Hello there friend. I hope you can bear with me today, lest I become ever-so-slightly ranty. I hope not to be too ranty though.
Last night I read an article from the always erudite Adrian Clarke, who talked about how some people are getting a little bit knicker-twisty in relation to the activity that has – or hasn’t – taken place for Arsenal so far. Adrian is a smart and sensible man and so after reading it I had to agree with his sentiment. People do get a little bit too wound up on social media when perceived inactivity is misconstrued as the club not being bothered to act.
I don’t believe the representatives of the club are all sitting in Colney waiting for a world class centre forward to land on their laps. I do think they are asking around and if you believe some murmurs yesterday about club officials being packed off to Germany to bring somebody back with them through duty free, then you can surreptitiously see that the club are making moves and trying to act. I have no problem with that.
But where my opinion differs from Adrian’s, which is something I’ve heard for a few seasons now, is the ‘judge me in September’ rhetoric. I’m afraid I’m agin that type of narrative. Again, not because of the sentiment – it makes sense to wait until the transfer window is closed before making any kind of proper judgement – more on the fact that we get fed the same narrative on an annual basis. It just adapts itself slightly depending on the time of the year. During the off season we get ‘judge us in September’, but when September is upon us, the story switches to ‘judge us in May’.
What happens when we get to May? Of course, the ‘judge in September’ begins again, and that’s the bit that has me frustrated. I’m frustrated not because of transfers, I’m going to be at that first game whether we sign anybody or have to field a team of reserves, but because I feel like I’m constantly being told that I need to make some sort of assessment in a future that we’ll never get to. Because by the time we get to that point in a year, the goalposts have been moved another three or nine months.
That’s why I’m a little frustrated. I just don’t like being patronised and told that I’m being unreasonable. I just don’t want to be given the ‘judge us in <insert nearest future point in a year here>’ any more. I want frank admissions. It’s amazing how much slack you can be given by people if you accept your own misgivings. Most ordinary people like me are more than happy to forgive and forget if they feel those talking to them are being genuine. I certainly find that with the people I meet in my work and personal life.
Here’s a hypothesis for you: imagine Gazidis and Arsène fronted up at the beginning of the window? Imagine if they both went on the official site and said “hey guys. We were after these positions last summer, we got Cech done, but by our own admission the rest of the summer was a bit of a disaster. We tried going for players in <position x> but we were quoted such an extortionate price, it would have meant blowing most of our budget and we probably wouldn’t have been able to get Elneny and Xhaka in 2016. We’re trying hard though and will give it our all until 1st September”.
Do you know what I’d do if I heard that? I’d think ‘fair enough gents, I’m behind you’ and I’d switch off to the hour is and click-baiters. I’d also want everyone to lay off those who were trying their hardest. I’d be an advocate, of that there’s no doubt, after all I love the club so dearly.
Instead though, we’re fed spin. We’re fed spin from the CEO about how the club should look at what Leicester had done by scouring the lower leagues and so that’s where we should perhaps look, as if to prepare the fans that we won’t be getting any kind of big-name player, setting expectations lower. I don’t disagree for a second that this should be something we’re looking at. Heck, we got Koscielny in from the French lower leagues so we know there’s talent there, but why feed us the spin? I, for one, don’t want to hear it and certainly don’t want to be fed it as some kind of PR exercise.
What I want is more honesty and more transparency. That wins my support. I don’t want to be told “judge us in September/May”. We’ve had that already. I want to be told what the club tried, what did or didn’t work, then be told what the club plans to do next time to get a better result. Is it that Dick Law needs more authority to make decisions on deals? Is it that he needs more help? Is it that Arsenal need to change their scouting network? Is it that the club needs to do something different in their data analysis team? I don’t know, I’m not the expert, but I am a fan and sometimes I just want to be told – sincerely – “here’s what we’re going to try to do to be better”. That’s all. I don’t want us slinking £100million on a footballer because we can. I just want to be given a little bit more clarity on how we’re learning and how we’re evolving as a football club.
Perhaps that’s too much to ask. I don’t know. Like I said, I’m no expert. I have no knowledge of what formulas are best suited to the world of football. I just want the best for my team. And I know you do too. And I hope that the current set up can deliver.