The 2018/2019 season is one which will hopefully see a new era ushered into the Emirates. No matter which side you were on in the protracted Wenger in/out debate, now is the time for everyone to come together and join behind the one common cause: that of seeing Arsenal regain their position at the top of English and European football. Despite the figurehead having gone, however, how likely is it that wholesale changes will happen if indeed they are needed at all?
Wenger outers and impartial observers were quick to throw many criticisms at the Frenchman. By far and away, the most common, persistent and vociferous one was his dealings in the transfer market. The further into his reign, the more these accusations were heard, and even the most positive Wenger backer had to acknowledge they were not without foundation. The modern football club, particularly one the size of Arsenal, does not rely on one man alone, however. It’s not the 1970s. Yes, the manager has an impact, a say in transfer dealings. The style he plays and demands of his players will influence the anyone that needs to be brought in, and he will spot gaps in the squad. He is, though, only one piece in a jigsaw, which we have today, and is pretty much the same one we have had in previous seasons, albeit with hopefully, better fitting pieces.
Arsene Wenger likened the transfer market and the act of getting players into the club to a game of poker. And to a certain extent, he was correct. It may have been the case that Wenger wasn’t a good card player; never knowing when to roll the dice or make his move as opposed to sitting back and protecting his chips. If Unai Emery thinks along the same lines, let us hope he has brushed up on his technique and strategy.
The signs are promising. Matteo Guendouzi joined, and though at first glance he looks like a typical Wenger recruit, there is no doubt that Emery is keen to put his stamp on the team and the club. His comments about bringing people in and his identification of targets is refreshing, and this could well be the most exciting and hopefully, ultimately the least frustrating transfer window for the Gunners for many a season. I would recommend an element of caution, however.
As mentioned before, the rest of the jigsaw is the same as it has been in the other transfer windows. It has also been widely reported that there is only £50 million available. Such is likely something Emery would have been aware of before signing on the dotted line, but even the shrewdest of operators in the market will be struggling to overhaul a team, never mind a squad, with the kind of money that buys one world-class defender in today’s world.
I said at the beginning that it is a time for Arsenal fans to come together, but there are already signs that the old factions will start using what does and doesn’t happen over the coming months as ammunition in the same old arguments. Emery could well have taken on one of the hardest jobs in world football, the most challenging part of which is to turn it from Wenger’s club into his own. To do that, he will need help from the supporters, but most crucially, he will need support from those above him. Whether he is given enough of that, will ultimately determine if we will be looking back in years, even decades to come, waxing lyrical about the Emery era.
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