Articles about Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy – or lack of one – might be getting tiresome, but here is another one because frankly, it isn’t getting any better.
Wenger insists the lack of new faces at the Emirates isn’t his fault.
This is the man who created The Invincibles. This is ‘The Professor’ who made the bold move to switch Thierry Henry from the left-wing to upfront. A man who, in the past, signed Sol Campbell, Robin van Persie, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg. Put simply, Wenger has a tremendous eye for talent.
Yet, he remains defiant. As one reporter pointed out in a distinctly frosty press conference prior to the Gunners' Champions League play-off against Fenerbache, the Frenchman need look no further than across north London to see that he is falling behind.
It remains to be seen what impact Spurs' array of new signings will have on their Champions League ambitions, but at the very least, Wenger’s counterpart Andre Villas-Boas has put out a statement of intent.
Since the arrival of technical director Franco Baldini (formerly of Fabio Capello’s England), Tottenham have signed Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, and Etienne Capoue, while at the time of writing Willian is having a medical at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal fans will not like these comparisons with their bitter rivals, but in truth, the Lilywhites (Arsenal’s most likely rivals for fourth place) have taken the attitude that money talks.
Memories of Wenger’s enormous success at Highbury are slowly but surely being depleted by year after year of stagnation, whittled away by eight years of shut purses and stubborn youth dependency.
Football can seem a cruel world, and the two Manchester giants have certainly not been kind to Arsenal, snatching Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy from their grasp.
To add insult to injury, Manchester United have made advances this summer for former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona. Despite all this, Wenger refuses to fight fire with fire.
The first shoots of spring appeared to be blossoming when Wenger reared a habitually penny-pinching head from beneath the parapet and landed a magnanimous £40,000,001 bid on Liverpool’s table for want away Luis Suarez.
Brendan Rodgers must hardly have recognised the voice at the other end of the phone.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew also revealed the Gunner’s had made an approach for Yohann Cabaye, although again, no deal appears to be forthcoming.
Such a downwards slide is almost worthy of Shakespearian tragedy. Wenger has an incredible record of qualifying for the Champions League in each of the last fifteen seasons, but surely that can no longer suffice for a club with such a glittering history.
Any manager with Wenger’s record deserves a huge amount of respect, but he is finding out the hard way that while Arsenal’s transfer kitty is not a bottomless pit, neither is the fans’ patience.
Wenger’s reliance on youngsters was once a thing to be admired, but even Barnardos would have given up on such a determined youth policy by now.
Arsenal are a club for an ideal world, where football genius rather than hard cash, will always prevail. Unfortunately, the Premier League is no such a place.
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