Arsenal supporters are getting an early taste of a different type of summer transfer window to any they have experienced in recent years.
It is now close season. Officially, the transfer season does not start until 25 May. Speculation is rife about player movement. And for the next three months, for football fans, the adrenalin of player movement will replace the absence of competitive football.
In English football, there is no team that has dominated the headlines more than Arsenal and this has been the position for something like the last five seasons.
Arsenal supporters have experienced sheer agony during these periods, largely because the departures have caused such discontent that this trend has had a profound effect on the supporters base.
Last season, in Early December 2012, and for the first time in recent memory, 3,000 or so supporters staged a protest on match day outside the Emirates.
Citing the escalation of ticket prices; the composition of and what they paraphrased as a lack of ambition at the board level and the bareness of the trophy cabinet for 7 seasons, the Black Scarf Movement, a collection of Arsenal supporters led the protests outside the grounds.
Arsene Wenger, probably the club’s most successful manager was openly derided and his continued employment visibly questioned even by the most ardent “Wengerites”.
To cap a quite forgettable period in the history of Arsenal, Swansea – who were in their first second season in the EPL – polished of a limp performance by the team with two well taken goals scored by their Spanish striker, Michu.
This was a player who was having an outstanding season having being comparatively inexpensively acquired from Rayo Vallecano at the value of 2 Million pounds.
This circumstance, as much as any other, appeared to worsen a less than favourable understanding of Arsenal’s transfer policies.
It is to his eternal credit that despite the high profile departure of Robin Van Persie and the stuttering performances of the first half of this season’s campaign, the team finished strongly to see off the charge of the perennial “enemy”, Tottenham Hotspurs to finish 4th in the Premier League and retain qualification for the elite Champions League competition. There, sadly, the pleasures of the season end.
Expectation is very high about the forthcoming season and nowhere is this more elevated than the scrutiny on the comings and goings at this great club. Several stories have about potential arrivals and departures have hogged the headlines in the last few days. For the first time in years, the only possible departure could be Bacary Sagna.
His contract determines in June 2014, having joined the club in July 2007. Sagna is an accomplished right back, capped 33 times by France, he once enjoyed the reputation of being one if not the best right back in the Premier League.
He suffered an horrific injury that caused him to miss a lot of football including Euro 2012 and the start of the last season. He had a mixed season, playing in a defence that did not recover its credibility until the second half of the season.
Typically, the one-year anniversary is the sign that both club and player should be anxious for a longer-term resolution of their positions. Although there have been suggestions that “talks” had started and stalled, the fact that they have, hitherto, remained inconclusive suggests a dissatisfaction about the way forward for both sides.
It may also suggest that the club may be comfortable in its position with the player given, perhaps, a much publicized intention to acquire another right back and the fact that in Carl Jenkinson, it has in its ranks a player who is an able and promising deputy.
The key issue here is that there hitherto unknown stability about the playing staff. Additions to the squad are expected and Wenger has indicated a commitment to proactivity in the market in the forthcoming weeks.
This stability is not only overdue but also very welcome. In the days to come, we will consider potential arrivals and why these will and should be the basis for strengthening the expectations for the next season.
image: © wonker