On the back of the Reds' lame victory against Fulham at the Emirates today, several questions haunt their faithful as January comes around the corner. The apparent lack of quality defensive signings in recent years have robbed the Gunners of at least two Premier League titles.
Ever since David Dein left Arsenal, their defensive signings, except for a select few, have been shambolic. The recent signing of Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci has been, arguably, underwhelming. Koscielny at best should be a reserve team apprentice, while Squillaci is only a solid B-team player.
Their combined performances thus far leave much to be desired.
With all due respect to the current manager, Arsene Wenger has a major drawback which has followed him throughout his managerial career: defensive weakness.
Except for the group he inherited when he came to North London in 1996, his defensive signs, more often than not, have not lit up the stands. Thomas Vermaelen has been the brilliant exception but is currently injured.
The drawn out saga that led to the signing of playmaker Audrey Arshavin was boring and distracting for all concerned. It in part explained why Fulham’s keeper, Mark Scwarter was not signed recently. The economics graduate manager is notoriously reluctant to spend money regardless of the impressive revenue reports posted annually.
This brings to fore the sad loss of David Dein due to boardroom politics. He was the one who brought the French manager to Highbury in 1996. David had an eye for quality players and a soul for deal-making. His signing of Sol Campbell from bitter rival Tottenham Hotspurs in 2001 was a masterstroke of the highest order—something that Wenger is not made for. They made a perfect pair: Dein handling transfer negotiations while Wenger did the managing.
That division of labour was, and still is, what makes for a championship-winning team. The manager, it would appear, is stretched with handling two roles: signing and training players. The net result has been risky signings and no trophies to show for it in the past fives years. Alarmingly, it has now included the loss of home form in matches that were too punishing on the eye to watch, today's win notwithstanding.
Therefore, it would be magnanimous of the board to reach out to Dein in the best interest and spirit of the club.
Yes, he did back a takeover bid in August 2007 and sold his shares in Arsenal F.C. to London-based, Russian-owned business company Red and White Holdings. His thinking then was to have Arsenal compete in the signing of top-draw players by having a wealthy benefactor who could sponsor such a vision. Alas he lost and was forced out. At heart, he was and still is an Arsenal man who wants only what is best for the club.
A lunch meeting would not be hard to schedule. The contract terms could be worked out on a trial basis for an initial period of one to two years, with an option to renew based on performance. The position can be called "Director of Football Operations," or simply "Managing Director."
Both sides know the other well enough to make it work.
Watching Arsenal since David exited the scene, especially their home form this season, has been a visual torture to put it mildly. I dread to think what would happen should North London’s pride meet, say, Barcelona in the latter stages of Champions League at the Emirates in their currently wretched state!
Your guess would be as good as mine at that point.