I’ve never been so disappointed to finish 2nd. But I’ve never been more ecstatic to finish 2nd the way we did.
Last summer I was waiting patiently for a signing or two – Cech was the start of what I thought would be a breakthrough summer. We hadn’t lost anyone good for a few years and we’d added exciting top draw players like Alexis and Ozil in the previous seasons. Giroud had improved a lot but there was always the nagging feeling that he was 2nd rate – not disastrous – just not the player that would lead us to a title. Maybe Welbeck could be the one. We had some talent available in all positions and if people were being honest, they couldn’t pick the first 11 this year. Bellerin was the breakthrough we’d wanted for a while, Monreal was Mr Solid, Gabriel looked like a proper defender – Coquelin had a bluebird patch of form that looked like continuing on all season. Cazorla was brilliant in the centre with the comfort of Coquelin protecting. A couple of the kids came through in the Summer and Iwobi took his chance where Jeff is yet to grab his chance.
So why the negativity about lack of signings? Well for me its because Winners have top goalscorers. I can’t remember a team who have won the league who didn’t have a top striker or two on their books banging them in regularly. Rush and Dalgliesh, Shearer and Sutton, Smith and Merson, Henry and Bergkamp, Rooney and Ronaldo, Costa (god love him) and Hazard – and now Vardy and Mahrez.
This year Costa went mental and Hazard’s head had gone.
Rooney is long gone as a major force and Martial had no real support
Sturridge was a crock
Kane ploughed a lone furrow
Welbeck was injured and Giroud ran out of form
20/20 hindsight is really easy with football fans. We have no real decisions to make. We can like a player or slate him – it makes no odds to anyone. Managers have to balance a lot before pulling the trigger on signings – but all things considered if Arsenal had bought a semi-reasonable Striker would we have gone on after Xmas to dominate the league?
Actually I don’t think so – and its nothing to do with AW. I just think that we needed more than a semi-reasonable player up front to replace a semi-reasonable Giroud. We needed top class – we needed the likes of Suarez, Aguero, Costa (with a brain transplant) or dare I say it RVP.
So where is this famous striker who will win us the league next year? Is it a Vardy? I don’t think he’ll replicate his amazing form for another full season. Does this perfect player play for a rival and would they sell to us anyway? What about abroad, who is pulling up trees in Germany or Spain, maybe even Italy? Whoever it is, we’ll need big bucks to persuade the club to sell and then a big package to persuade the player to sign…and probably a season of acclimatisation before trees are in any danger of being pulled up. I’m told we’ve got a few quid now and we should be able to recoup some money from selling Walcott £20mill and/or OX £20mill neither of whom have really worked out at Arsenal. I’d expect Campbell to go for no less than £10mill and Gibbs could get us £5mill. Alexis is an option to move on as well – he has one trick to go with his ridiculous energy levels, its excellent but I think many have worked him out. Could we get £50 mill for him somewhere?
So what do you do with that and whatever else we have. We need to replace Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini – so probably 2 midfielders needed.
We also need to replace Welbeck – so a squad forward is definitely needed. Could one of the Academy kids step up to cover him – maybe Willock? What about Sterling? Perhaps we could pull off a complete doozy with a player swap for Walcott? Its clear Sterling isn’t happy and will need a cuddle or a kick to get going again… not sure I could bear watching him flappy hand around the Emirates every week – but he has talent.
I’d like to go for Aguero and Sterling – lets offer £60mill for them with Walcott and Ox in reply and test Pep’s resolve?
I’d also go for James Rodriguez – I think Real would take £40 mill cash and he’d improve us across the front line – we could fund this with Alexis moving to Juve or somewhere like that.
I’d also get Kante – £30mill would probably steal him
So 4 players in and the best part of £100 mill overall cost – all of them would improve us – but I think I’m starting to run out of money. Can anyone realistically imagine a summer where AW spends £100mill?
And we are back in this endless loop again. We get close needing top quality to improve but go and buy a Giroud. We need a Defender and go and buy Welbeck.
I think AW is on another planet as a coach of players – its ridiculous though to assume that he will change so much to fit what is our perfect model of a Manager and go and spend £100 mill on top players in one window. I think most still want him to stay and see out his ‘final’ year – but its got to be with a plan – its got to have some progression this year. It can’t be Top 4 again, it can’t be FA Cup again. Arsenal is bigger than that and we need a top Quality Striker to join our nearly men. Arsene has acknowledged that we didn’t score enough goals or in his words, finish the good work and opportunities that were made by our good play. There will be 20 decent strikers on show this summer, some may have a break-through tournament so maybe we should wait and see – maybe we don’t have a choice anyway.