According to the nay-sayers Arsenal is the most incompetent of football clubs. Our best players are stolen from under our noses because we don’t sign them on long term contracts, and we never bring in the players we want, because the manager is a dodo and can’t handle negotiations.
OK that is some people’s views – generally accompanied by the notion that this is the worst Arsenal team they have ever seen – which suggests they did not see the team much at the end of the George Graham era.
These are of course personal views, often expressed with a fair bit of abuse. But recent developments at Manchester City suggest that maybe it is not just us that has the occasional problem.
Arsenal bought Nasri for about £12m just a couple of weeks after the player signed a new contract with Marseille. The signing of a contract is of note, since it does show that running down contracts is neither here nor there. As the transfer of Fabregas showed, we can lose a player on a very long term contract as easily as we can lose one on a short contract. And we can buy players on long or short contracts too.
When Manchester City bought Samir Nasri from us it cost them £25m – making Arsenal a nice profit en route. But now it seems Nasri, like a lot of players is being considered unfit for purpose at City, and is being offered to anyone who wants him. He will surely go for less than what they paid for.
Of course he is not the only player said to be unwanted by the royal family. Tevez, Barry, and Dzeko are also said to be less than highly thought of.
But there is a second part to this story. Not only has Man City got players it doesn’t really think are good enough (in fact just like every club), they also failed to get the players that Mancini did think were good enough last year.We all know about van Persie and his departure from Arsenal, but in addition to him we should remember that Man City did not sign Hazard, De Rossi, Martínez and Agger all of whom were very publicly noted as players City wanted.Instead Man City bought Rodwell, García, Nastasic, Sinclair and Maicon, all of whom except Rodwell were signed on the last day of the season. Now let us imagine what would have happened if Arsenal had done this. The anti-Wenger groupings would have screamed that this was a measure of the club’s inability to cope with the rigours of modern football – buying cast off players on the last day of the transfer window because no one else wanted them.Worse these players are very much on the fringe – Nastasic excluded.My point here is that all clubs find transfers hit and miss – it simply is not possible to go out and say, “we want x” and then buy that player. The club may be resistant to selling, there may be other buyers in the market, the agent may make insane demands, the player may want to go elsewhere, the player’s wife may want to go elsewhere, there may be difficult contract terms to agree…Of course Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd have more money than Arsenal, and they splash it around. But it is reassuring that this does not automatically give them the chance to buy everyone they want, when they want. And even when they do, as with Nasri, maybe they find that they haven’t quite got the player they thought they had.