What exactly do Arsenal fans want?
"Arsenal fans," though, is too generic. I must affix "disgruntled" to the term.
The majority of Arsenal fans are excellent people. On B/R, for example, I believe they are one of the most tolerant groups by and large, if not the most.
But even here, a 0.5 percent of them raise a raucous din from time to time to such an extent that one would think Armageddon is already upon us.
And what is their usual complaint?
And what has Wenger done?
He hasn't spent enough money.
Every complaint about Wenger comes down to this very fact. If there's a demand for his sack and you ask "why so," that's the tune you'd hear.
Those who throw the "tactical" smoke bomb only expose their ignorance. No one who understands tactics can advance that reason.
Some reactions concerning the recent rumor that the club has signed Olivier Giroud prompt me to ask what exactly Arsenal fans want.
Robin van Persie, Arsenal's priced star. Getty Images.
My meaning is best illustrated by the writer of an article I happened upon.
This writer, affecting a lofty, look-down-your-nose tone at all those self-appointed expert bloggers (as though he himself were not), sought to discredit these bloggers' presumptuous attempt at unraveling the knotty problem of Arsenal's forward line, now to comprise apparently of Robin van Persie, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
(He does no so such thing but simply joins the speculation.)
He, like other Arsenal fans, (or at any rate, those interested in Arsenal's affairs) has woken up to the quandary which the abundance of resources yield.
Suddenly, the dilemma isn't any longer that Arsene Wenger (again!) is hoarding transfer money, but that he has actually bought two decent players and has caused a problem as a result.
How on earth is he going to play all these players?
Most, including this person, conclude that Arsenal will sell the likes of Andrei Arshavin, Nicklas Bendtner, Park Chu-Young and Marouane Chamakh.
This writer’s problem isn't the normal quandary exposed in this question, it is rather that Giroud is a poor replacement for van Persie.
For him, Giroud might likely be a Chamakh 2.0.
In fact, neither Giroud nor Podolski is worthy to tie the knot of Van Persie's shoes. Accordingly and "therefore," it is silly to want to replace Van Persie with these two—not these exact words, but you get the gist.
Giroud already being criticized before his signing to Arsenal is even confirmed. Julian Finney/Getty Images.
The logic of this notion to this point is sound.
But when you consider that Wenger and Ivan Gazidis have tried—for the better part of a year now—without success to extend Van Persie's contract, one wonders what more they could have done.
I know, of course, that they should simply offer the man the £250,000 a week salary he apparently deserves, one likely to be offered by Manchester City. It is as simple as that. Only it isn't.
Peter Hill-Wood, no matter how much you might detest the man, spoke the simple truth recently: If because of money Van Persie sets his mind on leaving Arsenal, there's nothing the club can do. The fact is, Arsenal can't afford the £250,000 a week that Manchester City could easily offer the man.
What comes to mind, then, and what I'd liked clarified by this not-self-appointed-expert blogger, is what the solution should be in the event Van Persie decides to leave.
Should the board and Wenger chain him to Arsenal by force, or should they look beyond him and move on?
Everyone knows, of course, that Arsenal could tie Van Persie to his contract for another season, after which he could leave for free.
The question that must be carefully weighed is whether this is more profitable to Arsenal in the long run, or whether they should rather cash in and move on.
In any event, whether Van Persie stays or not, the prudent thing to do is what Wenger and the board have done already: bring in new players.
They offer depth in the striking department in the event Van Persie stays and solid backup should he leave.
To say that these players aren't Van Persie is irrelevant in the face of the situation.
No two players are alike. When Thierry Henry leaves, Van Persie emerges; when Van Persie leaves, someone else will take his place. A club must move on.
Don't get me wrong, I'd rather Van Persie stay; I like the guy a lot. But if he insists on leaving, my advice is that we should wish him well and move on.
Gazidis and Hill-Wood, the powers that be at Arsenal. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images.
My point is brought into greater focus by the following.
I happened by chance on an Alex Flynn interview, a man who has written a book about Wenger and Arsenal. This interview bordered on the irrational as far as I'm concerned.
At issue was the departure of Samir Nasri from Arsenal last August.
Flynn is incredulous about Wenger's intention to keep Nasri, while in fact (he appears to imply), it was better to sell him since he was among Arsenal's top earners (£70,000 or thereabout a week) and would leave for free the next season.
The context of this statement is Flynn's complaint that Wenger has too much power, a conclusion stemming from the fact that Wenger has been reluctant to indulge in a spending splurge over the last seven years.
He even acknowledges that there was a tacit agreement between Wenger and the board regarding transfer spending vis-a-vis paying for the stadium that Arsenal had built. Wenger, it is understood, said he would focus on developing young players and blooding them.
In the face of this fact, one wonders why it is incredulous that Wenger would want to keep one of his priced assets.
On the other hand, Flynn complains that Arsenal have been (or are being) left behind because they are not investing in world-class players.
If he knows this, why does he complain when Wenger decides to cling tightly to one of these players? Why does he go on blaming Wenger when Wenger was overruled on the issue?
My point is precisely this: Wenger has become a favorite scapegoat at Arsenal.
A player decides to leave by all means (Ashley Cole, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, the last understandably); it is his fault. He insists on keeping a player; it is a fault.
Some say that he should have sold Nasri quickly and moved on. I agree. But one must see the reason behind his reluctance to do so.
But if we grant this argument and then return to Van Persie: what if this is exactly what Wenger is trying to do this time with these early purchases of Podolski and Giroud?
From whence, then, the complaint that it is foolish to seek to replace Van Persie? What, in this event, I ask the disgruntled fans, should he do? Not replace him?
Oh, I see: buy Lionel Messi.
This isn't Messi. Photo courtesy of Arsenal.com.
In fact, after the two purchases (if in fact Giroud has indeed been bought), suddenly, there are too many players at Arsenal, and we're not talking about the usual deadwood, every person's favorite straw man.
We're talking about Podolski, Giroud (apparently), Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Arteta, Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey, Rosicky, etc—first team players.
(For my readers, I’m here not talking about the brainstorming exercise we all have tried our hands at recently. Rather, my address is against the cynics who must complain about everything.)
One wonders whether some Arsenal fans find more pleasure in complaining than in other profitable endeavors.