Sep 012011

Yesterday was something of a rarity – a transfer deadline day with not only action, but action of the spectacular kind. Of course it was required, but few of us actually believed that significant numbers would come through the door. I said earlier in the week that we needed three players, at a minimum – a centre back, a creative central midfielder and a striker. I also said that we needed a left back, but the chances of signing three players were slim, let alone four, so it would not be a surprise to see someone ‘versatile’ come in.

As it happens, we signed the centre half, the midfielder and the striker, and got two bonus signings as well. I call them bonus signings because of their situations – Santos, our new Brazilian left back, only became available because Fenerbahce are embroiled in a match-fixing scandal which has already seen them removed from the Champions League and may yet see them follow the Juventus route down to the second tier of their national league. Meanwhile, Benayoun is on loan, adding experience and a work ethic that will hopefully rub off on a few.

The other three were the key moves. From front to back, Chu Young Park is the South Korean captain, and had a decent goalscoring record in a relegated Monaco team last season. He is perhaps the most risky of the three, and has the issue of mandatory national service in two years (which we will pay an additional fee to Monaco for, if he avoids it, in one of the strangest clauses you’ll find), but with Chamakh so woefully out of form and Bendtner leaving on loan, we needed a forward, even as a stop gap. I suspect Walcott will still get his wish to play through the centre on occasion, particularly once Gervinho settles.

In midfield, Mikel Arteta needs no introduction, and comes with vast Premiership experience (in fact, he has played more games than anyone in our squad) – an ideal signing when you consider how light we were in that area. Since Cesc’s departure, Ramsey has been asked to fill the void, and it has appeared to weigh heavily on him – whereas he would previously keep things simple, he appears to believe that new responsibility comes with a requirement for Hollywood passes. Perhaps now he has support, he can go back to doing what he does best. Speaking of Cesc, if you think that losing him was bad for us, you have to feel for Everton a little – how must their fans be feeling today?

But for me, the best signing was at the back, all six foot six of Per Mertesacker, who at 26 has amassed a whopping 75 caps for a German side who aren’t half bad. Previously captain at Werder Bremen (in fact, four out of the five signings have captained club or country in the past), he comes with experience, leadership and size. Judging from Wilshere’s tweets last night, there is a much-needed new excitement around the squad, a welcome fillip after the weekend’s horror show.

Personally, I’m delighted with the business, if a little puzzled why it came so late. Santos is an exception – he only became available because of Fenerbahce’s plight, so he could not have arrived sooner, but what stopped us signing Park, for example? Monaco were relegated in May, he cost next to nothing, and yet we’ve waited until three weeks into the season to sign him. Strange indeed. Still, better late than never.

I actually find the day after the window closes as fascinating as those frantic last few hours, particularly when it comes to how people judge the activity. And the one conclusion I’ve come to is that people are spinning the transfers to whatever suits their own view, with an utter refusal to change their minds. The same moves have been called inspired in some quarters, panic buys in others. Some say they are exactly what we need, some say that they are lacking in quality.

A couple of these struck me today. Firstly, Eurosport ran a transfer deadline day rater, which actually seemed to include the few days leading up to last night. Every club was given a grade, and here are a couple of their examples:

Arsenal: C

The £10m Arteta deal rescued Arsenal, who otherwise underwhelmed in the quality of their purchases.

Underwhelmed? Okay, so apparently the current South Korean captain, the mainstay of the German defence (who, as I recall, hammered England in the World Cup), and the current Brazilian left back are underwhelming quality? I find this sort of comment staggering, and to be honest it smacks of a very typical British arrogance towards any other league in the world. Sure, Park may or may not click, but I’m willing to bet that most of these writers have never seen Santos play, and to dismiss a 26 year old with 75 caps for Germany is daft in the extreme.

But it continues. The BBC ran a report, having spoken to ‘respected’ site Le Grove (oxymoron?) and AST spokesman Tim Payton. Now, I know Tim divides opinion, but I actually have a lot of time for him – in his position he has to take a club-challenging view, otherwise he would be somewhat irrelevant and unable to garner reaction from within the club, so while some of those views rub people up the wrong way, I can entirely understand why he must have them – it isn’t a case of lacking support for the club, quite the contrary, he looks for things the club can improve on and talks about them, which sometimes makes him appear negative. Having said that, the article had him quoted as saying:

“Mertesacker is just a cheap Jagielka.”

Interestingly enough, that quote has since been removed, and replaced with something much more complimentary, so it appears that Tim may have set them straight, or perhaps the quote should have actually been attributed to someone else (it actually sounds like the sort of outlandish comment you’d read on Le Grove). As for the quote itself, do I really need to analyse it? Why not.

Phil Jagielka. 29 years old, 9 caps for an England side who have played approximately twenty central defenders in the last three years.

Per Mertesacker, 26 years old, 75 caps for a Germany side who have reached at least the semi final stage of the last three international tournaments. European experience.

It is entirely possible that Jagielka was originally higher up the list, but maybe that wasn’t a list of preference, but a list of realism – you would have thought it would be easier (and cheaper) to sign a decent player from massively indebted Everton, than Werder Bremen’s vastly experienced club captain and star defender. As it turned out, the German’s price was lower, which tells you everything you need to know about the English premium. Don’t even get me started on the £17m demanded for Gary Cahill, despite the solitary year remaining on his contract. Congratulations Bolton, you have just lost yourselves a fortune.

Going back to that Eurosport grading article from earlier, this will make you laugh.

Tottenham: A

Tottenham’s success in retaining Modric despite a £40m bid from Chelsea and their removal of Crouch, Jenas, Hutton and David Bentley represented a job well done for their astute manager.

I’m sorry, what? Frankly, I don’t see the sense in turning down a huge offer for a player who doesn’t appear to have the stones to do anything but sulk from this point forward – for everyone bemoaning the Cesc debacle this summer, Modric has behaved a hundred times worse. And this is the same site that claimed Arsenal losing Eboue, Denilson et al was an ‘exodus’. Interesting.

My point is this – Arsenal’s transfer business can be spun in a number of ways, and it seems that people are taking the deals, and exploring them in a way which allows them to further their own angle.

As for my opinion? Prior to this week, I think the summer had been handled horribly – sales dragged on too long, pre-season preparation was badly affected, and purchases were delayed to the point that we’ve started the season not so much on the back foot, but slammed against the wall. However, those final few days provided the results we so desperately craved. Better later than never, certainly.

At last, I’m looking forward to the next game. And that alone says a lot.

  31 Responses to “Transfer business is being spun to suit preconceived ideas”

  1. Good post mate.

    I think you are spot on. Those with an axe to grind will say the buys are all as a consequence of Sunday, while others will just be happy the squad has been added to and with some quality players too.

    This summer has been shite and these new faces, along with gervinho lest we forget him! (He looks the buiseness too) must give the players a real lift, never mind the fans.

    I would have liked a shiney new Galactico midfielder and apparantly we tried to get one, couldnt so we went for experience in Arteta and Benayoun. That for me is good buisness.

    We have depth and quality and have a few injured players to return as well.

    The season starts now!

    Up the Arse!

  2. The central point of your article is a fair one. Re your Jagielka/Mertesacker comparison, you might also add:

    Jagielka: 5’11”, left-footed
    Mertesacker: 6’6″, right-footed

    Re Tottenham, most will probably feel Scott Parker is a welcome addition: for the rest, I’m not so sure they feel they’ve done very well.

  3. True that!

  4. You’re awesome.

  5. Has anyone considered the late transfer arrivals are due to us only qualifying for Champions League just over a week ago? MA8 wants CL football and you can bet, so do PM4 and YB30. Probably would have been impossible to convince these boys to join us still having to qualify for Europe. Hats off to G19 for coming and help us qualify.

    Overall I am happy with the new signings. Now lets get this season back on track.

    Up the Guns of Arsenal!

    • True on some counts, and I’m sure that has had an effect in the end, particularly with the likes of Arteta. I still believe we could have done some business earlier, mind.

  6. Great article mate. The British press seriously give me the shits – and Spurs getting an A?! What the!

    It’s not the summer we all wanted or hoped for but we have purchased some experienced players to compliment our young up-comers. Title winning team – maybe not but now we can watch with pride. Watching a group of young EPL first timers getting smashed was saddening – I felt for them. Now with the experience of Arteta, Mertesacker, Gervinho (don’t know much about the others being honest) we can be confident of challenging for a place in the top four.

    Bring on Swansea. N5 is home.

    • Agreed – I think it is fair to say that the season after losing Cesc, we aren’t challenging for the title, our aim is probably to stave off Liverpool in the top four and build up from there again.

  7. Good post.

    Much of what you say is correct, although I may be the exception. I have been extremely critical of Wenger on my blog throughout the summer, urging him to buy experienced leaders in the positions that need strengthening. He did just that yesterday and I’m now fully behind him again now that he seems to have abandoned Project Youth.

    Like you say, it’s interesting to see so many people who were similarly critical now bashing him for different reasons instead, saying he was ‘panic buying’ and ‘why didn’t we sign anyone for £35m?’ The truth is he’s rectified a lot of our problems in one frantic day and gone a long way to making up for a terribly mis-managed transfer window.

    At 6pm on Sunday I would’ve gladly given my Swansea ticket away if anybody had asked for it. Now, I’m itching to take my seat and see Mertesacker, Arteta and Santos wearing the red and white.

  8. I believe the massacre forced Wenger to finally realise his kid policy aint working anymore.
    Don’t forget bremen let in 61 goals the fourth highest in the bundesliga last season. I don’t know if it’s the new german’s fault.
    Hopefully the signings have not come too late.The next step is to make a statement of intent by swiping Swansea with a minimum of a two goal margin victory.It aint as easy as it looks. Having shipped a hatful of goals,Swansea will play hard to beat.They will play like Big Sam with two lines of defenders.
    The gunners better be careful of the quick conter. All I know and even my 103 year old uncle with dementia knows the gunners attack will inevitably break down at some point in the attack.If Arsene persisits with the hdl he is asking for trouble..

    • you have to keep in mind the fact that Bremen conceded that much because Per was injured pretty much the whole season. with him playing, the number will be much lower I believe

  9. I´m not sure AW has abandoned project youth. Sometimes we mix age and experience. Cesc had bags of experience.
    When evaluating our transfer dealings, we have to start with what the priorities were; keep the squad and add a couple of quality players in areas needing strengthening. We lost 3 first team regulars (Clichy, Fabregas, Nasri) but we did get 2 or 3 classy players in the areas needing strengthening; CB (PM4) and striker (G27 and CP9).
    Losing CF4 and SN8 meant we probably needed strengthening in MF too (MA8 and YB30).

    I´m pretty happy with the result although I would have preferred the 3 major players leaving Arsenal staying.

    • To be honest, I don’t even like the ‘project youth’ label. We have always, and will always, sign young players and turn them over for a profit, and I have nothing against that whatsoever.

      The issue has simply that we’ve been blooding them too early, and in clutches, so they lack the support of experienced heads around that. The likes of the Ox can still get a game, but now should look less lost.

  10. You are fucking naive as hell if you think those signings all came into being after Sunday. All bar about one possibly were in the pipeline before Sunday.

    You are a bit thick, so not worth discussing the finer points with a retard though.

    He said he wanted expereicned players all summer, the fact they happened late is a pisser, but they happened none the less. If you are blaming Mertesacker for all bremen’s goals, then Cahill and Samba are shite players as well.

    • I can’t see anywhere anyone saying that there was nothing in the pipeline before Sunday, just questions about why signings weren’t physically made before then. Even if you argue Mert and Art wanted Champions League football they could have been I’m place for theMan U match. And the article even clearly states that the Park deal could have been done earlier and why.

  11. Getting rid of Nasris attitude in the dressing room and overall squad togetherness will be huge. Hes alrady shooting his mouth off, the same one that saw him off at OM, the French side at WC and now Arsenal. The Cesc saga is over and done with and akthough I hated seeing him go, you have to wonder about a captain enjoying banter with the opposing side in the second leg of CL in the tunnel beforehand. As another player waiting to enter the pitch you had to be saying WTF? We have brought in not only expiereince but several leaders of men. Mertsecker, captain at werder Bremen, Bennayoun captain Isreal Nats, Park Captain Nats, TV5 captain at Ajax,couipled with VP, Sagna , and some real steel with Frimpong, Wilshire, Ramsey, the future is bright and I cant wait. Its nice to be this excited after the past few seasons

  12. Nice post. A dose of sanity compared to many. There was nothing Le Boss could’ve done to please the Wenger-must-go lot, short of bringing in Sneijder, Hazard, and maybe Messi, etc. (although they’d probably complain that these guys aren’t English enough). Anyway, it’s time to get behind our team and, if you can’t bring yourself to do that, go follow Nasri and hop on the Man City bandwagon.

  13. It’s not much how Wenger has spent. If the new players signed can help win games and fight for fourth place it will be money well spent.To fight for the epl title will be a bit far fetched.
    I won’t say it’s impossible. To do that the gunners need to go on a long winning run punctuated by draws.If the gunners can keep pace with the leaders,it will be a real bonus.
    Then Wenger needs to strengthen the gunners in the key areas with marquis,no marquee ,signings.
    Then we shall see.

  14. “Mertesacker is just a cheap Jagielka.”
    This comment makes me sick. It shows the English players are way too overrated.
    I don’t understand why is Mertesacker a cheap jagielka.
    Mertesacker is obviously the much need experience for Arsenal.
    Yes he may not be as agile as jagielka, but look at the experience he has.
    I believe he can handle the crosses and set pieces.
    We shall wait and see which CB does better for this season.
    Let the performance do the job

  15. Really one of the best posts I have read in the aftermath of the frantic transfer window closing day.

    I firmly believe that what we saw was the culmination of a considerable amount of planning and preparation work, in no way panic buying or even in much, if any, consideration of what happened last Sunday. Arsenal had a prepared list of targets, which I am sure they maintain all year through, with what they are willing to pay for them. They worked through the list fulfilling the club’s needs as best they could at the most effective cost. And I think we can agree they did a good job. I would give them a 7 out of 10, highest they have achieved in quite a few years.

    Two observations from commenters here are worth repeating. There is no way this business could have been concluded so successfully before we qualified for the Champions League, the range of players available would have been too limited. And the loan deal for Benayoun will leave us free for a midfielder marquee signing in January or in next summer’s window.

  16. Wenger has bought himself about six months. This squad will have serious problems attempting to make a top four place, any cup run is a bonus.

    One can only hope the youth ‘philosphy’ is doused and thrown onto the funeral pyre once and for all, as without the signings of these older heads things would have become much, much worse. If that’s the case the 8-2 mauling at manu could turn out to be a blessing, but the club should have seen it coming, as many have been saying for several seasons now.

    • Wenger hasn’t ‘bought himself’ any time, since he still has the full backing of the board anyway.

    • Cheer up Steve. As horrible as that was it’s still just 3 points dropped at Old Trafford, titles are rarely decided on goal difference. Are you not even slightly excited by the many new signings ?

  17. Arsenal will always be seen as the french team in England, the fact wenger does not buy English players pisses a lot of people off…the best way to respond is wait to see the quality of the signings but I bet if Spurs or Liverpool had sign these same players the English press would have hailed it as genius by their English managers. I have seen some recent comments from people about marquee signings and a show of intent! WTF does this even mean? You buy players with quality to help you win, not to show intent. and when was the last time wenger bought superstars? i believe we should ignore all these fools and watch the table after 15 games.

  18. I read that article in Eurosport, I think Tom wrote it. Absolute piss it was. what a joke. A lot of so called journos have been trying to degrade Mertesacker only cause he’s german and they wanted to see over-rated n over-priced Gary Cahill at Arsenal. How they can even compare the two is beyond me? One has hardly played a big game in his career (i dont rem bolton being in anything major or having won trophy since gary cahill has been playing) and the other has german leagues cups to his name not to forget world cup semi finals euro finals. what a joke! and the other brigade calling him slow? i dont think vidic is usain bolt neither is john terry. for pace we have vermaelen who is gonna complement Mertesacker so perfectly !

  19. Excellent post. The bias in the media is astonishing at time. Spurs an A ? Seriously, they were going to waste all that cash on Cahill because their defense is full of walking wounded and what happenned when Arsenal did by players to fill in for TV5 but they weren’t good enough ? Arsene was slated by the press. So they don’t get the rip-off of the summer because they change their minds last minute but they don’t have a back-up plan. ‘Arry does nothing to fix his patched up defense and gets an A. Go figure !

  20. Le Grove – A “respected” site ? Joke of the year.

  21. Some ‘fans’ just need to be angry and hateful, common sense and rationale be damned.

    How many times have we heard this: “Wenger needs to add some experienced players, we’re not asking him to break the bank and spend £50m on superstars, just add some solid pros instead of buying youngsters”

    Wenger does exactly that and what is that I hear? He should have broken the bank on youngsters like Hazard and M’Vila! There’s nothing Wenger can do that would satisfy those idiotic committed moaners. But at least some of his critics and doubters are reasonable enough to give him praise for what have been some really great buys.

  22. what i hope from the Arteta , Benny signings for Arshavin & Rosicky to pull there fingers out and start showing there form and attitude! a kick up the ass for them! cos in reality the loss of that C**t nasri and fabregras should of meant for them to step[ up! same with chamakh and Park Chu signing . we already have the African pires in Gervinho , watch how many he sets up for theo henry ! lol,
    MOST IMPORTANT thing to be noted we have NOW a partner for the terminator/… it will be interesting to see a delap long throw with the Mercz Benz , terminator 5 and cheggers now! different ball game now :) .. hoping.

  23. […] I read a view about Tim Payton here and I totally agree. All for the good of the club..…  […]

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