A few weeks ago, I wrote that I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal didn’t spend any money this January.
This was reminded to me recently by a reader who said I had been proven wrong, with him believing the Gunners were about to purchase Mykhailo Mudryk.
If you believe some reports, our plan B was a loan for Joao Felix. Chelsea outbid us in both deals.
Despite negotiating for weeks, it’s believed we were quite far off meeting Shakhtar’s asking price.
That’s why I pleaded with the club to be creative in the market (for example take advantage of Zaha’s contractual situation), because I never believed they were going to spend 80 million in the winter window.
History tells us, this is a month where the policy is to slash the wage bill, with the best you can hope for is a loan without any obligation to buy.
You have to go back to the 17-18 campaign to find the last time we spent serious money at this time of year, the action plan since has been to bring in a body who can make up the numbers, but who doesn’t cost anything.
In the meantime, appease your customers by making them believe you have identified a target so you can say you tried.
12 months ago, that individual was Vlahovic….
Yet if you’re not willing to agree on the number being quoted to you, are you every truly interested in that player?
Mudryk ending up at the Bridge was rightfully overshadowed by our performance in the NLD where we showed a maturity not displayed at the Lane in years.
How we handled the pressure of a title race compared to the chase for the top 4 was night and day.
It would be easy to get caught up in the notion that the squad doesn’t need strengthening, and it’s a credit to our players that this theory exists.
In reality though, we have 7 players who have started every League match, which I assume can’t continue?
Yet this is where Arteta and Edu need to surround their employers with their knowledge of the product.
Football has never been the priority in the Kroenke’s portfolio. What they might not realise is having an 8-point gap at the top of the table in the middle of January is something that might never happen again, it’s not guaranteed to happen every year.
The Manchester Club’s and Chelsea have the resources to be better next year, while Liverpool will regroup. Newcastle are not going to go away either.
This could be our owner’s chance to write themselves into immortality and be remembered forever. They need to act from a position of strength.
Even if it means spending some of next summer’s budget now, if that’s the difference from being Champions or not …. It’s worth it.
Whether you judge our owners on when they officially bought the club, or (like me) reference when they had serious power on the board, we have factually regressed under their stewardship.
We were title contenders when Stan Senior brought his first shares, then slowly on and off the pitch standards have dropped.
We became a club who settled for being in the top 4 and then got so much TV revenue it didn’t seem to matter where we finished.
Let’s not forget; if the Kroenke Family had their way we would be playing in a Super League where each fixture would carry zero jeopardy.
The business model would be to collect 300 million no matter where we finished, just for being a brand.
In our near two-decade drought for a trophy though, there have been moments where Arsenal missed out on being Champions due to a fear of making that next step.
Not replacing Almunia, not meeting Bolton’s asking price for Cahill, not bringing in experience to help youngsters like Nasri and Van Persie, not resigning Fabregas, the summer where we only brough Cech, offering 40 million and 1 pound for Suarez….
To be a big club you act like a big club, a big club would invest from a position of strength.
Remember this is Edu’s job, he gets paid a lot of money to scout and plan for transfers.
We know all parties ‘off the record’ talk, and for us to have wasted weeks talking to a target who went elsewhere is poor form.
It also highlights the difference in Todd Boehly’s approach to our owners.
Boehly identified who he wanted and was decisive, while we haggled over every last penny.
Not improving our squad this month could cost us something special – and that would be unforgivable.
It’s the crossroads of the Kroenke’s reign.
How much do they want to be Champions?
How important is it to them!
Are they prepared to take that next step?
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