Well there it is everyone. After 31 days of wondering, we now have it confirmed. Arsene Wenger has either totally lost the plot, or, as I suspect, he’s put his own self styled crusade against the big dollars of football ahead of what is good for the club.
So, what have we learnt this transfer window?
Arsenal PR is up there with the best in the blue chip world…
People look at the comms team and ask, ‘what do they do for their money?’… well, Mark Gonnella and his team pulled off a master class this transfer window. Remember, he comes from a banking background, so working out how to paint Wenger in a positive light is probably a pretty basic job.
The traditional patterns we’re used to seeing occurred, headlines like this in the Daily Mail are usually the first signs PR are up to something…
‘Ivan awards Wenger a £35m warchest for January’
It’s always the same amount, it normally highlights the change of mindset and it normally indicates that Wenger is finally ready to get tough.
Then, after more bad results, Wenger sets tongues wagging with some pro transfer stories. He’ll usually say he has money to spend and that he’s looking at every position. That’s what happened this December.
This January followed the usual flow of ‘we need to sign the players with contract issues’, then we need to get the players back from injury… only trouble is, we didn’t really have any players out injured. Then Wenger started to talk about his squad being ‘too good’. So we were all starting to get pretty clued up as to what wasn’t about to happen.
Don’t forget the gem of converting a flexible player into a specialist… Aaron Ramsey is our new holding midfielder who is like a new signing.
This window did see a new glimmer of hope laced in a dark art (dark because it wasn’t declared)… in my business, we call it influencer marketing.
If you have a perception issue you want to amend, you can either throw money at changing the perception… i.e McDonalds have thrown hundreds of millions at TV advertising to convince you that that burger you’re eating is ok because it was cut from a cow who had a Playstation 3 and a 6 pack of beer in his stable.
If you don’t have that sort dollar, you can ask select influencers in your vertical to change perceptions for you. Irn Bru recently selected one super fan to seed a video. From that one person, the video rippled out to generate a million views. This window, we saw the bomb shell of a £30m bid into the social space, Within the space of 6 hours, the whole of the online community was buzzing about Arsenal finally moving into the big league of transfer spending.
Did that bid happen? Well, I’ve not heard anything. You’ve not heard anything and for the first time in the history of the connected world. No one has heard of a bid.
Funny that, eh? People say Arsenal do transfer deals in secret. Well, name me the last one you didn’t get a good run up to? It doesn’t happen. If there’s a player out there worth a £30m bid… there’s a chairman out there who is willing to make some noise to get a better deal. Keeping deals secret only works for one team… the buying team.
So, that kept our minds at ease that things were going to change. Then the David Villa story gathered momentum. This story just wouldn’t stop… this, despite every Spanish pundit and his dog stating it wouldn’t happen. Even Rossell came out and said ‘we don’t sell our best players’… yet we continued to pester up a blind alley when there was no intention Barca’s end to sell…
So, we get to the final day and this one gets me the most. It’s been clear for a while now that Andre Santos is a terrible player. He reminds me of the guy on the Mars advert who steps out of the stands to take a penalty. Except he’s worse. Anyway, Wenger knew he was bad. He knew Kieran Gibbs had a knack for getting injured because I posted the stats (jokes, but if a blogger can see the obvious, so should highly paid pros), yet he didn’t move for back up until Gibbs picked up and hamstring problem. He was actually going to gamble on Gibbs fitness with a back up he has no faith in.
So, all we’ve got to show for 31 days is a left back. No striker, no box to box midfielder and no specialist defensive midfielder and no back up keeper (I’d go for a first team keeper).
Also, amusing how buying a left back when you need one is very much like buying a load of Hovis.
I mean, how can anyone defend the man now? He’s got the best part of £80-100m to spend, he has a demonstrably weak squad and he’s left the cash to one side. Some described him as a sadist online yesterday… it honestly looks like that. Why would you purposefully put yourself under highly pressured constraints if you didn’t need to? No one at the club thought Wenger would be inactive this window… no one. That’s even the people who don’t rate him.
It’s the last stand of a man failing at his job. It’s a naive attempt at proving the world wrong. It’s his last go at proving 1998 still lives on and that modern football management methods have nothing over gut feel and experience.
He’s not going to win this battle and it’s sad to watch, he’s he guy fighting the future, he’s the guy saying ‘young people know nothing’, he’s the guy who’s stubborn streak is so powerful, it’ll be the undoing of him.
Still, at least everyone has finally seen it with their own eyes. It’s taken a long time to get here, but whatever your thoughts are of the manager on a personal nostalgic level, you can’t excuse this months inaction.
We’ve banked on the teams around us being worse, rather than investing in the side to ensure we’re a cut above the rest… a hugely negative strategy. Not one that sits in conjunction with the mantra of us becoming one of the best clubs in the world. A place we weren’t a million miles away from in 2004…
Pray for Arsenal people… 5th is going to be ugly. Very ugly.