The Summer of No One Gets What They Want

By Nicol Hay

Europe is enjoying a heat wave, the Confederations Cup was the greatest summer tournament since records began, and every club is spending money like Kanye in Mothercare. So why is the major theme of this transfer window one of crushing disappointment? 

All winter long, football fans yearn for the irritating formality of men kicking balls around pitches to get itself over with so the real business of paper talk, In The Know intrigue and opinion pieces on the inevitable economic collapse of football if something isn’t done about these bloated transfer fees can begin. All those boring Saturday afternoons spent wistfully staring past your inept right back’s attempts to play a pass and remember which colour his teammates are wearing at the same time are just counting down to the moment when the June-August bonanza drops a steaming dose of moneyed potential into your life.

And this summer, it’s been all for naught. Every major club made their careful plans, only to see them dashed.

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The Strain of Loyalty

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The drumming noises have been those of betrayal and mercenarism. Once heroes, even captains, these men have been crucified in the memories of long-suffering Arsenal fans as Adams, lured by rival teams, their equivalent of the forbidden fruit. They see it as unfair competition, those with a monetary largesse abusing their ability to offer some degree of wage multiplication. Whether the Manchester sides and Barcelona can be considered present-day rivals to Arsenal is highly debatable for the simple fact that the Londoners are no longer the force they once were. Those traitors moved to ascend the footballing hierarchy. They moved to attain success, amongst other intangibles.

They were replaced, to the best of the Arsenal powers of seduction. Germans and Spaniards came in to replace the Dutch- and Frenchmen. Even Thierry Henry, however ageing, returned once and is about to do so again. The Arsenalisms of fiscal austerity would do Merkel proud, but represent a 21st century footballing failure of insight. For all of Wenger’s nous, this seems a painful misstep. Despite this, his team has replicated top-four finishes. The Holy Grail, however unlikely, is every season a possibility.

The Germans and Spaniards employed are no slouches. They are internationals of rude pedigree playing in a system to which they should suit. The midfield is on paper a colossus and if early performances are any indication, Jack Wilshere is worth every drop of hype. If these performances are any indication, he will be the next departing mercenary in the eyes of the fans forever loyal. He will seek pastures anew. Football is so often a tale of potential unfulfilled, which pains the heart to witness. Somehow, there must be a reincarnation of the fully powered Arsenal of the early-Wenger era, or the red of North London will linger a breeding ground for the Big Teams.

An objurgation ofttimes aimed at Arsenal is one of excessive on-field dalliance, of pretty sashaying culminating in nothingness. The intricacy is initially pleasing, then tedious, complex, unnecessary, and then it dies. The Arsenal way is Bollywood-esque flirtation, a kiss away from something, anything. It is not a sign of altruism; rather it exemplifies one thing – an inexistence of plerophory. Instilling belief is the domain of the manager, and perhaps the time has come for fresh innovativeness.

The suggestion is not fickle. It has grown over eight years; it is more than pyrophoric. The greying man in the Arsenal tracksuit is running out of ideas. He has proven himself over sixteen years to be an entrepreneur of beautiful football, of this there is no doubt. Arsenal, though, need change. Arsene too looks like he could use it. The eurozone turmoil is a stellar example of how drawn-out inaction spawns innumerable costs. Arsenal will linger as it stands, as their new rivals embrace change in the name of progress, and they will crumble. Departures are neither a tale of dollars nor a tale of perfidiousness. It is the impecuniosity of success that drives them on, and the current batch will never forget Bradford City 2012.

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This is the Life of a Manager

By Jordan Brown

The chant rang around Tehrir Square over the weekend—the chant of the revolution, the chant that brought down deposed Mubarak, ‘The people want to bring down the regime!” They shouted it this time for a new leader, the democratically elected Mohammend Morsi—a man who is suddenly discovering the confines of power, the limits of his reach.

Somewhere in London a dour Frenchman was ending his day, and if he were to have seen the scenes in Cairo, heard the chant of the young revolutionaries, it would probably sound to him much like, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” A game as ubiquitous in global culture as football finds itself mirroring many other spheres of human society, none so often as politics, and no role in football is so neatly politicized as Manager.

Football is a republic built on popular momentum; it is the modern circus maximus played out in coliseums of steel and glass, and the mobs are still the masters. In every seat of the stands sits a revolutionary, a fan who holds their own individual ideal of their club’s perfection. They know the way their team should play, who they should sign, and exactly what great heights of achievement each season should hold. Their minds are filled with gleaming trophy cabinets and memorable performances, and to all of them the one standing in the way of the dream made life is the flesh and blood man in the puffy jacket pacing the byline in front of them. Everyone is the best fit for the job except for the one who currently holds the title.

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Terror; Britannia

By Max Grieve

The ground turns red, and then the sky
As beasts and Pulis take their place.
The Frenchman goes, and dares to fly
Through the sun; lest he abandon chase.
Where Welshmen break and drown in mud
And Wenger cries “They do not try to play the ball!
We cannot bear the crush, or wind and flood.”
Yet they travel and persist; and so do fears
That some will not return from that Inferno; empty but for blood
And Delap, sharpening cleats and hurling spheres.

Robin, why exactly are you smiling?

By Dominic Vieira, writing from London

In an ideal world, that smile means “yes, I’m staying”. I’d like to believe that too, but that decision solely belongs to Robin Van Persie. I’m sure Mr. Wenger, like me and the passionate Arsenal fans, all share the same opinion. Despite being a great businessman, the manager will not want to lose such a fundamental player once again. It’s a different case when compared with previous exits and unlike them, Wenger’s smart summer captures suggest that he’s trying to seduce Van Persie to sign a new deal, rather than play another season. Nobody wants to manage a player who doesn’t want to be part of the team and nobody wants to lose Van Persie.

Arsenal have sensibly impressed in the market as they’ve strengthened themselves with the arrivals of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla; they’ll deliver versatility, speed and goals. More importantly, Wenger’s spending spree probably won’t end here as he’ll be looking to lure a midfielder to the Emirates. Changes are being made and it’s going to be exciting to see how they’ll start their campaign, hopefully with Van Persie assuming a leading (and voraciously goal-scoring) role once again.

He’s simply irreplacable. Although Arsenal were virtually bullied to sell Nasri and Cesc this time last year, the Dutch international has remained in North London, where he subsequently inherited the captain’s armband and enjoyed his most prolific (and injury free) season. His performances naturally awarded him a collection of individual accolades, but footballers prefer something far greater than that: collective trophies.

Despite bolstering their squad, there’s no guarantee that success will finally be achieved this year. After all, it’s worth understanding that competition is painfully fierce as Manchester City remain unchanged, Chelsea have continued to sign more talent and Manchester United is Manchester United. In simpler terms, Arsenal’s race for the Premiership title will become tremendously more difficult if Arsenal’s talisman leaves.

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The Wenger Years: An Infographic

You know how the President ages in an exponential manner over four years? Well, we need not look further than Arsene Wenger (or José Mourinho) to see that the day-to-day pressure of being a football manager has a very similar effect. Having been in charge for over 15 years at Arsenal, it’s incredible that Le Professor is still sane. The highs, though seemingly a distant memory, provided some unforgettable moments. But this infographic of Wenger’s life focuses on all the ups and downs Arsene has experienced, before and after creating a dynasty at Arsenal. [Via PP]

Deadline Day – The Winners and Losers Across England

By Andy Brunning

Now that deadline day’s out the way, it’s time to take a look at who’s feeling smugly self-satisfied about the whole affair and who spent the small hours of last night crying into their pillow at the injustice of it all. Here, in no particular order, are the four biggest winners and losers to emerge from yesterday’s dealings.

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Ferguson and Wenger: one burns brightly as the other fades

By Darshan Joshi

Even stars die, eventually. There hasn’t been an observed supernova in our Milky Way for over four hundred years (Galileo hadn’t even seen the many moons of Jupiter, or confirmed that the Sun was the heart of the solar system when this had occurred), but that such timeless galactic fixtures can perish so vigorously only serves to epitomise the fleeting nature of everything associated with our universe. Exceptions do exist, if you believe in an eternal power gazing from the heavens, but such beings apart, you are left with just Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Delight in Despair

By Joe Milford

The time is now for Arsenal’s supporting cast to stand up and be counted

There’s never an easy was to say goodbye is there? Be it with friends, classmates, and yes, even our favorite players, letting go is something that’s hard to do, particularly when what you are letting go of is something special. Such is the case with one Francesc Fabregas. Having seen the player grow up before their eyes, there will indeed be many heartwarming memories that Arsenal fans can conjure up on this, the first day of Cesc being a former Gunner. From the 18-year old boy starting the 2005 FA Cup Final alongside Robert Pires and Patrick Veira, to the 23-year old man smashing home a penalty to complete an epic comeback against the team he would eventually join, the nostalgia may prove to be inescapable. But while such ordeals may prove difficult for teams and fans to deal with, there’s always one thing to keep in mind. Losing your best player can be the beginning of a new and much brighter era.

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