02 September 2014

Hot Sports Takes: The Transfer Window Closes

Those of you that follow me on Twitter would have seen me ranting and raving about Arsenal's transfer deadline day yesterday. A night's sleep has done something to calm me down, but I'm still pretty damn pissed off about what's gone on this summer. Here are some random tjhoughts in no particular order...

Arsène Wenger has lost touch with modern football.
Seventeen years ago, Wenger was a genius. He modernized training, conditioning and eating regimes to maximize the potential of his players, and won several competitions with a fast, flowing style of football. However, once Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea, the football world changed dramatically. Now, Wenger seems set on ignoring all calls to actually strengthen his squad and insists on waiting until the very end of the window to cover a need that has been screaming in his face all summer.

There is no accountability for Wenger's actions.
Before the FA Cup final, I had a conversation with a fellow Boston Gooner about Wenger's contract situation, and we both came to the same conclusion: Arsène should only be signed to a 12-month rolling contract. I stand by that now. By giving Wenger a three-year deal, the board have basically allowed Wenger to do anything he wants with no repercussions whatsoever. For example, going to Rome to manage/referee (depending on your source) a charity match on deadline day, which, thanks to Olivier Giroud's injury, quickly became a hugely important day for the Club. There is no way that at any other club, or in any walk of life, a board would let a manager travel abroad for a meaningless event on one of the club's/companies most important days of the year.

Arsenal's squad is only slightly better than last season's.
In terms of squad size, the only 'true addition' to last year's squad is Alexis Sanchez. David Ospina replaced Lukasz Fabianski; Mathieu Debuchy came in to fill in the Bacary Sagna-sized hole at right back (and at the age of 29, probably doesn't have a long future there); Calum Chambers is covering two positions, basically replacing Carl Jenkinson and Thomas Vermaelen; and Danny Welbeck, while an improvement, is pretty much filling the squad spot vacated by Nicklas Bendtner's departure. So far, Debuchy has looked good, Chambers has been very impressive but still shows moments of youthful rashness, and Alexis has looked sharp and will only improve as he settles. The squad is no deeper than last season, and the level of quality has only slightly gone up. Also, there is the usual lack of a defensive midfielder and cover for central defense.

Let's give Welbeck some time.
Welbz was hardly the marquee striker fans were clamoring for, and yesterday evening I was fuming that we'd signed a player that other fans were already mocking us about. However, after calmig down overnight, I don't hate this signing that much. Welbeck is still only 23, he's an established Premier League forward and England international who has rarely played in his favored position. He'll get a lot of playing time as center-forward while Giroud is injured and he's a hard worker who runs all game. £16m is a lot of money for him, especially when Mario Balotelli cost Liverpool the same sum of money.

Central defensive cover?
Seeing as Wenger knew that Vermaelen would be leaving the Club as early as the end of the season - and probably earlier than that - there's no way you can convince me that there wasn't someone out there who we could have brought in. Chambers, as already stated, has impressed, but he's just 19 years old, and Wenger can't expect a trio of him, Koscielny and Mertesacker to carry us through around 50 games this season. Our defense is so threadbare that Nacho Monreal is now 4th choice center-half. Southampton signed Belgian international Toby Alderweireld on a season-long loan deal on deadline day; surely we should have at least inquired about him? I mean, I would even have accepted going after someone like James Chester, Brede Hangeland (available on a free - surely worth a sniff?), or Ron Vlaar; basically anyone who has top-flight experience and might be willing to play 3rd choice at a top club like Arsenal. It wouldn't have been a glamorous transfer, but it would be a sensible and defensible one.

Same old, same old.
It's just the same transfer story. For years, Wenger sold off key players and replaced them with others who were just good enough to get us to fourth every May. This summer, only Alexis can really be considered a great signing. It's also the same old story in terms of being a joke among fans of other clubs. The Arsenal should be challenging for the title well into the tail-end of the season, yet for years, we've been a laughing stock as we failed to win any trophy and Wenger and board stated their belief that 4th is in fact a trophy. Welbeck has added to that. As I've said, he isn't a terrible signing, but considering the names we've been linked with, he's not what was needed/wanted by fans. I saw a lot of other fans laughing at the fact that Arsenal needed a quality forward and some kind of defensive cover and ended up with Welbeck; my brother, a Liverpool fan, texted me this morning to say that it was "a sh*t transfer". That is how we are seen by others. We are back to being a joke. The FA Cup win looks more like an aberration than the start of a new era.

As angry as I am, I will always support the Club, and the players that wear the red and white. However, this season is beginning to look like a long one, and the promise from earlier this summer is very quickly fading. My faith in Wenger, Gazidis, Kroenke, Cheswick et al is very low right now.

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