Friday, January 4, 2013

How Can He Be So Obtuse

"It is very difficult because the level of expectation is very high- people want to see Lionel Messi come in, they don't want to see a promising guy"

In January, during a season that has Arsenal fans more worried than hopeful, this is not what they want to hear.

It's patronising, it's unwelcome, it's unsubtle.

Exaggeration can be a useful tool when deployed at the right time- a bit like Theo Walcott.

But this is not the right time.

All Mr. Wenger's statement does is set fans wondering just how many footballers they have seen recently who are nowhere near as good as Lionel Messi, and yet much, much better than, say, Gervinho.

The time to talk proudly of "promising guys" has surely passed.

For young players, Arsenal Football Club probably represents the promise of development, but not of ultimate success.

Fans have seen over and over that if a promising player develops at Arsenal into the player he wants to be, then he will soon want to leave for trophies, or money, or both.

If a player doesn't quite develop as he would like, he might well stick around, or get loaned out, or be glued to the treatment table, sucking wages out of the club all the while.

So while fans do still, to some extent, appreciate promise, they don't want it to be prioritised over the club's success. 

I do realise that, in a sense, Arsenal are suffering from their own success. Not just the silverware won in the first half of Wenger's reign, but the continued success of Champions League qualification.

We have to accept that that has been the target since about 2008, and to continue to hit that target has been a fine achievement.

But this sort of success has become monontonous to a lot of supporters, because in all sport the highest measure of success is in trophies won. Arsenal have been qualifying for the Champions League, but since 2006, they haven't been within an ass's roar of winning it. We all appreciate that it helps sustain the club financially, but that mantra has grown tiresome as no signs emerge of that financial stability actually leading anywhere new. It is not an end of itself.

Of course we should always take His public utterances with a pinch of salt. There must surely be a recognition that the squad is in need of surgery. And the focus on signing players of potential has happily lessened somewhat. Arsenal's most vital additions last season were probably Arteta and Mertesacker, experienced players who steadied a rocking boat, and the big signings of last summer were Podolski and Cazorla.

Spending more money is not always the answer, but if Arsenal wish to continue the monotonous habit of relative success, then it might prove to be the only answer.


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