Thursday, February 29, 2024

Good things are afoot

There is little doubt that this has been a summer of frustration for many Arsenal fans. We’ve sat idly by and watched rivals spend big money on world class quality players like Stewart Downing and Ashley Young and that bloke from Blackburn.

All we had to content ourselves with was that young lad from Charlton. Fans are worried, anxious, unhappy and questioning of the club’s ambitions and policies. The churn of season tickets shows that it’s not just on the increasingly bitter highways of the internet tube pipes either. There’s been a genuine effect in real life too and all the while we’ve heard little from the club about what the plans are.

Stan Kroenke has taken over and we’ve heard nothing from him. Arsene Wenger has been his usual circumspect self when it comes to transfers. And the Asian Tour provided some welcome relief from two transfer sagas involving two of our best players leaving the club. It would be safe to say that there has been little to get excited about really. However, that seems to have changed a bit in the last couple of days and there might well be reassurance from things that have happened and things that are being said right now.

Good thing 1Gervinho officially confirmed as an Arsenal player. He’s signed the ubiquitous long-term contract for an undisclosed fee and he’s happy, saying:

It’s a great feeling to be an Arsenal player. I’m very happy. I’ve always dreamed to play for this Club. I’ve achieved this dream now and I am so happy. It’s one of the most beautiful days of my life.

While the boss says:

He has the qualities we like technically.  He is good one against one, he is strong and was the best provider in the French league with assists and he scored 15 goals. I think he is a very good addition to the squad.

His first involvement with the club should be this coming weekend in Cologne and over the next few weeks we’ll get to see what he’s like and, more importantly, where the manager is thinking of playing him. Will he compete for the wide forward positions held by Walcott, Nasri, Arshavin etc, or is the boss planning on playing him through the middle as a foil for, or an alternative to, Robin van Persie? Time will tell but his arrival is designed to increase our attacking potency and give us a bit more directness which was something we were missing at times last year.

Good thing 2 – the club confirmed Denilson would go out on loan. He’s already in Brazil, is going to be presented as a Sao Paolo player for the season ahead today, and without going into the nuts and bolts of it, I think we’d probably all agree it’s a good move for both parties. Denilson reaction.

Good thing 3Ivan Gazidis says the spending is far from over. Speaking to the official site, he said:

We haven’t finished our business at all. We’re just not conducting it publicly; we’re working hard privately. We understand where the weaknesses have been. Financially we’re in a strong position, we have resources to spend. We’re certainly not sitting there saying ‘let’s hold back on our resources’ for some reason, why would we?

We’ve got a substantial amount of money that we can invest. The important thing for us, which can be frustrating, is not doing it only in response to a public clamour but in a way that can positively impact our performance next year.

Now, I know Ivan is the master of saying the right thing but he’s fairly unequivocal here. And he’s spot on about why we should be spending. As I’ve said all summer buying players simply because fans are frustrated and impatient is entirely the wrong thing to do. Players should be bought to improve our first team, improve our squad, and make us properly competitive for the season ahead.

We all know Arsenal do things on the QT as much as possible. Mostly because when word gets out about players it makes others take notice. The blabber mouthing from South America about Alvarez, and now Joel Campbell, has clearly had an impact on deals we’re trying to do there, so as much as possible we’ll attempt to fly under the radar when it comes to our transfer business. Which does make it frustrating for fans but ultimately is the right thing to do. It’s now down to them to do it and get it sorted as quickly as possible because August is such a pivotal month for the season ahead.

Good thing 4Gazidis promises fans will get to know Kroenke. We know he’s called Silent Stan but the silence, for some, has been disconcerting. Me, I like a good silence, there’s not enough of it in the world, but at the same time we do need to hear from the man who owns the club. His ownership is barely a few months old and he’s got a challenging summer ahead of him. Disatissfaction amongst fans, the future of two big players in doubt, the pressing need for reinforcements, so how he, and his team, manage this will have an impact on how he’s viewed.

And it will be interesting to hear from him when he does speak. Liverpool’s American owner is a talky kind, ours looks like The Stranger from The Big Lebowski. He was wise though and The Dude listened. Let’s see if Stan is too.

Good thing 5More evidence that Barcelona are full of shit. Chairman PHW says of their attempts to buy Cesc:

They’ve made one offer, which works out at around £26m, but that was ages ago. But at the moment our situation is very straight-forward: we don’t want to lose him. Obviously if they come up with an offer which was a very good offer we would have to think about it.

We have told them a number of times that what they are proposing is unacceptable and yet they haven’t moved on it. I don’t approve of what they are doing, but unfortunately it seems the way of the world right now.

Which is the polite way of saying Cough Up or Cock Off. There’s talk of offering Cesc a new contract to tempt him to stay but I do wonder how much truth there is in that. Arsenal, more than anyone, know that money is not his motivation, but perhaps the fact that Barcelona simply refuse to offer anything close to what Cesc is worth might be a hint to him that they don’t want him as much as they say they do. At least this season.

And Arsenal do need him and want him. Perhaps, going back to good thing 3, what we do there might have an influence on things. The bottom line though is that Barcelona are hardly pushing the boat out to bring him back – and when everyone knows that a substantial, proper bid would more than likely sort the situation out without too much problem, that they haven’t done that speaks volumes.

So, good things are happening. I know they still have to happen yet but it’s nice to get some communication from the club, nice to hear they’re aware of shortcomings etc, and hopefully it will calm a few nerves. Of course actions speak louder than words but I am encouraged and becalmed. And slightly aroused, but that’s another story altogether.

More tomorrow.

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