The real Arsene Wenger stepped forward yesterday and gave us all a taste of mighty fine reality. We had issues within the squad that needed addressing this window and the manager serviced them with Kim Kallstrom. The Swedish midfielder, most famous for being a player with exceptional Championship manager attributes 12 years ago, has joined on a 6 month loan. He’s not played for 7 weeks, so I’m unsure how long it’ll take him to get fit. He’s also not played in the fastest league in the world before. So again, as aimless punts go, he’s right up there with the best panic purchases of the last few seasons.
Now, I’m not going to slate his ability, I’ve seen him play plenty of times before over the years. I know it seems odd that I’d remember a player so unmemorable, but he was so, so good on that computer game, I had to pay close attention when he played. I had similar excitement in watching Javier Saviola, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Robert Pires. Anyway, he’s not very exciting, he’s mostly a solid, functional midfielder… but the press isn’t great around him from the French, who watched him for 7 odd years at Lyon or the Swedes, who’ve sucked up 100 caps worth of his play.
Now, I don’t want to get on his back, it’s not his fault we’ve opted for him, but come on, no one can tell me he was the plan A at the start of January. It’s like the Flamini move of last summer, a bit disappointing (and please don’t tell me you were over the moon we’d signed a player who’d left under a cloud after missing out on Bender / Ginter and Gundogan), but at least we knew he was a good player, knew the Arsenal way and he was Premiership experienced.
This whole window once again points to the absurdity of our transfer planning. We had 4 loan moves rejected on the final day if Sky Sports are to be believed. We went for a 35 year old Klose of Lazio, we asked about Papisse Cisse of Newcastle, I think Vucinic was one… and the final horror offer of the day went to Salomon Kalou. I mean honestly, can you believe that Arsene put in a phone call to Lille about him? If there was a win this transfer window, it’s the fact you’re not here right now reading me going into total meltdown about signing a totally average 29 year old from Lille.
Now, this planning cycle does come down to two things. Firstly, Wenger does all the transfer arranging. He’s the man in charge of the list. As I told you the other day, he’s been back and forthing over Draxler this month with regards to expense and in the end, he decided against him. So the manager is the guy who dithers over these things. However, Ivan has to take some flak for this… why hasn’t he put a system in place that takes some of the control off of Arsene? It’s clear we’ve needed players since the start of the season. Where is the person at the club driving those names out of the manager and making sure something comes out the other side? We really do need a Director of Football to help bring our transfer process in line with the best clubs in Europe.
A club the size of Arsenal is better than an average loan signings. Chelsea, Everton and United all managed to secure names earlier than the last day. Why were we pissing around right up to the deadline? What happened to doing your business early? Where is the ambition and the ruthlessness? We have the best chance we’ll ever have of storming the league. It’s clear we don’t have trusted cover for our two over worked centre backs, it’s clear that Jenkinson is not of the standard to fill in for Sagna, Ramsey is out for 6 weeks… I’d imagine it’ll take 4 weeks to get Kallstrom fit enough to step in… we have lost 20 goals out wide as well as the bucket load of pace Theo brings… and a year on… still not adequate replacement for Giroud.
It’s like the manager is purposefully ignoring the obvious flaws we can see are already biting the squad in the arse.
We needed a mid-season boost to the squad. It would have injected some fresh legs into a tired set up and it would have excited the players. If anything, Kallstrom will have disappointed them. He’s not a bad player, but he’s hardly a name that inspires players like Ozil. Even looking around at other signings. Chelsea landed Matic, a player who could have helped us. Everton signed that huge target man from Monaco for 6 months. Monaco loaned Berbatov. All these players could have helped out. We decided against it…
I mean, it’s not like this window was any different to the summer one which was also an absolute shambles until will fluked the deal for Ozil.
Anyway, that’s my two pennies. I might be totally wrong, but history and a quick glance as the squad numbers tells you that Arsenal winning the league this year is going to be a massive, massive ask. We could have been ruthless, we weren’t, so we’ll have to trust the manager, pray that we don’t pick up anymore injuries and see if we can blitz the second half of the season like we have done the first.
One thing to note, there’s a lot of good will that Wenger is enjoying at the moment, I’d expect much of that will dry up very quickly if things unravel in the way they normally do. He’s made a rod for his own back. He’ll no doubt sign that new deal pretty sharpish next week as well. Three more years of this.
… and to end on a positive note, Park Chu Young has joined Watford on loan. Arsenal eh? Not many teams desperate for a striker end up losing one in January!