Move on, Arsenal. Move on.
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 01:10
“It’s not easy being an Arsenal fan but it is worth the ride” read one of the banners at the Emirates during Arsenal’s 0-2 loss to Schalke. In many ways, this sums up Arsenal’s performance over the last few years.
It is nearly a decade since The Invincibles era of Arsenal has gone by. Players have come and gone but the club and manager have not managed to win a trophy since the summer of 2005. For a club that set the standards on how to play football in the last decade, the performances have not been what have been expected from Gunners.
But it’s not like Arsenal hasn’t had opportunities. For the last 15 years, they have consistently finished in the top 4 of the league and qualified for the Champions League group stages. It’s the Arsenal players who are coveted by Europe’s richest clubs. Yet, year after year, season after season, the best player leaves the club for money and silverware. Starting with Emmanuel Adebayor, Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini right up to Alex Song and the much controversial he-who-must-not-be-named aka Judas, the entire Arsenal lineup that was supposed to replace The Invincibles have just split up and gone elsewhere. Yet, it is very touching that the manager and the club somehow manages to find young talent from somewhere, mould them and make them into Europe’s finest.
It’s also notable that every single player who has left Arsenal has gone on to win a major title at the club they have played. Samir Nasri, after leaving Arsenal, even had the audacity to mock Arsenal in public after this happened.
Arsenal has also been criticized for its lack of spending unlike every top European club. The current management has refused to shell out cash for buying players. It’s like owning a Ferrari and selling it to buy a Prius just for the fuel efficiency. In some ways it is frustrating to see the club do that time and time again. However, the manager has always managed to deliver his best year after year with a limited budget and having most players on the physicians’ table. Much of the credit has to go the manager, the football version of Billy Beane.
As of now, things look glum for the red half of North London. Chelsea has won the European title thereby shifting the power balance towards the West. Tottenham have invested wisely in the transfer market, buying Hugo Lloris and Moussa Dembele, players that Arsenal should have targeted in the summer. Chelsea, inspired by the victory in the Champs League has splashed the cash and got Eden Hazard and Oscar. Fulham have added a clinical striker, Dimitar Berbatov. Manchester United bought in Robin Van Persie, ironically who was Arsenal’s best player and captain last season. Arsenal has replaced him with Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Cazorla is very good, but the question remains, where will the goals come from?
Arsenal has to be shrewd in the transfer market and make intelligent buys. Some players have to be offloaded. Chamakh, Park, Arshavin, Squillaci, Mannone, Fabianski and especially Andre Santos are just not Arsenal quality. Gervinho’s play causes all Arsenal fans a headache the size of his big head. Theo Walcott’s contract issue is still not yet sorted out and letting him go will be another mistake. He has shown signs of rapid improvement in finishing and in his technique. He has also reiterated his desire to stay, but still Arsenal doesn’t want to extend his contract. A good goalie is the need of the hour. It’s not enough to make money, but a football club’s primary role is to play football. At the current rate, forget Manchester United’s Nov. 3 match at Old Trafford, QPR seems a tough opponent.
As the commentator on Sky Sports puts it “It’s not the number on the balance sheet, but the number on the score sheet that matters.”