“Arsenal used to be great; Arsenal used to be feared; Arsenal used to win things.” It’s more than just a cliche coming from Patrick Vieira, because he lived it. He was it.
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So when Vieira comes out and says his beloved Arsenal is looks noting like the one he represented for nine trophy-filled seasons from 1996-2005 (three Premier League titles and four FA Cups), you have to listen to the man.
Arsene Wenger has said time and again that the club’s long-term financial viability is his main interest. While Vieira finds that admirable in many ways, he also manages an MLS franchise bankrolled by Manchester City’s oil-rich owners. Financial prudence is hardly at the forefront of his mind — quotes from the Guardian:
“I quite admire that, in the world where some clubs have so much money, they go and buy players who are [$50 million] and are worth [$13 million]. But on the other side the team is not doing as good as it used to and you need to win football matches. They’ve been disappointing, losing games they should have won.
“My generation had lots of physically strong players. In this last five or six years Arsenal went more with this type of mobile, technical players. Now when I watch Arsenal, yes they play good football but I just have a feeling they are missing something – the physical presence, the personality, this is what they’re missing.”
Wenger has less than nine days left to figure out what his side needs before the transfer window closes four full months. The Gunners will continue to be linked with plenty of those $50-million players over the next week and some change, but the entirety of this decade says you’ll be disappointed if you put your hopes and dreams upon landing one of them.