We all want to go into the new season forgetting about the past and looking forward to winning something: most supporters do. We read and listen to rumour and speculation and often overlook cold hard facts.
Wigan, Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Swansea: all trophy winners during the Arsenal’s trophy hiatus™, that’s a fact. Thirty-three consecutive attempts at a trophy have ended in failure, that’s a fact. Everything else is opinion and without facts all we can do is draw conclusions, make guesses: educated and otherwise, and engage in debate: heated and otherwise. With a week until the start of the new season it appears (I have carefully chosen the word ‘appears’) that our squad is somewhat thin. It appears that we will not be adding a marquee signing, and it appears that we are looking at a season of disappointment.
It is absolutely conjecture because what we the supporters, the Bloggers, the Tweeters and all other interested parties lack is information. This lack of information, clarity and insight from our club is based on something that we all need to be concerned about: lack of accountability.
Arsenal Football Club, like many other Football Clubs, do not feel any sense of accountability to their supporters. We pay financially and emotionally. Yes those payments are freely chosen however they merit some level of accountability from those we entrust with the successful management and stewardship of our club, and it is ‘our’ club: that’s what differentiates a Football Club from other business enterprises, it’s place as part of the wider community. There is naturally a financial imperative at a modern club but other concepts should hold true: glory, achievement, honour, ethos, fair play and yes, accountability. Perhaps the most important concept for the club is to be in with a fighting chance. To do everything to ensure that the Arsenal have a fighting chance on an uneven playing field, of winning something. If so-called lesser clubs can do it why can’t we?
Some of the decision making during this long frustrating summer has been hard to fathom to say the least. The cull of players makes sense but the unfilled gaps don’t. The declarations of expenditure raised hopes but the lack of purchases have caused consternation. The Suarez situation is downright bizarre and the current size of the squad defies logic.
Aside from the supposed £70m earmarked for new players the club have banked the season ticket renewal money, the BT revenue is monumental, the new away kit is bringing in a steady flow and the wage bill has been cut, yet no major additions have been forthcoming as of yet (one could argue that any players bought in the next week will take a good few games to settle in anyway, thus giving us a handicap to start with) and no one knows why: that’s the frustration.
I personally believe that the transfer market has been Arsene Wenger’s downfall, or rather his judgement in it. For a number of years his dealings have been problematic. For me he has sold too many good players too often and he has bought too many players that have not reached their potential. There was a time when the outgoing of quality players was counter balanced by quality incoming ie: Overmars/Pires, Petit/Gilberto, Anelka/Henry, Vieira/Fabregas, Seaman/Lehman and many more, that trend has unfortunately long since ceased. It may be financial handcuffs to an extent but I think a great deal is down to bad choices. The list of players that have failed grows ever longer: Chamakh, Denilson, Gervinho, Santos, Squilacci, Manone to name but a few: even the mercurial Arshavin ended up derailed.
On a positive note I am happy with the core of young British players in Gibbs, Jenkinson, Wilshere, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlaine at the club and feel that they have real merit and are triers who need some real quality around them that the current squad lacks. If that quality is not forthcoming I feel it will be a major disservice to them and us and may be Arsene’s last straw moment with a lot of people. With seven days to the big kick off it looks like once again the transfer window will close after the horse has bolted for the Arsenal, and if that happens who is accountable?