How hard can it be?
Come on Arsene, just spend the money!
You’d think from the views of some that this should be the easiest thing in football. But interesting recent remarks from ‘Swing’ in the PA comments section regarding Chelsea’s former defender David Luiz made me think further on the subject. Swing eloquently highlighted how Luiz appears to be thriving since departing these shores from a team (or a team set-up/manager) that was evidently ill-suited to him.
One of the more almost endearingly simplistic traits of our Goner friends is the tendency to hop from player to player in a kind of footballing flavour-of-the-month perpetual merry-go-round of helpful suggestions of those who might strengthen our squad and whom Arsene has clearly, albeit inexplicably, so far not spotted. Trouble is, it’s a bit of a kiss of death as a disproportionately high number of these ‘helpful suggestions’ go on to see their careers dip and in some cases dry up altogether in the months and seasons that follow.
There are two reasons I found Swing’s comments particularly interesting.
Firstly, in how they might apply to our own Lukas Podolski, a lovely guy with first class PR and disposition, 118 caps and 47 goals for Germany since 2004 but who carries a faint aura of disappointment around with him when it comes to his AFC career (55 appearances/19 as sub and 28 goals) since 2012. Very roughly, he’s appeared in approximately half of the games played and scored in half of those.
It’s not really for me to judge how successful Lukas has been – certainly not a disaster for Arsenal (not to mention a Germany mainstay) – but the frequency of his 70th minute substitutions only contribute to the vision of a player who appears past his ‘bedding in’ period but who is still not slotting in seamlessly to the squad. Could Lukas, like Luiz burst more fully into footballing life in the ranks of another club?
Secondly, and using LP as a very crude example, this is precisely why AW can conclude a summer’s transfer window with apparent gaps in the squad – Arsene knows he could well have picked up x, y, or z player – we had the funds, clearly, although it’s by no means a given that all potential buys would want to come to the club given the appalling reputation our own fans have earned for themselves. So Arsene might have adopted a robust buying policy but what if he had not had the confidence all the newbies would slot in in the way that, say, Chambers and Debuchy have?
Players may well grow on trees and the buying process might indeed be very simple (as we are repeatedly told by the ‘just do it’ brigade) but make the wrong purchase and you will have a player on your hands who will sit somewhere on the spectrum defined by the Chelsea version Luiz at one end (laughing stock) and Arsenal’s Lukas at the other (decent but ‘enigmatic’).
Start to fill your squad with such purchases and the resulting mixture can give you a team on a second spectrum defined, perhaps, by Newcastle – ‘laughing stock’ – and, say, Spurs, theoretically challenging for honours but always falling well short of their targets (and laughing stock). We’ve seen time and again what happens to teams attempting to stuff themselves with new players – Liverpool and Man u being current examples following on from 2013’s epic big spenders, Tottenham. The Suarez swag, like the Bale bundle before it, has proven to be a double edged sword. An ephemeral cash weapon which, in the wrong hands can prove to be a blunt – and potentially ineffective one – at that.
So, Arsene – just spend the money (but go easy with it, eh?).
So on to tonight – and on the exact 18th anniversary of the start of Arsenal’s golden era with Arsene celebrating in his usual low-key fashion, a tough game awaits us against a Turkish side likely to be very well supported and also in urgent need of three points.
As well as reeling from the loss of Ramsey and Arteta, but with the safe squad return of Jack, Arsene knows the Turks’ main threat may well come from Burak Yilmaz breaking on the counter. This will be no walk in the park for either team but should prove one of the more watchable – and enjoyable – of the week’s European encounters after yesterday’s dull affairs involving Chelsea and the misfiring City.
Up, as they say, The Arsenal – and congratulations, Arsene!
18 years to the day of outstanding service and so many incredible achievements.
Here’s to many more.