News From The Grove

Is Wenger Losing It?

Posted in Arsenal by Our Correspondent on September 2, 2008

The transfer window has finally closed. And not unexpectedly, the last day witnessed hectic activity, including the mega deal of Robinho – a new British transfer record. It was a tensed time for all gooners, who wanted to know if we are going to buy any Central Midfielder. We all knew that we needed a defensive player in the middle of the park and another at the back. We did get a ‘bargain’ in the form of 31-year-old United reject Silvestre. However, a midfielder was more important, as the game against Fulham showed. We didn’t have Fabregas or Rosicky. We had already lost Flamini and Hleb. So we played Eboue (of all people) and Dennilson. The result was the most atrocious display of football by Arsenal. We deservedly lost the game. Even a layman, if provided with that fact, would tell you that reinforcement is required. Okay Fabregas is back. But if he picks up an injury and doesn’t play for a month, I don’t see any playmaker in the team who can anchor the midfield and link up with the strikers ahead. Dennilson’s poor display forced us to play Robin van Persie behind Adebayor and Bendtner.

“We are ready to stay up all night if it is needed.  This season it is at midnight on September 1 so you never know. We have still a long time to go.”

Now six hours have passed since the end of the transfer deadline and there is no news about any signings. Unless there is a late announcement that we made a deal, which is very unlikely, we will play with the same squad till January. Why didn’t we sign a player when we know and Wenger does too, that a player was required. Wenger says that we have a strong enough squad to challenge for the title. Yes we do. But the team is dependent on one man to anchor the midfield, to bring his creative ability and vision to the turf. Minus Cesc, we look bereft of ideas in the middle. This brings the question, Is Wenger focussed too much on the business part of the game? He talks about the problem of bringing in a 27 -year-old, because after 2-3 seasons, that player won’t have the ‘resale’ value. But if bringing in that player ensures that we get strong and thus making our title chances stronger, what would you take?

It is not a question of availability of cash either. The board has time and again claimed that there is money for him to spend. Yet, he looks for ‘bargains’. He once said that if you need to make money from your club, make me the manager. That is good. But what about the title? The primary reason a club exists. We are not in a transitional period anymore. That began when the invincible squad was dismantled. A lot of water has passed below the bridge since then. Wenger must realise that the dynamics of club football have changed. If you look at other clubs, the managers get fired if they fail to produce results. But our board trusts Wenger and he has been in the helm for more than a decade. It is good for the team and the club, as it brings about a certain atmosphere of stability. But the problem arises when you take that for granted.

You must repay the trust shown on you by not only making money for the club but also by winning titles. Last season we were so close yet so far. We started brilliantly and if only we had reinforcements in January, we would have clinched it. Knowing that one injury could dent our chances, rather than buying players, we let Diarra go. We made GBP 5 million. The title went to ManUtd.

You need to learn from your mistakes, but it seems Wenger doesn’t or may be he does but he refuses to acknowledge. His vision, his philosophy of bringing up young players is excellent. I have the utmost respect for that. However, there has to be a balance. We got Samir Nasri, who has gelled immediately. Then why not one player in the midfield who can support Cesc Fabregas?

I guess it is Wenger’s faith in the current crop of players and I sincerely hope that it pays off. Because I don’t want us to regret like we did last season. I don’t want us to say ‘if only….’

Wishing the team and all the gooners very best of luck for this season. Let’s go get it. C’mon You Redss!!!

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