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Finding and signing world class players is easier said than done

By Walter Broeckx

We should buy more world class players. It is a sentence often used by fans who want us to buy more.

So maybe we could try to find what is exactly meant by “a world class” player. If I think of world class players I think of players who can turn a game and win a game.  Players who are so excellent in some skill they have, be it dribbling or the vision to deliver the killer ball. Mostly they are players who play in an attacking position or from midfield. And then I come up with names like : Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Sneijder, Kaka from a few years back, and well that is about it. The only other real world class player I can think about is the one we have: Fabregas.

Now just the fact that you put two world class players in one team does not automatically give you titles. Because it can happen that the two players don’t match together and the balance in the team could get lost. But if we take a look at the players who are named I think we all can understand that those players are out of our reach. We would have to pay not only over the odds to buy them from their current team but we also will have to break our wages policy. And this could be the start of a negative spiral in wages. Other players will look at the superstar who gets far more than they and could end up saying: so you receive double of my money, so you run twice as much as I do. I think we can understand that this would bring trouble in the team.

So it is fair to say that those big money signings and big earners are out of our reach.

But I understand that most people talk about world class defenders and maybe a world class defensive midfield player. If we start with defensive midfielders I really cannot think of many names that look better than the player we have as a first choice for the moment. I really think I would take Song over Diarra (Real Madrid), or Busquet (Barcelona). Maybe I would have Essien from the last years but he looks to be very injury prone for the moment and will he be the same player that he was before his injury? No one can answer that question so I would stick to Song as he is younger and will improve in the next years. After all it was only his first year as a player who got a starting place in the team.

Melo is a name that is often mentioned but I really don’t know if he would be good enough. He is a player that likes to change teams a lot in his career and when he finally got to a top team, Juventus, he failed. Also his attitude on the field and sometimes a lack of composure cost his team, just as it cost Brazil in the game against Holland at the last world cup. So I think I will take Song over Melo also.

And let us not forget we have now with Frimpong a young Gunner who is having a great pre season and who is impressing in every game he has played so far.  So I feel rather confident with Frimpong as a cover at defensive midfield. Let’s grow our own world class defensive midfielders.

Then let’s move on to the heart of the defence. If you can give me names of world class defenders I would welcome it. I think in defence you must always have a good partnership between two players. If played alongside another they could look average or even poor, but when you sometimes put two players together they form a natural partnership and both look great. I think Vidic and Ferdinand are the most obvious example. Vidic was mostly unknown but he seemed to match with Ferdinand and they both formed a great defensive partnership in the last seasons.

So it could well be that a player who looks good on paper (or on your TV) is only looking good because of his partner. So if you buy a defender it could well mean that you take him away from his natural partner and that the so called world class defender becomes an average one just because his partner is missing. So one has to be very careful in buying a defender just because he looks good in his team.

A name that is mentioned a lot is the name of Mertesacker of Werder Bremen. And yes I would love it if we would buy him. But I wouldn’t be sure that he would be the best buy we ever made. It could happen but it all depends on how he integrates with the other defenders we have for the moment. It could be that a natural partnership arises but it could also happen that both defenders play on an island and don’t connect with each other.

And while speaking of writing people off too early I also would like to remind you of the career of Mertesacker, who is one of the fan’s favourites to sign this summer. When he was around 18 years old he was considered as an average player and he even thought about ending his career at that time. He then got a chance to play for his club Hannover against FC Koln and was substituted at half time as he was playing so poorly.  And it took him another few years to become an established player for his team.

It was only a few seasons later his talent was recognised and he was noticed by the bigger club: Werder Bremen. And Mertesacker who never got a call up for his national youth teams before the U20 team became the defender he is today. So let us not write players off before we have seen them play for a proper amount of time.

And those who are looking at the last 20 minutes against Celtic and point the finger at our defence I would also like to consider the following facts: our normal 3 defenders from last season went off at that time. And also the defensive work done all game by the rest of the attack and midfield stopped for a big part. Some players did not track back any more and let their players run at our defenders who were outnumbered on a few occasions. We can blame the defence but I think it is wise to remember that defending is a team effort and team work. And I mean the whole team and not just the 4 defenders.

Other bits and snippetty type thingees

How Tottenham invented the concept of franchised football clubs

What we have learned so far and why it is vital not to have a sense of humour

Untold Untold

The book you must read if you want to be acknowledged on the beach this August.

41 comments to Finding and signing world class players is easier said than done

  • Arsefactor

    I’d be happy if we just signed a better than average goalkeeper.
    Not even asking for world class lol!
    Also someone who can cross a ball better than me would be nice.

  • Jon Jarvis

    The term “world class” really annoys me…

    The term should be reserved for players like Maradonna, Pele, Zidane…

    EVERY one of the players you have mentioned above are VERY good players but shouldn’t be classed as World Class yet!

  • FinnGun

    I’d be happy if we signed some real supporters…

  • Its obvious we need the goalkeeper and defender still, we had a excellent tournament, but one thing that was notice in both matches was the lost of concentration in the final 20 minutes, we need to keep focus for the 90 and so minutes still not comfortable with Djouorou for his height he should be dominant in the air, Koss looks aggressive but is physical presents is a worry, for the start of the season i would go with him and Vermaleen. Strange enough the way it seems Almunia is still our number 1.Cesc is brilliant and if he goes his career will end in Barca, because when u look at the Barca side he is really not needed. As you said the star is built by the players around him, once he moves from this environment its difficult to look like the player you were. Nasri or Vermaleen for captain you can see the confidence in these players, Arshavin perhaps the most talented, but he seems so laid back, i want to see the fire in his eyes, i think he can tear any side apart if he actual tries. well i was hoping to get a signing by the next match but the way it seems that will not happen anytime soon. Lets go Gunners, i have a feeling…….

  • Arsefactor

    Wow! sorry I forgot that the people on this website hate any sort of negative comment.
    I’m glad FinnGun that you are happy with our goalkeeper situation then.

  • geoge

    I see a “world class” player as being the best in the world in his position. Now for me “the invincibles ” had 4 in that team ,dennis , titi , paddy and bobby. Even Real with their crazy spending only have 2 . and Barca have 3 . So people should be thankful that we have had such a team and remember that it was Arsene Wenger who gave it to us

  • bc

    Here here Jon Jarvis, Cesc is the closest thing we have to world class, i have even called him that earlier myself at times. However, perhaps i was too hasty? in truth, how many truly world class players has our club ever had? Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira and Brady in their prime may have fitted the bill. But when you compare them to Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, well there is no comparison. Perhaps these 3 examples are a little more than just world class. As for now i would like to see Arsenal with a few players who are at the very top of their career and considered to be the best or if not one of the top 3 in their position. For example I think we would all pretty much agree that Buffon and Julio Caesar are the 2 best goalkeepers. I think if we was looking at 3 world class forwards Ronaldo, Messi & Kaka would spring to mind. Attacking Midfield you would be hard pushed to look beyond Xavi & Iniesta. Right backs, Maicon and Dani Alves. Left back is a little harder, but sickeningly Ashley Cole is probably the only name that would come up at the moment. Its when you try to look at the central defensive players that things get a little harder as every one has a different perception of what makes a good centre half and a good defensive midfielder. Many would put Lucio and Mascherano forward, then you would really struggle. The really sad fact is that a neutral would name a whole host of players before naming a 2nd Arsenal player in a world’s best x1 or even a world’s best 23. This is something i would like to see change.

  • ak47

    fair point, personally i wouldnt expect arsenal to buy world class. maybe once in a blue moon, but it is not needed nor the way to go hence being an arsenal supporter. but i do think there is enough available talent out there to improve on what we have already. i wont pretend to know the players as well as arsene does, maybe al will come good with a solid defence in front. or with a new keeper the defence might fix up. in any case i think he’s cutting it a little too fine, but whats new. think im just gonna forget about who we might sign for now. not worth the stress 2bh. and i suppose we’l have to judge him in may. saying that he did very well last season in my eyes. injuries are so key for us, not who we sign.

  • ak47

    arsefactor, Q1- why come here if thats the case!? and 2- different opinions are welcome in any walk of life, negativity-notsomuch. wouldnt say im happy with our keeper, but who really knows the ins and outs of players? have you compared all of his games to every keeper in the prem? do you know what happened in his personal life that may have had an effect on performances?
    do u know if the defence in front of him was part of the reason he is percieved as a bad keeper? watch skysports news often? things are rarely black and white geeza.

  • LRV

    I personally do not rate Melo as great, how-much-less World-Class.

    Buying any player from another team, wether World-Class, Great or Standard, is not as easy as people make it out to be. We are not talking Football Manager or Waitrose, Morrison, Tesco et al.

    As you pointed out Walter, Gelling with other team members could be a serious problem. Look at FlaMoney for example. Does he look good within the AC-M team? When team members gel, individual players can be made to look fantastic. Team style of play can also make ordinary players look good and good players great. But when teams don’t gel properly, good players look ordinary.

    Good piece Walter.

  • anatra

    I totally agree with you on that last paragraph! I’ve been thinking (for quite some time now) “am I the only one who don’t automatically want to blame Almunia or the CB for a conceded goal?” Gosh, how refreshing.

  • Arsefactor

    @ak47 I come here mainly to read the financial articles which are really good. As for your point 2) I would not take FinnGun’s response to my comment as ‘welcome’, hence my response.
    As for the rest of your comment, well I follow everything about Arsenal that I can, including (though i don’t see it as a good example) skysports news.
    The stats do show that defensively we weren’t good enough last season and while I wouldn’t put all on blame on the keeper I think (and I don’t think i’m alone on this) that the keeper was definitely a factor, Wenger has admitted as much. (FYI He said: “Manuel Almunia is a talented goalkeeper. In training, he is superb, the only problem is that he gets nervous on big matches, thereby making silly mistakes.

    “After the World Cup, we will be making an announcement on goalkeeping.”

  • Brett

    The thing that annoys me about the Emirates is the “fans” seem to forget it’s a friendly at the end of the day.

    The fact Randall was on the pitch proves that Wenger was hardly thinking “we must dominate everything” it was more a case of “I shall give some fringe players a chance and help blend in a few players that need it.”

    Man Utd have LOST some of their pre season games, as have Man City, Liverpool etc.

    We have drawn one and conceded some goals and “fans” think we’re useless.

  • Fem Dee

    Another factor is that there are two types of coaches: coaches who don’t need “world class” players to build a world class team and are capable of making world class players out of young and quality talents (e.g. Van Gaal, Alex F and Wenger) AND coaches who would rather play safe and buy “world class” players in the hope that they can mold them into a team that would win some few trophies before they would be worn out and the team would have to be rebuilt (e.g. Benitez).

    I think the disconnect between Wenger and a slice of Arsenal supporters (dubbed AAA here) is that the AAA do not have the patience nor an appreciation for the decision making of the Wenger-type coach.

    Long ago, Wenger chose Fabregas @ 16/17 over Viera @ 28/29. Years later, Fabregas’ blossoming has justified his choice – even if he doesn’t come back to the club this season. He chose Song over paying over the top for Melo last year. At the end of the season and comparing how Melo fared in Juve with Song’s contribution in Arsenal, even the fiercest critics cannot say he made a bad call.

    He has now said he has chosen Frimpong over Melo (or Veloso or any other “world class” DM out there that we’ve been linked to) because he believes Frimpong, like Song before him, has what it takes to be rated “world class” in 2-3years. He has now said he even sees Wilshere as both DM and a Midfielder operating from the wings. He looks at JET and perhaps sees a Drogba less 1 or 2yrs. We are spoilt for choice with left backs (Clichy, Gibbs and Traore) on account of his development policy.

    As fans or supporters, we are required to trust his judgment BECAUSE his track record justifies it AND have patience BECAUSE as Alex F put it, for a team that builds, the more appropriate metaphor is “vintage”. The “vintage” in the year that produced Beckham, Giggs and the Neville brothers, Butt and Schols was FANTASTIC!! ManU husbanded the vintage for years and still has Giggs, Neville and Scholes in its books even now. However, ManU has not been able to see such a vintage year again ever since.

    However, Arsenal’s “vintage years” are just starting. The emphasis in this case being on “years” as against “year”. It seems that for many years to come we can expect a Wishere and Frimpong quality player to migrate from the Arsenal Youth Program into the team. In the scenario, soon, very very soon, the entire team will consist of vintage players through and through – as we have with our left back choices BUT it requires the patience of a vine grower. It requires NOT hiring someone at the expense of crowding out the development of a Fabregas, Song, Frimpong, Wilshere, Walcott, and that goalkeeper with an impossible name to memorize…

  • ak47

    ok fair enuf arsefactor, the financial arts are very good! im jus puzzled as to why its taking so long in finding a keeper unless the aussie really is top of the list? jus cant believe a fully grown man at the age of 33? cant command his area and makes silly mistakes. in finn guns defence tho its very easy to get frustrated with some so called supporters. i saw both comments as generalisations, yours seemed to tar everyone on here with the same brush though which is unfair.

  • jim

    bc i would say van persie would be in the top 23 in the world and i know a tottenham supporter who would agree

  • ak47

    fem dee- 🙂

  • Guns & roses

    Can’t you see the team is thinning ie. 4 left and 2 replacement only, and obviously need more back up. Last year the excuse was too many injury to first team players and that caused our title challenge..Arsenal’s players are very prone to injury and I don’t know why. It is not about world class player but more players. The other reasons may be the stupid Arsenal Board Members may be unwilling to part with transfer fund thus Wenger not having enough fund each year. Theo, same as any other years,is still crossing blindly. World Class Player by your standard? Give me a break with your article, will you.

  • Justus

    FemDee you are absolutely spot on. Wenger is unique and in a few years Arsenal will be in a supreme position and FinnGunn maybe happy

  • Paul C.

    I agree that this term “world-class” is thrown about far too easily. The other thing that is done far too much is comparisons with Real Madrid and Barcelone. Those 2 exist in a vacuum all by themselves, due to so many factors (many of them not specifically football related, such as weather and lifestyle). When you compare Arsenal with just about any other club in Europe then the comparisons are pretty even. Who else has a striker BETTER than RvP? I would put Drogba, Torres, Rooney in the same class, but not better. And who has a 2nd striker BETTER than Chamakh (from what we’ve seen so far)? And who has a 3rd striker better than Bendtner? Anyone? Same on the wings, and in midfield.

    We all know where the weaknesses are. So does the manager. But as Walter tries to say in his article, identifying a weakness and solving it are two entirely different things unless you have a rich Arab or Russian owner for whom money is no object.

    Let’s say we buy Mertesacker for 12million and pay him 4million a year salary (80k a week). That is money that is gone forever. What if he is a failure? What if he doesnt adapt to English Football? People can say “well, that is the risk you take with every signing” and that is absolutely true. That is indeed the risk you take with every signing. That is why every signing is a risk and well-run clubs dont rush into signing new players. Barcelona last summer signed that defender (I wont even try to spell his name) for 20million and Zlatan for 45million + Eto’o. Neither signing was very successful. That would have used up ALL our spending money, and then some. We would have no more money to spend and we’d be stuck with players earning massive salaries sitting on the bench. We cannot afford that.

    Being able to identify weaknesses is easy. We can all do that. Anyone who doesnt thing AW wouldnt want to find another Seaman or Lehmann is crazy. Anyone who doesnt think AW wouldnt want to find another Adams, Campbell, or even another Gallas is crazy. Of course he would want players like that.

    But he also wouldnt want to waste money on players that dont make it. As fans we need to balance our desire for new players with appreciation that we have a manager/board that wont bankrupt our club trying to chase the poisoned chalice.

  • rockofgilberto

    G&R, did you even bother to read the article before spouting off? The article stresses that the term “world-class” is thrown about far too often and doesn’t mean what most would have it mean (i.e., someone who looks good on television or on your playstation). Nowhere is it mentioned that the likes of Theo are world-class, in fact only Fab4 is mentioned as being on that level.

    As for the thinning of the squad, we let 4 players leave, among them Silvestre (addition by subtraction, imo), Senderos (not in the team for 2 seasons anyway), Campbell (only came back in late January). Gallas is the one player of real quality we lost, and Koscielny looks like a good replacement. Djourou is back, and Arsene is admittedly looking for another defender. And that’s not even counting Chamakh, and the youth players who will be a bigger part of the first team, like Wilshere and Frimpong. And over all this is the “Rule of 25”, which must dictate who gets into the first team anyway. We have 4 full weeks to sign others, a defender and preferably a goalkeeper. Hopefully you will manage to hold off on jumping off a cliff until then.

  • tom

    ArseFactor – Arsene Wenger denied making those comments. It seems to have been an ‘imaginary’ interview.
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/arsene-wenger-interview-a-clarification

  • Fem Dee

    @ Paul:
    We traded Adebayo out for 25million and have bought Chamkah for only his salary one year later. The later is younger and looks to be as sharp but not as lazy or with Adebayo’s attitude. Many don’t see Chamkah as “world class” now but they may before this season is over.

    Meanwhile, “wold class” Adebayo @130,000pound/week may have become surplus to ManC’s requirement in 1year of playing football with them and is being considered for loans in order to get playing time. No team wants him even for free because of his huge salary.

    The question is: would you rather have ManC’s coach (Hughes or Mancini) and ManC’s fast track for glory or Wenger’s prudence and pragmatic build up?

    It is the question that separates Arsenal fans. However, until Wenger is sacked or refuses to renew his contract it is the question that is mute because Wenger will not and cannot morph into a Mancini or Hughes or Benitez.

  • brigi99jam

    Lol at finngun , classic.. Love it….

    I am comfortable with the current team, I would love another defender who fits into the system as cover, and I would love a goalkeeper who commands his line, gives the defense some comfort,and makes great saves.. Saves the team 10-15 goals a match…Almunia is good , but makes too many mistakes, so not really enamored with him.. We get those , we good, we have new young ones stepping up, and that policy is going to make us great for many years to come, as when they become great, they will be Arsenal, and all the young great ones that won’t get a chance in their clubs , until they become great ( read Cesc) , but then want them at ridiculous prices because they are in their DNA will realise what a good policy we have..LOL

    Vive La Arsenal..Joga Bonita..Arsenal till I die, no mater what 25 we have…

  • brigi99jam

    I meant ” saves 10-15 goals a season..Sorry guys..Lol

  • Paul C.

    Fem Dee – Absolutely. The other thing that surprises me is when people say “why dont we sign Man City’s cast-offs” (and sometimes they use those exact words) and yet dont see the ridiculous contradiction. On the one hand they clamour for “world-class” players and on the other hand want us to sign “cast-offs” that couldnt make it at a 5th place club. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. That isnt even taking into account your point, which is that City’s players are all on ridiculous salaries and very few of them would want a pay cut.

  • T2T

    The team is not “thinning”. The whole idea behind having youth and reserve teams is to develop players enough to make the step up into the 1st team.
    Wilshere, Frimpong, Gibbs, Nordtveit, etc…

    When we lose Gallas, Senderos, Campbell and Silvestre with 3 of them well over 30 and replaced by younger – that is not necessarily a bad thing. AW has acknowledged that he needs to buy at least 1 CB within the next 4 weeks but finding someone with the quality who is available and willing to make the move may not be that easy.

  • Paul C.

    rockofgilberto – Dont you love the fact that last year everyone insulted Silvester and said “dont play him, dont even include him in the squad, he’s a liability” and last year nobody even paid a moments attention to Senderos and yet now all of a sudden it is “we lost 2 key squad members and we havent replaced them!!!!!!! Let’s PANIC!!!!!!”

    Personally I think a rather good paper clip is acceptable as a replacement for those 2 in our squad.

  • Richard B

    One of the key criteria of class (world or otherwise) is consistency. The occasional ten out of ten performance that has the pundits purring, but the the fans who see all the 6/10’s frustrated, does not make for a world class player – merely one who is capable of world class performances. One of the advantages of producing your own talent is the fact that you’ve seen it develop and train and react to adversity away from the spotlight of the first team. Consistent 8 or 9’s out of ten in the reserves do not guarantee the same scores in the first team but they make them a little easier to predict – as is the case for teamplay and how a player ‘fits in’ with his fellow professionals.
    We have only one world class player at the moment – although the evidence that three or four could emerge over the next year or so is increasingly strong.

  • Michael

    yea fin i think the same….shocking support

  • Gooner Gal

    John Jarvis @ 2.14, you are so right I would add a few more world class names in my opinion, johan cruyff, Bergkamp, Henry, Kenny Dalglish, Kanu, Socrates, Rashidi Yekini, George Weah and Ryan Giggs.

    Fem Dee @ 3.45pm and Paul C @ 4.12pm – great posts.

    I thought the Micheal Owen – Newcastle one was bad (sign a ‘world class’ player and get relegated?)but the Man City, Robinho world class marquee signing is a bigger embarassing example of how things can go badly wrong.

  • LRV

    Go Gooner Gal!!!

  • Paul C.

    Gooner Gal – Or how about Juan Sebastian Veron, firstly to Utd and then, just to make things even worse, to Chelsea? Both times for 15million or so. Now there was a case of a truly “world-class” player who just couldnt play in England. Another warning shot to all those who want to buy every foreign player that had a good World Cup.

  • Chris66

    Yet again I find myself marooned somewhere between the AKB and AAA camp on this one. It would seem that both camps are right and wrong at the same time.

    When we have outstanding young talents on the brink of making the leap forward, such as Frimpong, Wilshere and Gibbs, then signing people in front of them is counter-productive. I honestly don’t see the need for anyone in midfield and in attack, the only players better than what we have are not worth the massive premiums. Let’s leave those to others to blow their brains out on.

    However where there are gaps in the timing or quality of the youth product, or a particular character is required to galvanize the squad in a particular manner (such as leadership, winning mentality or maturity), then surely going out and buying the best we can afford is also prudent. Right now this appears to be CD and definitely GK. This is not to say the kids coming through aren’t good (Nordveit and Szczesny look terrific but not yet ready for prime time). The problem is that the players in front of them are not dominant, or in the case of the CD’s, established themselves yet.

    As I understand it, the whole point of developing an outstanding youth system was that we would be able to concentrate our resources upon “super class” players. That is at least what the club was saying when they were starting the whole project (including the Stadium).

    The “risk he won’t fit in” is an inescapable fact of life in any business. We cannot be paralyzed into inaction by it and pay lots of scouts and coaches, including AW, to try and minimize risk with research, but it never goes away entirely. There is an argument that established players who are playing in England are more of a known quality and that is reflected in the price, but the English player premium goes way beyond that.

    Above all else I really hope that we can sign a great GK and strong experienced CB before the window closes, not only to boost our chances but in the (probably vain) hope that the ridiculous polarization of Arsenal fans (online at least) can be calmed down for a while.

  • Gooner Gal

    Thanks LRV.

    Paul C, Veron is a very good example, I couldn’t believe it when Chelsea bought him off Man U, but he was never as vocal in his disgust for having to play for a club like Robinho has, one that still pays him around £160,000 a week.

  • gooner80

    To be honest I don’t care who other clubs buy, as arsenal is different to the other clubs.

    I must say Frimpong impressed me recently give this youths their chance.

    I cant see us getting a goal keeper

    the one world class signing we need is a world class DEFENSIVE COACH martin keown where are you? it is obvious to me wenger is not interested in defending get someone who is that AW do what he does best, when need someone to drill set pieces, to drill counter attacks. if the defence is good enough you can get away with a keeper like aluminium 95% of the time because he will have little to do and I rate him at shot stopping, the game against barca and then manu in the semi final in champs lge spring to mind

    too many new players will just cause havoc, positioning and collective defending is more important than players.some of the legendary back 4 we had weren’t the very best but together they were world class.

    Im annoyed to say this but the defending in the emirates cup was disgraceful and is a summation of last year absolutely cruising and then they stop doing the things they should. about more dedication and effort is needed when we are top I have said it before and I will say it again arsenal are at their most vulnerable when they are cruising, I get worried when we are in front.

    we need to practice keeping it tight for 10 mins after scoring because our team seems to switch off and think they are going to walk it and this annoys me more than not buying any one or even any point a AAA can come up with, IMO this is all that is wrong with arsenal and it pisses me off I can put up with anything else except this,it needs to CHANGE ASAP

    please get some one in to work with the defence, I wish wenger could have persuaded mr Adams to coach them

  • RedGooner

    I think if we sign a good goal keeper we can actualy win everything this season its a case of fingers crossed whats most dissapointing so far is that AW went nuts last season over how poor the goal keeping performances were and we still have not rectified the situation.
    However I still believe in all he does and the centre back signing looks a great addition and im sure he will find another one before the end of the transfer window BUT the keeper situation is just plain rediculous we have 4 one is two young and 2 of them are nervous wrecks with lots of potential and the last just has lost his way altogether.

  • Jonny

    Well said Chris66 – I wholeheartedly support Wenger but I do agree that he has occasionally allowed his determination not to pay over the odds to rule his transfer activity.

    The one thing I do agree with AAA’s on is that we always looked thin at the back going into last season – there is no guarantee but it is certainly more probable we would have won something last season if he had strengthened sufficiently.

    That said I wouldn’t have any other manager – I love the brand of football we play and I am patient enough to enjoy watching the team develop…in fact I love it: big name signings don’t really do it for me.

  • damian

    I think that all arsenal fans should thank AW for making arsenal an exciting and big recognisd club in Europe and the world. I think his youth program is definately working, Fabregas, Song and Gibbs are a proof of that. Fringpong and Wilshire look in the brink of breaking into the 1st team as does JET. They could all be world class players, without having to spend a penny. Messi, Iniesta, Xavi all came from the BArca youth school, if they produce players so can AW and his coaching staff. Were I feel he has failed is in delivering a quality keeper. To be fair to him there are not to many around who haven’t been snatched by a top club. The amount of points and crucial games we lost last year because of stupid goalkeeper errors was not on. Esspecially if we want to win something this year. If the keeper is making errors then the defenders start to panic and everything goes down the pan. If Szczesny is good enough he should play. Madrid did that with Casillas and look at what he’s become. If Szczesny still needs to mature, frankly he will never be a top class keeper just a good one. If that is the case we need someone to fit the bill now, or the trophy cabinet will be empty for another year.

  • Fem Dee

    @Chris 66:

    I know that American “Football” (NFL) makes it a big deal having both a “defensive” and an “offensive” coach and making both prominent in the coaching setup. However, I am not aware that “soccer” (just to make the distinction from American Football) has any such emphasis. I am not aware of any soccer team that gives such prominence to “offensive” and “defensive” soccer; perhaps, because the activities happen in phases in American Football. Whereas,it switches to-and-fro rapidly and fluidly in soccer.

    That said, I will be surprised if Arsenal does not have a defensive specialist or coach (just as we very well knows he has a goalkeeper coach) in the coaching crew. Also, I totally agree that the specialists need to do thorough review of our defensive frailties and work harder on the team/individuals for greater team defensive improvement.

    @ Gooner80

    I think we all agree that we have a CB problem and a GK problem. What I am down with is the oft repeated moan that unless and until we hire “world class” players in the departments or any other department that may arise, then Wenger is being derelict or irresponsible in the discharge of his coaching job.

    I believe he has more and often better options than that:
    He can:
    1. Promote an emerging young name from within.
    2. Bet on the improvement of the emerging names based on his keen eye for quality and expertise in his coaching field.
    3. Hire an unknown young or aging name.
    4. Change his system to play to the strengths of the players already in the squad.
    5. Swap around the player positions.

    I agree though that the option that gives the greatest comfort to fans is one in which a respected “world class(?)” name is hired right away to solve the problem – even where there is a clear chance that the decision to do so is as much a gamble as all of the other 5alternatives listed above and the most expensive option of all.

    In other words, I wish Wenger would hire a reputable CB and GK right away; I shall immediately join other fans in the collective sigh of relief. However, I will hold out to see how his alternative “gamble” plays out if he doesn’t hire for both or either position and I will not assume that he is irresponsible or derelict just because he didn’t take the easy way out.

  • gooner80

    @FemDee

    did you read my comments? I think you have me confused,

    my comments say we dont need to sign world class players just need a decent defence coach like martin keown who we used to have, the least you can do is not misquote / mis read my comments.

    we have only one real problem IMO and that is the carelessness in which we concede goals,and if you dont learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them, the squad is fine I even said we could get away with aluminum if the defence tightens up and if we had conceded about 10goals less. Games like burnley, westham spring to mind we would be more or less there

    I dont think we are going to get a better keeper and I remember a year or two ago aluminium was considered perfectly fine he went through a personal crisis last year and sometimes you bring your troubles to work but he is not to blame it a team game and prevention is better than cure the great Brazilians sides of the past always had dodgy keepers but they were so dominate the keeper never had to worry

    the average joe can see we concede careless goals throw away leads when cruising and sometimes its best to get a defence coach who specialises in that area, the defence needs to improve by about 30%