As any devoted Arsenal supporter knows, a common cry in recent years has been for Arsene Wenger to spend more money and strengthen the team, rather than targeting obscure bargain players.
Wenger had persisted in this policy, and the team as a result was a perpetual “work in progress.”
This summer, however, was supposed to be different—Wenger even said so. At the end of the season, around the time when season tickets were being renewed, he stated that major needs would be addressed and the squad would be measurably improved.
Now, with no defensive reinforcements brought in and none of the deadwood having yet departed, the boss is beginning to lose some of his support among fans. But Wenger’s support is also beginning to slip in a much more crucial area.
He is losing the support of his players.
We’ve assumed for some time that a factor in the respective desires of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to leave the Emirates has at least partly been a function of disillusionment with Arsene’s unflinching transfer policy.
Now, though, quieter players are beginning to speak out, showing just how widespread the unrest is at the club.
Specifically, it was the extremely loyal Robin van Persie who publicly voiced his own opinions on what Arsenal’s transfer policy should be.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that an extremely hungry and ambitious player stated views that are markedly different from that of his conservative manager.
And in partially exposing the problems with Arsenal’s strategy over the past few seasons, the Dutchman hit the nail on the head in terms of what Arsenal must do this summer to become successful.
And coincidentally, it is exactly what the Gunners have not done yet.
For one, van Persie stressed the need for significant investment in the squad.
"These days, proper players cost money,” he said and stressed the need for considerable investment in the squad: “You see Manchester City are buying loads of good players, Liverpool are doing it now and Manchester United have been doing it for years.”
If it seems as if this is exactly what the vast majority of Arsenal supporters are crying out for, you would be correct. And if it seems as if our striker’s reasoning is sound, it is because it most certainly is.
If Arsenal is a big club—and we claim to be, we have the resources of a big club—it thus can spend on quality players like Manchester United does every summer.
One also has to wonder if this rational attitude toward spending money on players of real quality is rapidly spreading through the dressing room. And in this wave of reason, are players being swept away from Arsene’s arms and into those of the other clubs that Robin listed?
I certainly fear that this is what is happening.
And one must admit that this is only natural after being at a club for so many years and getting no silverware.
Van Persie deserves to be frustrated after not winning anything since 2005. Fabregas deserves to be skeptical of a team that was built around him, yet has not managed to achieve any sort of success.
And Nasri, self-interested though he might be, deserves to question the true ambition of the squad when he has won anything at all in the red and white.
Even staunch Wenger supporters must admit that Robin was only using common sense. How radical is it to say that we should be keeping up with the other members of the “Big Four,” of which we are supposed to be a part?
Certainly it is not crazy to suggest opening the wallet for a few additions of top quality to remedy the problems that have not even been addressed yet (I’m still waiting for a center-back).
Though Wenger’s recent actions and recent comments have seen Gooners everywhere become more and more uneasy about the club’s future and ambition, it is becoming clearer this summer that Arsene is starting to lose a much more important demographic: his players.
Fans can be unhappy with the job a manager does, but they ultimately have no influence on what actually happens on the pitch. The players, however, are obviously more important and can (and might) severely damage the club if Arsenal’s run of futility continues.
With the possible departures of Fabregas and Nasri this summer, the club could already become severely weakened.
There is a fairly simple way, though, for Arsene Wenger to deal with Arsenal’s shortcomings and become a more successful, consistent club in the future.
Listen to common sense. Listen to Robin van Persie.