A few years ago I happened across a Coroner’s Report in one of the more respectable UK broadsheets. The subject of the inquest was the untimely death of a middle-age man who’d passed away whilst availing himself of the intimate attentions of an honest lady of the night. Called upon to give evidence, she had this to say (and it was brilliantly quoted verbatim in the paper). “He gave a great sigh, your Honour, and I thought that he’d come, but he’d gorn.” I always imagine Barbara Windsor delivering the line – she’d do it perfectly. I suppose one way or another it all boils down to beginnings and endings, comings and goings, and if that is true of life then it is certainly so of the summer transfer window.
Unfortunately right now there seems precious little to cheer about, but plenty of gloom to keep the doom brigade paradoxically cheerful.
Sagna’s departure was long expected, and although anticipated it still came as a wrench to see him go, especially as he was playing as well as ever.
Although few will have mourned the passing of Bendtner or Chamakh, many are now braced for the imminent departure of Vermaalen, and this will be a sadness. It’s a hard situation for him and the club: he wouldn’t want to sign an extension to play second fiddle to Per and Kos, and much as the club would like him to stay, it seems almost foolish to pass up the chance of a decent transfer fee to keep him as a potentially disaffected bench warmer. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
Although this doesn’t really count, the decision not to sign Fabregas felt like another death, and was certainly mourned as such. Actually, I am wrong there: given that it is never nice to see your own playing for another it was more like a betrayal than a death. Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and predictably enough many turned on the club for seemingly having stood impotently by while a Portuguese lothario exercised his seductive charms.
Given all of that, the rumour recently circulated that Cazorla is on his way found plenty of fertile soil within which to breed and spawn discontent. So in the space of a month, nay not so long, a little month, The Arsenal had gone from “Trophy winning side ready to embrace bright new future” to “Jaded Arsenal, happy to play second-fiddle Arsenal, congenitally unambitious Arsenal”.
Except, of course, that perception is a long way from the truth. Nothing has actually happened that any reasonably intelligent supporter couldn’t have foreseen. The club has the same players on its books, minus the eleven that have just been released, and it would be hypocrisy of the highest order for some to claim the decision to let Bendtner and Kalstrom go indicated any kind of weakness. We don’t know whether Arteta will ply his trade elsewhere (today’s latest rumour) just as we can’t know the status of any possible transfers, however much they have been touted in the press.
We can put two and two together and surmise that it is likely that we sign a right-back, but we are only guessing if we say with any certainty that we know who it will be. For sometime now it has seemed that Serge Aurier would be Bacary’s replacement, and conveniently he looked similar enough to satisfy all those who don’t really like change, but that rumour has now gone a bit lukewarm, and this, combined with the news that another reported target, Seamus Coleman, has penned a new contract with Everton, has started to cause panic in some of the supporting ranks.
Now throw in a few big money signings by the Manchesters and a home-bred exotic to Liverpool, mix with pictures of AW besporting himself on a Brazilian beach surrounded by bikini-clad babes and you have the makings of a perfect twitter storm. And all this still a few days before the transfer window actually opens, and two weeks before the world’s best players, some of whom you might hope to be genuinely Emirates bound, have done with the compelling side-show that is the World Cup.
In so far as I can know anything, I know that Arsene is keen to strengthen his starting XI and his squad. I also know that although The Arsenal has a lot of money available it does not have unlimited funds and this will have a bearing on how the club goes about its business. I think I know that a lot of scouting and a lot of negotiating will already have taken place, and if it has then I suspect at least one deal has already been done, but has yet to be made public. If it is the tradition to announce a new signing with a picture of him proudly holding his new shirt, then it makes sense to wait until he can do so with the blessing of the brand new sponsor, and this, as much as anything, could be the reason why Coleman has pledged himself to Merseyside.
In short, because I believe that the club is ambitious, and because I read between the lines, I remain as confident as ever that the club remains on an upward trajectory and is firmly committed to long term success. However, while it is all very well me thinking all of this it doesn’t do the club much good if a sizeable number feel the opposite, especially if some of those who do so are either influential bloggers or journalists.
In fact, far from it not doing much good, it can do active harm if The Arsenal brand becomes associated with a sense of tentative and parsimonious under-achievement. That is not what sponsors want to buy into, and very much not what the best players in the world want to sign up for. When will there be good news is a legitimate question to ask right now, and given that nature is all too ready to fill a vacuum, I would question how carefully the Public Relations Dept have been taking their responsibilities over the last three weeks.
There was a brief moment after the first round of World Cup group matches when everything seemed possible: Balotelli, fresh from damaging England, was surely ours, Campbell was like a shiny new toy and Aurrier was the newest assist-king on the block. All this, and we hadn’t even begun to decide between Bender or Khedira, Pogba or Vidal. Leaving aside for one moment the actual worth of these players, it was quite clear that Arsene did indeed know, and that once again North London was the sexiest place in the footballing world. It felt good to be a Gooner.
Ten days later, and that impression has faded ever so slightly and that is a pity, if only because I now find myself wasting time reassuring the faint of heart that everything is indeed all right, and feeling slightly irritated that the club doesn’t do more to reach out positively to its supporters. At times, in fact, it is as if it goes out of its way to disappoint and alarm, such is its seemingly blithe lack of concern as to how it is perceived.
I am certainly not suggesting that we should be privy to the intimate details of all our transfer dealings, for that would be absurd, but I do think that now we have heard all about the goings some reassurance that there will be the odd coming to look forward to would be nice. And if it could be Barbara Windsor who could whisper that everything was going to be alright and to just lie back and enjoy the ride, then so much the better.
Today’s post was by @foreverheady.