Ah, the transfer window – is it open yet? Hard to tell as an Arsenal supporter. Obviously there is considerably less angst among fans at the moment than there was last summer, but the papers still need something to talk about. A few days ago @arseblog tweeted this bit of news:
I say news. Obviously it’s not news that Arsenal have money to spend, and Brady didn’t say Arsenal will spend, just that he thinks they will. Or at least he thought they would at the time. As I said, a few days have gone by. Anyway, I tweeted back to Andrew, pointing out, as best I could within the severe character limitation of Twitter, that Brady doesn’t know any more than me on this subject. I said he knows nothing; that was putting it a bit strongly. Clearly he knows lots of things, but he doesn’t know the single most important fact in this case.However, Andrew thought I was overstating my case, and said so. As he has quite a few Twitter followers (and quite a few more than me) it was inevitable that some would find this hilarious, and immediately tweet to tell me I had been well and truly outwitted on this one, and other such niceties. Oh how we laughed. Once we had all wiped away the tears of mirth, I replied again: essentially Brady and I have the same information (and almost the same influence) on this. You can see the exchange for yourself. And although Andrew says that Brady is closer to Arsène than I am, with the opportunity to speak to him regularly, Brady is on the way out at Arsenal – his successor has just been announced – and he’s probably one of the least likely people for Arsène to confide in. Legend though he is, he’s not overpopular there for his current role.Not that it matters much. The fact is that only one person knows if Arsenal will spend anything in this transfer window, and that’s Arsène himself. Anything else is pure conjecture. There’s no point trying to tell me that people within Arsenal know because they talk to Arsène Wenger, and there’s even less point trying to convince me that anyone else tells Arsène what to do with the money available. Arsène makes up his mind in his own time, and his own time goes right up to the point at which his and the player’s signatures are appended to the contracts. Up until then he might change his mind, so even if there is every indication to those around him that money will be spent, they still don’t know. There is still doubt.
This is why Ivan (for example) always chooses his words very carefully – well, that and he’s as slippery as a fried seal cub in butter. Just kidding Ivan, love ya really, doing a great job, etc etc. Just not great at giving a straight answer to a question.
These are my notes on the subject from the supporters Q&A (formerly the AST Q&A) last May:
Question – Can you guarantee Arsène will spend big this summer?
IG: “Arsène isn’t scared to spend money, but it’s up to him to get the players he believes in. He’s done a very good job with this overall. He wants a cohesive squad that he believes in.”
In other words, no, Ivan can’t guarantee anything about spend, because it’s Arsène’s job. Which anyone who listens to anything I say would know already.
Question – You’ve previously said the wage structure needs attending to, but Arsène has come out this year talking about how he likes the ‘socialist’ model – are you doing anything about it or not?
IG: “Where we start with every player is an assessment of talent. Arsène makes decisions on talent. Once he identifies talent he wants then we talk wages. The right decisions on wages follow the talent assessment.”
To translate: In my years here I have not managed to wrest an ounce of control of team spending from Arsène. He does what the hell he likes and will continue to do so, whether anyone agrees with it or not.
Whereas previously Ivan had said he would sort out the wage structure, which he had admitted could be improved, by May 2013 he had given up that idea, knowing he’d be making promises he couldn’t deliver.
So, to repeat: only one person knows whether Arsenal will spend in this transfer window – Arsène Wenger. And even he probably doesn’t know yet. The media can ask who the hell they like to fill a few column inches, it won’t make a blind bit of difference. Arsène will do what he wants, when he’s sure he wants to. I just hope he does the right thing and maximises our chances of a trophy.
I’m not saying Arsène’s control of the cheque book is a bad thing. (Overall it probably isn’t, though I’m personally in favour of spending when there is money available, rather than hoarding it as a cashflow buffer for Stan). It’s just a fact.
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