I’m sure you’ve all read the so called interview with Arsene Wenger, where he states that he intends to continue selling Arsenal’s prized assets in order to make a profit in the transfer market. This is apparently because of the costs involved in the Emirates Stadium.
While it’s highly unlikely Arsene actually said these things, it would be fair to say that Wenger’s policy in the transfer market much more prudent that most, especially when we’re talking about the top four clubs in the Premier League.
Every single summer we’re linked to players who are valued at over Â£20 million plus, but the real Arsenal fans know these rumours are just hot air. Partly because of our specific transfer policy and also because Arsene has always said it’s better to work with players who are hungry for success and have something to prove.
We say it time and time again but look at Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva et al – when Arsene introduced these players to the first team they had won nothing (except World Cup Winners Gilberto and Titi).
The policy never changes.
And the players that have come in afterwards are of the same ilk. Alexander Hleb, Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott – quality players with massive potential who have yet to win any major honours.
And now we’ve got Samir Nasri.
But after 4 seasons in the Premier League wilderness the big question now is are we being left behind?
It does seem like the transfer policy gets tighter and tigher as the seasons and years go by.
When Arsene first arrived he brought in players like Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit to lift the team to another level and we achieved the double in that season. He then brought in Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg to strengthen the side even further the season after.
Don’t forget an injury-prone Overmars was Â£5.5 million and Henry was Â£10.5 million, which 10 years ago was a significant sum of money. Especially when you consider in roughly the same period Manchester United bought Andy Cole for Â£7 million, Dwight York for Â£12.6 million and Teddy Sheringham for Â£3.5 million, while Chelsea purchased Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo for Â£4.5 million and Â£7 million respectively.
So it wasn’t as if we couldn’t compete on a similar level.
But today it seems like the gap is bigger than ever.
Manchester United spent a staggering Â£33 million on Rio Ferdinand in 2002, and only last year spent a combined Â£31 million on Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick. We know what Chelsea’s transfer budget is like and Liverpool spend big amounts too, like they did for Fernando Torres who was Â£20 million.
Arsenal just can’t compete with that.
We always point to how players who have left the club never reach the same levels of success they did with Arsenal. Vieira, Pires, Henry, Freddie and Edu are just a few examples of ex-players who fit that mould.
But is that really the case?
Because since they’ve departed we’ve hardly been racking up the trophies.
So when Myles says Arsene Wenger is the greatest spin-doctor football has ever seen you can’t really disagree with that. He has been selling us the future for the last 4 seasons and the bottom line is we have to yet again qualify for the Champions League.
It’s funny, because over the last few years I’ve always said that Liverpool don’t have a chance in hell of winning the Premier League. They rotate too much, drop to many points against the lower sides and play one-dimensional football. Don’t get me wrong, they are a decent side but when compared too Manchester United or Chelsea they don’t seem to have that something extra.
And I used to think Liverpool fans were delusional when they said they could win the league.
But maybe I’m the delusional one.
We would slate football pundits like Alan Hansen for writing off Arsenal’s title credentials but he wasn’t wrong in the end. It’s easy to see Arsenal through Wenger’s reality but the fact is my belief and hope is wearing thin.
I wrote a piece in April which expressed the soul crushing end to the season with a month of football to play. It talked about the massive desire from the team, the run of bad luck since Eduardo’s injury and Wenger’s unique vision on how football should be played.
I painted Arsene and Arsenal as some kind of victim and that’s how I felt at the time. It was as if we couldn’t have done anything to prevent the demise of our title challenge but looking back on it all the bottom line is Arsene could have – brining in some experience in the January transfer window could have made all the difference. It’s obviously easy to look at things in hindsight but a complete squad is essential in today’s game.
And ours just isn’t good enough right now.
A youth policy like Arsene’s used to have a future years ago but nowadays with big clubs buying established and experienced world-class talent the gap is just going to get bigger ang bigger.
Chelsea have brought in Deco, who despite his age is such a quality player. And what if they manage to prise Kaka away from AC Milan? No amount of youngsters in the world could compete against that team.