Arsenal fans aren’t kidding themselves. In an ideal world, Robin Van Persie would still be adored as opposed to abhorred and preparing to wreak havoc in the red of the Gunners instead of Manchester United ahead of the big kick-off.
Were that the case, the very thought of manager Arsene Wenger acting as a suitor to the troublesome yet mercurial Luis Suarez wouldn’t sit well with fans supportive of the overall ethos at the Emirates.
The loathsome antics of the Uruguay striker have seen him marked down as an unwholesome character, one who wouldn’t be welcome to ply his trade in north London – in local vernacular he might be described as a “wrong ‘un”.
Yet, unpalatable as it may still be for Gooners, the stark reality is that the then much-loved RVP moved to Old Trafford and claimed justification in his decision by winning the top flight crown.
So, a year on and attitudes have changed amongst followers increasingly frustrated at the lack of a marquee signing or two in N5.
And rather than oppose an increase in Wenger’s £40million and a quid bid, fans who might be accused of hypocritical are clamouring for it. The fact that he has been accused of diving, cheating, biting and racism can, seemingly, be put to one side now that the club are desperate to significantly strengthen the squad.
Indeed, some now claim the prospect of a thoroughly nasty piece of work arriving is exactly what the club needs. One former player who recognises this change in attitudes is former Arsenal forward Alan Smith.
Smith, now a Sky Sports pundit, said: “Suarez is of a character I think that Arsenal have needed over the last few years, that they haven’t had. That nastiness, that aggressiveness he has, that will to win. There aren’t too many within the Arsenal squad that are like that. It marks a sea change from Arsene Wenger I think that he is after people like that.
“I think he’s probably realised that in order to end that drought, he needs to head in a slightly different direction. So it’s encouraging from that point of view, not so encouraging to hear Liverpool’s statement on the subject. You know it’s pretty emphatic.
“I don’t think Arsenal are then going to slap £60million on the table, that’s not the way they do things. So they have probably gone nearly as far as they are prepared to go. If you’re Arsene Wenger, you’re looking elsewhere, desperately looking really because they’ve made no secret of the fact that they’ve got plenty of money to spend both in transfer fees and wages. The fans were getting excited towards the end of last season and, all of a sudden we’re in mid-August and nothing’s happened.
“There were boos at the end of the Emirates tournament when they lost to Galatasaray, I think that’s not because they lost, but because the fans are just so anxious to see new faces coming in. But Suarez, as an Arsenal fan, would be one that you’d love to see at The Emirates.
“Obviously he has blotted his copybook on a few occasions, whether he would continue to, whether Arsene Wenger in a different environment would make him behave in a different way, I don’t know. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. From Arsenal’s point of view, there is a slight hint of desperation in it, you are taking a chance if you are going to sign someone like Suarez.
“But Arsenal now are desperate to end that trophy drought. They want to go for players with the maximum ability, he’s a top, top player we all know that. He’s almost turning a blind eye to the other side of his character.”
Meanwhile, the man who would have been the fans’ choice as an ideal candidate to replace Peter Hill-wood as the Gunners chairman – Sir Chips Keswick landed the role – has called for Wenger to make at least one impact signing.
Yet even with a big-name recruit arriving at the Emirates, ex-Arsenal keeper Bob Wilson doesn’t see his former club as any stronger than potential challenges for the Premier League title.
He said: “There are only certain clubs who can win it. I wouldn’t put Arsenal top of my list, but they do have a really, really good squad at the moment.
“They have the perfect balance of experience and youth. If you look at Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Nacho Monreal, that’s experience.
“Then you’ve got the youth: all the international youngsters in the form of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey.
“What I would love to see – and what I believe every Arsenal fan would love to see – is one marquee signing this summer which would put us very close to challenging.”