Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wenger needs to show intent otherwise he will be forced to leave next summer

Morning Gooners.

I wonder if Arsene Wenger knows how important this summer really is for both him and Arsenal. A productive one in the transfer market, along with being able to keep hold of our best players could see the foundations laid for several years. But transfer inactivity along with the sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri - on top of the already departed Gael Clichy - could be the beginning of the end for the Frenchman.

He's admitted he's fighting very hard to keep the pair at the club but surely that's more of a bargaining position and very disingenuous? We all know we're holding out for Barcelona to meet our valuation on Fabregas and as for Nasri's future, well that's all down to whoever puts in the highest bid, excluding Manchester United because I can't see us selling to them.

If Barca don't meet our price, Cesc will stay. The manager confirmed that our captain won't be with his team mates on the Asia tour because of injury. Again, is this to prepare for life without him?

As for Nasri, there was lots of talk last night that Manchester City had agreed a deal with Arsenal over his sale. The doesn't appear to be any truth to this rumour... yet. There is talk of the club offering a new improved contract with higher wages than they've previously offered the Frenchman, but little insight as to whether that would persuade him to resign.

At the moment we've made one purchase (Carl Jenkinson) and one sale (Clichy). So we've already seen a decrease in the quality of the squad with the departure of the Frenchman. No matter your personal opinion of Clichy, he was a important part of this squad who played almost every Premier League game for the last few seasons - missing only a handful of games through injury.

In his interview with the official site yesterday, Arsene Wenger hinted very strongly that Kieran Gibbs would be given the opportunity to become the club's first choice left back. The manager doesn't seem to have the appetite to spend the money it would require to sign Leighton Baines from Everton and believes that Gibbs will come good with a consistent run in the team. However is Gibbs currently of the same level of quality of Clichy? I think the honest answer to that question is no, he's not yet.

The manager talks about quality, but yet it seems he's prepared to take a gamble on Gibbs who has made 13 Premier League appearances in his four seasons he's been involved in the senior Arsenal team. Yes Gibbs has been unfortunate with injury and could turn into an exceptional defender but he was unable to oust Clichy from his position last season even when fit. I like Gibbs and think he could be a fine player for us. But I'm not sure his promotion to first choice because Clichy would not sign a new deal has been earned. I'd have liked to have seen him loaned to another Premier League team to gain experience and seen him perform consistently for half a season this term before getting his chance. But instead he's been handed the opportunity to stake his claim in this Arsenal team which we all know requires more experience this summer not less.

Perhaps buying a new left back would have hampered his route to the first team, but I think we would all agree the lack of competition for places last season allowed some of our players to perform inconsistently knowing there was no one waiting in the wings to take their position so they would be picked no matter how badly they performed.

Competition in a squad is healthy. That's how other teams have been successful in recent seasons. So when the manager talks of signing "one or two" players, I hope he really is bluffing and we are going to reinvest in the squad.

He's admitted he has the cash to spend but talks of the overriding factor being quality.
"We are at the top level and therefore need exceptional quality to strengthen our side. I can understand that people say ‘you have money, just go out and buy’. But it’s not only that, we want to find the quality we need."
Whilst I understand the need to strengthen the squad with the right sort of player, I don't believe that it's as impossible as he makes out for us to find that player. He's got the best scouting network at his disposal, along with a chief scout who has brought in a number of players with great ability. But we've yet to sign anyone, well  apart from Jenkinson who is still very much a raw talent.

The deal for Gervinho is almost there but that has been a struggle. And for all Wenger's talks of late nights identifying the players we need, surely that could have all been finalised prior to the end of the season. You don't just look during the close season for players who will improve your squad, it's a 365 days of the year task.

There has been plenty of talk in the papers about signing forwards and midfielders but there has been little been said about the two areas we are in desperate need of reinforcements - defensive midfield and defence.

We're again linked with Craig Gordon in the Daily Mail and we certainly need another goalkeeper because Manuel Almunia needs to be shipped out. There is talk that the Spaniard won't be taken to Asia, so hopefully that means a move for him is imminent. With Lukasz Fabianski returning to training after his shoulder injury, we need to buy a keeper who will fight with Szczesny for the number one spot.

A move for a defender or maybe even both - Gary Cahill or Chris Samba - has gone quiet. And yet we've seen no talk apart from those two. Therefore I can only assume the problem is we've identified these two as players we want to sign but are haggling over their price. Can't we get the deal done?

What Wenger and Gazidis need to appreciate is this season is the turning point for many with the manager. We have to win something this year and I'm not just talking about the Emirates Cup. We need to address our weaknesses in this transfer window. So far we've seen very little signs that we will be "very active" in the  market.

The manager can claim we were very close last season, but picking up two wins in your last 11 league games isn't the form and mentality of a team who can win the league. He needs to be decisive in the transfer market. Identify his targets and sign them. Otherwise I fear that next season could turn out to be worse than last and there will be a very different attitude towards giving the manager more time to get it right.

Let's me be clear. I want us to succeed with Arsene Wenger. I would love to win doing it his way. But if we can't this season, I think it may come to the point when we go our separate ways. And that's not something I want to happen.

I have faith in the manager and hope he is keeping his cards close to his chest with regards to transfers because some supporters need to see that he knows he has to change this summer, otherwise we could go through another season like the last.

A couple of transfer rumours around today: The Daily Express say Armand Traore is being scouted by Benfica and the Frenchman is available for £1m. Whilst The Sun say we're looking at Lokomotiv Plovdiv's 18-year-old midfielder Nenad Lukic.

Finally, the manager has said he'll take the strongest possible squad with him to Asia - like it's some must win Champions League qualifier - which will include Ryo Miyaichi. However Emmanuel Eboue could be left in London because of a calf problem. The official site hope to announce who will be traveling at some point today.

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