If this morning’s news were a Smiths album it’d be called Music for the Masochistic. Or Meat is Delicious (just to annoy Morrissey). Or something.
Although it’s a fairly horrid place to start, Amy Lawrence details the phone call that led to the sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United. Ferguson rang Wenger, Wenger knew van Persie was going to go somewhere, they found a price, agreed on it and now van Persie is United’s most important player rather than ours. The fact that they have a bit more quality overall means that van Persie’s goals see them top of the table rather than scrapping for the top four, and here we are.
Unpleasant, absolutely, and Arsene says:
What is painful is to see United so far in front of us. We knew when we sold him to United that would be the case.
Now, whether we take that at face value or look to soften it by suggesting that maybe he was just saying that he knew van Persie would be a success there is a moot point. It’s still an odd thing to hear a manager say. It’s tacit admission that the sale would be bad for us and good for them and while I fully accept there has been a significant gap between the two clubs in recent seasons, surely Arsene Wenger is tasked with closing that rather than making it bigger.
At the end of the day we’re the ones who chose to sell him. And look, while I accept fully that the club have shot themselves in foot, shat on their own doorstep and everything else, I just want to make it clear that van Persie himself will always be close to the top of my Football’s Most Hated list. If you want to justify his decision to leave, fine. I get it, you know. I’m not blind to what’s going on and why players want to leave. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or accept it from their point of view. The cunts.
Anyway, as bad as that is, the following makes me even more uneasy: something Alex Ferguson said that Arsene Wenger really should pay attention to. When it comes to siging a player:
It was a lot of money but you either want him or you don’t, and you have to pay the price that the club is sticking out for. We wanted him badly.
It seems almost at odds with the way we’ve done business down the years – waiting until late in the transfer window to drive down a price. Bargaining and brinksmanship have been the order of the day for Arsenal. Of course, that is due in part to our financial circumstances, but is it an issue now? I don’t think so. For those who believe it is, and that we’re hampered by our finances, Arsene Wenger said quite clearly that cost wasn’t an issue for most of the players on the market:
We have no problem with people wanting to join us. I would like to give you my phone for 24 hours, and you would see that.
Can we afford them? Most of them, yes; a few of them, no. Can you afford Lionel Messi today? Certainly not, but we can afford 90% of them.
Yet, we got the line at his press conference about not wanting to sign average players, only exceptional ones. We were told Abou Diaby would be like a new signing (seriously), and that the two priorities for January were ‘ to get our players signed up and to get our injuries back’. So other clubs go out and go the extra mile for world class talent like van Persie, meanwhile we’re biding our time fretting about someone like Theo fucking Walcott. And even if he does sign it’d be like asking for a Raleigh Chopper for Christmas and getting a Plasticine testicle.
What Ferguson says makes perfect sense (*vomits*). If you want to improve your team you’ve got to pay a price for it. Getting Cazorla was a fantastic deal but even then it had all the hallmarks of an Arsenal transfer. Malaga were bollixed financially, we nipped in and took advantage of that. If they’d been more liquid would we have gone the extra mile to get him? The situation with Juan Mata the summer before suggests that we wouldn’t. To get the players you want you have to pay a premium and Arsene Wenger, a man who has sold Na$ti for £24m, Adebayor for £25m, Hleb for £13m, and countless others for way beyond their actual value must know that as well as anyone.
I have to say that this Arsene Wenger makes me sad. I find him increasingly difficult to listen to and although I have serious concerns about the team, our lack of January action, our lack of depth and our ability to achieve anything this season (and let’s remember those ‘achievements’ have been dialled down since the start of the campaign), it makes me distinctly uneasy that nearly everything he says nowadays is so open to parody and lampoonery.
Catchphrases are for fucking comedians, and shit ones at that, but Arsene has garnered himself a clutch of them and adds to them by the week. I wonder does he understand the frustration, cocooned as he is at the training ground and in his office and seemingly without anyone to challenge him on where this team is going wrong. It matters not a shite what some old fucker of a blogger in Dublin, or anywhere else, writes or thinks. But I look at Arsene Wenger now and compare him with a man who was bold, took risks, changed the very nature of Arsenal Football Club, was dynamic, passionate and had a burning desire to win, and I can’t reconcile him with a man who admits to making decisions which would make the strong stronger, us weaker and steadfastly refuses to improve his team when the opportunity is there to do so.
I hope he surprises us all. I hope the team he’s got and the players he has repay this faith and go on an unbeaten run and finish the season brilliantly and win a cup and forge something that will be the basis of a title challenging team for seasons to come. I’d like that a lot. I’d love to see Arsene lift another trophy, to win something again, to hear his name sung the way it used to be sung, but if you asked me to put money on that happening I’d suddenly develop T-Rex arms.