As I write this we are in peak silly season when it comes to transfers and various players of mixed pedigree, and admittedly some I have never heard of, being linked to my Arsenal. Today I wake up to hear we have had a second official bid for Tierney. Celtic’s talented left back rejected. I actually believe this one and think the move has legs but others are simply media hype and speculation. We had two bids reported by the media and a French journalist linked to Lorient confirmed we had not even made one bid. The reality is that it takes a brave person to gamble on the transfer market but for those bold enough, Sporticos is known as a hot prediction site
However, Arsenal are quite obviously a club that need to be doing business, or at least making some huge decisions on its first team playing staff, after a disastrous end to 2018/19, when the manager and team seemed to run out if ideas and steam. I find myself strangely dispassionate about the summer, knowing full well, that whatever we do between now and early August we will not be competing for major honours. We are too far behind and with the current structure at the club, will not or cannot compete, depending on your perspective, with the likes Man City and Liverpool.
Whilst this realisation is hardly a shock, I find that this summer, I am remarkably relaxed about it and in essence, I have decided that, for the most part, this is because I am a traditional match-going fan. Let me explain what I mean. As I am accepting of the fact that we are not going to win the Premier League in 2020, what is important to me is that I enjoy my match day experience. This is the whole package that will include meeting friends in the pub pre-match and of course, chatting about the previous match, tactics and players. Then the ensuing discussion as the team is announced and the anticipation as I walk to the Emirates and take my seat, greeting the familiar faces as I go, waiting for the kick off.
The main course is the 90 minutes of football, cheering on the team I first saw live in 1976 and obviously, I want them to win every game. However, this Arsenal squad will not offer me guaranteed victories so what I want is a team that I enjoy watching play football, including players that I connect with. At present, in a world where an average Premier League player can earn more in a week than I do in a year it is hard to feel that connection, that I did in the 1970s and 80s. Therefore, where |I find myself, is wanting to see players I can connect with for another reason and that fairly obvious reason is because my club has produced the player, he is one of our own and was brought up and educated in the Arsenal way.
This summer there is much talk about the success of the U23s, Ljungberg’s promotion, the reliance on bring this talented group through and I welcome it. A good transfer window for me will see Arsenal somehow offload numerous first team players unworthy of the shirt, a few experienced signings in key positions and then a pre-season where two or three of our youngsters shine and force their way into the manager’s plans.
Emile Smith-Rowe has been tracked by Barca and looked more than capable last term, Reiss Nelson was the only Arsenal player in last season’s Champions League, Kystian Bielik is tearing up the Euro U21s at present and Joe Willock contributed more in 15 minutes, from attacking midfield, than the ‘world’s best number 10, offered in the previous 75. This fan wants to see two or three of these youngsters regularly next season and we can add in Bukayo Saka to the mix. Arsenal struggled to create chances in the latter part of the season and with the two strikers we have, that is a ludicrous situation. Willock and Smith Rowe both have the potential to excel in a central attacking midfield role and Nelson and Saka can both add guile, pace and chance creation from the flanks.
Given where my club is, which I cannot control, what I can control is my own support. I know that support in the stadium will be richer and more vocal if I am watching one of our own Hale End graduates shine, playing with a smile on his face, having fulfilled a dream held since the age of eight, and for the cannon on his chest. I would love to see two of Willock, Nelson, Smith-Rowe or Saka regularly in 2019/20 because I find myself struggling to get behind the likes of Ozil and Mkhitaryan.
I cannot wait to see the young lads in action in pre-season and I want that feeling that I had watching Jack Wilshere when he first broke into the team again, don’t you?