It's that time of the year again. It's the time of the year where Gunners fans are made fun of, where calls for Arsene Wenger to be fired are voiced (mainly by shameless Piers Morgan), and American owners are blamed for not providing a transfer kitty built from record-high expensive season tickets.
Throughout all of this regularly scheduled ruckus, the one obvious missing ingredient to Arsenal's success is ignored year after year. As a certain Spaniard once said, here are the facts:
1) Despite what a minority of under-informed supporters may say, the evil American owners do provide money for transfers. Players like Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Nacho Monreal do not come free of charge.
2) Arsene does spend money, he will simply not accept paying above market value, or even paying market value for that matter.
3) The most important truth - Arsene does not enjoy the negotiation table, and Arsenal in turn have suffered from having a man who has contacts and influence in the market.
It comes down to the realisation that the missing ingredient is an officer of some title that can grant Arsene's wishes. Once upon a time, Arsene had a man that, if given a list, would be able to bring the names to the club. Arsene's wishlists came to reality in the names of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Theirry Henry, Davor Suker, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Gilberto Silva, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie.
It's not a bad list, as all teams in the 2003/2004 EPL season may attest. So as someone who has seen what Arsene can do without stressing about his transfer targets, it is a pity to see the criticism aimed in his direction with regards to lacking marquee signings.
This brings to the table a comparison of two Davids. With David Dein's departure, Arsene's managerial career has turned barren. Meanwhile, his counterpart Sir Alex flourished with a certain David Gill by his side. While one David left Arsenal, another took charge of transfers at Manchester United, and the past 8 years have shown us the stark contrast in results.
David Gill has been a close ally and champion of Sir Alex, and virtually every target that was willing has joined United during Gill's tenure. With such a collaboration, sustained success has followed. With his imminent departure on the horizon, Manchester United's biggest task ahead is to do something that Arsenal have not been able to do - secure an individual with as much guile, influence, and negotiating skills to be able to fulfil requests of the fiery Scot.
Of course, Wenger cannot be completely free of criticism, even with his lack of Dein duly noted. For the manager of the 'Invincibles' to declare that 4th is as good as spot as any begets cries of blasphemy. Making that statement reaffirmed the club's decrease in ambition. On the same note, it is impossible to imagine Sir Alex saying something similar in his remaining days as manager.
As a veteran manager who has achieved an unprecedented, undefeated league season, Arsene should not have to listen to the supporters that demand his resignation. As aforementioned, if Wenger is left solely to the development, training and management of his team, he has proven a capability for greatness. Any EPL fan of the 2003/2004 could attest to this. Instead of whining about him or Kroenke, supporters and management of the club should focus on is recruiting a David Dein/David Gill-esque officer that will relieve Arsene of an ill-suited responsibility. After all, as demonstrated in these two cases, it is not the assistant managers, or the coaches, but rather the directors of transfers who are perhaps the next important men in a club.
It's high time to realise that Arsenal's clockwork slump has a fix that does not involve sacking the under-fire Frenchman.
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