The season has ended and, for Arsenal, it has ended on an immeasurable high. Winning our first trophy in 9 years has induced a collective sigh of relief and utter joy amongst the fan base and it’s importance should not be underestimated, especially as the progressive effect it could have is yet to be seen. The FA Cup win also made it easier to see the 2013/14 season in a positive light and despite their being some horrific moments and unfortunate losses of key players to injury, on the whole Arsenal are on an upward curve.
Inevitably, however, our jubilation and our reflection on what was in so many ways a promising season has been somewhat cut short, or rather dampened by the paranoia that has ensued from the unavoidable madness of the transfer window. Even though I tell myself year after year ‘I mustn’t be persuaded by tabloid rumours and radio stations based in the Columbian hills that no one has ever heard of before in their life’, I always do. And maybe that is why I understand why it’s nigh on impossible to not get drawn in by the highs and lows, excitement and controversy that surrounds the buying and selling of players. After all, with the exception of a little tournament in Brazil this summer, what else is there for football lovers to think about during the off season?
At the end of the day, we all love the transfer window really. Even if it’s not the kind of emotional engagement you’d normally recognise, I refer to the purely engrossing and ‘ooh, what if?’ nature of it all. We are inherently inquisitive creatures after all.
The Waiting Game
We all know that Wenger, a qualified economist, is a shrewd strategist when it comes to the transfer market which helped us no end during our period of necessary penny pinching. Even though we now have more cash at our disposal, we still don’t have access to the near-bottomless pits of oil money that the likes of Man City and Chelsea do; we still have to be careful how we spend it. This is the reason why Wenger always bangs on about spending on the ‘right player’ of ‘top top quality’ and not throwing our hard earned money away willy-nilly because we simply can’t afford to. If we want Arsenal to keep doing things our way and what many classify as the right way, we must accept that it takes a little more consideration and even, rather ironically, riskier strategies in the market.
Nobody likes waiting, whether it’s for a package to arrive (the contents of which you desperately need) or similarly waiting for Arsenal to sign a player that they need. It can often be very frustrating to read about other teams going about their business whilst Arsenal and, more specifically, Arsène Wenger wait patiently for the opportune moment in which to strike. In an ordinary off-season there are pretty simple pros and cons to this method, but during a World Cup summer, it becomes a tad more complex.
One major problem with waiting until during or after the world cup to get major transfers done is that if player ‘x’ is involved in the tournament his performance will a) dictate his value and thus b) dictate how many and which calibre of clubs are competing for him. That’s pretty basic stuff. However, international tournaments can often throw transfer market stock curve balls in the shape of surprise performers, thus either a) presenting new targets or b) detracting competing clubs from another target. Beyond this is the possibility that if a big spending club secures a player, another player at said club may become available (a la Özil last summer).
Is this method a case of no reward without risk? Of course it is and it would be much simpler to be able to buy who we want when we want, but this seldom happens in football (I refer to the aforementioned exceptions of the sugar-daddy crew). But ultimately, I don’t think it is the case that Arsenal are waiting in blind hope that something comes along and, frankly, I think one would be naive for thinking that. The way I see it is that we have targets, we have lists and we may even already be in negotiations for top players. Wenger’s refusal to take up the buy-back option in Cesc’s contract is not only a demonstration of his faith in our midfield (which could turn out to be a hugely important vote of confidence), but it also indicates that we may have big things in the pipe line. And it may not be so much about saving money that we might need, but rather about prioritising other areas and focusing on doing the business we really need to first and doing it well.
As far as I’m concerned, the fact that it’s pretty quiet at Arsenal is a good thing for now considering we are only a couple of weeks into transfer silly season. We all know that the club like to keep things on the down low in an attempt to avoid interference and possibly more competition for their targets. Yes, we have the money and yes we need to invest in certain areas of the squad, but I’d rather we took the time to get the right players in than rush our signings in an attempt to appease an idealistic narrative that getting business done as early as possible is the best thing in the whole wide world.
Don’t let the paranoia take hold too early and trust in the club who have always stated that this period would be the period that we’re able to compete again to do the business. We smashed our transfer record last summer spending £42million on one of the best players in the world and we won the FA Cup not yet a month ago, so I’m content and, for the time being, quietly confident.