Europa League it is, then.
I know we are still in the race for a place in the top four but it’s extremely unlikely that either Liverpool or Manchester City will drop points in the final games, so the sooner we accept this demotion the better we will deal with it.
I am not exactly over the moon at the idea of playing Thursday night football next season, like you I guess. However, it is going to be very interesting to live one season in the shoes of a Tottenham fan and feel what it means to be anonymous, for a change.
Regardless of the willingness and seriousness of our approach to Europe’s minor competition, which I hope we will play to go all the way to the final, the most important thing for the Club, the manager and the players is to make sure that this will be a one-off experience, not a first step into chicken-balancing-on-a-ball-standards mediocrity.
Competition will make it harder and harder to get back into the Champions League spots and the Arsenal need to step-up, in every single department. Next season is going to be very much like a rescue mission for the Gunners and I am very curious to see who is going to embrace the challenge, this summer.
Whether Arsène Wenger will still be at the helm or not, it will require an enormous effort for each and every one at the Club to digest the first year without Champions League football and find the necessary resources to mount a serious challenge to immediately get back to the top.
For years we’ve been sold the Champions League qualification as the mandatory condition to attract top players – the famous top-four trophy – I am therefore quite interested in seeing if the lack of it will have a tangible impact on our recruitment of new players and some all-important contract renewals.
Will the Club act bold and accept the idea that they will have to ‘show the money’ or will they rest on self-commiseration and blame the lack of Europe’s top competition, when players leave or will refuse to join?
As Chelsea and Manchester United have shown in recent years, players seem much more attracted by top wages than top competition so the Arsenal should be prepared to splash the cash to both reinforce the team and convince the likes of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez to stick around London Colney. I am fully convinced that both would stay, if shown that the Club is reacting quickly to this slip-up and intends to build a winning team – on top of paying them what the market is offering; of course we can all disagree on the ridiculous wages currently being paid by some Clubs to some bang-average players but that’s the reality of European and English football, unfortunately.
Will the Club do it? Will the board and the manager be able (and willing) to sell the dream to top-tier targets in the market?
The impact of the choices made this summer could be invaluable and possibly decide the fate of the Club for the coming five, maybe ten years; one step in the wrong direction and we could find ourselves into moving sands, where every move drags you down and every effort is only making things worse.
It does not necessarily means throwing money at any player and manager available, like Manchester United did after sir Alex Ferguson retirement, but it has more to do to be prepared to pay what it takes to get the players you need – as Chelsea did with N’Golo Kanté.
In my opinion and assuming that players like Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will sign new contracts, we will easily need a new left-back or wing-back, a striker and a creative player who could supply for our two star-men, when absent.
None of them will come cheap as we’re very likely to be seen as a Club in desperate need of new signings, hence keen to overpay for their targets.
Don’t be surprised if we’re going to be hard done by selling Clubs and agents, it’s all but natural in our condition of potentially-declining Club.
I admit the first response looks very encouraging, with Schalke 04 left-back Kolašinac rumoured to be on the verge of joining us, having accepted a mammoth 5-years contract worth £ 140,000 per week.
Will the board and manager build on this first signing?