The final day of the transfer window has always been exciting, however if you were an Arsenal fan it was frankly depressing. Manchester City got taken over and broke the transfer record for Robinho all in one day. The Abu Dhabi syndicate have the spending power of ten Chelsea Football clubs, and the shock waves will resonate through the Premier League for seasons to come. Football seems to be bucking the economic trend and clubs were falling over themselves to buy any Tom, Dick or Harry. Their goal? To stay in the Premier League at all costs.
Let us recall the season after Arsenal achieved the unbeaten 38 game premiership record. Many Arsenal fans believed that the long spoken about dynasty of Arsenal Football club was about to materialise. Instead of Manchester United adding to the number of titles in the nineties, surely it would be Arsenal who would lead the way in terms of beautiful football in the second millennium. However Roman Abromovich changed all that, and now with the introduction of Arab riches beyond comprehension, Arsenal’s quaint vision of how to win the Premiership in an old fashioned Anglo-French way will be tested to the limit. Manchester City have made it clear that they wish to become a top four club, and what ever it takes, they will pay the going rate. Football has now become an auction of obscene wealth.
Good luck to Manchester City, but I am concerned with Arsenal, my club. As I have said, almost every club in the top half of the Premiership have made buys. All of our rivals have added to their squads signalling an ambition or major intent. Arsene Wenger seems content to approach this next campaign with a squad which in paper is weaker than last season. Being a supporter is for life, during good times and bad. I think that we as Arsenal fans must now prepare ourselves for more of the same as last year. Without support for Cesc Fabregas, without a potent goalscorer, and of course, with an experienced ageing centre back picked up for £750,000.
Ambition is the key, and the failure to strengthen our squad through buying the necessary players will come to haunt us. I do not doubt that the blind faithful fans will say, Keep the Faith, Arsene knows, he will deliver. But on the evidence of my own eyes, I cannot now say with hand on my heart, that Arsenal will win the premiership. I think that we will retain our top four position, just… If we fail to win a major trophy then I believe that this will be the last season for Cesc Fabregas. Then as the criticism mounts Arsene Wenger may decide to manage the French National team instead. Today I will again be accused of being hysterical and unbalanced, but hear me out here.
Man United have just won the Premiership and the Champions League, and they do what? They strengthen their squad and keep their best player Ronaldo. Chelsea finished second, and were runners up in the Champions League final, what do they do? they sack their manager and buy in new players to strengthen their squad. Liverpool buy their usual crop of also ran squad players, but buy Robbie Keane, and try to buy Gareth Barry. They finished fourth. The Arsenal finished third, Arsene Wenger decides that his squad is good enough to win the Premier League, on the basis of my own eyes, and given the risk of injuries and suspensions, I cannot agree.
In my opinion we will finish third again this season with this squad. We have lost Jens Lehmann, Mathieu Flamini and Alexandre Hleb. We have replaced Lehmann with Fabianski, Flamini with Denilson and bought in Samir Nasri for Hleb. We have Silvestre as a potential centre back as well as Song. Our squad will do well, but not well enough. I love the Arsenal and I will cheer them to the end. But today I sit open mouthed in disbelief. I cannot agree with those who profess utter blind faith in the cause, because by the simple law of averages we will be fighting upon several fronts with a squad with inherent weaknesses and to ignore those weaknesses is to indulge in a flight of fantasy. I say good luck to our youngsters, because they are going to need it.
Fabregas the King.