Gooners' View is the Arsenal Roundtable at Bleacher Report where we ask the Gooners in the Arsenal Community various questions about Arsenal!
1. Do you feel that Real Madrid and Manchester City's spending sprees might be a good thing for Arsenal, considering that Wenger can do his transfer activity in a relatively quiet manner?
Maire: I think so. Wenger likes to conduct the transfers quietly and behind the scenes to a degree. The Vermaelen deal only came to light through the player himself with both Ajax and his agent staying quite. The Arshavin deal on the other hand was a media disaster but all things considered we got our man in the end. I think the spotlight may have been on Arsenal to see if we would buy anyone but with Real Madrid buying up every big name they can find they are well and truly in the spotlight while the English media will be fishing to see how Manchester United see fit to replace Ronaldo.
As for Manchester City, apart from Robinho and the reported Kaka deal they haven't really been too loud about their transfer going ons, not from where I'm sitting anyway.
Mike: I believe that those high profile amounts and players will allow Wenger to go after deals in a quieter manner, which will be good for the club. And one more positive (when compared to last year) is that now that Gazidis is with the club, Wenger doesn’t have to do it all alone this time around.
Alex: Arsene typically conducts his transfer dealings under the radar, so the spending of Real Madrid and Manchester City should make little difference. Arsenal are forever linked with players because the media receive little pointers about who Arsenal will sign so they often have to guess for themselves. It must be understood that when Arsenal are linked with a player then other team's instantly become interested because Arsenal's scouting system and the quality of players they bring in mean that other teams will naturally want to sign their targets.
2. Which of the current players do you see leaving (defenders in particular) considering that Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax has signed?
Maire: Hopefully none. Is there always a need for Arsenal to sell so we can buy? Even Wenger himself said it is not necessary this season. I do sincerely hope that Kolo Toure and William Gallas are kept with Tomas Vermaelen creating competition for places and been able to fill in for Toure in January when the ACN is on. Johan Djourou and Alex Song are capable squad players in that position while I see perhaps Phil Senderos and Mikael Silvestre been left go to whoever is willing to buy them. Emmanuel Eboue has been making noises about leaving but I expect him to be here come September.
The only player that seems a strong possibility of leaving is Emmanuel Adebayor and even that is diminishing by the week as other clubs seemed to have lost interest.
Mike: I think Wenger may need to sell one or two players to bring in additional transfer funds. And with the Vermaelen signing, I can definitely envision a defender leaving the Emirates this summer, although Wenger recently commented that there wouldn't be any departures from among first-teamers this off-season. If he really needs cash for some major signing, maybe Wenger will allow a Toure to go to Man City, or perhaps he'll reduce the fee needed to complete a Felipe Melo signing by including Senderos as part of a swap deal with Fiorentina. In addition, I do feel that if there is any other Gunner player on his way out, it would be Emmanuel Adebayor.
Alex: Personally, I think it could be two out of Senderos, Gallas and Toure. I actually think Wenger wants to keep Gallas. He is experienced, and as a defender is probably our finest defensively minded player. Bearing in mind that Toure, for all the fans love him, is not a world class defender, but a good defender who relies on his pace to bail him out of trouble. At his age, his physical attributes will decline and thus his worth as a defender will diminish remarkably-hence why Wenger is keen to sell.
I think Wenger believes in Djourou, and will retain Silvestre as a mentor to the younger players also-who often speak of him as kind of father figure. As for other departures, I think Wenger wants to retain the squad he has, though I'm sure he is as aware as any that in the next couple of seasons he's going to be overloaded with attacking midfielders, with the likes of Randall, Merida, Wilshere et al pushing for first team football.
3. Ivan Gazidis seems to be doing his job pretty effectively. Your thoughts on him, and his work till now at the club?
Maire: I think he has done well and I expected him to do well. He has a bucket load of experience from his time at the MLS and his ability to work out contracts is invaluable. Some Arsenal fans seem to like to blame Wenger for everything but what kind of a club goes so long without a CEO? That was crazy and very bad management by the board. Gazidis also seems to have a keen eye for the commercial side of things and recognizes the need to make Arsenal a more global brand. He is also said to be looking over the contracts the club has with Nike and Emirates to see if he can squeeze more money out of the brands.
Mark: Yes, we are definitely seeing the impact of Gazidis since he joined the club last winter. I for one wasn’t too keen (at the time) on signing Arshavin, thinking Arsenal may have overspent on another attacking threat instead of addressing more defensive needs. But if Gazidis was influential in the signing of the Russian, who has been fantastic since joining, then I applaud that. And with the early Vermaelen signing this month (and another potential deal done soon, if rumors are to be believed), we can all see that Gazidis’ presence and expertise has benefitted the club and allowed Wenger to re-focus on his primary functions as manager.
Alex: I rate Gazidis, his time in the MLS is deemed a success, and Wenger clearly rates him. He has managed to handle RVP and Walcott's contract negotiations well, and I fully expect him to be an asset for our club, both in a footballing sense and a commercial sense.
4. Could this be one of Wenger's last seasons at Arsenal - even if he achieves some silverware?
4. Could this be one of Wenger's last seasons at Arsenal - even if he achieves some silverware?
Maire: Do I get a million pounds if I answer this correctly? Who knows? He is apparently now on a rolling one year contract for this year and the next so if he had left this summer or leaves next summer then he will still not be breaking his promise of "never breaking a contract". I've thought for a while that he sees 2011 as the time to leave. Maybe in his mind he thinks the younger players coming through will be a proper unit by then and the club will be stable so he can leave it knowing he has left the club in a good condition.
Mark: I would think that Wenger honors his current contract with Arsenal and remains with the club at least until it expires (in 2011, I believe). But I can easily see him as manager for many years to come at the Emirates. With Ivan Gazidis’ arrival and the club/youth system functioning well, things are in place for Wenger to be successful in such an environment, leading the teams to titles in the future while being allowed to operate his way. But the team's results/success this season will be important in this regard.
Alex: No, in a word. Wenger is inextricably linked to this club, and he has created a young team who he wants to guide to success-and he'll be especially keen to nurture the exciting young English talents Arsenal have developed.
5. On an unrelated note, what do you make of Cristiano Ronaldo's impending move to Real Madrid? Could it open a door for the other three teams considering that Man United were proving to be too strong off late?
Maire: Personally I think its fantastic, not so much for the EPL but for most of the left backs in England. Say what you want about Ronaldo but he is an excellent player who was instrumental in Manchester United winning so many trophies over the last few seasons. Carlos Tevez is leaving as well, Owen Hargreaves' career has been ruined by injury, Berbatov hasn't been what was expected while Giggs and Scholes are coming towards the end, so I'm sure Alex Ferguson has a bit to worry about which is good news for the rest of us.
Mark: I think that the only way for a three-time league champion to go would be down a notch with the departure of a Ronaldo. So, yes, things are open as far as league favorites for the coming season. And I think financially, Arsenal are in better shape than the other contenders to supplant Man United at the top of the table.
Alex: Ronaldo's departure, while a blow to the prestige of the Premiership will make the league more competitive. Replacing a 30-goal a season player is a challenge for any team, but beyond that, the fortunes of Liverpool and Chelsea must also be monitored. Liverpool could lose Alonso and Mascherano, Chelsea's squad is aging, and their manager unproven in England. Arsenal could benefit, but the squad collectively will have to improve a couple of levels from last season.
6. Four seasons of "transition" for Arsenal now - surely next season should be different?
Maire: Next season has to be different and by different I mean we challenge for trophies and actually go on to win. Over the last four seasons Arsenal haven't been a million miles away. I think credit where it is due to Arsene Wenger, we have moved from to a new stadium that must be paid for while also having to rebuild a team that was labeled "invincible". During this time we have kept competitive - Champions League Final, Carling Cup Final, 3rd in the league in 2007/2008 but really last season was a disaster. I think a priority for Arsenal is to keep the players when they get to 24/25 and are at their peak. There is no point in seeing their potential at a young age, making them world class and then letting them leave for a small profit. Trophies are more important that meager profits.
Mark: I think one of the main reasons for this "transition" without a trophy has been injury problems. Let's not forget, Arsenal has made it to the Champions League final and Carling Cup final in that time, and finished close in the 2007-08 Premier League season (after faltering with a depleted squad toward the end of that campaign). With Arshavin available in all competitions this coming season, with Rosicky and Eduardo being fit, and the younger players more experienced, I do predict a trophy for the Gunners in this 2009-10 season.
Alex: Four seasons in transition is plenty, and personally I've been one of those who has felt that Wenger should be held more accountable for such a process, however it is sadly inevitable. The club and squad have changed beyond all recognition in that time, and perhaps now more than ever is the time for Wenger and his squad to prove themselves. They have yet to show they can add a winning mentality to their myriad of talents, and personally unless he reforms his squad radically then I retain doubts whether they can manage it.
Gooners' Views thanks Maire, Mike and Alex for taking their time out and answering those questions!