The great thing about reality checks like Sunday is the clarity they give you. Some people have had this clarity since 2006, some 2011, but now everyone can see how far we have fallen since leaving Highbury. For the first time in my lifetime, not one Arsenal player would make the City first eleven. It’s going to take time to correct that along with innovative “Wenger and David Dein in 1996” strategy.
With their experience at big clubs like Barcelona and PSG, Raul Sanllehi and Emery, must be aware of our shortfalls. They will know that the fix needed is bigger than “spend some money”. As I said in the summer, no one is going to outspend City so you need to think outside the box. According to transfermarkt, out of the 25 most expensive Premier League transfers, Manchester City have 9 and we have 2. Chelsea and Manchester United have 5, Liverpool have 3 and Everton have 1 emphasizing the advantage the champions possess.
If you was Kroenke would you bankroll a series of reactionary expensive transfers? I wouldn’t as its obvious I would just be wasting money creating a poor version of City. This is exactly what Manchester United have done in recent years. Liverpool and Spurs on the other hand have got creative and crafted title challenging squads by being patient, not letting players run down their contracts, selling well and identifying talent at the right age with the appetite and confidence to be great.
For example, I like Alex Iwobi, but despite being similar in age to Sterling, Alli and Sane, he is light years away from his peers who have the arrogance, in addition to their talent, that you need to be a top player. Guendouzi on the other hand looks like the type of player who possesses that elusive x-factor. His performance against City was fantastic, not just for the quality of his passing, but for the fact he was not fazed by the task in front of him. He stood toe to toe with the Premier League’s best and did not look out of place. Recruiting players of this ilk should be a key component of our revival strategy. Let’s hope Reiss Nelson returns next year with that same swagger.
I am not justifying our current transfer policy, however it has been so dreadful in recent years that its going to take at least three years to mend it. Emery’s job this year was to make sure we didn’t go backwards and he has done that. I am now (probably naively) hopeful that the club are ready to execute on the next part of a revival strategy focused on reshaping the squad in the summer. I will save my judgement of the Executives and the Kroenkes for that point.
P.s. If I was going to bankroll one big transfer, it would be Harry Maguire. The Leicester man is the type of competitor you can build a defence around. Let’s hope Manchester don’t get their hands on him.