Start signing new players, Arsene Wenger is urged
And make sure they’re experienced ones, not another intake of kids
Two weeks into the transfer window and all Arsenal have to show for it is a 19-year-old called Carl Jenkinson who spent part of last season on loan from Charlton at Eastbourne Borough in the Blue Square Bet South league. For Gunners fans, still coming to terms with their sixth consecutive season without silverware, it’s not a break-out-the-champagne moment.
Worse, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger keeps his wallet under lock and key, his rivals have been spending freely. Liverpool last week snapped up Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson for £20m and Manchester United are reportedly about to announce the big money signing of England and Aston Villa winger Ashley Young, along with Blackburn’s Phil Jones and David de Gea of Atletico Madrid.
Jones was apparently on Wenger's wish list but as usual the Frenchman ummed and aahed and missed the boat. It’s an all too familiar scenario for Arsenal fans, but while they can only seethe silently, Arsenal players are beginning to go public with their frustration at Wenger’s reluctance to compete in the transfer market.
Asked recently if Arsenal would be in a position next season to challenge Manchester United, defender Thomas Vermaelen replied: "It is difficult to say now that we are going to be title contenders... Let’s see what we’re going to do in the summer."
Dutch striker Robin Van Persie – one of the few world-class players in the Arsenal squad not to be linked with a move away from the Emirates – was even more blunt when asked what needed to be done if the Gunners were to win a trophy next season.
"Every year it always goes wrong in an identical way and that is frustrating," said Van Persie. "Sometimes you have to eat the truth and be realistic... [and] I do believe with the signing of a number of players, then next season we should be in there competing for prizes."
Arsenal are rumoured to be in the hunt for several well-established players, with press speculation this weekend that Wenger might make a move for Blackburn's Christopher Samba, Leighton Baines of Everton and England and Bolton central defender Gary Cahill.
Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis will certainly be hoping he has some good news to pass on when he sits down with the Arsenal Supporters Trust on Monday for a question and answer session.
He knows that for the first time since Wenger arrived at the club 15 years ago there is genuine discontentment among fans with the Frenchman; a minority are already calling for his removal, but the majority are prepared to give him one more season to turn things around.
But if Wenger is to guide Arsenal to their first trophy next season since the 2005 FA Cup, he must stop his fixation with signing players for the future. Fans don’t want him to invest in youth, they want him to invest in experience. Wenger spent the best part of six years nurturing one crop of young and gifted players at the Emirates only to see them ultimately fail.
Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Theo Walcott were supposed to be the players that brought the title back to Arsenal, but in the end they couldn’t even bring back the Carling Cup. ·
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