The Lead

Now I’m going to link to a Daily Mail article to kick things off this morning, so I will warn you in advance, it contains a pair of sentences that may be among the more cringe-worthy you’ll read either today, tomorrow, or the day after that. So I will post it here first to get it out of the way. Ready? Good. Here goes:

His scouting team, headed by Steve Rowley, are asked to identify players with three distinctive characteristics: pace, power and football Intelligence.

If only they had added a fourth — the mentality of champions — they really would be in business.

That out of the way, here’s the link. For all its sudden lurches into talk radio pablum, it does paint a very different picture of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger than we’ve been used to from the critical British press.

In the old days (last year and perhaps the couple of years before that), the going perception of Wenger was that of an old school European economist, a powerful technocrat who performed a little summertime Punch and Judy show to ward off anxious fans but who in reality was loath to spend big money in the transfer market to compete.

This view has been augmented somewhat, and it’s easy to see why. For one, according to many pundits Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis practically fired a pistol in the air at the start of the transfer window when he relayed that “Arsene is not scared to spend money, but he has to believe they are top-class players who will add to the squad. Can I guarantee he will spend all of the money available to him? That depends on the talent.” Obviously Gazidis would not say this without the approval of Wenger, so it raises the obvious question: why, therefore, since June 11th has Arsenal failed to pick up any ‘top-class players’?

That had led to a growing understanding that Wenger does, in fact, want to spend money, but has been failed by an outdated transfer market strategy that ruined several potentially valuable deals for the club. And while this is all based on very limited information, and while this particular Mail article plays fast and loose with some of the facts (particularly over Oxlade-Chamberlain’s playing time), the lack of a coherent transfer strategy seems the most plausible explanation for the club’s failure to match its public ambition in the transfer market. If you don’t buy that, I suggest you cozy up and read Swiss Ramble’s economic assessment on Arsenal from the other day:

If there is a modern, coherent transfer structure in place at Arsenal, then it seems remarkably well hidden. There may well be a great deal of activity behind the scenes, but the results speak for themselves.

So the next time you want to print out an angry sign to bring to the Emirates, you might consider printing “Hire a technical director to assist you in acquiring your transfer targets!” on a piece of paper three times in bright, bold red letters.


Arseblog’s great response to Ashton’s Daily Mail piece linked above [Arseblog].

John Brewin twists the knife a bit [ESPNFC].

The Premier League opening weekend featured the fewest number of England-eligible players in league history, writes Louise Taylor [the Guardian].

Alan Pardew calls Arsenal bid for Yohan Cayabe ‘derisory’ [the Telegraph].

Michael Cox on Pellegrini’s love of touchline huggers at City [the Guardian].

Scott Parker is Fulham. [Twitter].