Blimey, it’s hot in London at the moment, which I am absolutely fine with I hasten to add. I have a lot of work colleagues who are real-life Goldilocks’ and who have said they aren’t fond of this heat, but when you spend three quarters of the year in jackets or carrying an umbrella, you just have to embrace the three or four days of warmth whilst you have it.
I wonder if the heat is having an effect in London Colney? I wonder if it’s sending people a bit mad? Like, mad in the sense that Ivan and Dick decide that “f*ck it, let’s slap £50million down on this player and not tell Arsène, until he arrives for training” kind of mad. Wouldn’t that just be awesome?
Well, providing the player turns out to be half decent, that is. Which is, of course, the million dollar question: how do you guarantee quality when you buy in an over-inflated market?
The reality is you can’t. You have to stick you’re balls out there and give it a go. United did that with what was seen as a laughable price for Antony Martial, but he had himself a decent season and what United paid for him last summer, seems the going rate this summer.
That’s where we come unstuck though, for which I’ve seen a train of thought on Twitter, that I kinda agree with. It’s the idea that Arsène doesn’t want to take risks with what he sees as expensive ‘punts’ at this stage in his career, as it would damage his reputation as an economically sensitive manager. Arsène has shown he’s not afraid to splash the cash, with Özil, Alexis and even Xhaka earlier in the summer, but I still think there’s something in the the thinking about how he doesn’t want to take any kind of ‘gamble’ on a striker at the moment. His signing of Asano is a calculated risk; the guy could flop and all that happens is we get the couple of million back that we paid, or he could prove to be quite a find, in which case Arsène’s legacy for finding young talent remains in tact. But when it comes to a big-name signing up front, he’s being deliberately austere, perhaps because he knows that if he goes ‘all in’ on a big name then really the club should have no excuses when it comes to league title contention this season. Some can question the defence, but if we have another 20-goal striker and a wide forward that can contribute to goals like Freddie and Pires, then we should be one of th top teams in the division. We should be able to compete right until the final weeks of the season. Surely?
But as it stands, without making any more moves in the attacking positions, we have a team that should it finish third or fourth, many will argue that Arsène has done his job with the squad he has.
But people I speak to have had enough of that. We want the club to stick it’s neck out and have a go. Perhaps with Guardiola, Mourinho, Conte and Klopp the competition will be more difficult than ever and we may fall out of the top four, but if Arsène has rolled the dice on players that seem a good signing at the time – e.g. Lacazette – I for one would be saying that he’s at least had a go. Right now though, it just feels as though we’re afraid to be a bit bolshy, which is perhaps more frustrating than anything else.
To not use all of the resources at your disposal seems crazy to me. But do you know what worries me more than anything else? Stan. If I am given a budget at work at the beginning of the year, if I don’t use that budget or if the trend come September is that it won’t all be spent, I have my budget downgraded and the cash stays in the company coffers or gets redistributed somewhere else. I don’t think right now Stan would extrapolate the £250million-odd from Arsenal for one of his other projects, but would it really surprise you if some of it did disappear off to America at some stage? We all know Kroenke’s couldn’t give a Friar Tuck about us as fans, he doesn’t even really care that much about Arsenal, so what’s a few hundred million quid amongst friends, eh?
I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope we spend some more of it this summer. I want Arsène to lift the trophy again, but I just don’t believe he will, because of his own failings. His desire not to roll the dice, coupled with some of the decision making throughout the season, will inevitably lead to us falling at some stage, but I’d love to see the old dog get it right.
It just doesn’t feel like it at the moment though, does it? Everything isn’t about signing loads of fresh new blood at the club, but for me I think it’s more about feeling like I’ve been through this all before, which is why I’m starting to get a bit down about the whole situation. This all feels too familiar and whilst the season hasn’t yet started, because of this familiarity, don’t you think we’ll end up having a season like we’ve had for the last two or three years? I.e. Look like we might challenge, pick up a few good wins, be there or thereabouts in December, start to fall away in February, be out of it by the beginning of April, recover some form by the end of the season so that people aren’t foaming at the mouth by the end of May. It’s all been done before, hasn’t it?
Still, we’ve got time for things to change. There is still 11 days until August. So I suppose we should be chilling out a bit and waiting to see what happens over the next week and a half.
I feel like I might have said that before, somewhere, though…