It’s not easy being Arsene Wenger these days. No matter what the legendary Arsenal manager does, he can’t seem to get the worldwide media, and his own fans, off his back.
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While those bodies believe their criticisms of Wenger to be of his own doing, the 65-year-old Frenchman sounds like he’s heard just about enough second-guessing, criticizing and soapboxing to last him a lifetime.
Speaking Thursday, ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Stoke City (Watch live, Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), Wenger was once again forced to defend his inactivity during the recently concluded summer transfer window, explain to the whole world how he didn’t “mislead” anyone over the details of Danny Welbeck’s ongoing injury situation.
All quotes from the Guardian:
“To support the club and support the team is to stand behind the players. It is not always expecting someone coming down from heaven to sort out all your problems.”
“You either find someone who strengthens your squad or not. Whether we have players injured or not doesn’t change the problem. That’s what I don’t understand from the media. I am surprised that people accused me of lying.
“When I was in the press conference on Friday morning, I did not know Welbeck had a bad setback. I did not lie to you, I gave you the information I had. I heard late on Friday night that his condition had not evolved as well as we thought it was and he had needed a specialist and needed further investigation. Apart from that, if we did not find someone [to sign], we did not find them. I can understand everyone’s hope, but if you look at what happened in the transfer market it shows you that there is a shortage of solutions out there.
Is it possible, just maybe, that everyone is actually right here?
Did Arsenal need to reinforce a number of areas during the summer window? Absolutely, we’ve already established that and discussed it at great length. They’re short depth at full back, depth at defensive midfield, depth in central midfield and (probably) depth at striker (if not a brand new starter).
The Gunners will unquestionably be a worse team over the course of 38 games for having not signed a single player to cover any of those four areas. They were, however, wise to remain idle during the summer transfer window, given the inflated prices paid for marginal players elsewhere, if you believe Wenger’s notion that “the [options] we had were not convincing at all.”
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I, of course, do not buy this. For $38 million, they could have put Morgan Schneiderlin at the base of their midfield, behind Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. That’s an improvement on Francis Coquelin. Too much for a defensive midfielders? OK, then for $15 million, they could have had Yohan Cabaye, who astoundingly moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Crystal Palace. For $19 million, they could have signed an established right back in Matteo Darmian or Nathaniel Clyne. The list goes on and on and on. If Arsenal won’t sign these players, then someone else will. Not a single one of the above summer signings wouldn’t have significantly improved the Gunners’ chances in 2015-16.
Spending money wisely is certainly a laudable endeavor in the modern game, but while it does assure the club’s long-term financial safety, the Premier League’s 19 other teams are continuously pushing on and strengthening in areas of weakness window after window. No more so than the five or six teams typically finishing in the middle of the table. Before long, the likes of Stoke, Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Everton will have spent enough — and wisely so — they will have caught up to Wenger and Co.