On Monday, Ivan Gazidis has his meeting with the Arsenal Supporters Trust - today he has another board meeting with Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board of directors. The timing of this meeting, before the end of the season is timely considering we're out of all competitions. As we enter the summer months, it is clear that this season, pre-Arshavin, we were dangerously close to finishing outside of the top 4. Many people believe that without the Russian we wouldn't have been able to grind out the late season results that have made our season semi-respectable. We've achieved the absolute minimum that we could have set up to achieve again. And what does that mean? It means that we need to strengthen the squad. Simple facts. We're definitely not close to Man United at the moment.
Do we need to radically change the squad, no. We have a very good nucleus of players, young, exciting and the future of Arsenal. But what we lack and, of course, everyone knows this, is experience in midfield and a steady head in defence.
Gazidis was quickly forthcoming when asked about his views of the season and how we did:
“I am not happy where we ended up but I am pleased we are disappointed by it.There are other clubs who would feel this is a good position. Or we could say in December if someone had said we’d have been in this position then we would have bitten their hands off. So why aren’t we feeling great about it? The answer is because we have higher expectations. But this is not a situation where we should be over-reactive and feel that we are in crisis. We are not. We have a team with an average age of 23 or 24 that went to the Champions League semi-finals and is going to get better. Does it need to be supplemented? Quite possibly but it is a very, very promising situation for the next four or five years. So right now I think it is important to have some perspective and be brutally realistic with ourselves – but not only on the negative side but the positive side as well.”
I think he’s hit the nail on the spot – we have higher expectations. Under Arsene Wenger especially and historically, we are title winners, if not title challengers. We’re up there winning trophies and playing attractive football. We do have a young squad, but experience is something you definitely need at this level. Maybe people say Arsene is stubborn (me included), it’s a claim that our CEO refutes.
Gazidis spoke about working with Arsene and the philosphy behind the man:
“He is not closed-minded. The idea that Arsène Wenger is some stubborn guy who is not open to having his ideas challenged and there is nobody there who can say ‘listen we need someone with experience in the middle of the park or at the back’ just isn’t true. He is asking questions of himself all the time and talking to people all the time. He does not believe he has all the answers and I see that as one of his strengths. ’He is not someone who takes the easy route to protect himself. He will place the protection of his players above that. He is not going to go out and say ‘this guy is not good enough’ or ‘this is where we are weak’. He has the ability to make difficult decisions when they have to be made, but until then, he protects and supports the players he has.”
Whether Arsene acts upon this season and sprinkles the side with some experience is something that we will all have to wait and see. It’s amazing, but I feel that we’re in exactly the same place as we were last summer, when we needed a midfielder and defender. The return of Senderos may be one option, an option that Arsene is probably considering quite well, but it’s not the answer to our defensive problems. Part of conceding goals is related to confidence, and if we don’t strike fear into our opponents and instead are timid in attack, then the opposition will always thrive on it and become stronger.
There has been some tabloid news suggestion Adebayor may be in line to replace Drogba at Chelsea – I find that a little hard to believe. On current form, I’d say Drogba edges out Ade, but of course Ade has time on his side. I think this is purely a fabricated story – it’s surfaced because Ancellotti is rumoured to be taking over from Hiddink next season, and of course, the Milan manager has made comments saying he’s a fan of the Togan International. Having signed a new contract last season, I expect Adebayor to stay at the club.
One new recruit, according to the newspapers, is Argentian goalkeeper, Damian Martinez – he’s only 16 – from Independiente, and apparently he’s going to have a trial with us. The kid spoke on radio saying:
“When I was told that I was going to have a trial at Arsenal I thought that someone was joking. In fact, I thought that they were talking about Arsenal de Sarandi, the team called like that but that plays in Argentina.”
It’s amazing to see this story spread from website to website, newspaper to newspaper, no one really knowing the truth until it’s published on the official Arsenal site. Another South American youngster linked with us today is 17-year-old Uruguayan striker Gonzalo Barreto, who currently plays for Danubio and this news happening just days after we were linked with Mathieu Coutadeur – a 22 year old midfielder… it certainly is that time of year hey!
Time to create a new panel on the right hand side of the blog… called Transfer Rumours Summer 2009…
I’ll leave you with this thought… would you like it or dislike it if Emmanuel Adebayor was playing for Chelsea next season?]]>