing but in the next few hours if reports are to be believed then this could be pretty much redundant. It doesn't change what has happened thus far of course but as long as we get in top quality additions, I don't really care what has happened until now to be honest. Missing out on Higuain, Suarez, Bender and co could mean very little if we end up with Ozil, a good striker and more.
Anyway, not long to wait now. All will be revealed soon.