How I’m coping with the rest of this window.
Life is full of many constants, more so than the conventional “Deaths and Taxes” as popular culture would have you believe. There is the constant of happiness and suffering. Everyone will have a little bit of each within the context of their own lives. When comparing one life to another, it’s incredibly difficult not to weigh one life more in the favour of happiness than the other. One of the two will always be perceived as slightly more lucky, slightly more prone to fortune, and this is all a matter of perspective.
You see, perspective is a relative thing, and can change what it is that we take from unchangeable events. Should, say, a particular stock drop 10% over the course of a week. The individual who bought the stock just before that drop, will have a very different feeling on that event compared to a prospective buyer.
Much in the same way, the Arsenal fan living in today’s world, trying to come to terms with the perceived lack of any sort of plan whatsoever concerning the very obvious required re-enforcements might be compared to, what I am fervently, desperately, mindlessly hoping is the self-same fan on September 1st.
My fingers are bleeding from all the straws I’ve been clutching at.
There is a part of me, a rational part, that sees the above as not a desperate clutching but a logical, distanced understanding of the world in which we as modern day Arsenal fans live. Transfers don’t take time today, the parties involved clash in their valuations, break down repeatedly and are rescued with heroic returning bids and ridiculous compromises. The Hyperbole is rife, and it’s a world of our own making. In a world in which every single reader / viewer / subscriber / follower is emotionally vested in the content, the providers of that content have to compete with one another based on who can grab those emotions the most effectively. We can’t allow for that reaction to be tainted by something as simple as fact, purely because the next provider might not either.
Now, I’m not in any way saying that the window thus far has been a success, or that the lack of visible progress in the glaringly, painfully, piercingly, criminally obvious gap up front is in any way acceptable. In fact, I’m of the opinion that it’s bloody farcical and that we’re, quite rightly, the public joke of this window thus far. There have been many windows in which we’ve very publically chased after the best strikers available. Everyone knows that we’re after a striker. Everyone knows that we’re in dire need of a clinincal bastard of a finisher that can turn our probing, attacking play from a great idea to a force to be reckoned with. It’s not a secret that the club has been able to down-play at all.
During the course of the Summer of Suarez, we started off with our chase of Gonzalo Higuain. He was available from Real Madrid, and was a finisher with a point to prove after being deemed surplus to one of the best clubs in world football. We were in negotiations. We had an agreement in place with the player. We had an agreement in place with Real Madrid (or so we thought). We were still monitoring the rest of the market, found that Suarez was a expensive, yet undoubtedly more appealing possibility. For right or for wrong, we ended up missing out on both. Liverpool wouldn’t allow Suarez to leave and he went on to have the season of his life, and Higuain went to Napoli when Real Madrid raised their valuation of him when we did decide to go back. Undoubtedly a failure of a window, but at least it was ambitious failure.
In the windows to follow, we very publically chased a then even younger Draxler while he was still at [insert club name here] and then of course there was the summer of Benzema… While in hind-sight it’s very, very difficult not to say “of course they wouldn’t let their first choice striker leave without a superior replacement already in place. Of course they’re not going to move Ronaldo into the striker position and keep a proven alternative in the pocket in case he’d rather go back out wide. Of course. ”
Again, gloriously ambitious failure.
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So we’ll fast forward to the pressing case of this week’s transfer window, and we find ourselves rejected by our initial immediate solution, Jamie Vardy, and since then the very obviously media driven links to Icardi and Morata. Both relatively young, both hungry, both with a point to prove, both incredibly easy to manufacture “genuine” interest from Arsenal. Add to that the litany of traditional stars of individual teams using our now-legendary need for attacking re-enforcements in order to create some actual interest from other teams or improved contracts, and you’ll be forgiven for not quite knowing your arse from your elbow in terms of what is actually “happening” in our world, apart from apparent nothingness.
All of this considered, I’ve decided to be ignorantly confident until September first for my own sake. Allow me to show you my lovely collection of straws. You can hold them, and tell your friends about them, but don’t you dare run off with them. These are mine. You can’t have them, and right now I can’t live without them.
Straw 1 > We went for Vardy so early. It’s not like we’d have forgotten in the intervening period that we need that goal scorer. He was a ready-made option, he showed us a little bit of leg and it was a move that ticked so many boxes. I don’t for a second think that we don’t know what a signing of that ilk will do for the team, for the supporters and for the system. It doesn’t matter when that gap is filled this window, as much as it does that it IS filled this window.
Straw 2 > Wenger has very recently stated that he does not want to quit. He must know that, without proper (read: substantial) investment in these positions, the poisionous undertone of the fanbase will make his position untenable. Gazidis is on record as saying “ultimately, the fans are who Wenger answers to.” If the question is “what will the reaction be to nobody coming in by the of the window” Wenger’s answer should be “I’m not too stupid to find out”.
Straw 3 > We have done a “madness” before with Ozil (regardless of however opportunistic that might have been). I have to believe that we’re capable (stop that in the back) of doing it again.
Straw 4 > We did have a very calculated, early/ purchase of 2 world class stars in the last 2 windows with Sanchez and Cech. I’m inclined to believe we’ve done the same this window with Xhaka, and that all movement we’ll be making in the next 2 weeks won’t be scouting moves, they’ll be execution on existing targets.
Straw 5 > Quite frankly, to do any freaking out before the end of the window is unnecessarily dangerous for my health and that of those around me. Arsenal give me enough reason to be frustrated every other game day, why do it to myself in the intervening gaps?
Now, I’m not in any way saying that the window’s been a success or that the (in)activity thus far is in any way acceptable. What I am saying is that the time for all the vitriol / reflection / judgement / condemnation should be at the end of the period for which it applies. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
Let’s reserve judgement for judgement day.
Wait, what?! Mahrez has just signed a new deal?!
For your sanity’s sake.
As always, keep it classy Arsenal fans.
I’m a passionate Arsenal fan in South Africa with a penchant for the expletive and a driving need to vilify stupidity, incompetence and reactionary fact-calling at every opportunity.
I’ve been supporting Arsenal for nigh on 10 years now from my far-removed vantage at the tip of Southern Africa, and my life is all the better for it.
My heroes include Abou Diaby (for kicking John Terry square in the face, accomplishing something we’ve all dreamed of doing), Arsene Wenger (for the gift of the amazing football he’s given us over the last 20 years consistently enough for us to feel entitled to it), and every one of the Gooners singing their hearts out on match-day, no matter the performance (I’ll join them some day).