As the problems mount at Arsenal, the fans seem to either want Arsene Wenger out or for him to spend the necessary money to strengthen his team. The big question for us though is, is he the right man to splash that cash?
By John Fraser – @HDTreatmentBlog
It’s a tough old slog for Arsenal just now and particularly tough times for manager Arsene Wenger. As a lot of people will be quick to gleefully point out, the last trophy Arsenal won was the FA Cup back in 2005. Since then we seem to have revisited the following scenario in every season.
Arsenal suffer early exits from all the cup competitions while struggling to maintain a top four place, let alone mount a title challenge. Questions are raised regarding the form of players, underachieving signings, Wenger’s seeming reluctance to splash the cash, absentee foreign owners and unrest develops in the stands. Press conferences become strained. Crisis looms.
Then with only the league to focus on, form picks up. Points start accumulating. Confidence builds. Rivals begin to falter. Sneak into top four and pick up a Champions League spot. General opinion is this warrants a success after the bleak mid-season outlook, things will improve next season if Wenger loosens the purse strings. Many agree. However, while doing business in the transfer market is essential, it doesn’t guarantee success. I would not trust Wenger to invest wisely. Identifying youngsters is one thing but identifying players ready to immediately fit into the first XI and start adding value to the team is totally different. And during the barren years since 2005, the additions to the Arsenal squad have just not been up to the standard required.
In the eight seasons since that FA Cup victory, Arsenal have made money in the transfer market. I appreciate that; a very rare and admirable fact. £33m net to be precise. Transfer fees received £261m compared to an outlay of £228m. I am sure we are all aware of Arsenal’s struggle at retaining their best players; many big names have departed the club for large transfer fees. Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona for £35m, so for argument’s sake, let’s assume his transfer is the difference. How has Wenger spent the large fees received for Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song, etc.?
Gervinho cost £10.6m, Park Chu-Young £3.0m (remember him?), Andre Santos £6.2m, Per Mertersacker £10.0m, Sebastian Squillaci £4.0m and Marouane Chamakh came in for free (not even worth the wages he has banked).
For me, these guys stand out as a not being value for money. None of them play. I could make good arguments for Andrei Arshavin (£15m; one-and-a-half season wonder) and Mikel Arteta (£10m; temporary stop-gap), but not for the rest. Also, I think the jury is still out on Lukasz Podolski (£11m) and Olivier Giroud (£13m) as either early season form has disappeared or they continue to settle.
Sure, there have been good signings during this period. Alex Song at £1.0m was a bargain, very consistent and a nice big fee at the end. Thomas Vermaelen for £10.0m is another standout. But they are few and far between. The signings also look to be getting worse as the years go on. As the pressure grows for him to spend; he is panicking and being forced to spend; settling for someone rather than taking more flak for keeping the money in the bank.
Arsenal do need to invest in their squad but Wenger is not the man to do it successfully.
Has Arsene Wenger’s past dealings in the transfer market shown he’s not the right man for the job? What do Arsenal do to improve? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below.