By Tony Attwood
On 2 September we bade farewell to the great Arsenal Transfer Index – a listing of all the players we could find who were allegedly leaving the club or coming to the club. In our final analysis we noted
- 115 incoming transfer rumours – almost all of them wrong
- 22 players who were about to leave Arsenal – most are still with us.
- A total failure to spot the actual transfers ahead of activity – except in one case.
and I had a scribbled note on the back of an envelope I have now lost, to say that perhaps 1 November would be the date to start again.
But really there just aren’t that many rumours around, and most of those that can be found are so plain daft that you’d think I made them up.
However there are one or two bits of gibberish floating in the ether – although they are all very different from the summer. Primarily the talk is of full backs. We need someone new to cover for Bellerin – preferably an international who will keep his excellent talents well honed even though he is not playing every week, or at all. And someone at left back because Monreal has utterly lost it and Gibbs was rubbish against the Bulgars.
What’s interesting in such chitchat is that none of the issues that arose last season appear to have be learned. Issues such as
1: You can’t get a top, top player as a back up and expect him to live a life on the beach.
2: Just because a player has one or two duff games, that does not mean he is useless and should be jettisoned. Jenkinson hasn’t played for a long old time, and when he was playing before it was for a bunch of mobsters who are more attuned to publishing pornography, denying reality and taking tax payers money than anything actually to do with football.
3: You can’t judge on one game. Gibbs has only played bit parts and there is hardly a player in the country who can move from that position into top class performance. Buy in a new player to replace Gibbs and you then tell Gibbs it is time to move on. So that leaves the problem of finding another backup player and we are back into the whole cycle over and over again. Besides not all transfers work (although in the mythology of these people if only we got rid of Wenger all transfers would then work, because he is the ONLY manager who ever buys a player who doesn’t make it.)
4: In short buying a new right and left back as some sites are suggesting today is fraught with danger and difficulty, and we would surely be much better off getting Gibbs and Jenkinson, and come to that Debuchy, back to full strength and ability. While at the same time see who else we have got in the under 23s who could fill either slot as a backup.
These issues led me to wonder, who do we actually need now? In the summer we had the orchestrated “Spend some” campaign which didn’t change anyone’s mind about anything and the desperate hyperbole about buying a centre forward and central defenders resulted in buying two players who a) no one had tipped to be coming to Arsenal and b) not too many people had een heard of.
What we also discovered with all the shouting was the Giroud was useless and would never score goals. Except when he does. What we didn’t learn was that Alexis was doing as well as Henry in terms of two year worth of goalscoring. What we learned from the press (by investigating their wholly misleading articles) was that Arsenal were one of only five teams that had two players who scored 10 plus in the season. What we have now learned is that we are the only team with two players already edging towards double figures.
Which brings me more or less to my point. The summer was full of “Arsenal need a central defender and a centre forward”. So what will the winter be full of? Two full backs? Or… will we have new players coming through, not in terms of transfers, but in terms of stepping up from the youth team.
What, for example, about Maitland-Niles as our next man to step up? In September the bizarre Pain in the Arsenal website proclaimed that “Ainsley Maitland-Niles Arsenal career already appears to be in turmoil after no loan move materialised for him in the summer transfer window.
“Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a player who was once, and still is being tipped to be a future Arsenal great. However, despite a promising loan spell at Ipswich Town last season, failure to grab another loan move this time out might see his Arsenal career falter and then eventually die.”
Fortunately the Metro was a little more in touch with reality with “Arsenal ace Ainsley Maitland-Niles scores brilliant goal for England’s U20s vs Brazil” as they realised that the management saw Maitland-Niles’ best chance of greatness as being under the direct tutelage of a man who knows a thing of six about bringing players through. N-M started the game against Forest at right back this season – before also starting the Reading game in midfield.
Bringing players through in this way is the ideal – Jeff Reine Adelaide seems to be highly tipped at the moment although as the squad gets stronger it gets ever harder for players to push up from the under 23 team.
Certainly we seem to have a multiplicity of goalkeepers, midfielders, wingers and centre forwards at the moment, leaving me to wonder if we will have another transfer window denounced by the hooligans of the blogsphere because “Arsenal was the only club in the galaxy not to spend £100m+ this January.”
Of course the clubs that have not filled up their list of 25 will be trawling around looking for “home grown” players to purchase at any cost. Maybe our biggest task will be to hold on to the youngsters we’ve already got.
From the Arsenal History Society
You can find an index to all the series to date on the Society’s web site.