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Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011
Wenger losing touch with reality
LONDON — "Imagine the worst situation, we lose Fabregas and Nasri — you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that."
- Arsene Wenger, July 2011
"You cannot be considered a big club if your best players leave because a big club holds onto its big players and gives a message to other big clubs they cannot come in and take them from you." -Arsene Wenger, July 2011
Cesc Fabregas joins Barcelona — Aug. 15, 2011.
Samir Nasri on verge of signing for Manchester City — Aug. 19 2011.
THE BANNERS used to read "In Arsene we trust" but the growing frustration and disenchantment of Arsenal fans with Arsene Wenger is gather momentum.
Supporters cannot understand why the manager is so reluctant to buy at least one commanding central defender, an experienced midfield playmaker, and a striker to ease the burden on new captain Robin van Persie.
It used to be a few dissidents but the number is now significant.
Wenger says his scouts are looking for the right players and he won't pay over the odds for any new recruits. In Wenger's fantasy world he wants Arsenal to win the Premier League playing beautiful football, every goal a candidate for Goal of the Month with minimal investment in the transfer market.
Ideal but unrealistic.
Wenger would rather produce his players through the youth system or find nuggets elsewhere and turn them into superstars than splash the Arsenal cash.
Manchester City paid £38 million to Atletico Madrid for Sergio Aguero but Diego Maradona's son-in-law is a class act. His two-goal debut against Swansea underlined this, and if £38 million is what it takes to buy a striker who has virtually guaranteed goals throughout his career, then so be it.
Arsenal bought Gervinho from Lille for £10.5 million. The Ivorian has promise, but you get what you pay for.
The Frenchman refuses to pay over the odds for players, but Arsenal doesn't mind selling at inflated prices — £25 million for Samir Nasri, who has one year left on his contract, is pretty good business for the Gunners.
Wenger has become such a legend during his 15 years at Arsenal that, like Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, it is almost impossible to think of a credible successor.
Arsenal fans would prefer their manager to change rather than the club change managers, but a seventh consecutive season without a trophy will make the pressure on the Frenchman unbearable.
Former United fullback turned TV pundit Gary Neville supported Wenger and warned: "Be careful what you wish for"and it is easier to say "Wenger out" than name a realistic successor.
But Arsenal fans are baffled why other title contenders have been busy strengthening their squads this summer, while the Gunners have signed fullback Carl Jenkinson from Charlton, Southampton winger Alex Chamberlain and Gervinho.
There is no sign of the type of players Arsenal really needs.
The transfer window clock is ticking and last month's quotes about being a big club . . . an ambitious club . . . will come back to haunt Wenger if Arsenal's obvious needs are not redressed.
Arsenal takes a slender 1-0 ead to Italy on Wednesday for the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Udinese, a result made possible largely by the brilliance of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. If Arsenal is dumped into the Europa League, it may as well organize its end of season party for next Thursday.
* * *
A LIST OF PLAYERS Tottenham fans would not want Harry Redknapp to sign would undoubtedly include Emmanuel Adebayor.
Redknapp obviously does not take popularity — or rather, unpopularity — into consideration when assessing whether to sign a player because the striker is set to join Spurs on loan from Manchester City.
There are a number of reasons why Adebayor's appreciation society at White Hart Lane would be able to meet in a telephone booth. For starters, he used to play for Arsenal, where even the Gunners' fans were glad to see the Togo international sign for City.
Adebayor is an erratic talent, at his best very hard to stop but at his worst he appears lazy and disinterested, unforgivable in the eyes of fans who expect a sweat-stained shirt from today's Premier League millionaires.
He would also be earning twice as much as the best paid player at Tottenham, which is guaranteed to breed locker-room resentment from those who have served Spurs well over the years.
Adebayor's City contract is worth £170,000 a week, with the Manchester club still paying half his eye-watering salary.
I find it astonishing that the Premier League allows another club to pay half the wages of a rival club's player — if a club wants a player on loan it should pay all his salary.
When Real Madrid played Tottenham in the Champions League last season, Adebayor, who was on loan to the Spanish club, was verbally abused by the traveling Spurs fans.
Adebayor can expect the coolest of welcomes by the White Hart Lane faithful when Hearts travel to north London for Thursday's Europa League second leg game.
They just about tolerate former Gunner William Gallas but the French defender does not have the image problems of Adebayor. But then few do.
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.