by Tony Attwood
Well, to answer the question in the title, several things. Because although three wins and a good splattering of goals are fine, but there are still some problems.
The biggest problem I guess are the bloggers and journalists who are daily telling us that a) Arsenal must buy lots of players and b) Arsenal have already lined up new players who are about to arrive. Apart from the fact that the normal level of fantasy in all this, now combined with a complete refusal to discuss the new regulations imposed on the League by the FA about immigration following Brexit, there is the impact on our own young players.
I actually saw a piece this week saying that we needed an “upgrade” on Smith Rowe and the need to move on several other youngsters to raise money to buy new players. And this after several years in which we have been buying, buying and buying as never before and have utterly failed to bring in the brilliant players of the type that the Arsenal academy can itself bring forth.
It would not only mean that we would lose Smith Rowe if we sold him for some expensive “ready made” replacement who might (or given our recent record might not) be better, it would also be a message to all of the young players who until now have seen coming to Arsenal as a route to success: forget it.
Of course it is very possible that the management realise just how good Smith Rowe and the others are, and they will have none of this nonsense about “can’t win things with kids”. But we have a really exciting group of young players and this ceaseless, mindless, chitter-chatter about transfers isn’t doing the club any good.
Two of the youngsters have now gone past the ripe old age of 23 (Tierney and Maitland-Niles are both 23, along with Gabriel) but if we consider those aged 21 and under it is quite a list:
- Eddie Nketiah: 21
- Joe Willock: 21
- Reiss Nelson: 21
- Emile Smith Rowe: 20
- William Saliba: 19
- Gabriel Martinelli: 19
- Bukayo Saka: 19
Obviously I don’t know what the issue is with Saliba, and the demands that Edu should be removed from the club because of something or other to do with Saliba is probably just the normal handful of people with multiple Twitter accounts causing disruption.
But whatever happens with Saliba, the other six players on that list should be nurtured and developed. Which they won’t be if Arsenal goes on buying and buying and buying at record rates. They will quickly get the message that no matter how good they are, they have no future because Arsenal is a buying club.
This is not to say that everything at Arsenal in hunky-dory now we have won a few games. Clearly it is not. Despite our recent activities we have scored fewer than Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, clubs not renowned for their attacking prowess, and we need a number of matches with regular scoring to help us up the league.
But at least the defence is back together, with us conceding fewer goals than the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United. And as a bonus the goal difference is back in the positive.
Of course the league table also reminds us that virtually every team above us has at least one game in hand over us, and the five teams immediately above us are all three points better off and have a better goal difference. Meaning, we are not out of mid-table obscurity yet.
So the worst thing in the world we could do now would be to buy players to replace the younger members of our squad. Such newcomers would take a while to settle in, and the buying would send out utterly the wrong message both to the younger players in the squad, and those hoping to make it into the squad in the next year.
Worse, as we have so clearly seen, transferring players in often doesn’t work.
Yet somehow there is this constant view that although so many transfers have failed in the past, we will get the next one right. The people who endlessly moan about Pepe want another transfer in, on the grounds that… well what? That if we do it enough times we’ll get one right?
Probably that is true. But by then, most of our exciting youngsters will have upped sticks and gone somewhere, where they can be appreciated by both the crowd and the management, rather than replaced.
- Suddenly we’re almost top of the (injury) league
- Forthcoming Arsenal transfers, except… those new Brexit regs are a bit pesky.
- At last some clubs and fans are taking on football’s “thought police”
- Injuries Time to sack Tierney accordinig to one part of the media
- Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules
- The huge bias of referees is proven. PGMO and media fight back.
- 93 players rumoured to be going to Arsenal. Are the journos getting lazy?
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?