My colleague Jacko Jones made a very interesting point at the end of his most recent post when he quoted Arsene Wenger’s words about the transfer window. Wenger revealed that the Gunners were close to making another signing and the only thing that stopped them was the other club not wanting to let the player go. He also talked about the fact that most of the top and middle-of-the-road teams did not do much as they could not really improve their teams with the players available.
Liverpool’s signings of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge being the obvious exceptions, although you could argue that both of these deals were simply unfinished business from the summer transfer window. Other big clubs’ signings like Chelsea’s signing of Demba Ba to replace Sturridge and Man United’s signing of Wilfred Zaha, who was immediately loaned back to Crystal Palace until the end of the season so won’t be affecting the performance of United until next season, cannot really be viewed as being immediate improvements to their squads either.
Although it is boring and did not make for the most exciting transfer window, Wenger is right in what he said and his fellow managers agree as shown by their actions or lack thereof in this winter transfer window of 2013 – winter window signings should not be made unless they really are better than what you already have as you will most likely pay over the odds for the player(s) and they may be cup-tied (e.g. Monreal is not available for the CL having already played for Malaga in the competition this season).
There can be no doubt that Arsenal need another central defender and you have to think that was the position Wenger was trying to strengthen. If only Phil Jagielka could have been convinced to sign for us in the summer (maybe he still can if Arteta can get in his ear and convince him of the glamour of the Champions League and the benefits of playing his football in North London) then we would not be relying on a banged up Tommy Vermaelen and the parking-cone-like Per Mertesacker. I simply don’t understand why Koscielny is not automatically selected ahead of Mertesacker when the former can literally run rings round the latter and Koscielny is a genuine set piece goal threat. You have to think Laurent has done something to upset the boss. Whatever is going on Mertesacker needs to be replaced in the short term by Koscielny as Vermaelen’s partner in the centre of defense and as soon as possible we need to buy a Jagielka or other suitable candidate who is reasonably priced, does not expect to be paid ridiculous wages and can play the Arsenal way. I guess at least two of these three prerequisites made scuppering QPR’s signing of Christopher Samba from Anzhi Makhachkala impossible as we know he was on exorbitant wages in Russia and did not take a pay cut to come back to the premier league.
Even though it is pretty clear we have been rebuilding over the past few seasons, it is still most frustrating as we have not won anything in decades (ok it is only 7 seasons but it feels like decades) but I do think that with his transfer sense Arsene has us on the right path to finally secure some silverware and has us on a solid financial platform to run the club in the highest echelons of European football for many seasons to come.
Buying marginal players at inflated prices is not the way and Wenger has stuck to his guns and used restraint and common sense in his transfer dealings, keeping us in the top 4 while he has gone about almost completely re-tooling the team and let’s not forget that in 2006 we got to within 14 minutes of winning the Champions League against Barcelona with only 10 men. If we had won that trophy we would only be in our fifth season without a trophy which would be much more palatable for most of us Gooners not to mention we would now be calling ourselves former Champions of Europe.