You don’t need me to tell you that some players at Arsenal have not quite fulfilled their potential. Squillaci, Chamakh, Bendtner…
Of course some will tell you that this is the fault of the present management, but in reality it has always been thus. If you are an Arsenal supporter of a certain age you might remember the name Peter Marinello. If you watch Charlie Nicholas you might wonder why he could never play for Arsenal as he did for Celtic. And when it comes to Franny Jeffers…
Not everyone makes it, and the trick that every manager and his staff has to try and pull off is that of a) not signing the wrong player, and b) keeping the costs of new signings down so that if you do make a mistake, it doesn’t cost the earth.
That’s the trick – and it is an aim that no one manages to fulfil all the time. All a manager can do is try to get it right more than he gets it wrong and to seek to minimise the effect of the potential damage.
And when he has got it wrong, to try and move the player on as fast as possible.
Of course we are all, as Arsenal fans, more likely to remember the failings of players we have seen play for our club. But believe me, other clubs can get it just as wrong.
Southampton fans might cast their mind back to Ali Dia, Man U fans would prefer not to remember Bebe. In recent years we have also watching Andriy Shevchenko who did not play like a £30m player at Chelsea, as well as Jo and Roque Santa Cruz at Manchester City
Liverpool too have had problems with transfers – we might think here of Paul Konchesky and Alberto Aquilani. But they have perhaps had the oddest signing of all: Andy Carroll, Britain’s most expensive player of all time.
Just recently West Ham have offered £15m for Andy Carroll; the last news I had was that the player was thinking it over. Liverpool’s accountants must be thinking it over too, for he cost £20m more than that.
The point about Carroll is not that he is no good, but rather that he is not as good as the fee Liverpool paid for him. And that is most certainly part of the issue because these days fees tend to be linked to salaries, and length of contract. That is of course not something that will have worried the ex-manager of Manchester United over Robin van Persie. But if it is true, as reported, that RVP got a five year deal at £10m a year, Man U might wonder when he reaches 34 or 35 if they are still getting value for money (assuming that he is not injured by then).
But getting back to Carroll, quite why Liverpool stumped up £35m when buying him has never really been made clear.
He scored 31 goals in 80 appearances for Newcastle, On 31 January 2011, Liverpool bid £30 million for Carroll, which was considered a huge offer, but Newcastle rejected it. They did however accept a bid of £35 million.
Liverpool later suggested that the size of the offer was based on how much money Chelsea would pay for Torres – it was £50m. So in once sense Liverpool did all right out of the deal – but that is only true if Carroll could be as good as Torres had been.
But that surely is never the right way to value a player. Better surely to consider his value against the other players in your team. Which is where, in my view, Arsene Wenger scores much of the time. He brings in a lot of players who have slipped under the radar, or who (like Santi Cazorla perhaps) has to be sold quickly, to get the club out of trouble.
Whoever we bring in this summer, the players will be expensive and their salaries high. But none of them, I am sure, will cost quite as much as Carroll.