Onwards and upwards: the window is shut.


by Fishpie


Right. That’s over then. The Transfer Window of 2015.

The outcome? A much welcomed, better, top-drawer goalkeeper and a less welcomed achievement: apparently we were the only club in top-flight European football not to buy an outfield player.

That’s not what I was expecting.  Or what I was hoping for.

I could very easily have a right old rant.

But this is Untold and Untold gets behind the Manager. And if some of us can’t quite give the Manager our full support just at this minute, we must (message to self) surely get behind the team regardless.

Would we have maximised our chances of league-winning success with a couple of key squad strengthening players? Almost certainly…yes. Have we fallen back because other teams strengthened? Possibly.

But here’s the thing: We have a squad of very very good, trophy-lifting footballers. Among them a clutch of superstars, some very very promising and improving younger players and other players too who have demonstrated that they have considerable, albeit inconsistent, talent.

There is, surely, the ability still to give it a good go.

And so the emphasis turns from the fax machine and the cheque book to the training ground, to formations and tactics, and ultimately, to performances and winning points. (Mr Wenger, you can come out now, it’s ok, that nasty transfer business has gone away, the training ground you love so much awaits your return.)

So what can our Manager do to regain the form we displayed in the second half of last season?  He has the same players and, with just 3 defeats and 3 draws between Dec and May, we were actually on a par with the title-winning form of previous champions.

So far this season, its the chances we haven’t taken that are perhaps the main reason why we haven’t hit that kind of form yet. Goals breed confidence. Missed chances sap it.

Ok, with Alexis the missed chances may be down to mental tiredness. Given his summer and his full-on style of play, that may be not so surprising.

But with Giroud and Theo, perhaps confidence is more of an issue. To be fair to them, it probably doesn’t help that so many of us (including me) express doubts about them. It doesn’t help either that they know their Manager wanted Suarez* and, according to the press, wanted Benzema and then Cavani.

Yep, I know, they get paid good money (add a few very’s in there) and its a dog-eat-dog, competitive footballing world: so hey lads, grow some and show us what you’re made of!  But you know, being human, they probably want to hear a few “Naa naa naa na na na naas” and a few ‘Theo-o, Theo-o, Theo-oes” to know they are still loved.  

Perhaps too, our Manger has to get to using them in a formation that plays more to their strengths. Giroud hasn’t gotten to play for France and score some cracking goals in the Premiership without having some potent strengths. The volley he scored against Palace was a well taken goal made possible by a midfielder great who knew to hit the ball to the back of Giroud. And he isn’t going to reach the fast cross hit low beyond the back post but he will give you a superbly deft flick at the near one. Perhaps they need a partner-in-crime to build a mutually supportive relationship with, rather than being left to do the up-top job on their own. Two strikers. Why not? I know its radical but hey.

And Theo, you are not Thierry Henry. I know you want to be him but look, he earned the right to stand around, look moody and wait for the gaps. But you have quick runny feet that are quicker than the average slow runny defenders. Why not move around more, unsettle them, make them worry where you are and where you’ve gone. And tell the mids, “Hey, I made that fucking run. Were you even looking you tippy-tappy, sideways passing short-arses!’  Demand some attention.

Look, this is ridiculous, what do I know? Nothing is what I know.

But Theo, have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWKoOc0wdb8

Alexis, have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYobwhWkd4c

Oli, have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp_nCk7I3Ds

Just great, really great, brilliant goalscoring. You did this, you scored those goals. They didn’t happen by accident. Youmade them happen.

And you know that youngster behind you, back there in the DM role, the one whose career was kind of stalling, the one who had been forgotten by the fans** and kinda cast asunder by the Manager… well, needs must, he got another chance and…. took it, big time. With cherries on. Big cherries.

This season, them there cherries are yours for the taking.

So Untolders: Given (obviously) that Arsenal players read this site religiously to hear some friendly positive voices, which of Theo’s, Giroud’s and Alexis’s goals do you admire most?


Editorial extras  (just to put the record straight)

*  Untold published a significant number of articles throughout and after the Suarez saga to the effect that this was a perfect Vapour Transfer and that Arsenal had no intention of buying Suarez, but every intention of buying elsewhere providing they could work around one or two other difficulties.  It could be argued that the whole situation so annoyed the owner of Liverpool that if lulled him into blurting out that despite his assertions to the contrary and his “what are they smoking at the Emirates” jibe that there was a £40m buy out clause.  What angered him was that Arsenal had found it, used it, but never wanted to buy the vampire.

** Coquelin was spotted by Untold during his first training camp appearances in Austria and followed ever since.  True, we began to wonder a little when the Freiburg loan went messy, but we never stopped saying that this guy was something special.


34 Replies to “Onwards and upwards: the window is shut.”

  1. Feels strange.

    But something is going on. Because I just don’t believe a man who is that smart, with that much resource and that much passion for the game wouldn’t do all he could to make his team the greatest in the world.

  2. Seeing merson is up to no good already. Every draw or defeat will now be used as ammunition against wenger.

    I agree it was a dead market but still think we should have reinforced

  3. Perhaps we signed Cech too early. If he had been a last minute deadline day signing everyone would be happy. As for Mers, well he may have been an Arsenal player, but he has always been and still is a Chelsea fan after all.

  4. @Leon

    I am afraid Wenger only has himself to blame for the pressure that will come if we dont score goals and challenge for the title. His choices.
    It is not just Merson amogst the ex Gunners that can not understand the strategy.

    I don’t think there is any middle ground left – wenger either wins now with the squad or he will be rightly slated.

  5. Hey @Jayram, he has ALWAYS been slated, so what’s new? Every season, the same old story, the same old expectation of doom, the same punch-line. I don’t think anything will change really. Except that he just might nick the big price now, to the chagrin of some.

    He cant? We shall see.

  6. Somewhere or other, I read that the Arsenal Supporters Trust were going to register a complaint with Arsenal FC over the failure to complete further signings during the Summer Transfer Window.
    What is it with these people?
    They are not privy to what has transpired behind the scenes these past two months. Neither do they know the decisions taken by Arsene Wenger with regard to new signings.
    Better by far for these souls to trust in those who know, at first hand, what is best for our great Club.
    As the name of the Trust implies, they should continue to support Club, team and manager and not question matters over which they will never have influence. 😉

  7. My concern is Welbeck being out until Christmas and Arsene knowing this well in advance of the closure of the transfer window. Buying players is as simple as making an offer, simply put everyone is available at the right price. Not saying blow horrendous sums to achieve a goal but there are decent players guaranteed to put in a hard days graft and guarantee at least 15 goals a season. Why not Charlie Austin or Jelavic? Both were available for next to nothing? As it stands we have a squad which is weaker than last season going into a season against teams who have all reinforced. Why oh why loan out Chubba and Sanogo? I will continue to support Arsene but frankly he messed up this time!

  8. True, @Nicky. Wenger believes in the options available for selection in the club, he has confidence in his options, the “why did we not buy?” brigade do not. Here lies THE difference between the two schools of thought.

    That players like Giroud, Walcott and Sanchez clearly has the manager’s vote of confidence to do a job whenever called upon. A new signing will certainly reduce or completely obliterate somebody’s playing time, without necessarily guaranteeing anything. No new “surprise” emergence in the mould of Francis Coquelin from the academy and definitely departures of such players. If they turn out to fulfill their potential in the near future, then we only have ourselves to blame.

  9. The problem is this team looks a shadow of its former self. Really hoping it’s just early season blues otherwise what promised so much will falter.

    Let’s start winning at home ?

  10. There has been an infestation of sewer rats on Untold over the past few days. Walter/Tony have you not got any rat poison for the little blighters?

  11. Fishpie & you anti Wenger chickens. There were 2 outfield players bought in the Window. apo Armani has been pointing this out all day. Check out the web site!!!! FFS!!!

  12. Menace
    I think they must’ve read that article by mcnulty on the BBC site that said we didn’t sign any outfield players; yet we did and you’d think they even saw one of them making a fool out of Kevin de bruyne in the Emirates cup. Just shows they are incapable of thinking for themselves.

  13. Agree Fishpie, and glad it’s over, this window should be over before the season starts. Hope Danny recovers soon, but we have players who can and will do a job.
    See a few attempts in the comments to bring direct quotes from Le Grove lead articles to the pages of untold . Whatever does it I guess.

  14. Paul Merson is an ex-gambler who had the difficulties a great number of gamblers are noted as having. Why should he become a sane pundit?

    if you ran into Paul Merson walking down the hill, knowing his background, his life, why would you give him more respect than anyone else?

    Piers Morgan is a football fan no different from any other football fan.

    Even with Welbeck out for a season Wenger has these options up front – Campbell, Giroud, Walcott, Sanchez. Each has played for their country at international level.

  15. Jelavic is on a similar level to Lambert. Lambert at his best was better, actually. Lambert who dropped from 15 and 14 goals to 3 after his move to a bigger club. People would be calling for us to sign him if he’d happened to stay at Southampton last year and get his 10-15 goals

    Austin is at a similar level. These guys, very decent players they are, will tend to catch the eye over the course of a season when they are guaranteed starters. Give them ten minutes here and there, or even a start every five to ten games and they are not the same players, not even close. Increase the pressure and expectation massively, as would happen if they came to our club with its ever supportive patient fans, and things are harder again.

    Giroud’s top flight career is 98 goals in 223 games, 10 in 39 for a strong national team; for me he is clearly well ahead of the two you name.

    Given the immense pressure for results at Arsenal every last week, it means the two you name or anyone at that level would never start a game unless Giroud is injured and Walcott has had a bad spell in his stead, or is also injured. With nearly all clubs playing only the one striker now, it’s near enough the same story everywhere. Bony, a 30 million player, might manage five starts this year . Origi and Danny Ings about the same. Kane probably has to draw blank in another 5 games before Spurs consider not starting him.

    Solskjaer was known as the super sub, but he was a superb player who in his best years for Utd only once in 7 seasons played less than 37 games- 30- so got plenty of involvement and never lost his confidence and touch.

    There’s a strong argument for cover, any cover, but it seems completely wrong to me to think a key man, starting all the time, at a lower club and probably in the form of his career, can replicate that output- goals, in short- when barely playing for a higher team.

    It looks to me Wenger probably took the difficult decision not to commit 10-25 million to what would have been little more than a short term insurance policy.

    Unless someone can provide much better candidates than Austin, that’s what we’re talking about : injury cover for Giroud until January. On a big four or five year contract.

    Wenger has some stones on him,that’s for sure.

    I’d have gambled on Njie or similar. It would have been costly to us and quite likely to that player’s career, and would only become a decent move if injury struck and that player, who I wasn’t at all convinced by and had overpaid for, then performed well when he had to step in.

  16. We now have a lot of money. Every team in the world can be improved

    I was accepting that there was no WC striker available. However Welbecks operation means we will be half a season without him.

    Theo want’s to be given time to grow into the CF role. He’s asked to play there, been given a huge salary so he needs to sort it out and start earning it

    Giroud is Giroud, I like him but I wouldn’t put him at the elite level. When he’s fresh and on it he is a handful so I was hoping Danny would rotate with him and push himfor a place

    Campbell obviously not rated

    With the nature of WWelbecks injury why have Akpom and Gnabry be sent on loan ?

    We needed another athletic DM. Coquelin has been brilliant and I think he’s well capable of improving the less strong aspects of his game, ie his distribution and transitional play. We needed someone with similar attributes to compliment and rotate with him. What if one of those Newcastle hooligans had broken his leg on the weekend ? Can Arteta play 2 games a week ? Is he quick enough ? Is Flamini good enough ? I don’t think so. Wilshere is always injured.

    We had a great chance to build on the FA cup wins. We failed to do so. It’s hugely frustrating.

    Ps. I can think of 8 gilt edged chances we’ve missed in the 4 games so far. We have to sort that out if we have any notion of competing.

  17. Wow! “simply put every player is available at the right price” I don’t believe it. Strange as it sounds, I believe that not every team needs 80 million quid especially as it would seriously disrupt their own chances of winning their league or the Champions League. Why would Barcelona sell Messi if they don’t need the money? The players we are talking about buying are top players or we wouldn’t be putting in a bid for them; we don’t need any more GOOD players…we have them…Charlie Austin? Really?

  18. Tunny

    Tks for your reply but you didnt answer to my argument that you cant have a wc replacement at 11 positions. For instance you didnt reply who will replace Yaya or Silva for city.Do they have an equal cover?

    Even in Arsenal we dont have an equal cover for ozil or Sanchez. Do we have?

    Obviously the answer is no.

    So why you worry.

    Wenger will take care of it.

    I hope we will see a junior Gunner filling the spot whenever needed.

  19. Thank God the transfer window is closed . Now to sweat over who would be coming back injured from these internationals .
    Can’t wait for our season to restart . For the time being , being 3 points in front of this year’s favourites and last year’s champions is good enough for me . Let’s get behind the team and cheer them on to the title come May ( or earlier !)
    Up the Gunners !

  20. “The more something upsets you, the more it is meant for you. When it no longer upsets you, it is no longer needed because the lesson is complete.”
    — Bryant McGill.

  21. I think Wenger followed exactly the right strategy during the transfer window. The squad is certainly already strong enough that we should only buy players who will improve our first XI (or youngsters). There are not many of the former, they are expensive and often unavailable.

    So be it. I’m happy and I’m very much looking forward to enjoying the remainder of the season.

    This is the best squad we’ve had in years! We continue to progress! What is there not to like?

  22. Gotta say the Welbeck news has taken me back a bit. Assuming Mr Wenger knew this was happening, and he still didn’t buy another striker, it really does underscore (ooh hope that word doesn’t come to bite me in the bum) the belief that there just wasn’t the talent out there (at least not for the right price). It’s kinda of interesting too in that Welbeck himself came in following Giroud’s injury right at the end last summer’s transfer. We bought last minute then. Similar circumstances again this summer. So why not buy some cover. Then again I guess he didn’t have Theo to cover at that point either. Can’t help feeling though we are a striker down compared to last season?

    Still a good squad though. As you say Pete, best we’ve had in years.

    Brickfield, a quote for you: “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”. True every summer except this one it seems.

  23. Reposted:

    This is incredible…. Barcelona, coming off a treble and on a transfer ban signed more first team players than we did. Are we honestly saying Cech was the difference between us and the EPL & UCL last year?

    We can choose to wait till May, but I criticized our transfer window last year and by mid season we had lost too many points to challenge for the EPL. wenger made mistakes by not signing Gabriel in the summer(or a similar player) even though Kos had an injury , and we ended up playing our fullbacks in CB. Now we have Coq(top 3 DM in the league) as our only player in that position that can be trusted, teams have targeted him already this season, and it’s only going to get worse because premier league managers are generally nasty. Are we all going to be comfortable with Arteta and Flamini playing big games if Coq gets injured?

    Another point is the often repeated point that out under-25 players will improve, and that this will help us gain more points… are we assuming that we’re the only team with players that will improve? how many times have we heard that our injury prone players will finally avoid injuries (Jack is injured already) and have a breakout season. Doesn’t the same apply to other teams?

    A general idea is that we were financially restricted in the years after we built the Emirates and so could not compete for titles and had to settle for 4th. How does it make sense that when the money comes along, we don’t spend more than we used to when we were restricted. If spending was the key then, how is it not so now? how is the key suddenly cohesion?

    We complain about inflated prices and we refuse to consider that transfer fees are rising every year. Not spending that money now only means we spend more of it next year.What happens when a player of DeBruyne caliber is going for 70m, will we abandon the transfer market altogether?

    Big investment, big risk, big rewards
    Small investment, small risk, small reward

    PS: I have stated my points without insulting anybody. I would like for any replies to not be derogatory or condescending simply because we have different opinions. Thank you.

  24. Unfortunately, we are a striker down, this inujury is very unfortunate for all concerned. Kne injuries, especially with cartilage damage can be unpredictable, as can the results of surgery, so even though we have such a track record of long standing mystery injuries, can see why they waited , with surgery a last option on this one. A real shame.
    As for cover, I am convinced they were trying, hence keeping this story under wraps so as not to inflate any potential deals, but our need has no correlation with availability.
    Think for the moment we have enough cover, who knows, could even end up as JCs time to shine. Is an Akpom/ Poldi recall possible? If, sorry when we get further long term injuries, aligned with any further Welbeck setbacks, and Wenger may have to consider the justifiably hated Jan option at least as temporary cover. Adebayor anyone?

  25. Jamie – I will try not be insulting!

    1. No Cech is not the difference… but Barcelona have superior financial resources to us.

    2. Maybe Gabriel wasn’t available last summer? Perhaps Wenger was hoping that Hayden would come through – only he then got injured having shown a very promising performance in the League Cup game.

    3. Even with our injury record, and assuming it doesn’t improve, Coquelin should – statistically – expect to be available 70% of the time. Now he could break his leg in the next game (Stoke…er…) – or he could remain injury free all season. I am personally comfortable with Flamini/Arteta/Ramsey/Wilshere covering for the games he does miss. But it is a calculated risk. I do not think that a Schneiderlin for £25mm to cover this few games would be a wise use of finite resources.

    4. I haven’t checked, but I suspect the average age of our squad is less than City and Chelsea at least? I also think that Wenger is a significantly superior developmental coach than Mourinho, Pellegrini or van Gaal. I also think there are tentative positive signs that our injury situation is improving. We shall see.

    5. We do absolutely have more money now – our transfer P&L over the last couple of years has been significantly negative compared to broadly flat prior – e.g. arrivals of Ozil and Sanchez. But we do not have the money of Chelsea, City, Utd (and Barca) – not even close. And the money hasn’t disappeared – it will still be there in the future when the right deal is achievable.

    6. We finished 3rd last year!

    7. Fair point about transfer inflation. But that doesn’t alter the fact that we can not currently compete with the biggest spenders.

    8. Interesting point about risk. There IS a big risk if we overspend. You don’t seem to consider the downside risk of falling out of the top 4 – or further. But it is real.

  26. 1. Yes I agree, but they did not buy any players at extravagant fees. We also have more resources than Everton or Leicester, and they still managed to some decent players (by their standards).

    2. We got a new player evaluation system last year, so we could definitely find someone with similar characteristics to Gabriel. As I said, it doesn’t make sense to pin your hopes on a youth team player making a step up. How many senior games had Hayden played before the season started? BTW, the league cup game was after the window closed. The Sanchez signing was a masterclass, but he needed to take a step further. Look at the RB situation for example. He had a youth team player in Bellerin and still got 2 more players in the same position. We all expected Chambers to step up, but Bellerin did. He was under no pressure and he gained confidence game after game.

    3. I also think signing Schneiderlin would be a waste, but there’s a lot of cheaper, younger players who can fill in better than Arteta and Flamini. I think Wilshere is not a DM and is not reliable. Ramsey and Santi are wasted in that position. Ramsey lacks the discipline like the much touted Vidal, and Santi the athletism.

    4. No objection

    5. Yes it will be there, but you will need to spend more to get similar players

    6. Man Utd had a disastrous season last year. So did Pool. Both will likely have similar seasons. We may likely still finish third this season. Tar transfer window isn’t the yardstick to judge a team’s potential, but I think looking at their squads, you can make a semi accurate prediction.

    7. Yes, but smaller teams are signing players according to their needs and finances, ate we the only team without needs or adequate finances, we still need to improve regardless of whether we can find perfect players or not. Özil was not exactly what we needed, but he still improved is nonetheless. We could still have found a player who could help improve us.

    8. Yes but investing more money into an already semi-successful club wouldn’t drag is back, in the worst realistic scenario, we end up with an overrated player. At least the manager can then say he honestly tries to address our needs, but it didn’t work out.

    PS: now I’m not saying buy the first player that falls on your lap, but don’t take an extremely passive approach to dealing with your needs.

  27. Just seen this from the magazine When Saturday Comes:

    “The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust are protesting about their club’s lack of transfer activity, which they propose to take up in their next meeting with the club. How much more can they put up with? They should make banners saying that, to display during the team’s 18th successive Champions League campaign.”

    Do the moaners realise that the rest of the football world (fans not media, obviously) are laughing at them?

  28. Jamie

    I like your post a lot more than most of those who are very unhappy with this transfer window or with Wenger in general.

    I’m not going to take on all your point in order but hopefully a good few of them will be addressed in what I say.

    When people ask for two established players in every position, it is always presented as pure upside, and as something only a madman would spurn. This ignores a few key points :

    (1) two in every position means that effectively the route for youth players is damn near barricaded. No Coquelin, and possibly no Bellerin either. We saw what it took for the opportunity to open up for them last year- first choice man went down, that provided an opportunity. Demands of the club being what they are it meant Coquelin and Bellerin had to perform well immediately, i.e in 1-2 games, which they did. Anyone who doubts this needs only to look over to Chelsea and city.

    No one since Terry, despite having superb youth teams in the last five years. When the reserve player is always an established international, who probably cost between 10-30 million- forget about it, youth player will almost certainly never get a real chance.

    I want us to be the best we can be as a club, but I always want there to be a pathway for youth players, and not just for sentimental reasons- Coquelin and Bellerin are two superb additions to the club who we would struggle to buy if they were playing this well elsewhere. As if to illustrate the point, it looks like Debuchy is unhappy at the moment : (2) that’s the other consequence of two top established players for every one spot- if one wins the fight,stays fit and in the team, the other will want to leave within a year or so.

    There’s a big element of risk in not going for maximum experience-expensive established pro’s to cover expensive established pro’s to cover expensive established pro’s- within the squad, but it’s a calculated one : it is the only way to give young players any chance of making the first team, and in a sick market in which we can still be blown out of the water by a number of clubs, in order to beat those clubs in the next few years we will need to bring through and develop at least another one or two of our own.

    Even though Gokhan Inler, for instance, might well be a slightly better bet for our immediate needs should Coquelin go down, is that a price worth paying to say to Bielek, Hayden, Glen Kamara and anyone else in with a shout in the next few years…’not here, lads’?

    Our best chance of seeing another top five in the world striker ,for instance, is from within. Why would it not be, if we acknowledge there are only ever about five of those players in the world and, like it or not, there are 5-6 clubs with significantly more money than us.

    It’s no coincidence we push our best 16 year old strikers into the u21s at the earliest chance. That we push our best 15 year olds into the u18s. That we signed two promising foreign strikers for the youth team this summer. That we have looked to speed up Chuba’s development and also speed up the answer as to how far he will go by loaning him, even though he might have been very handy right here. We are making all the right moves to try and solve the chronic shortage of top strikers by building one of our own.

  29. Rich – All good points.

    I would also add that having an establish senior pro as a squad player is also likely to demand pretty hefty wages to keep them happy (think Chelsea, Man City). Again, we can’t afford this to the same extent. Hence our benched players all either have a realistic chance of significant first team football in the near future (e.g. Gibbs, Wilshere, Gabriel), are young and close to the break through (e.g. Ox) or are near the end of their careers and would rather be a bit part player at a large successful club (we are!) than winding down their career at a smaller club where there is no chance of a trophy or champions League football (e.g. Flamini, Arteta).

  30. The current first team squad has ten players in it who weren’t there there at the end of the 2012-13 season.That’s a 40% turnover.Other clubs with similar turnovers have tended to stall or even go backwards whereas, in terms of trophy winning, we’ve gone forwards.In the second half of last season we had the most successful team in the country.
    The fewer mistakes you make in the market the fewer occasions arise when you feel the need to correct them. Since the new sponsorship money came in Arsenal have hardly put a foot wrong in the market so don’t need to throw good money after bad.

  31. You know I think we could have won the league
    Or fa cup this year. But without strengthening
    Unfortunately I think it will be difficult.
    Arsenal are a top club that should be battling
    Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the
    European champions league this season.
    Instead it looks like another top four battle.
    Despite all the money that we had we didn’t use
    One thing that I don’t understand is why not
    Think we need goals, Dannys a long term injury,
    Sanchez can’t do it all, get a backup striker.

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