Cooling Off The Reactionaries

By on August 25, 2008
Arsene gives the fans a taste of their own medicine.

Arsene gives the fans a taste of their own medicine?

So, while I’ve had a day or two now to digest Saturday’s performance and result, it seems that a large segment of Arsenal supporters have not cooled off from the initial disappointment and bitterness that comes with losing a derby to a team that just narrowly escaped relegation last season and hadn’t beaten Arsenal since 1966.  Instead of regaining perspective, many Arsenal fans are pasting blogs and forums with “Wenger OUT!”  While there has always been a smaller group of supporters over the last three trophyless seasons who have expressed serious, and at times, bitter dissatisfaction with Wenger’s youth policy and its lack of silverware, it seems to have spread like a disease.

I am not one to deny anyone their own opinion especially seeing as I’ve gone through the trouble of setting up and writing a blog to voice my own.  However, there is something highly reactionary about calls to fire the greatest manager the club has ever known only two games into the season and before the transfer window has even closed.  There is no doubt that a lot of Arsenal supporters are sitting on the fence and waiting to see if Arsene will make a deal for a defensive midfielder before Sunday night’s deadline.  A previous Arsenal Station article detailed our most realistic transfer targets and while news today reports that Arsenal are back in for Xabi Alonso, Arsene said on Saturday that this result would not make him desperate to buy before the window closes.  Is Arsene being truthful?  Should he be?

If clubs know that you are desperate to sign someone before the window closes in a week, it gives the selling club an upper-hand in any negotiations.  Desperation is not something you want to bring to the negotiating table.  Arsene wants everyone to think that he is not keen to buy but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t.  This is all a part of his media campaign which has gone on for most of the summer including his “I’m too busy to buy players” quote from a couple of weeks ago which the anti-Wenger camp jumped on as proof of his “inability” to get the job done.  Arsenal had previously had a 10m offer for Alonso turned down by Liverpool who are seeking to sell the Spaniard for more than 13.5m to lose less from the sell-on clause in his initial transfer from Real Sociedad.

At the same time, Liverpool will be fully aware of Arsenal’s performance at Fulham on Saturday and can’t help but know that Wenger needs to make a move.  However, statements like the one Arsene made on Saturday could mean the difference between securing Alonso for 14m rather than the 16-18m that Liverpool want.  You could even say that increased public pressure put on Wenger by the club’s own supporters could well adversely affect negotiations.  The irony is that, while Wenger is trying to slyly maneuver his way into making the purchase that supporters want, the supporters themselves are inadvertently sabotaging the deal.

I have read statements on blogs and forums stating that fans feel “lied to” or “betrayed.”  This makes no sense to me.  While we all want to be kept abreast of what’s happening inside the club, nowadays these kinds of dealings are dealt with as if they matters of national security.  And Arsene must project strength even if he is in a weak position.  This was evidenced last week by Arsene saying the same thing as he did on Saturday and then buying Mikael Silvestre the next afternoon.  Surely it is better to keep the fans in the dark for a week or so while trying to secure a signing than let them in on all details of negotiations to the point where deals fall apart.

Does this land me in the pro-Wenger camp?  I’m sure for most of you it does.  However, I am no blind follower of the Arsene party.  I have criticized personnel and tactical moves by Wenger in the past and will continue to do so.  But to call for the greatest manager in the history of the club to be fired after two games following a season in which he took a young team to within four points of the league title with the transfer window still open is surely madness.  Isn’t it?