Radio Wenger

Good morning Gooners.

There seems to be one real point of interest to discuss this morning – Arsene Wenger’s interview on French radio station RTL
 
During the summer and at the start of this season it has seemed that the relationship between the Frenchman and the English media was not quite as cordial as it has been during the past fifteen years. The men from the press have always reiterated how the man they once dubbed ‘Arsene Who?’ is always willing to talk and to answer any question, but the suggestion in recent months has been that that level of open communication was no longer being provided and that Wenger was keeping a much tighter hold on his multilingual tongue.
 
So whilst relations have seemingly improved recently, apparently the gaffer was very open and chatty in his pre game presser last week – even cracking jokes, maybe it isn’t a surprise that Arsene has seen fit to provide his most frank interview and to open up on the issues that have surrounded the club since the close season whilst in the company of his native media and in this case former French international Bixente Lizarazu.
 
The boss admitted that a summer which saw the departures of key players Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy plus Emmanuel Eboue and the loan departures of Nik Bendtner, Denilson & Carlos Vela was the most difficult of his time in charge of the club admitting –
 
“This summer was the most agitated I’ve ever known. I had half the players in the dressing room who wanted to leave”
 
“You prepare a season, we go to Asia, we don’t know who is coming, the players who are still there are asking themselves what is happening and if an earthquake is hitting the club. It’s extraordinarily difficult”
 
“I think that what saved us is that we are a club which is extremely solid and united. There are many other clubs who would have exploded”
 
I certainly appreciate what he is saying but the truth is he was pretty much in a minority of one who believed that one of, or indeed both, Fabregas & Nasri would stay. It was also the common view of most of us that the likes of Eboue and our loan departures should be off loaded, so whilst I’m sure it was difficult it certainly shouldn’t have been surprising.
 
Asked if players had left to win titles in the face of Arsenal’s continued inability to add to the three league championships and four FA Cups won during his reign the manager took a swipe at the abhorrent spending power of the likes of Man City and the reasons players such as Samir Nasri move to the United Stadium telling Lizarazu –
 
“No, it’s not that [players have to leave to win titles], the problem isn’t that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don’t go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal”
 
That comment immediately brings to mind Clichy’s comments in 2009 after Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure had moved to Eastlands –
 
“I really believe if you are a player who thinks only about money then you could end up at Manchester City. You have to think if you want to play for a big club and have your image or if you want to play for a good club and earn big money”
 
Obviously the French left back had a change of heart over the summer when he joined Roberto Mancini’s side in a £7m deal.
 
Pressed on the Manchester clubs spending power the boss added –
 
“They are a force clearly, because they have exceptional financial clout, so it’s not surprising what they’ve done. Look at Paris Saint-Germain. They have more money than anyone else in France and they’re top of the league. There’s always a financial logic behind who ends up being successful in any league. If Barcelona or Real Madrid paid three times less than Malaga, players would go to Malaga. That’s always the case. It’s as simple as that. So when a player has the choice between two clubs who have the same ambitions, if he can earn three times as much at one club, he’ll go there. That’s logical”
 
What can you really add to that? We are not going to match the spending power of clubs like City, regardless of funds being available or not it just isn’t a path our club are willing to go down, especially the manager. In reality while we may wish we would part with £20m, £40m, £50M without thought and pay players the kind of wage each week that could sustain the economy of Greece, it just isn’t good for the game and ultimately wouldn’t be good for the club. It'[s more a case of those with cash on tap being reigned in then the rest of us trying to keep up, that’s difficult to swallow because who the hell stops them UEFA? If every club starts paying that game then the ante is constantly upped and we’ll soon see clubs begin to go bust – I don’t want that for Arsenal.
 
Speaking of the clubs poor start to the current season the boss admitted that things have been difficult but that his side are getting back on track –
 
What people forget is that we lost three key players because we’ve also lost Wilshere (to long-term injury). Three who were important in our midfield. Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere have all been lost and they were the basis of our midfield last season. We’ve had to reconstruct our midfield entirely because Wilshere won’t be back until January. Still, we’ve disappointed this season so far, given what’s expected of us, but I think we’re on the up again. The problem is you can only climb the table slowly. We’re not too far away in terms of points from fourth place (3 points)”
 
Again, we could have been or even should have been better prepared for the departures of Cesc & Nasri and there are indeed suggestions that we were and whilst Wenger is right when he said in the interview that you don’t find the likes of Fabregas and Nasri on every street corner the signing of players of the calibre of Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla would certainly have softened the blow and kept the side in good health. Deals were seemingly in place for the pair but we delayed and they moved elsewhere leaving us tying up deals right at the close of the transfer window.
Talking about our late purchases and summer spending in general Wenger suggested he was happy with what was done and spoke of how hard he and the club were working –
 
It was a crazy close season because I signed four players in three days. t was a whole night of negotiations and a lot of uncertainty but in the end it worked well.  believe it was a very good summer in terms of signings”
I’m not suggesting he doesn’t believe that but what else can he say? “It was all a bit of a mess and I’ve had to bring in a few players better suited to a less footballalistic side. Do you think I want to see Benayoun’s face every day, c’mon give me some credit”
 
I think we all know that the club could have acted quicker and more decisively during the summer but what can we do about that now. Ultimately it appears that it was Arsene’s reluctance to accept the inevitable departures of certain players which may have held us back a little but I’m sure that all the new signings were players he felt could improve the side.
 
The gaffer once again reiterated his belief that Robin Van Persie will sign a new deal and stay with the Gunners –
 
“Today, two days before we play at Marseille, I’m not asking myself whether Van Persie is going to extend his contract in 18 months’ time. For me what is important is that he plays well for us on Wednesday. After that the next match. That’s how I think. He’s scored 28 goals in 34 games, so they’re exceptional statistics. He’s got a contract for another 18 months and he’s a man who is attached to our club. I’m not especially thinking about losing him”
 
There does seem to be renewed belief that the Dutchman will extend his deal at the Emirates but until pen is put to paper speculation is going to continue and whilst the players scoring form continues he’ll be in the thoughts of every major club. Not that ‘m suggesting it would be good for us if he stopped scoring so the moneyed vultures move on, goodness knows where we would be with Robins goals. I’m almost at the point of praying that his fitness and luck in front of goal long continue. After all the seasons that have been interrupted by injury both the player and the club deserve a (god I was going to say break..) bit of good fortune.
 
Lastly Wenger spoke of the toll the job takes on him and how he’ll justify his time on earth when the big man comes calling for him (I mean god by the way not Mertz) –
 
“I have periods where I am tired, yes. It’s true that the close season makes people think you’re resting but it’s during that period that you work the most. I got in the habit of working all the time. I think I must have been lazy in a previous life and was punished to come back in a very tiring and stressful job”
 
“I’d like to go to Tahiti for a month but I can’t. From time to time I would like to because I’m running out of time. Everyone gets older. en I arrive at the gates of Heaven the Good Lord will ask ‘what did you do in your life?’ and I will respond ‘I tried to win football matches’ He will say ‘Are you certain that’s all?’ But, well, that’s the story of my life”
 
Let’s hope he isn’t dwelling too much on that discussion up in the big press room in the sky and more on winning another football match starting with the match against Marseille tomorrow night…
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Paul.
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