The reaction to
Arsene’s Wenger’s quotes following the final game of the The Gunner’s tour of
Asia have been interesting to say the least.
Firstly of course there is the media and, it was ever thus I
suppose, the amount of spin applied to said quotes seemingly depends on whether
the journalist in question wants to stick the knife in, and to some extent, how
The headlines don’t always reflect the content either, of
course, and I chuckled at Football365 earlier when its main home page headline
read “We can challenge without Suarez….”, with, naturally, a suitably
disparaging ‘same old same old’ byline, whereas the actual feature under that
link is titled “Wenger will wait for Suarez”. Nothing like picking out the ‘bad
bits’ to get a reaction or a few more clicks.
I hate seeing Arsenal positioned as one of those ‘no one
likes us but we don’t care’ establishments because I don’t really think there
is a huge amount of truth in it, but having said that, some of the hypocrisy in
the media is clear to see. Maybe it’s because everyone wrote us off last season
and we ended up going on a fantastic run, or because they expected Wenger to
have gone by now?
The other day the Daily Mail got all its football ‘experts’
(their word) to write about the Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Cesc Fabregas and Gareth
Bale transfers, with their predictions on where they would go or if they would
stay at their present clubs. None of them thought that any of the likely
suspects (Cesc/Suarez) would come to The Emirates, despite this very feature
being placed immediately beneath a headline reading “Arsenal confident Fabregas
will snub United for Emirates return… and they would only have to pay £25m.”
Work that one out!
As many people have already pointed out, you cannot ignore
the ‘RvP had to leave Arsenal’ line used by so many last summer, alongside the
‘Suarez should show loyalty’ angle we’ve seen a lot of already this time round.
Lovers of a media conspiracy have got plenty of ammo, that’s for sure.
Back to yesterday’s interview and the erstwhile John Cross
(Daily Mirror) opted for a more positive outlook I thought and, unlike some of
those who will have reported on it, was actually there! That always helps, as
the journalist gets a proper feel for the interviewees’ demeanour during the
press conference, which helps give everything a little more context.
Indeed, John tweeted afterwards to say that AW was in ‘good
form’ and that the transfer was at a ‘delicate stage’ and he ‘doesn’t want to
The great danger during this phoney war period, and let’s
face it, we are all waiting for something to happen and had probably hoped that
something would have happened by now, is that you read too much in to the
quotes. It’s dangerous trap to fall in to – even if I understand why it can
Let’s not forget that Arsenal say very, very little with
regard to transfers while they are ongoing, certainly in comparison with other
clubs. So, while many fans have chosen to focus on the “With or without
additions we can be title challengers next season” line, I personally wouldn’t
read too much in to that at all – certainly not when you look at the rest of
Firstly, he denied nothing about Suarez, and we’ve been
there before with regard to transfer targets, that’s for sure. I could be
mistaken, but didn’t he even deny having heard of Santi Cazorla at one point?!
We all know that this is a complicated deal and that
Suarez’s position at Liverpool is a big part of that, and in some ways the most
interesting thing is for us to be in this position, rather than the other way
around, which we’ve got very used to recent years! It may take time to
complete, too. Suarez is banned for the first six games anyway, so it wouldn’t
affect his ability to play from the start of the season. If you’re worrying
about that fact then I would suggest that our eggs are unlikely to all be in
one basket and I’m pretty sure we are looking at other players too, in addition
Let’s not forget that we are also still on the back of a
significant unbeaten run. Confidence must be sky high and team spirit seems
excellent, so who’s to say that we couldn’t win our first six games without
him? All of which probably accounts for the fact that Wenger doesn’t want to stab
the current squad in the back by openly saying that we are desperate for
reinforcements. The full quote, just for the record, is, “We still have a
strong squad but we are there on the market to try to strengthen our team. With
or without additions we can be title challengers next season.” It’s a
shame, I think, that so many supporters jumped on the latter part and chose to
give the manager a good virtual kicking yesterday.
I’m not sure what we fans expect him to say really – he’s
clearly not going to come out and name a list of targets or do anything that
could compromise any potential transfers, but his hand was forced in terms of
talking about Suarez and I thought he gave as much as he could.
Another element of the interview that I noted was the fact that
he remained so dignified. On the back of a week where Liverpool’s owner has
suggested that The Emirates is some sort of drugs den, and their manager has
stated that moving to Arsenal wouldn’t be a move up for Suarez, it was great to
see Wenger knock that stuff back with a straighter bat than Alastair Cook.
For me, that is the Arsenal way, and while Wenger hasn’t
always managed to keep his counsel during press conferences and, in particular,
post match interviews, he responded yesterday just as he should have done –
Overall, I still believe that this will turn out to be a
very productive transfer window for Arsenal. As I said on the Gooner Girls
Podcast a few weeks ago, the ball is very much in Wenger’s court, as a result
of Ivan Gazidis stating very clearly that a large transfer fund is available.
If we don’t buy anyone of great significance I do feel that it could spell, at
the very least, the beginning of the end of the Wenger era – but my gut feeling
is that he’s still got a lot to offer. His hands have clearly been tied in
recent years, and we do seem to be really making efforts to add quality to the
squad, which is never an especially speedy or simple process.
My belief is that we need to remain as patient as we can,
and not jump all over every single quote to ensure that we take the negatives
from it. Time will tell where this transfer window takes us, and there’s still
a lot of it left.
Gareth Stringer’s first Arsenal game was in 1980 and, with a father who followed the team avidly, he’s been a staunch supporter ever since. He worked in football for many years, looking after some of the sport’s biggest sponsors and biggest players.
Despite being a Gooner in exile these days, Gareth follows every single Arsenal game and has written a fair amount about them too, something he combines with his day job as an aviation journalist and web designer.