Blog Post 395: The One In Which I Praise Arsene On Transfers

Despite all the criticism of Arsène over recent seasons, which I often add to, I still in many ways have a grudging admiration for how he operates. He could do better, don’t get me wrong, and if he’d spent more time listening to advice on certain coaching aspects in recent seasons, while he stuck to what he was good at, then we could easily have had a more successful club. And watching him make substitutions usually just makes me want to kick things.

But consider the way he signs players – or, more to the point, doesn’t.  I’m always amazed at the amount of hype around transfers. Even the most successful managers sign a good proportion of duds, so I don’t see why everyone is always so keen to sign anything that moves. Just shut up and see what happens! (Unless of course you’re going to be ITK for a day, which can be a laugh.) How often do we see a huge clamour for a particular player build up, with Arsène slagged off no end for not buying the latest flavour of the month? Then the player goes somewhere else and turns out to be a pile of crap. Six months on he’s not even a regular starter. Remember summer 2012? It was Sahin. “We MUST have him!” shouted half the Gooners on Twitter. He goes to Liverpool. No one sees him for ages. A few months on, he leaves again. No one mentions it.

Now I know Sahin was on loan, and I know that Arsenal have missed out on good players because Arsène won’t go a penny over his own valuation, but you can waste an awful lot of money buying the flavour of the month and finding it’s gone off soon afterwards. When you’re Man City that’s okay (until FFP kicks in), but Arsenal have to be more careful.

So well done Arsène for taking your time and wanting to be sure that any new player will fit the way Arsenal play. Of course it still doesn’t always work, but it’s better than chucking all the money away without really thinking about it, or taking the scattergun approach of some managers and going for quantity in the hope that some combination will work.

This brings me to Ozil. Whatever you think about how Arsenal conducted their transfer business over the summer, they have ended up with a world class player who looked at home as soon as he stepped onto the pitch with his new teammates. You could argue that anyone costing £42m should be able to improve any team and look good doing it, but life isn’t always that simple. Torres, for example. If you don’t fit the team and the system you won’t perform to your best and you become an out of place cog in the engine. The team won’t be greater than the sum of its parts, whether it was put together for £5m or £500m.

Watch and learn, TGSTEL

Watch and learn, TGSTEL

Arsenal got lucky in signing Ozil. Let me rephrase that: Arsenal got lucky in being able to sign Ozil. The simple fact is that he only left Madrid because Bale arrived. If Levy had decided not to sell, or possibly even if he’d held out right to the last day, then no Ozil for Arsenal. The club that boasted at the start of the transfer window that it could sign world class players and pay them £200k a week, the club with the massive war chest, would have been left with nothing other than a couple of free transfers (okay, Flamini is proving an excellent choice, but even Arsène admits he wasn’t even being considered prior to him turning up at Colney to try and stay fit). Plan A was Higuain and that didn’t come off. Plan B was Suarez; ditto. Rooney was at least in mind, as were others. How far down that list was Ozil? Plan G? H? Z? When did Ozil become a serious option? Who knows. It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that Arsène would have signed two players for more than £40m, so if Suarez had been signed it’s unlikely Ozil would too. But Higuain for the original £23m would have meant easily enough money for Ozil too. Were Arsenal considering him then? Perhaps, but were Madrid thinking of selling?

Trying to sort out threads of logic like that is a mug’s game really. Too many variables and too little proof. It’s easy after the event to make a narrative that fits your view: either Arsenal and Arsène were incredibly incompetent for three months and then incredibly lucky, or they had incredible foresight and vision and played a perfect long game. Take your pick, because the outcome fits both, or anything in between.

Either way, Ozil is here and Arsène has proven that he can still judge a player, even if he doesn’t always like the valuation. Having a world class player galvanises the rest of the squad: they want to play with him and they play better because of him. Arsenal are benefiting from that so far, and let’s hope it’s only the start. The role of the football manager is to make the team more than the sum of its parts; Arsène can still do that.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5


14 thoughts on “Blog Post 395: The One In Which I Praise Arsene On Transfers

  1. Angrygooner you give some good information but the problem is that the info and opinions your giving atm are going to deaf years. People are only interesting in articles like these when people are willing to listen like when things aint going good.

    Even non Arsenal fans are flocking to Arsenal atm and things like us being lucky to sign Ozil means nothing cause at the end of the day we did sign him.

    Cause of the Manager and owners we have money and resources built up and had a manager who had the ability to infuance a player such as Ozil to our club not exacty like if you think about it that way and maybe it was but sometimes you make your own luck.

    Us being lucky means nothing to the fans the main thing is we have signed him and its a good platform to build from keep signing german players.

  2. Arsene Wenger expressed his interest in Ozil BEFORE he went to Real Madrid. That interest – according to Ozil himself – was a key factor in his subsequent move to Arsenal. An Arsenal fan since 1955, I have never experienced anything like the excitement and pride in my club than during the seventeen years under Wenger. I do not believe we could “easily” have been a better club than the one that has unfailingly qualified for the Champions League every year, that produced the Invincibles, that has been the touchstone for the way that football should be played. When Chelsea bought their team and won trophies, their fans used to fall asleep by half time out of sheer boredom. You will never know an Arsenal manager again to touch Arsene Wenger,

  3. It’s amazing how Arsenal can get ‘lucky’, but talk about Arsenal getting ‘unlucky’ and that’s just excuses.

    We may not know the details of what went on, but it’s reasonable to assume that in the transfer market what passes for ‘having a plan’ also relies on ‘luck’, in a situation where 3 (or more) parties need to agree, and any other interested parties can’t manage to barge its way to a place at the negotiating table.

    Here’s what was needed in the transfer market as I, and I believe a lot of other fans, saw it.
    1. Depth at the GK position.
    2. A 4th choice CB
    3. A DM
    4. A striker
    5. Added creativity
    6. Release the players not needed.

    We ended the window with 1,3,5 and 6 met. 2 was met with Sagna being tested at CB in pre-season and Flamini’s versatility (as well as Yennaris, Bellerin being options at RB from the youths) We ended up lacking a striker, which everyone agrees with. But that was a very successful transfer window. How much of it was down to luck, or down to design, calculations, and groundwork? It’s nearly impossible to say. And yet, Ozil choosing us was also down to Wenger (according to Ozil himself, and I am aware of players mouthing platitudes, but this didn’t seem to just be that. Did it?)

    As for Arsene getting more out of his team than their individual talents would suggest. I fully agree. It is one of the reasons I have always supported Wenger. Squad stability is essential to us, and whenever we’ve kept a squad together we’ve improved, even in the barren years. Having had last season to work with this team, we were always going to improve, with or without Ozil. But he’s helped us add something, apart from sending a message. Arsenal’s 200k a week, big money signing is here. The club, contrary to what it was accused of, wasn’t just blowing hot air. Faith was vindicated. Now, onto the final payoff.

    We haven’t seen Ozil and Cazorla play together yet. Walcott can benefit so much from the creativity in our midfield. Wilshere can now be eased back in. Podolski’s comeback might even take pressure off Giroud. Add another striker (although this won’t be easy in January) and we’re looking almost perfect. I’m just taking it one game at a time though. And it’s been fun so far. (With the exception of Anthony Villa)

  4. This article still works hard to deny Wenger his due credit. For example:
    – “…Plan A was Higuain and that didn’t come off. Plan B was Suarez; ditto…”
    Actually plan A was Jovetic, well before Higuain, but his price went up too far Wenger refused to chase. Rightly so, as Jovetic is currently on the Man C bench.

    – “…okay, Flamini is proving an excellent choice, but even Arsène admits he wasn’t even being considered prior to him turning up at Colney to try and stay fit). …”
    To be fair to Wenger you’d have to credit him with the committment he made of hefty bid of 18 mil for Lars Bender and another of 9 or 10 for Cabaye. Plus 12 for Gustavo as well. The latter two are interesting as apparently they really didnt push to come to Arsenal on the basis that Wenger wasn’t promising them a starting jersey. Surely must be crystal clear that Flamini wasnt promised anything either, but having signed, injury presented him an opportunity and Wenger proved to be willing to stick with the player who performs, so Arteta is now on the bench! Gustavo and Cabaye must feel like fools right now….

    Last but not least, I think Wenger is clearer about what he wants than you think. The money spent on Ozil basically includes the funds that did not get spent when Wenger by all reliable accounts failed with a 30 million bid for Goetze last year. You look at the thread of Goetze-Suarez-Ozil and you can see he was looking for someone who could replace those bagfuls of chances that Fabregas used to create.

    The Jovetic-Higuain goalscorer track is something else and I would expect Wenger to try and fill it again.

    I would think the attraction of Suarez was that he could fill both of these needs all in one, which is probably why Wenger was willing to risk losing Higuain to get Suarez. I would suppose that there is another Suarez bid in the winter window if Liverpool tails off and is not in the top 5 or 6 spots at that point.

    • The article still works hard to deny credit. Heh. That’s true.

      ” if he’d spent more time listening to advice on certain coaching aspects in recent seasons, while he stuck to what he was good at, then we could easily have had a more successful club.”

      That is to me classic criticism, which cannot be countered because no one can say anything about it with any authority. Listen to whose advice? On what coaching aspects? What is the evidence that he doesn’t listen? He might not agree, and on balance it is his team so asking him to give up decision making is worse than firing him. But, at this point, it is a truism that ‘Wenger doesn’t listen’. Has anyone involved with him ever said that? Even hinted at it? Wenger has changed as well. He’s responded to the team’s weaknesses and made changes. But because no trophy came of it, the past 8 years are grouped together. Still, at least Phil now acknowledges Arsene can get a team playing better than most would think possible.

  5. Finally, after having put off talking about how Arsene and Arsenal are tearing up everything in sight for a long, long time, you come up with a piece that is designed to maintain your sour grapes disposition and grudgingly praise the team you profess to support. You should be bigger than this. Give praise to whom it’s due without any caveats.

  6. “I still in many ways have a grudging admiration for how he operates.”
    to say that about the most successful manager in our history says everything about your opinion. While there’s nothing wrong with expressing opinions and providing a critique when you know your wrong you should be man enough to admit it.
    Now you have admitted you don’t want him to succeed destroys many of your arguments and denies anybody the opportunity to take you seriously which is a shame because you write well

  7. phil, in your first line a grudging admiration. if you begrudge anybody anyting it means its something you dont want. So if you dont want to admire him it obviously betrays your hope that he will fail. its not bad to admit you were wrong especially when you had ARSENAL at heart but you need to look in the mirror.
    personally i think your beef is with modern commercial football and with that our clubs part in it, but you need to chose your targets more closely and in Arsene youv’ve chosen wrong

    • Your logic is faulty. I want whoever is Arsenal manager to succeed.
      The subject under discussion is the current manager’s methods, which, contrary to the opinions of some, are not in fact perfect. I would rather he had succeeded more in recent years (ie won more trophies), which he could well have done by not taking so much on himself and accepting help.
      Why you infer from that that I don’t want him to succeed is beyond me.

  8. arsene isnt perfect but he’s closer than anyone to being such in the footballing world.

    he speaks 6 different languages this is good cos it means he can communicate with arsene about whatever. most of the time anyway. theres also the small matter of his degree in economics and his other degree in electrical engineering. what do they to do with being a football manager? well it shows hes clever. and im sure to get those degrees he had to argue points of view at times.

  9. there’s no faulty logic there if you begrudge someone something then you don’t want to give it to them. The next lines highlights the biggest debate the measure of success, this is something we obviously are going to disagree on. Next even Arsenes biggest fan knows he’s not perfect and that argument that wengerites think he is some sort of god is a bit lame. Your last point is purely an assumption why an highly intelligent man would not think it is sensible to take advice and assistance when all the worlds philosophers, of which he reads , would tell him to do so is laughable. If you base your opinions on red tops media hacks rather than the yohans of the world then obviously your conclusions will be different.
    All that said to hear your a ARSENE supporter is very encouraging

    • For a start you’re getting confused between me saying ‘I have a grudging admiration’ and me saying ‘I begrudge’. Those are different things.
      Have you ever read Untold Arsenal or Positively Arsenal? Because all the people who think Arsene is perfect congregate there. Have a look and open your eyes. Not necessarily in that order.
      I don’t base any of my opinions on ‘red tops media hacks’, just on evidence and what people who know tell me. And don’t say ‘no one really knows what goes on at Arsenal’. Yes they do. I’m not sure what ‘yohans’ are.

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