An exciting investment opportunity + Arsecast 284

An exciting investment opportunity + Arsecast 284

It would appear that signings are not like buses. In that you wait for ages then three come along at once.

Instead you wait for ages and an old bus passes by and you think ‘Ah sod it, I might as well get on this one even if it’s not the bus I really wanted and it’s probably not going to take me exactly where I want to go.’

That’s kinda how I feel about the re-signing of Mathieu Flamini. At this stage, he’s welcome and very handy because of the state of our squad. He’s experienced, versatile, will get stuck in for us, but let’s not pretend this was anything other than a bit of convenience for Arsene Wenger and a case of being in the right place at the right time for Flamini.

He was invited back to train with us, like many former players, to get his fitness up while he looked for a new club. During that time Arsenal were without Thomas Vermaelen and lost Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to injury

In real need of new players, a solution was right under Arsene Wenger’s nose and a solution that comes at exactly the right price: £0. This is not the show of ambition we’d been led to believe the club would show this summer. It’s a stop-gap piece of expediency but such is the condition of this Arsenal squad that I’m happy to have him.

But I can be happy to have him, and think he could do a decent job for us, and still question the overall plan. Or lack of one. We’ve known all summer that a midfielder would make us better, yet we wait until almost three weeks after our most influential, and arguably important player in this area, is ruled out with injury to do any business. And I use the word business lightly, given that all it came down to was sorting out a salary for Flamini.

“We can do some things which would excite you,” said Ivan Gazidis in June, before saying of fans, “We think about what’s going to excite them when we start playing in August and hopefully when we’re in March and April and competing.”

Note the bit where he talks about having things in place for when the season starts. Not after the first game. Not when Champions League qualification has been assured. Not on the final day of the transfer window. August. Before the start of the season. During the summer.

And, tellingly, he continued by talking about the manager, “He has new tools available to him financially and I think he’ll make good use of them.”

Well, that’s all worked out well then, eh? It’s Friday today. There’s a chance, a slim one, I suppose, that we could do something, but the administration offices of the FA are closed over the weekend which is why the transfer window has been extended until Monday night. That’s not to say we can’t make arrangements and have things in place, ready to be ratified, but folk will point to the small matter of the North London derby to contend with in the meantime.

All the same, there’s ample time for the manager to take training and work things out for Sunday, and also get involved in every area of a possible transfer. If there are any to get involved in. I don’t believe there’s that much that needs to be done once the players are away that he can’t dedicate himself to getting some new ones in, if he really wants them. Speaking to the official site yesterday, he was asked if he was still looking for new faces and said:

Yes, of course. When you think that we lost three players of the stature of Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski for three months basically before the season really starts, it’s very hard to take and we are in a position where you want some more players.

But I can’t help be worried. If the sum total of our summer, one in which I think we’ve tried quite hard to bring in new players – and ones who would kick us on to a new level – is a freebie from Ligue 2, and a freebie Flamini, then it’s not unreasonable to be concerned that we might fall short in the final days of the window.

Even if the approaching deadline focuses minds on what we have to do and leaves no room for vacillation or uncertainty, we still have to deal with the fact that Arsene Wenger likes his transfers like Goldilocks likes her porridge. Everything has to be just right, or he’ll simply put the kibosh on it. In my opinion he’s a man who is struggling to operate at the level we expected him to deal in this summer.

It’s not all on him though, despite the fact he’s the one that calls the shots and makes the ultimate decisions. A man who had more faith in the people around him, his scouts, negotiators, and administrators, wouldn’t feel the need to micro-manage the way he does. He won’t go beyond the valuation he puts on players which appears to be arbitrary rather than dictated to by the market.

Yet nobody challenges him. Nobody. There’s nobody to say ‘Look, if you really want Higuain’ (which he did), ‘then we’ll just get him’. There’s nobody to push him to go that bit extra and when you have a manager who prevaricates the way he does over every aspect of every deal it’s little wonder things feel stagnant. It’s all well and good for others to express private frustration about the way he operates if they don’t have the balls to to do anything about it. They don’t seem to have any problem picking up a huge salary to stand off and do nothing.

So, if I’m honest, I’m not especially confident that anything will happen between now and the close of the window. I really hope it does, obviously. I think it’s clear the team needs it (and wants it), and regardless of what fans think or want or desire or argue about or get angry about, the bottom line is that what needs to be done needs to be done for the team. There’s no other reason.

Frustration and unhappiness is understandable. It might be putting it in very simplistic terms but all fans want is for their team to be better and for Arsenal FC, who they support in all kinds of ways (including financially), to invest the money they have into the thing that makes a football club a football club. I think it’s the simplicity of it that irks people the most.

Chants, imploring the club to spend money, aren’t complicated. Fans don’t shout “Build a new stadium and sort out of a very attractive mortgage for it and get some of the money up front on restrictive commercial deals which we know might hamper us in the short-term but are absolutely necessary to get the stadium built.”

No, they want Arsenal to invest in footballing assets. That’s all. It’s been 104 days since we finished last season. In that time we have spent £0 on the team. Not a single penny. No transfer fee has been paid. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands every week on wages by letting at least 12 senior players, and countless youths, leave the club. We’ve made a profit of £10m in the transfer market through the sales of Gervinho and Mannone (not to mention the loan fees we’d have received for the likes of Coquelin and Djourou).

“We can do some things which would excite you,” said Ivan. He forgot to add “If you’re an accountant.”

There’s still time for Arsenal to do business. I sincerely hope they do because I want my team to improve and to compete. But if we’ve gone 104 days without spending a penny, I’m not going to hold my breath between now and Monday.

In other news, the Champions League draw was made and while it’s a tough group I have to say I like it. Being this competition is about playing the best teams in Europe and too often the group stages are dull as dishwater.

Napoli, Dortmund and Marseille are interesting, challenging opposition and I’m looking forward to playing them.

Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by two guests. GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog to talk Arsenal, and Harry Hotspur to see if he’s happy with what his lot have done this summer ahead of Sunday’s game.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 27mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

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Right, stories from the press conference as and when they break on Arseblog News. More here tomorrow.

Till then.



Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.

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