Arsenal Painfully Hangs Onto Wenger And a Prayer With Little Results to Show
After years of underachieving and signing dross such as Sebastien Squillaci from the mini-marts of Europe, this was to be the preseason Arsenal would finally compete with quality, though fairly priced, signings.
Unfortunately, for the remaining Arsenal fans that still hang on Arsene Wenger’s every word, all that has happened is that some teenage defender, Carl Jenkinson, has been signed from Charlton Athletic. At the same time, column inches have been wasted on the players likely to be leaving the Emirates this summer.
Cesc Fabregas was always going to leave this summer. Once he missed the home game against Manchester United, you just knew his Arsenal career was over, with a whimper.
But at least he is being linked with Barcelona, a club we all knew he would return to one day. But to have players like Samir Nasri, who was brilliant for half a season, and Gael Clichy linked with English clubs must really cut to the bone.
In effect, what Wenger and Arsenal are saying is they have no chance of serious trophies in the near future; better to just reap cash from the name and Wenger’s talent at developing defenders.
Clichy is being linked with Manchester City, among others, where he could well link up with Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. Clichy has been with Arsenal for something like eight years, yet has hardly inspired any real devotion among the fans brought up on left-back legends such as Nigel Winterburn, Kenny Sansom and Sammy Nelson.
As for Nasri, the French midfielder is being linked with a move to Manchester United. Now, as ever in the transfer window, stories are generated by agents more than anything else and it is hard to recall seeing direct quotes from either of the clubs involved in a possible Nasri deal.
Also, given the unrest among the Arsenal faithful, selling him to the title-holders will smack of a total lack of ambition at the North London club currently under fire on a number of fronts.
Wenger knows this preseason is a vital one. He has to restore confidence among a large part of the support alienated by a lack of trophies and a series of signings that have flopped, or at best, failed to make any real impression at the club.
Many fans fervently hope nonentities such as Nicklas Bendtner, Manuel Almunia, Denilson Pereira Neves and Tomas Rosicky among others will be shown the door this summer after years of injuries and poor performances that will see them remain anonymous in the annals of the club.
Wenger smugly tells the world that he was interested in players such as Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Essien and Javier Hernandez in the past. But, with his fingers clasped Scrooge-like around the Arsenal purse-strings bolstered by the highest ticket prices in the country, he went after players like Squillaci, Rosicky, Denilson and Bendtner. You never hear Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho say they were ever in their sights.
This is Arsenal’s 125th anniversary, and to celebrate the club has issued two new commemorative shirts: the away one is two shades of blue triangles and comes in a special box.
Along with ticket price rises, this comes at a time when many in England are tightening their belts in the face of the worst recession in generations.
Wenger will know that he is running out of time. He will also be aware, if he is a student of the Arsenal’s history, that successful and long-serving managers tend to go out of the club with a whimper, not a bang.
Bertie Mee led Arsenal to the FA Cup-First Division double in 1971. Four years later it was almost relegated. And George Graham, after two titles in three years, decided to buy dross, promote average young players and was eventually run out of the club. Wenger, beware.