It was always going to happen. Such was the ferocity of the storm we’ve just been through, the relative lack of activity afterwards makes it feel like there’s very little going on.
In fact, the fact that there’s very little going on makes it feels like there’s nothing going on. No rumours, although someone on Twitter yesterday asked me if it was true that we’d be buying Hazard in January because he’d read something somewhere by someone. The old window had barely shut and people were gumming for the new one. There’s an element of masochism that’s quite prevalent amongst football supporters.
And as Arseblog is in its 10th year, one thing has struck me summer after summer after summer: it seems like there are more people interested in transfers than actual football. You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not. What if I were to tell you that the off-season, when there’s no football and little news apart from the stuff in the papers about who might go where, was by far the busiest time of the year in terms of visitors and traffic?
And not just this summer, but every summer. Forget the 38 league games, the European nights, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup, finals, the associated drama, the controversy, the sendings off, the refereeing injustices which spark debate and all the thrills and spills of the actual game itself. It’s the transfer news which really gets people buzzing. A canny advertiser would look to advantage of that, in fairness, and August on Arseblog was monstrous. Over 6,000,0000 page views, over 2,000,000 visits. They’re nearly transfer figure numbers.
There must be people out there who spend the entire football season in some kind offline hibernation, transfer zombies who slowly awaken and lumber towards their computers as the summer progresses, looking to feast on the delicious brains of speculation, scuttlebutt and rumour. The Walking Dead ball specialists. Now that it’s all over for another few months they can go about their normal business and not bother with the internet for the unimportant stuff like football.
I guess these are the trends you notice after many years but above all others this is the one that strikes me as strangest. The summer hump. The off-season apogee. And this year it was more pronounced than ever, I guess due to the business we all felt we had to do. Still, it’s done and dusted now, and when the football returns next weekend we’ll just have to make do with it and stick together until we can enjoy the real deal next summer.
Speaking of which, it’s quite funny to see the reaction to Arsenal’s spending this summer (ok, in the last few days of the transfer window). There has long been an element of the press who say Arsene Wenger’s faith in youth and potential is great BUT if only he’d add some experience to his Arsenal side they’d be much better off. Then, when Arsene Wenger does add experience to his squad, another element in the press emerges to suggest that Arsene has betrayed his principles. He just can’t win. I would suggest, however, that Wenger has needed to change his strategy for some time so there’s no criticism here for what we’ve done (although, as said before, how we’ve done it is certainly open to examination).
I’ve long been of the opinion that experience was crucial, not just for the team itself, but to aid the development of young players. I can’t help but wonder what might have been if the teams from the last few seasons had had an Alonso, an Arteta, a Mertesacker etc thrown into the mix. And even when he has bought experience it’s backfired (Squilvestre etc). Wenger’s sink or swim approach to young talent has been hit and miss. Alex Song was thrown in at the deep end, almost drowned, and doggy-paddled his way to becoming an important player. Denilson, on the other hand, floundered, treading water the whole time.
And while he’s much maligned – and I’m not going to suggest I was a fan of the Denilson that left the club – it would be wrong to forget about the Denilson that first joined, in whom there was much confidence and excitement. What happened to him reflects on him and his character, but might he have been better served playing less often but with more experienced players to guide him along the way? We’ll never know, but I firmly believe the balance of the Arsenal team has been wrong for a long time.
It’s easy to suggest that the buys we made were panic buys in the wake of Old Trafford but, even if they were, they were good panic buys, ticking many of the boxes that needed to be ticked and providing that balance between youth and experience. It remains to be seen if they all work out – history tells us that it’s unlikely that all five will flourish – but I think we look a much more solid squad and they should, at least, allow us to compete for a top four place this season.
It is an Interlull of course and some of our players have been scoring goals. Our new Korean striker got himself a hat-trick against Lebanon, Robin van Persie scored four against San Marino, Aaron Ramsey got one against Montenegro. You can see video highlights on our Arsenal Video page – click ‘more videos’ to … uhm … load more videos.
And that’s really about that for today. It’s a gloomy Saturday, I’m off to do a VO gig for some 3D film, and I might just stop off for a pint on the way home.