A disappointingly poor performance to pair alongside a crushing opening day defeat has continued the feeling of disillusionment among Arsenal fans. It was the straw that broke the camels back for the Arsenal Supporters Trust, a group with over 800 members and shares in the club.
This may have come after their 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa in the opening day of the Premiership season, but it is no knee jerk reaction to a bad result. The overwhelming feeling of disenchantment at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday has been brewing for the past couple of seasons, with most fans keeping their level of discontent slightly muted if not entirely silent. This may be down to loyalty to Wenger due to his past successes and great sides; it may be some sort of blind faith that he is the man to bring back the days of ‘the invincibles’; or it could be a combination of the two.
Whatever the reason is, the Arsenal faithful have not nearly been vocal enough yet.
In the matter of just a decade, Arsenal have gone from title winners/serious contender’s year in year out to scraping fourth place on the last day of the season. It has been a gradual demise which has been accepted by the Arsenal board due to continued profit from Champions League qualification and little reinvestment in the playing squad. Arsenal have been able to scrape CL qualification with prudent spending on mediocre players; and relying on youth academy production.
Annually they have sold off their best players for a massive profit without spending a great deal in return. Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Robin van Persie are all potent examples of why the Gunners are no longer able to compete for titles. While the disgruntled murmurs of some sections of the Arsenal support have been apparent over this period of transfer activity, or lack of it, the majority have been content in seeing Champions League yearly with a relatively competitive squad.
The above players have been replaced by not World Class talents; but those just capable enough to ensure a top four spot in the Premier League. It seems this year that they have managed to trim a lot of fat off of the budget by releasing/selling over 20 first team, reserve and youth players but have failed to bring any in. Yaya Sanogo remains their only signing thus far, on a free transfer.
This relatively competitive squad has now, through inaction in the transfer market the past four or five years, dwindled into a wearily thin looking group of players. Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal and Abou Diaby were all out injured previous to the visit from Villa on Saturday. Add to that list Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who could be missing for a lengthy spell having possible knee ligament damage. Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey are all doubtful for their crucial Champions League qualifier against Fenerbache on Wednesday.
The squad that is left to choose from is not only lacking in numbers, it is lacking in serious quality, a problem that Wenger should have been able to prevent with a consistent and competent transfer policy. Instead, he has left it far too late in this transfer window to do significant business to attract his first choice targets.
The start of the window had a promising buzz about it for Arsenal fans. There was an heir of excitement as rumours emerged of a sizable transfer kitty being available. Cesc Fabregas, Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Luis Gustavo and Wayne Rooney were all touted as targets. None have come through.
This year it there has been a sad feeling of déjà vu for Arsenal fans with the only exception in this transfer window being the lack of a big name exit (so far).
The financially profitable business plan of the Arsenal board is simply that, financially profitable.
It is simply not bringing success to the Emirates.
The meagre spending and transfer policy carried out by Wenger has been permitted for far too long in the eyes of Arsenal fans. Surely today’s events from the Arsenal Supporters Trust are the start of some form of change. Whether it be a change of managerial personnel, a change in transfer policy or a change in business plan; something must happen. If not, the current Arsenal squad looks as if it would struggle to get top five never mind Champions League qualification or much less title contenders.
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