Good morning all. Hope you had a nice weekend, it’s a public holiday here in Ireland.
Minds collapsed over Emi Buendia’s stuff. Depending on your point of view, or what you choose to believe:
- We lost against Aston Villa
- We couldn’t compete with Aston Villa
- The player chose Villa over us in a HUGE SNUB
- We have other targets
- Our interest was real but not as concrete as we had reported
- We never made an offer
- it doesn’t really matter anyway
Look, he’s a good player who put in some extremely impressive numbers in the league last season, and I understand why people have found him attractive as a potential signing. I just think that sometimes something strange happens: there’s this collective focus on certain individuals that doesn’t always match our interest in them. For me, Buendia was one of them. Part of the reaction over the weekend was akin to a beloved player leaving the club when we don’t want him to, except this guy was never our player.
Don’t kill me when I say this, but I suspect something similar happened with Yves Bisouma. Again, I think he’s a good player, and I think he would add something to a midfielder who definitely needs some additions this summer, but it’s like he’s become the only one and the only midfielder in the world. We could go for him, we could not. Some journalists say he is a player we are watching, but who is not necessarily at the top of our list.
Are we in another crisis if we don’t sign it? What if another team signs it? There was talk of Liverpool’s interest – and that’s where I think we need to consider what we can offer the players. The lack of European football is an issue the manager and Edu have to contend with. The promise of a Champions League could be decisive if, for example, Bisouma has a decision to make between two clubs.
At the same time, although I think we have to let it go and for the sake of mental health / blood pressure / mental health it is wise to try not to invest too much in some people, a lot of that stems from a lack of confidence among decision-makers. Edu’s record on transfers is not excellent, although the sample size is small. Most would agree that Thomas Partey is a quality player and a good signing who has had an indifferent first campaign, but Willian’s cloud dominates everything, and while he was a small cog in the wheel last summer, Alex Runarsson was a bad signing.
I don’t like sweeping generalizations made about fan bases, ours or whatever. Each club has their different factions, bad apples etc, but last summer I think Arsenal fans really tried to look at some things in a positive light. I don’t know a lot of people who were excited about Willian’s signing, let alone thought that giving a 32-year-old a three-year contract was a good idea, but I really think Arsenal fans have tried to see it in the most positive way. possible (given the circumstances).
12 months later, or thereabouts, the evidence is overwhelming. Willian was a terrible signing who has been terrible for most of the season, and while our 8th place is obviously not entirely down to him, he is fully emblematic of it. I’m not going to reopen the “Since Christmas” registry, but the first half of our season where he played a lot was the worst part of the season, and when he stopped playing a lot we were better. Again, there was more to it and it’s too simplistic to say it was his / not his, but his dismal performance reflects both Edu and Mikel Arteta because they both pushed for that the signing occurs.
So when we collectively identify a player who we think could improve us, and that doesn’t happen, I think there’s an understandable fear because of what’s weighing on us and what’s come before us. Buendia is obviously more useful than Willian, but that’s not the exchange, is it? Buendia plays right / center, where the players he faces are Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Emile Smith Rowe and maybe someone like Martin Odegaard if Real Madrid are up to sell. It becomes a little easier to compartmentalize the “lacker” from him in this context.
But getting back to that lack of confidence, which is why, as I wrote earlier, Edu has a lot to prove this summer. I have doubts about him, and to be honest I think he was lucky to have survived Raul Sanllehi’s departure. They worked very closely, I don’t think the ties with some agents are particularly healthy, and while things like Odegaard and convincing Flo Balogun to sign a new contract are positive, there is still a lot to prove.
It is clear that rebuilding the team is the priority this summer. This is above all the work that he and Arteta have to undertake. They need to sell well, buy well and be decisive in how they approach certain issues. They must also do so in a difficult market without massive resources and after a disappointing season which has left us out of Europe for the first time in 25 years. If, and I realize this is a big if, they are doing it well, a side effect will be to restore fan confidence. It’s not that this should be their main concern, but it will be a consequence of what they do and how they do it.
Until then though, when we see players we love going elsewhere, when we see other clubs doing things we would like, and when there are rumors that Arsenal are doing something that doesn’t keep us 100 %, there will be a reaction. It is entirely up to each individual how much he or she pays attention to it. Right now, the transfer window isn’t even open, and there’s still a long way to go this summer, but at the heart of it is the club’s desire to turn things around, fix the issues and to fix the issues, and at this point we don’t know if those responsible are able to do it as well as we would like.
Time will tell us.
James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you later this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you are on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the # arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.
For now, take it easy.