Firstly one cannot ignore the rather low quality story in the Mirror that confidently predicts Jack Wilshere is going to be out of action for three months. Interestingly other sources are already watering down the Mirror's dubious take on events by saying Wilshere 'could' be out for up to three months. When one looks into Steve Stammers' weak excuse for journalism it is clear he is disingenuously scaremongering as this three months is all on the condition 'if Wilshere breaks down again'. I suspect Wilshere will be back before December.
On the topic of our transfer dealings, a lot of people want to stick the knife into Arsene and a lot of people want to stick a knife into the board, I don't think any knife sticking is needed myself, but it is important that lessons are learnt so that we don't make the same mistakes again.
Firstly we are in a very dangerous position at the moment, the last minute deals were obviously massively needed but we are far from out of the woods yet. We have several big big players who have less than two years to run on their current deals, these players are RVP, Theo Walcott, Song and Vermaelen. Before we even think about the January transfer window we need to tie these men up to new long term deals, the thought of losing more top class players a la Nasri does not bear thinking about. The worrying thing about the Nasri departure was that a top class player not yet at his peak wanted out for footballing reasons, this has not happened to us before, I see Cesc as a very different scenario, he just wanted to go home.
Anyway it is obvious that there have been massive issues in the way in which Arsenal Football Club conducts transfer business since David Dein left. Whatever one thinks of David Dein, he was a football man as well as a business man and this was instrumental in the way the club successfully went about its business until he left. The system for buying players seemed to work well with Dein around; Arsene would tell Dein who he wanted, Dein would see what he could do and either the player would come, or they wouldn't. Dein had footballing nous, meaning that he didn't have to note down how much Arsene thought should be spent on each player, Dein used his common sense and did his best. In this way it appeared that Arsene was kept at a safe arms length from the financial side of things, this appears to have changed since Dein left.
Gazidis is a great business man, he has negotiated some terrific commercial deals for the club, but he does not seem to be a football man, meaning that he does not appear to have Dein's nous in the transfer department. This has led to a suspicion that Gazidis might well have had to lean more on Arsene for information, something that Dein would not have needed to do. Gazidis has probably allowed Arsene to have more input into the financial side of the club's transfer dealings, meaning that Gazidis may ask for specific guidance on the fees that should be paid and this may have resulted in some quite ridiculous transfer negotiations.
Take Arteta for example, we bid 5mill initially, we then upped it to 10mill on deadline day, Everton wanted 11mill and we wouldn't go the extra million, it was only Arteta forcing through the deal that stopped this silly fiddling over one million from crashing the whole deal. Similar style things scuppered the Schwarzer deal last summer, the Cahill mincing was also far from clever. The Mata deal is rumoured to have fallen through because of relatively small change in terms of meeting a buy-out fee. Santi Cazorla was another target we missed out on because of what sounds like board dithering. This haggling over small amounts of money did not appear to happen when Dein was in charge.
So overall the problem with our purchasing of players appears to be a complex one, it seems to be a systematic issue and it cannot be ignored any longer. I don't blame Arsene or Gazidis, the problem comes from higher up in the club as someone should know enough about football to see that this system is not working and will never work. Gazidis needs to take responsibility for the financial side of deals and ensure Arsene is kept at arms length, if this is not possible then we need someone new with footballing nous to be our new David Dein, a director of football of sorts. This summer we should have driven some early deals through, this didn't happen for a variety of reasons but it appears that an absence of dynamic drive in the boardroom was critical in this.
I am concerned at what goes on in board meetings as this situation must have been obvious to them for a while, and they appear to have done nothing about it. The board need to sit down and sort out several crucial strategies at the club now, it simply cannot wait. We need to completely overhaul our wage structure, we need a higher top wage and we need to pay peripheral youngsters/squad players less. We need to change the way in which we go about buying players, we need to show more common sense in our transfer dealings, we cannot risk losing out on top targets because we are haggling over petty small change. We need to consider bringing some new dynamic board members in. All this will take time, I just hope the board have seen our mistakes and are ready to act. I haven't even started on the defensive coach yet.........