Aug 172012
 

Our summers are nothing if not dramatic. I’ve been largely ignoring it for the past few weeks – ever since van Persie’s original statement I’ve felt a little jaded by the whole thing, and haven’t had the desire to track it, or write about it, on a daily basis. Kudos to those who manage to blog without a break – goodness knows I needed one.

But now, it has happened. Our captain, our best player, the talisman of our football club, has left. And not just anywhere – to one of our fiercest rivals, certainly the club with which our manager has had the strongest and most long-lasting rivalry. It is a momentous day, and not for the right reasons.

Despite all of that, I feel strangely cold about the whole situation. Since his dreadfully worded plea to get the fans on his side, I, along with many of you, had accepted that is was only a matter of time before he left. With Juventus the only destination that wouldn’t sting, it became about getting the best deal possible. When the Italian club dropped out of the running, it became clear that United were a more realistic prospect than we had guessed at the outset. I don’t know whether that preparation softened the blow, or whether the fee we’ve managed to extract has helped (it certainly seems that we have been compensated for where he is going) but somehow I’m shrugging and looking forward to Saturday.

That isn’t to say that this doesn’t hurt from a football point of view. It does – we’ve lost one of the world’s best players, who has been performing at the peak of his powers for eighteen months. Those who write him off based on his injury record are wrong on two counts – firstly he has been fit enough for long enough to suggest that he will be fine next season, and secondly, he actually isn’t injury prone. Yes, you read that correctly.

Van Persie isn’t injury prone. He has been the victim of a number of poor challenges, which have caused a variety of impact injuries. Crucially, it hasn’t been the same body part each time – he isn’t a Michael Owen, who is only a few games away from twanging what remains of his hamstring. I’d actually compare him to Gael Clichy, who suffered a myriad of bad injuries early in his career, all through sheer dumb luck. Once that luck turned, his availability became constant, and the same is true of the Dutchman. So prepare yourself to see him play plenty of matches next season.

I’m sure many of you are angry right now. But frankly, if your ire isn’t aimed squarely at the player, it is misdirected. All his claims to be ‘always Arsenal’ are laughable – he has merrily gone to a hated rival, something a true Gunner would never do. I can understand his reasons, perhaps you can too. But he isn’t a Gunner.

My advice? Move on. We’ve signed three very exciting players this summer, and I think two more will come in before the end of August, especially if Alex Song does boost the coffers further with a move to Spain. We’ve survived big name departures before. We will again. I know we seem to be saying that a lot (which is an entirely different discussion), but we always survive.

As for van Persie? Could have been a legend, but is no more. Was a good player for us, a good captain too, but ultimately chose to throw loyalty back in the faces of those who showed it to him in spades.

Season preview

Time to move on from all that. We are tantalisingly close to the start of a new season, and despite the events of this week, I am more optimistic than I have been in years. Every year, I make a few predictions at this time, and last year‘s actually turned out to be pretty decent. So here we go again:

League Position – 3rd

I think we’ll finish behind the same two sides again this season – both Manchester clubs. However, there is a big difference – I think we’ll be closer to them, and further ahead of the rest. I’d go as far as to say we’ll be in the title hunt until March at the earliest, but ultimately fall short, perhaps by 7-9 points. I’m going with City to retain, with Spurs (yes, Spurs) finishing fourth. Chelsea are my tip to struggle this time around – I don’t think Di Matteo is the man to lead them over a whole season. Liverpool will take time to adapt to Rodgers.

Arsenal Players to Watch

Vermaelen – it might seem strange to pick one of our best players as one to watch this year, but I really think Vermaelen, complete with armband, will step up in a big way. Outshone by Koscielny last season, I fully expect him to take to leadership like a duck to water, and be one of the very best around.

Ramsey – this time last season, young Ramsey was placed under ridiculous pressure. Only a matter of months after recovering from a career threatening injury, he was asked to do too much in the absence of our missing midfield, and never really recovered. By the end of the season, physical fatigue had added to emotional strain, factors that too few fans accounted for. But his character is strong, he never stops trying and he never hides. Unless less scrutiny, I expect him to resume the giant strides he was making before that Stoke oaf came along.

Cazorla – seriously, just watch the guy, enjoy, and try to work out exactly how we got him on the cheap.

Gervinho – talent isn’t a problem, confidence is. But Gervinho has been showing great signs in pre-season, and is another I expect to raise his level this year.

Concerned about

Wilshere – this time last season I predicted a tricky campaign for Wilshere. Expectations were insanely high, such is the talent of the kid, and his nationality meant the pressure would be intensified. I said at the time that his first dip in form would be greeted with derision from the areas of the press who believed he had been hyped up far enough. This all still stands, but his long term injury almost guarantees that his early form will be patchy. He also doesn’t have the benefit of pre-season, and will return in the Autumn a step or two behind the rest. Keep expectations reasonable.

Diaby – such a talent when fit. Never fit for long enough. I would love nothing more than to see Diaby string 20 games together, to remind us how good he can be as much as anything. But I just don’t think he will – he has practically had to relearn how to walk after the consistent problems caused by that Dan Smith ‘tackle’, and that doesn’t lend itself to staying healthy under pressure.

Other titbits

Can we win a trophy this season? Yes, if luck falls our way. It will be a domestic cup if we get one, and you always need a little bit of luck to capture one of those.

Our defence will be much improved. Vermaelen + Koscielny + Mertesacker + Sagna + Gibbs + Santos + Bould. I like that.

Overall, I’m really quite optimistic. I’m sure many will consider that misguided, but for some reason I just think we’ll surprise people this year. What do you think?

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.

Aug 072011
 

So, the summer’s been fun, then?

It has been some time since I last wrote anything, for a variety of reasons. There hasn’t been an awful lot to talk about, unless you count commenting on the speculation of those who know nothing new in the myriad of transfer ‘sagas’ we’re involved in, but make up nonsense anyway because they have to fill pages. Beyond that, I’m not always that interested in anything other than concrete stories in July – the matches are relaxed kickabouts, the talk is endless, and even the official Arsenal site is packed with banality. But most of all, I just needed a break, from all the whining and complaining about a lack of transfers when there were still eight weeks left of the window. Frankly, I found it all a bit pathetic.

All summer, I’ve been saying ‘wait for the start of the season‘, because I’ve been convinced that the ‘busy summer‘ we were promised would kick into gear at some point, and breathe new life into a squad that was devoid of confidence and belief at the back end of last season, and have shown few signs of change in the warm ups. But with just six days to go until our trip to Newcastle, which holds all too relevant memories from the last encounter, I’m getting worried.

Our summer business hinges entirely on which of our players leave, and it has always been clear that our signings are intrinsically linked to our departures. And therein lies the problem – the futures of Cesc and Nasri remain unresolved, which is nigh on unforgivable this close to the opening game, because it has such an enormous impact on all our preparations. Cesc hasn’t even been involved in any friendlies, which suggests that a deal is close, but even if Barcelona raise their bid to a level we find acceptable, the window of opportunity to rebuild is closing by the day. Any new arrivals will certainly be absent for the rest of August, which leaves us without those who may leave and those who may arrive for games against Newcastle, Liverpool and United, not to mention our vital Champions League qualifier against Udinese. Not ideal, by anyone’s standards.

That said, I am still confident we will see new arrivals by the end of the month, and there is one overriding reason for that belief – if we weren’t going to, then why would we be making space in the squad by loaning out established players? Denilson has already gone in that manner, and Eboue and Vela may soon follow. With the sale of Clichy and possibly Cesc also making spots available, any such thinning would be counterproductive. So, for me, the question isn’t whether we will get players in, but who and when.

Those in the Arsenal hierarchy certainly know the mood of the fanbase. That was never more evident than at Members’ Day, when they ditched the usual routine of bringing the squad out one by one, perhaps fearful of the mixed reaction some would receive, and then heavily neutering the questions allowed in the subsequent Q&A. Wenger even alluded this week to the frustration he knows we all feel, so those who believe the club to be oblivious to the growing divide are mistaken. The question is – can they make the moves that will bring people back on board?

Looking at the squad, the holes are fairly obvious. Up front, Van Persie is increasingly vital, unless Bendtner can be convinced not to leave, but to play second fiddle. Chamakh is a shadow of his former self, a baffling situation that becomes even odder when you watch the games from the early past of last season. It is easy to forget how well he did back then, before losing all semblance of confidence and becoming a total passenger. Without Cesc, we still look devoid of ideas against ‘park the bus’ opposition, although Gervinho is at least a breath of fresh air, and with pace that we’ve been sadly lacking in recent years (Walcott aside). And in defence, we are still short a centre back, while the left back situation is fragile at best.

But then, none of this is new, nor is it is a surprise. And given the mooted transfer targets, the flaws are well known, and attempts are being made to address them. The issue is simple – because in similar situations in recent years we’ve made do, the fear is there that we will fail with our primary targets and choose instead to promote from within. No matter how good our kids are (and some of them are very very good), you can’t replace Cesc with them and expect to improve.

In a way, this summer is demonstrating exactly why a summer transfer window should end before the season begins, otherwise you end up with farcical situations where players play a couple of games for one club before moving on, or spend the whole of August nursing ‘niggles’ on the sidelines. Right now, we risk starting the season on the back foot because none of our summer action has been concluded, which would have the knock on effect of making the atmosphere even worse.

The next three weeks are incredibly important, and busy for everyone involved – a lot of business needs to be sorted (Cesc, Nasri, Eboue, Bendtner, Vela and Almunia all need their futures sorted, and then we need to bring players in), and all the while we’ve got a sequence of very important football matches.

The summer action should always be assessed at the end of August. Right now, it really could go either way.

Jul 032011
 

I’ve been getting frustrated with the coverage of the Samir Nasri contract situation over the last week or so, particularly around the vitriol directed at him for his stance in negotiating his new contract and/or move to another club. I don’t doubt for a second that he has been somewhat ruthless in his approach, but I’ve not seen anything that he’s said or done that has left me thinking ‘ooo, that’s a bit off‘.

Let me explain, first by looking at the facts.

Nasri has one year left on his contract, and at 24, is now debating where to spend the prime of his career, a massive decision in any walk of life. He also knows that if he decides not to stay, he stands to earn a fortune when his current deal expires. Typically, when a player is signed on a free transfer, part of his real transfer value is included in his wages, spread over the term of the contract, substantially increasing the weekly salary – clubs can do that because the player retains value, and it is clearly in the best interest of the player, from a purely financial point of view.

In this instance, it appears Nasri has looked at potential earnings in a year’s time, and asked Arsenal to match (or very nearly match) that level to convince him to stay. This has angered many, since it appears to inflate his salary above his merit, but the reasoning is sound, when you look at it from a purely business point of view. It is a bit like owning shares – if your stock is worth £14k now but you know without doubt it’ll be £20m in a year, you are going to turn down offers of £15m, asking the potential buyers for more. Nasri knows how much he could be earning, and he is giving Arsenal the opportunity to match that.

Is he holding the club to ransom? In a way, yes. But he isn’t asking for that level of salary without logic, and probably feels quite justified in his request. I’m not saying for a moment that his performances merit the wage hike, and as a result they will surely be rejected, but that doesn’t make him wrong for asking.

Plenty of people who are criticising him would change jobs in an instant if a far greater salary was offered, and while I understand that the scale of money is very different, there is a still a potentially vast salary gap at stake here. It matters.

And then there is the other factor in the negotiations – ambition. I know many feel that Nasri’s situation is entirely about money, not trophies or club intent, but in truth the two are inextricably linked. Put it this way – if Nasri were to sign on at Arsenal for another five years, on our terms (which, as we’ve established, is considerably less than he could be earning elsewhere), then he needs a really good reason to do so, and that reason is the club giving him the opportunity to win trophies. Yes, Nasri’s form was poor in the second half of the season, but that can happen to anyone – I’m not going to hold that against him any more than I’m going to hold it against Wilshere when he has his inevitable dip – it feels as if we’re using Nasri’s summer actions to view his season (both halves of it) in a more critical light, which strikes me as churlish. Overall, he was good, even though he dipped so badly.

The other reason a player would be happy to stay on lower wages is loyalty, and love for Arsenal. And that is where I think the majority of us are sorely misguided, or at least blinded by our own unwavering support for the club. Nasri is not an Arsenal fan. He grew up at Marseille, his hometown club, and nothing will match up to that. Does he have affection for Arsenal? Probably – three years is likely to do that, but it isn’t anything he cannot replicate somewhere else.

I feel sometimes that we, as fans, miss this point entirely. As Arsenal fans, we cannot understand why anyone would leave the club, but these players are not fans, and even as representatives of the club they do not necessarily have it in their hearts. Imagine if you played for Bayer Leverkusen, and Inter came in with a big money offer for you. Top sides both, and as fans of neither you’d probably take quite a rational approach to the decision. Allow Nasri, and others, the same courtesy.

Perhaps that is the real issue here, the crux behind the feeling that too many players coast along – maybe not enough of them are true Arsenal fans. If you look at the current squad, who can you say really loves the club and is proud to pull on the shirt? Cesc, certainly (yes, he loves Barcelona too, but his clearly loves Arsenal), and Van Persie – the guy talks like an Arsenal fan. Wilshere, through growing up at the club, can be added to that list, but beyond that who is there? Sagna? Maybe. Interesting that the list of players you’d mark down as being proud to play for Arsenal are the same ones that give their all. Coincidence? I think not.

So if Nasri wants to move on, fair play to him. To me, he hasn’t been disingenuous, like Adebayor before him (if Nasri came out next week and claimed that he never considered leaving, then I’d change my mind, but as far as I can see, he has been open throughout), and perhaps we need to replace him with a player who will wear the club crest with pride. Arsenal DNA, you might call it.

I can understand people’s anger towards Nasri, because we don’t like to see our club in a negotiation where we hold no cards, especially when the opposing side knows and is exploiting  it. But this is business, and we are making it personal.

Jun 262011
 

I have to tip my hat to some Arsenal bloggers out there, those dedicated writers who write a daily piece on our club and still manage to keep it interesting, accurate and insightful. You’ll find some of them on the left hand side, and I’d highly recommend having a look if you haven’t already, particularly if you are struggling with the absolute dearth of sense in the written press.

I do find it strange that, given some of them manage to make sense on a daily basis, more aren’t genuinely employed by media outlets, given that their written quality and logic is far superior to columns we pay good money to read. I know a lot of national newspapers struggle in these summer months, especially when there is no international tournament to fill pages, but some of the nonsense they spew is of such a low standard that it cannot be hard to find someone to raise the level. Robbie Savage gets to crayon his idiotic dribble, yet some truly insightful, witty and pertinent authors remain on the independent scene.

I’m pretty certain that doesn’t just to apply to Arsenal bloggers – I don’t read sites of other clubs, but we can’t be the only one with a slew of excellent wordsmiths. Balance should not be hard to come by. Anyway, food for thought.

Back in Arsenal world, and every day feels like Groundhog Day at the moment – there cannot surely be any remaining angles, true or false, to the Cesc and Nasri sagas. I’m not even sure you can call the Cesc situation a saga, because despite Barcelona dragging it out and making it complex, it should really be the simplest move in the world. He would be happy to go, we would sell him for the right price, and there are no other clubs getting a look in, so no real decisions have to be made.

It is utterly simple – make the right offer, and he’ll go. Barcelona can go about settling him back in, we can go about replacing him and adjusting the style of our team in his absence. In short, everyone can move on.

But, as we all know, they are refusing to come up with the right price, even offering less than was refused last summer, claiming his value has dropped over the past 12 months, a year in which he set up the World Cup Final winning goal. He is only 24, and suffered last season because of  a few injuries and a lack of summer break (which could be connected). This summer, he is getting a full rest, and will be fit and firing for August, which leads me to believe he could be ready to raise his game again for next season. And yet his value is supposed to have dropped? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

Barcelona’s tactics lead me to believe that, once again, he will not leave this summer. The player is not going to hand in a transfer request, and is not the sort of character to play half heartedly next season if he doesn’t get his move – he loves two clubs, after all. So, we have no reason to sell way under his value, and £30m is plainly way under his value. Barcelona must know this, which is why they continue to try to force our hand by destabilising the player. It didn’t work last summer, and Cesc has made it perfectly clear it will not work this summer either.

Which begs the question – what exactly are Barcelona playing at? If they wanted him, they would raise their bid. I know they are massively in debt, but last summer they splashed out on Villa, and this time are doing to same on Sanchez. If they wanted Cesc above all else, they’d use the money for him. It is in their interest to bed him in as soon as possible, so dragging it out only helps them if it drives down the price, which we already know it won’t. So the only logical conclusion I can come to is that they will not raise their bid, they will claim to their fans that they tried everything, and they’ll come back next year. Maybe one day, they will stop being such derisory, arrogant neanderthals. Perhaps not.

I do pity the sports writers having to create a new angle on the story every day, when there are none to be found – it is not a transfer with any complexities, and as such there are no new angles to find until the day Barcelona stump up.

As for Nasri, I still think he will stay. I’m not saying he will sign a new contract, because I don’t think he will, but I think he will stay. I know we don’t want another Flamini, but there really is little we can do about it, because if a player decides to run down their contract, we can’t force them to move – those days are over. We can’t even threaten to sideline him and endanger his Euro 2012 place because the French situation is already complex, and it is doubtful that would have any effect.

Whatever Nasri (or his agent) claims about waiting to see Arsenal’s ambition in the transfer market, this isn’t about the squad, our ability to compete, or incoming players. This is about money, pure and simple, and from Nasri’s point of view, the best way to earn a massive wage is to see his contract out and leave on a free – the signing on fees for Bosman transfers of top players are enormous, and frankly, we will not be able to compete. Essentially, he is taking the chunk of money he would get, and demanding that we give him the equivalent in a payrise over five years. It is a decent bargaining position, and when you take club loyalty out of the question, it makes good business sense for him as an individual. But it is not a situation we will cave too – raising his salary by that amount does more than contribute to our rising ticket prices – it shows a willingness to bend to unreasonable demands, a fact many other agents of our players would no doubt seek to exploit.

In short, we aren’t going to offer him the money he wants, so I imagine he will either move on this summer, or on a free next year. I strongly suspect the latter, despite our inevitable attempts at the former.

Beyond that, nothing else is concrete. We know which players are likely to leave –  it is just a case of getting the right price – while the same names continue to be linked as potential arrivals. I have to say I strongly suspect a few of them are enormous red herrings that we actually have no interest in, certainly not for the prices their clubs are asking (I’m thinking particularly of Cahill here), and would not be surprised if the players we eventually brought in were entirely different from those we hear about every day (with the exception of Gervinho, who really does appear to be on his way).

As for the timing, like most of you I’d prefer to see business conducted earlier in the summer, but I’m not going to panic just yet – it is still June, and that technically means it is still the 2010/11 season (football calendar runs July-June), so we have plenty of time. Besides, it makes perfect sense that we need to definitively know who is leaving before deciding who we need coming in. It is more complex than ‘if Cesc leaves, we need one more midfielder‘, since players are bought to complement each other – imagine if we had a player lined up who would sync well with Cesc – what would you do right now? Bring them in, or wait?

Football is about more than buying the best players for the best prices. And the transfer window is about patience. Wait for it to end before judging.