Arseblog: Sunday 13th July 2003

july 13th

13.52 – Anyone expecting Arsenal to spend big in the coming weeks may have to think again.

Arsene Wenger “It has been a difficult summer. I have a transfer budget, but I don’t know about the figure of 10 million pounds. We are being a bit more cautious than we usually are. We have never been big spenders but this season we will be smaller spenders than ever.”

Good news eh? Well, before some of you give yourselves ulcers and lie on the ground and demand new signings, bear this in mind. As far as I can see, the only signing we really need to make is a central defender. Even then, we might not sign anyone in defence. Perhaps Senderos is going to fast tracked as Sol’s long terms partner, because that’s exactly the defender Wenger needs. Someone to play week in-week out alongside Sol for the next 2 or 3 seasons.

Cygan is not the answer, Keown has a 50% fit season ahead of him, but he brings more to the equation than that. Given the rave reviews Senderos has received, and the fact his potential is unquestionable, a season’s tutelage with the most difficult to play against centre-half of the last 10 years might see Senderos a first team regular by the end of the season.

So, even if we don’t sign a centre half, I can see where the answer is going to come from. However, I’d much prefer a situation whereby it was Sol+Senderos+AN OTHER and then the back-up such as Cygan, or Tavlaridis or John Halls.

Goalkeeper – for various reasons I’d like to see this Saja bloke come to Arsenal. The main reason being his cool website (for which Arseblog is the top referrer…heh). But if he doesn’t sign, then I’m not bothered about a keeper. As I said yesterday, if we’re trying to unearth gems from Serie B, then we should give it a rest. I know Chelsea signed Cuducini, but he was never signed as a first team player. His success is more by accident than design (on Chelsea’s part, he’s obviously a very good keeper). Taylor is still only 22, Wilson and Seaman have talked him up big time. He’s still not convinced everyone, but has shown flashes of being a good keeper. Maybe with more games, he’s come on. We’ve got Shaaban, and also Graham Stack, the Republic of Ireland Under 21 keeper who did punchtastically well at Beveren last season.

Midfield – we’re swarming. Pires, Vieira, Gilberto, Edu, Parlour, Freddie, Gio, Pennant, Wiltord.

Upfront – it looks as if Dennis will stay another year. If Kanu leaves, like to Bolton for example, that gives us a forward line of Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Jeffers and Alaidiere. There are more than a few clubs who’d think themselves lucky with 50% of that lot.

Also, for as long as the interweb has been invented, there have been people screaming for the youth to get a go. These are generally the same people who want us to sign big players on big wages for big fees. How can the youth ever get a chance if we keep buying? Maybe the fact that we’re not buying much this summer will allow some of these kids to get a go. These are Wenger’s products now. They’re not the last dregs of the previous youth system. The likes of McGovern and Barrett and Weston and Crowe and Stephen Hughes would never have been good enough for this Arsenal.

Now we’ve got Aliadiere, Pennant, Svard, Volz, Taylor, Garry and Bentley all realistic contenders for first team action at Arsenal next season. If we go out and spend, spend, spend we might as well give these boys a gold clock, thank them for everything and send them on their way. We’re creating youth players that can make the step up.

For me there are 3 players Arsenal need, above all others, for next season. Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp. If we can get those 3 re-signed and sorted out before the start of the season, for me that will have been a successful summer. Maybe we might struggle a bit next season when Senderos and some of the kids are learning the trade. Maybe not.

Think long term though. For me it’s vital that Vieira signs, that Pires signs. It’s a sign of the ambition of the club that they can keep the great players they already have. Forget Chelsea. Forget Abramovich. Forget the stories about his representatives walking into Highbury with a £100m cheque for Vieira and Henry. Arsenal won’t sell. If they do it’s the end of everything Wenger has built in his 7 years at the club. The Arsenal manager and board are being long-sighted here. They won’t sell to Chelsea and undo all that hard work.

The new stadium project and the general downturn in football’s economy are hitting the club a bit hard. What we can do is accept the fact we’re not exactly wealthy at the moment and deal with it, or we do what Leeds and other clubs did and sacrifice the long term financial security of the club to make some big signings and gamble they’ll bring us the success needed to stay on top of the financial repayments. You’ve seen what one bad season did to Leeds. Do you really want that to happen to Arsenal?

I’ll leave the last word to the manager who has won two league titles, 3 FA Cups and never finished outside the top two in the Premiership.

“When I open the newspapers it looks like we are a sinking boat. But I don’t share that view because in the last two years we have won two (FA) Cups and finished champions and runners-up. We have exactly the same players, who are more experienced now and still young. I’m a strong believer that we are getting stronger every year and I’m convinced we will be competitive in the title race.”

Can’t argue with that really.

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