WTTGT Writer: Dean Cox
Being an Arsenal fan for over 30 years, I have learnt that the end of season review can normally be written about January time. This time I got a little longer, waiting until Martins’ wonder strike in the Carling Cup Final for it to fall to pieces.
All pre-season I hoped we would buy the type of players we needed: a top class keeper, a hard as Julian Dicks centre-half, and a greedy forward to score goals. My hopes started promisingly with Chamakh who had a decent record in Arsenal’s feeder league, the French Ligue 1.
The Schwarzer saga: I was waiting daily for us to find the £2.28m Fulham were after to complete the deal, but that never materialised. Even though I’m not a great fan of Schwarzer, he is better than Almanure and Flapianski; but the fact we were looking for a keeper pleased me.
I had heard that the kid on loan at Brentford [Szczęsny] was doing well but he is very young.
Then the search for the tough centre-half: we sign a half-Polish-half-French centre-half. This confused me as centre-halves should be good decision makers but he couldn’t even decide where he was from! Not a good start… In his defence (no pun intended), he has done OK this season.
Then came the weird Squillaci signing. I first thought it was the Italian striker from Italia ‘90 (I think that was the year), but no it was some French bloke playing reserve football in the Spanish league.
My hopes for the season were starting to fade as Wenger was quoted as saying ‘he was looking for players with Premier League experience,’ not Premier Foods.
I know no club has a divine right to win trophies and I am fine with that as I started watching Arsenal in 1972. I have watched some rubbish players in my time: Geoff Blockley, Geoff Barnett, David Hillier, Alberto Mendez and of course Eddie McGoldrick. But what I do demand is that the manager knows what needs change or replacing.
Anyway back to the season…
We start with Almanure in goal who early on throws a couple in the net. Then we replace him with Flapianski, who according to our goalkeeping coach is, ‘A good shot-stopper’ (never trust the judgement of anyone who wears a blue suit and brown suede shoes, I was there and I saw this) – “Hello I’ve got 1978 on the phone, they want their taste back.”
A good shot-stopper? Shouldn’t that be the bare minimum quality of a goalkeeper? It’s like a book review saying it’s a good page turner. You have to give me more than just that.
So early into the season we lose Tommy, our best defender since the first coming of Sol. He is out for the season bar three anonymous games at the end of the campaign. Let’s see what Djourou and the new fella could do… answer: badly!
If we had won the league, such an average league, we’d have been the worst winners of something since Johnny Logan won Eurovision with ‘What’s Another Year.’
We then lose Van Persie for three months with the 2-3 week injury; but the season was going OK and we might win something (how wrong I was).
We get hit by a goalkeeping mystery when every keeper at the club gets injured. We complete the most obvious transfer of the season. Why I didn’t see Jens Lehmann coming in is beyond me. Wenger is a man of extremes if we aren’t singing a 15 year old from Bolivia with potential to be the next… [please insert name]. So, we sign a player older than Milton Keynes.
The second half of the season can be only described as utter disappointment. Four up at Newcastle and draw; Liverpool, Spurs, Sunderland, Blackburn and Villa were all dreadful games.
The only positives to take were Jack Wilshere (great player in the making), Szczęsny and Van Persie – Arsenal’s most important player.
Forget Nasri and Cesc (goodbye to both of you and thanks for the good stuff you did).Van Persie is the one we need to keep hold of.
I have realised the football experts are wrong when they say we don’t have a plan B. I am not convinced we have a plan A! Trying to score Hollywood goals while winning titles isn’t a plan, that’s just plain crazy and impossible (unless you’re Barcelona). We need ruthless players who are only interested in winning.
We haven’t got a history of ‘we must win beautifully’. I loved watching the George Graham’s team, picking up trophies and being solid at the back.
Arsène, buy us winners and leaders, or move on and let someone else do it. Now to two months of watching monkey tennis on ITV4…