By Avenell Dave
Well if you believe the knee-jerk reaction to Sunday’s defeat, you’d think we were bottom of the table, that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had been tracking back and that with him on the field we would not have lost the game.
Was the Ox injured or was it just a bad decision to take him off by Arsene Wenger?
Either way, we lost the game and after two previous poor results in what has been a calamitous season, it doesn’t take much to upset the natives.
Taking off the Ox meant we lost the momentum we had been building with M*nure there for the taking, but to boo Arshavin (and I wish he’d sign for someone this window more than anyone) could do nothing for the Russian’s confidence nor that of the team looking to win the game.
If we lose and fans want to boo players or manager after the game, that’s up to them, although I don’t agree with it. But if our home is to become a fortress, surely we have to use all our passion and our vocal chords to unsettle the opposition, not make it easier for them.
Let’s be honest, it’s not been easy being an Arsenal Addict over the past few years. The move to the new stadium was supposed to make us more competitive and provide us with the grounding to build a team capable of dominating English and European football.
Of course, loans need to be repaid, books need to be balanced and if we are to remain self-sustaining as Financial Fair Play dictates, we cannot expect to spend millions on players with half a billion of stadium to repay.
That’s why Arsene Wenger has developed world class players and had to sell them, bringing in lesser talents with the hope of turning them into quality players sooner rather than later.
It’s been less than ideal and a miracle that we’ve managed to remain in the top four for as long as we have, while the likes of Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Adebaywhore and Pires are replaced by lesser talents.
The simple maths is that while Project Youth has undoubtedly failed, the squad has not been replenished to the levels that make it competitive enough.
Should Wenger have signed a full back on a three month or six month loan? Maybe, given the importance of proper full backs to the way we play and the lack of mobility we have seen in centre backs played out of position.
Johann Djourou will never be more than a squad player at Arsenal, but to play him in a position he clearly struggles with is a mystery. Why not play Koscielny on the right, Vermaelen in the middle and Miquel on the left, where he would have been a darn sight better than Djourou was on the right?
But of course it goes deeper than that, because we allow ourselves to be dictated to by players and clubs who bully us into submission – such as with Cesc and Nasri last summer, leaving it too late to bring in replacements.
While Liverpool (no Premier league title in 20+ years and no Champions League qualification in last two years) can sign a kit contract worth almost £25m a season and we struggle on the £6-8m that Nike pay us, it underlines what work needs to be done by the commercial team working for the club.
Signing players is not easy – just look at how static the transfer window has been this month, and you have to factor in wages as well.
We need to learn lessons and fast about overpaying average players, making wages weighted to results and appearances. That’s why players such as Almunia and Squillaci remain at the club when they could have been moved on if their wages were more affordable to others. It says a lot about them that their incomes mean more to them than playing games.
But we need strikers and a new wide man when Arshavin leaves and it’s better to ease players in now than in the summer when, with RvP likely to leave, we’ll have to start from scratch with new forwards being integrated.
But a final thought about how fickle fans can be. It took ages to come to an agreement to sign Oxlade-Chamberlain and fans were frustrated at the signing of another youngster.
On Twitter today, @Macho_Grande1 found this old headline which says it all: http://twitpic.com/634wy2
I don’t look upon Arsenal with rose-tinted spectacles and I’m as frustrated and disheartened as everyone else at results and performances lately.
But the day I boo Arsenal or any of our players is the day I stop being a fan. And that day will never come.