What we are about to see will consist of Arsenal has-beens, like Ashley Cole; Arsenal legend should've-beens, like Andrey Arshavin; an Arsenal might-have-beens, like Petr Cech. Most of all, as Arsenal fans will watch on as a glittering parade of stars show the world their wares to potential clubs. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to be one of the potential clubs as we become increasingly unwilling to dip into our transfer kitty. Arsenal's policy is mend and make do. So what if we take to the field with a shabby squad, we can still take pride in our philosophy.
That philosophy is not about to change. All we can hope for is a less shabby squad than last year. The signing of Lukas Podolski is an example of a slight sea change at the club. Ivan Gazidis claims lessons have been learnt from last pre-season, when we concluded most of our transfer business on transfer deadline day after a disastrous start in the league. If the policy is indeed to do business as soon as possible, then I would like to ask the question why have we only signed one player prior to the start of a major international tournament. The chances will sign someone during Euro 2012 is negligible.
After finishing third in the league so many points behind Manchester United and Manchester City, you would think the club would be eager to make some major improvements to the squad. Instead, with temporarily improved the squad with the addition of just one big name, fully in the knowledge that a number of big names are about to leave. I felt to see how this policy is going to work.
The website Ashburton Grove is well worth a read, for it gives an insight into the club's policy. It is a well-balanced article, although I disagree with the “Fabregas’s disgraceful behaviour” headline. It may be read on though, so I suppose it did its job.
The main thrust of the article is Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis’s question time with the fans. We are being promised a future that may never come to pass. While UEFA are keen for Financial Fair Play (FFP) to work there is no guarantee that it will. I still can't see how UEFA expect the big spenders to play fair.
The article goes on to say that despite Arsenal having two billionaire shareholders, we are unwilling to compete with the more extravagant clubs. One of those billionaires, Alisher Usmanov, won't be offered a place on the board, that much is clear. All Gazidis was prepared to do is admit that our wage structure may need changing. If we are to keep Robin van Persie at the club we may have to.
The most interesting thing, however, about the article is what Gazidis reportedly said about the sale of Cesc Fabregas: "Me trying to sell you selling Cesc Fabregas is a step forward for Arsenal – that's a pretty hard sell. From a technical perspective it clearly wasn't. But in terms of what we got out of Cesc and what we got out in terms of players who are committed this year wanted to be here, those are the type of judgements you end up having to make in my goodness, those are so, so difficult." I think everyone is entitled to make mistakes but the CEO’s fuzzy thinking is apparent in the lines above. A decision should have been made much earlier about the situation regarding Cesc and Samir Nasri. Instead we were fed lies about how only one player would be allowed to leave of the two want-aways. We always suspected that Nasri would be sold. Then we would keep Cesc for one more season or until we found a replacement of sorts.
The article goes on to say that Cesc "refused to play for us" during the pre-season when he was fit. Even if that were the case, surely the club held the whip hand. Cesc was still on a long-term deal. A spell in the reserves would have sorted out his reluctance to play. He could have been sold in January, if necessary. The club messed up. It’s a simple as that. We didn’t get anything like the money we should have done for Cesc, so we wouldn’t have lost value by disciplining him or not playing him.
I’m not sure if it’s ineptitude that is causing the club to make so many bad decisions or whether it is something more sinister. Whatever it is we don’t need it. If the same mistakes happen again this summer, heads should roll. Please don’t think I’m having a go at Arsene Wenger. I’m not saying he should go. Far from it. I just believe he deserves better support from the board than he seems to be getting. We all know we need David Dein back at the club. Why can’t the board put personal differences aside and invite him back? Maybe then I would start believing that the board have the club’s best interests at heart.