And on the day when Real Madrid unveil Xabi Alonso and Liverpool announce a 20 million pound replacement in Alberto Aquilani, Arsenal are linked with a 6 weeks hamstring injury to Tomas Rosicky. God only knows if the report’s true; if it is though, well….
If I had one wish granted for this club, it would be: people involved in decision making to realize that after years and years of this that the pattern of injuries is non-random, not statistical noise, not an accident and not bad luck. It needs to be planned for, because it’s not going away.
With the exception of Le Grove, all of the blogs I’ve read today have essentially dismissed the idea that Arsene has blamed the fans for forcing Adebayor out. Here’s the actual quotes, taken from the link Goonerblog cites in dismissing the proposition:
“We have lost a great player and we wish him well….He’s done extremely well for the club. I don’t believe that last season he got enough support. That was playing a part in my mind and in his mind, certainly, as well. I believe he wanted to do well but he didn’t find the confidence he had the season before. There was a little resentment you could feel through last summer….Believe me, he’s a great player and he’ll show that again at Manchester City….Big clubs lose big players. Milan have lost Kaka and Milan will go on. Arsenal have always lost players and continued at the top level.”
Here’s additional actual quotes from yesterday, from Football365:
“We’re not on the verge of signing anybody but I’m able to spend the money if we find the right players….We’re not in a hurry because we have a big squad. We’ll see in pre-season if we need to make any additions….If we need to add something we will. Chamakh is one of the players we’ve followed and if we need to go for a striker he’s a possibility. We’re keeping an eye on him….We have Rosicky and Eduardo back so we’ve lost a big striker but have gained two offensive players who were absent last season. We also have Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott who can play striker. We have top players we can use as strikers.”
Again, these are the actual quotes only, shorn of editorial slanting or speculations as to meaning. Judge for yourselves. If these quotes are somehow completely made up, no doubt the denial or the libel suit is imminent, and we can ignore these once it’s filed. For my money I think it’s abundantly clear what Wenger thinks of the fans, and it’s been that clear for years now even if it only boiled over last season. Personally under most circumstances, that doesn’t bother me; I can’t imagine that, say, Tom Coughlin gave a tin shit about Giants fans the year he won the super bowl, but given that he brought home the biggest trophy in the land it was really an immaterial consideration to almost anyone. Likewise, Wenger’s attitude towards others wouldn’t be a consideration if he were still winning things. But he’s not. In the same way as a marriage with fundamental issues works fine in flush times and hits the rocks in a recession, so the basic issues between Wenger and a lot of the fans are being exposed now that the club have been an also-ran for several years.
Now, I don’t think Wenger “needs to go” over this; and even if I did it wouldn’t matter because he’s not going to regardless of events, not this year or next or 5 years from now or 10, if he decides to stay that long. It’s been established that Wenger is the club and the club is Wenger right now. But when Wenger gives quotes one game into the preseason which can easily be read as blaming fans for Adebayor’s personal behavior, and when he again suggests that he won’t buy because injury-prone players returning or changing position is the answer, he sets himself up for a re-run of last year’s intense acrimony between fans and players and fans and fans. This, I think, is deliberate and his way of asserting control over the club. He’s not a stupid man, and must be fully aware of the many alternate ways to convey similar points in less abrasive fashion- “circumstances resulted in a breakdown between player and fanbase, and it was best for both that this move happen”, or “while you will understand if I don’t reveal my specific intentions, I’m always on the lookout to improve the squad where I think it needs it”. That he chose a route apart form these means something; and if next season gets off to a rocky start, and if none of the “undisclosed” Adebayor fee is spent, expect both the return of especially angry fan responses and the manager responding in kind. Last year’s issues weren’t buried in the offseason, just cooled for a while.
On a side note, take a look at the players listed in the attacking players quote. Rosicky hasn’t played a real game in 18 months, has suffered from leg injuries and may never be the same player he was; Walcott has rarely played as a striker in the Premier League and is injury prone; Eduardo was rushed back too soon last year, injured himself again and never got on track, hasn’t played a full season since 06-07, and it’s still unclear both what he is in the Premier League and what he is after his leg injury. And this doesn’t even take into account he chances that RVP may return to his own habit of frequent injuries. All three of these players may yet come good in major roles; but on some level it’s simply unfair to ask them given their current situations to carry the load of a club which is probably more desperate now than in many years to win something. I’m very much in favor of bringing someone else in, if only to forestall the possibility of the team being devastated by a plague of injuries again, leaving the few healthy attackers to run themselves ragged playing every game.
For what it’s worth, I think this coming year is probably Arsenal’s best chance to win the league since the Invincibles were dismantled, which I’ll go into more once it’s time for a serious preseason preview. But it’s going to require a lot of luck, and a lot of things to go right.