An article yesterday caught my eye and made me take notice. It was quite remarkable in many ways. It was about comments made by Arsenal Director Danny Fizsman. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll let you read what he said.
“If he (Wenger) said ‘I want this guy and he’s Ã‚Â£30 million, can I buy him?’, the answer is yes. Absolutely yes. It’s not our decision who Wenger spends money on, nor will it ever be our decision. There were great expectations and hopes that we would buy heavily this summer. We totally back Wenger, it’s his decision. If Arsene found the right player he would buy that player, but at the moment his hasn’t. There’s a dual problem for him. If we buy star names, you are talking about relatively mature players who need to be integrated into the way Arsene plays, they don’t know our style and it also impacts on the youngsters who have been brought through.”
The Gunners have lost Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb, Justin Hoyte, Philippe Senderos, Traore, Lehmann and Gilberto since the end of last season and replaced them with Samir Nasri, Mikael Silvestre, Nacer Barazite and Aaron Ramsey. Whilst not being stupid enough to question the decisions of Arsene Wenger, to an outsider, that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t all look like great business.
It is clear that at least one director, Danny Fizsman, was fully expecting Wenger to spend heavily over the past few weeks in order to strengthen his squad. Without a trophy for three years, many supporters had also been calling on Wenger to change his preferred methods and bring in some big names.
Nasri did cost Ã‚Â£12 million, but the other signings have not been major purchases. At the end of last season Wenger said that he was more interested in keeping the players he already had rather than looking for new ones. Maybe he is simply satisfied that he has managed to keep Adebayor and Fabregas at The Emirates.
Wenger recently said in an interview with the Independent newspaper that he has made a decision to try to develop his first team through the youth policy at the club.
“When we decided to build the stadium I wanted to anticipate the possibility of financial restrictions, so I concentrated on youth. I also felt the best way to create an identity with the way we play football, to get players integrated into our culture, with our beliefs, our values, was to get them as young as possible and to develop them together. I felt it would be an interesting experiment to see players grow together with these qualities, and with a love for the club.”
Nobody could fail to agree with the sentiments expressed by Wenger in that interview. Nobody that is, accept very possibly, most of the Arsenal fans.
Having seen Arsenal fade away at the end of last season there is a real fear that they could fall further behind Chelsea and Manchester United this season. Whilst the fans may agree with a lot of what Wenger said, they will be much more interested in making a serious challenge for the big trophies.
Whilst Arsenal are winning games the manager can remain pretty confident about the support of his fans and the board of directors. If they lose games, and the 1-0 defeat at Fulham was an ominous sign, that support is no longer guaranteed.
In making the comments he has made, Mr Fizsman has made it clear that the decision not to buy players has been entirely Arsene WengerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. He has made it clear that the money was and is available and that the manager would have been fully supported if he had wanted to spend it. He also said that he realised that there had been Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgreat hopes and expectationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that the club would buy heavily. Who is he referring to? Does he mean the fans, the Board or both.
It seems to me that if Mr Fizsman is speaking for the whole Board he has issued a very thinly veiled threat to Wenger. He has made it clear that if Arsenal do not produce the goods on the pitch, it is entirely due to the decisions taken by the manager.
There are obvious rifts appearing at the club and the fact that Wenger talks of financial restrictions and Fizsman says there are none speaks volumes for the level of communication currently existing behind the scenes.
After the laboured 1-0 win over West Brom and the defeat at Fulham, the game this weekend against a somewhat resurgent Newcastle United side takes on a greater significance than a game at this stage of the season would normally have.
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