It’s off season,
we’re in the Champions League again, we ended the season with the best run that
the Premier League has seen by any club in four years, and have just scored 14
goals in two games on the Asia tour. The club is trying to sign quality
players…and my Twitter timeline is now probably the most depressing part of
my day. That annoys me.
This isn’t just about Twitter doom to be honest, I think this week
Twitter has just been a bit disappointing for me and it’s brought up a lot of
latent frustration that I’ve felt over the years, watching the ‘trophy or die’
media narrative slowly seep into our fanbase and cloud the judgement of people
that are supposed to have reasons to be proud of who we are and what Arsenal
I must say that on Twitter anybody that I’ve engaged in
conversation has been decent, accommodating and happy to agree to disagree on
certain issues, which is all you can really ask for. It’s a culmination of
years and years of having to defend my club against outsiders, only to have
these people come back at me with “well so and so is an arsenal fan and
he’s realistic, he sees that the club are taking you for a mug.”
Look. If we, the fans, are constantly having a go at our club…who is
going to think twice about battering Arsenal? Why do you think the media talk
nothing but trophy droughts and selling policies and deadwood? Why do you think
that any journalist on any given day can just decide to rip into anything and
everything about the club we love? They’ll get hits. From Gooners. Who are
happy to add their own creative conspiracy theories below these articles,
sticking the knife further into themselves…actually, us. Why? Are we, as
fans, trying to attract players by showing them that our fanbase is hugely
demanding and doesn’t really understand that our club has done brilliantly to
even be in our position? How does it help to look purely at the negatives?
This isn’t about individual sentences that pessimistic fans pluck out of
long and informative statements made by the likes of Ivan Gazidis and retweet
20 times every time somebody else signs a top player. It’s human nature to
cling to hope, but I don’t really understand why it’s Arsenal nature to forget
about any reason to be optimistic about our current situation, just because we haven’t yet delivered a major signing.
Let’s be honest, that’s not really fair on the 21st July. At all. But
what’s really unfair is the fact that die hard doomer Gooners feel that it’s ok
to treat any ray of hope that you show them with scorn, complain about having “been
lied to for years” and call you ‘deluded’ for believing that all is well
at Arsenal. It’s the die-hard doomers that this article is for in the main, and
it’s also a plea to the huge number of reasonable fans out there that are
getting swept away in yet another Arsenal sea of negativity. It’s not all bad.
I have to say that I’ve listened or read the transcript of every AGM
since probably 2006, I’ve heard and read the same statements that all fans
have, and I was absolutely certain that we wouldn’t be spending on players in
the past. When Cesc Fabregas left, that changed. The heartbeat of Wengerball
had to change and when you looked objectively at what remained and trusted the club not to allow us to fall away, it was clear that post-Fabregas, Arsene Wenger would have to buy.
This summer is like that, and I still trust the club. But it’s really
important we know the difference between this summer, and summers past. Needing
to buy now is about reaching the summit, not trying to scramble back up the
mountain from the bottom again. When you lose the players that made you good,
you get worse. That has happened over the past two years, but it hasn’t
happened this year and won’t happen again. I believe that. My belief has been
immortalised online, so if I end up being wrong I have nowhere to hide.
It’s been tough being a Gooner. But we make it hard for ourselves. Our
own feelings on the club are what has now convinced non-Arsenal fans that being
patient and/or optimistic about where we’re headed is somehow ‘delusion’. No,
it’s optimism. Delusion is conning yourself into believing something is true,
happening or can happen, when it isn’t.
I thought I’d make a few points this week to illustrate the difference.
Delusion: we can just go into the
season and expect to win things
No. We need reinforcements and both the
fans and the club are well aware this. We’ve been trying to buy an attacking
midfielder and a creative striker for about 2 summers now: Matias Suarez, Kevin
Mirallas, now Luis Suarez and/or Rooney as well as Higuain, who I consider a finisher-type not dissimilar to Eduardo in the
role he would have played in the squad. We’ve also tried to buy Mata,
Hazard, and Mario Gotze. We have needs, we all know this.
Optimism: we will be a lot better than
last season even without reinforcements
Why not? Look at the improvements we’ve
made when we haven’t lost key players in the past. Why should this year be any
different? Our rivals have always spent on players and we still improve v them.
There is a finite number of points available, if we win more games vs. the
smaller teams as we eventually learned to last year, we’ll carry that forward
and close that 16-point gap on Manchester United. And knowing that doesn’t mean
we feel we have enough. It just means that we are adding to the team that beat
Bayern Munich, not the one that drew with Sunderland.
Delusion: we will win everything once
we buy players
Now I know we’ve been starved of
silverware recently, but it’s still not guaranteed. It never is. There are four
clubs in contention for Premier League: two with unlimited resource, Manchester
United, and Arsenal. No matter how many players we or they buy, you can only
have 11 on the park at any one time and as I said before there are a finite
number of points available. There are still great players winning points for
Optimism: we will be in all races till
the finish line
Our TEAM wins us the points. Always
has. We beat what’s in front of us and it doesn’t matter what Robin Van Persie,
Stevan Jovetic etc are doing until we play them, and we already know that this
unit can beat anyone. They will be equally concerned about Jack Wilshere, Santi
Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud (yes, Giroud). But hopefully we’ll
have even more to concern them, now we have regular funding. The funding that
we spent a long time putting ourselves in a position to be able to use.
Delusion: now that we can afford big
names we should be buying them all
No. Ivan has stated that we can afford
whatever we need. It’s up to the boss, who knows his team 10 times better than
you or I, to decide who we spend our money on. And we can judge him on results.
Optimism: now that we can afford what
we need, we will have a squad that can challenge
Whichever players Wenger decides to buy
will be the ones he is looking for to finish shaping the squad into a unit that
can play his football at the highest level. Just because a player is a big name
doesn’t mean he’ll work with the current squad in the way they need him to.
That’s the manager’s decision.
Delusion: now that x has gone to
another club, that club will be further ahead of us and we’ll never be as good
No. That player has to prove he can
play with his new squad, find form and keep it for the season to have a
title-winning impact. If we are winning our games, it doesn’t matter what the
others are doing.
Optimism: our squad already has world
Our boys have massive space for growth,
and we’re breeding a new batch of top class players. We’re finally in a
position where we won’t lose players every summer to higher wages etc. They can
stay together and go a step further than 07/08 and 10/11 before they collapsed.
At a point both those squads were best in the Premier League without £40m signings etc. That was purely
because the boss had a chance to carry what they had already learned into a new
season without having been weakened first. They worked together. Giroud will be
better, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack, Theo, Santi, Kieran Gibbs,
Laurent Koscielny. At least three of the aforementioned players, with
consistent seasons will be rated, three of them already are. And we won’t lose
them next summer either…
Delusion: there’s no excuse for not
winning all the trophies now
Um, yeah there are. Like Roman
Abramovic and Sheikh Mansoor to name but two. They haven’t run out of money.
Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid, Juventus… these teams still exist. We’re with
them now ready to fight it out but they are still as strong as they ever were.
We are stronger but we are not the only strong side in the world gunning for
Optimism: we can realistically grab
some silverware and stay in the mix foe years to come
Because we are stronger. We haven’t
suddenly become the most powerful club in the world, we are now claiming to be
one of them. So let’s give ourselves the chance to prove it. You don’t do that
by randomly flexing your financial muscles in the summer, even though it brings
a wonderful feel-good factor to the fans. You do it by being selective and
understanding the balance of your side, what you expect from the players you
are working with, knowing what is missing, and adding those pieces. With our new commercial deals plus our huge cash balance, if we do
summer business, we’re still weak and the boss won’t admit it then I’ve no
doubt that the club will relieve him of his duties, and the new gaffer will
have a top squad and plenty of cash, so we’ll be fine anyway.
So can we please just take it easy, let’s see what we have come September, and
let’s judge the club on results, not summer posturing. If they need a player
they won’t sit idly by. If Jovetic is gone and we didn’t fight for him, the
boss didn’t want him that badly, simple as that. We have Rooney, Higuain and
Suarez on the radar although as a Ghanaian I’ll reserve comment on the latter.
We haven’t been crippled this year. There are no massive holes vacated by our
few star players. This summer is SO different to the past few. I know
we’re used to gloomy summers but if you think this is one of those based on our
lack of transfer activity come July 21, and that we’ll somehow crash and burn
in the 2013/2014 season because we didn’t sign four world class players
yesterday then guess what… you’re deluded. Get a grip please.
Thanks for reading
Accra based. Big picture, always. New writer as of June 2013. Always tries to understand why Arsenal makes the unique decisions that we do. Haven’t really watched the trophy clock, prefer to sit back and watch the alchemist at work…It’s more fun that way.
Views are my own.
Real visionaries are rarely appreciated during their time… Arsenal has one right now. I’m just glad to have noticed early.