Arsenal haven’t won a major trophy for quite a while, which is why when the Gunners failed to claim even their own home tournament, the fans weren’t particularly pleased. Against Boca Juniors, and later the Red Bulls, Arsenal’s same old failures rose to the forefront – ones that have been identified, analyzed and hypothetically solved by every literate football fan save one; Arsene Wenger.
Whether or not Arsenal actually want to improve themselves is a question worth pondering; after all, based on their activity thus far, Arsene Wenger is quite happy with Europa League football. Everybody knows that Arsenal need a defender, and everybody knows that they need an enforcer in midfield. Fans, pundits and journalists are rarely able to all agree on anything, but Arsenal’s problems are so obvious, that they cause little to no argument.
However, it is rare that Arsenal enter a transfer window on the attack. It is strange to hear their name bandied about among ones like Real Madrid and Manchester United – bizarre for them to be linked to the World’s premier talent. No, the column inches dedicated to Wenger’s side tend to be focused around their desperate attempts at retaining the players they have, rather than improving a squad clearly inferior to those boasted by the cream of Europe.
Instead of concentrating on the perusal of hard men, Arsenal’s transfer energy is almost exclusively focused towards keeping their creators – strange, as they aren’t exactly short of those. The summer is considered a success by Wenger if Fabregas is kept, not if suitable reinforcement is acquired; after all, there isn’t any value in the transfer market these days.
But no, there is value. There is value in men who can pass, value in those who can dribble – that’s why Wenger wanted Juan Mata, and not his Valencia teammate David Albelda. Wenger must know of the holes prevalent in the side that he has built up for seven seasons, yet, he remains reluctant to fill them – only interested in procuring another diamond, not reinforcing with steel.
In many ways Wenger’s vision is an admirable one. There is no one in the game more stubborn than “The Professor,” no one in the game more dedicated to a strict set of footballing ideals. But all the sport’s great thinkers know how to make allowances, know when to abort a project destined for failure, or how to turn a losing team around. That is where Wenger comes up short. When his ideas do not meet with success, he refuses to accept defeat – most call it stubbornness, I call it stupidity.
It would be wrong to accuse Arsenal of a lack of effort in their most important transfer endeavors though, they have tried. Last season, they were on the verge of signing goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, this year they bid for Phil Jagielka. However, it is at the point of rejection where the symmetry between Wenger’s transfer policy and his managing one emerges. When rejected once – be it a bid turned down or a game lost – Wenger refuses to accept anything other than his original plan; suddenly, a match becomes unlucky or a player overpriced.
Eventually, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger will learn. Maybe next season, when they watch the aggressive Liverpool or the savvy Tottenham steal into the Champions League places they will understand. Maybe when they see the ultimate value for money, Chicharito Hernandez, lift his second Premier League trophy they will realize that they are in the wrong. But most of all, when Arsene Wenger stands soaking wet on the sideline, watching his team kicked off the park by enthusiastic Thursday night opposition, he and the club will appreciate that they have no one to blame but themselves.