ROUND PEGS IN A ROUND HOLE…..by Don McMahon
Thank God for the transfer window is about to open and all the idle speculation that has been drummed up and invented in monotonous repetition by the hyperbolic media, the bored fans and the other denizens of this tragic-comical time can start to happen. Or not.
However, the solution to actually discerning whether a player or players will be on Wenger’s potential want-list depends on both past criteria and present needs the Club may interpret as requiring immediate fufillment.
Here are some of my thoughts gleaned from a few articles I had written about the ¨ideal¨ Arsenal candidate supplemented by more recent observations and statements from Wenger and others at Arsenal. Please not that NONE of these elements are taken from media or blogger suppositions but rather my opinions, based on what pattern has developed over Wenger’s 17 year tenure at AFC:
1) Wenger prefers affordable and potentially undiscovered ,talented players, or if not, one’s who are world class already (Ozil).
2) A player must have a certain degree of hunger to play the game so mercenaries and egotistical superstars are not welcome. (Podolski)
3) The candidate must display some loyalty to his employer and pride in his Club. (Per)
4) Ideally he is already an international regular or if not, a potentially exciting candidate for his national team. (Sanogo/Campbell)
5) The best age bracket seems to be between 22 and 28, but when necessary, Wenger will sign younger or older players as the need arises. (Arteta/Kalstrom)
6) The player must display the ability to demonstrate significant technical skills, pace and ability to play in the Arsenal style. (Cazorla)
7) The individual MUST be a team player and demonstrate a strong desire to integrate into the team rather than an attitude that the team must adapt to him. (Ramsey)
8) The player must be willing to ride the bench occasionally and still play to his best, regardless of his satisfaction or chagrin at not getting a full game. (Vermaelen)
9) He must display discretion, maturity and class and avoid controversy whenever possible. (Szcesny)
10) He must respect other players (opponents and team-mates alike) and respect the rules of the Club and of Football, regardless of the temptation to seek revenge, ¨justice¨ or profit from questionable opportunities during a game. (Wilshere)
11) His ideal player must have mental strength, self-control, self-confidence and belief in the team and his own abilities. (Walcott)
12) Ideally the best candidate will display leadership and if not a natural leader, will demonstrate his willingness to follow the team leader’s guidance and directions. (Rosicky)
For all of the above reasons and many more, the idea that Balotelli or Suarez would fit the Arsenal profile is somewhat ludicrous. These two are NOT team players and certainly do not check most of the above boxes; they are truly square pegs! That said, there are a few players I’ve seen at the WC that seem to fit most or all of the criteria I mentioned. Here are a few round pegs for our round holes:
1) Paul Pogba…..wants to play every game, reminds me a great deal of Viera.
2) Alexis Sanchez ….a fireball and very attack minded.
3) Mathieu Valbuena….a small player but tough and absolutely a handful for opposing defenders.
4) Guillermo Ochoa….I have always rated him very highly and so does Wenger apparently.
5) Javier Hernandez (Chicarito)…..brave, fit, deadly in attack and desperate to play.
6) Xherdan Shaqiri …..a real dynamite player who never quits and has great self-confidence.
7) Bryan Ruiz…….Campbell’s teammate and has a real sense of finishing in the box.
There are so many more who could add so much to our team and who,imho , would outshine and outproduce such players as Manduzic, Morata, Cerci,Rodriguez etc.,etc. Will any of them be on Wenger’s radar…..we can only wait and see.
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