Arsenal won the league by 25 points, losing only twice, and last night defeated Liverpool 4-1 in the First leg of the FA Cup final. It was a masterful performance, from what I hear, and though it was broadcast on Setanta in England the match wasn’t available here in the states so, I didn’t get a chance to watch. You’ll have to be satisfied with Gunnerblog’s description above.
Of course, I’m talking about the future and the present all at the same time: I’m talking about the Arsenal Youth team. You’ve seen some of them already, young Jack Wilshere was electrifying in the Carling Cup wins against Sheffield United and Wigan, on the backs of those performances a few folks asked why he wasn’t being brought in to the first team when we were missing some creativity during the depths of darkest winter.
And after putting Liverpool’s youth to the sword with a 4-1 win young Jack Wilshere agreed with those fans saying
I think any of us can break into the first team because we are all that good. We’ve all got talent and we know we can push into the first team.
I, for one, can’t wait to see them play in next year’s Carling Cup. Hell, we might even see some in league play, if they as good as young Wilshere thinks they are.
As the youth team were running Liverpool off the pitch Arsene Wenger gave what I thought was his most defensive pre-match presser of the season.
FINALLY, SOME DEFENSE!
The truth is that Wenger is kind of a complicated guy and you’re probably seeing a lot of weird quotes this morning, like “Wenger tells board to Shut-Up” but reading the interviews in the press and watching them on Arsenal TV are two different things. I highly recommend the latter, you get a sense of the man, and how sometimes he says things with a glint in his eye and you just know he’s being cheeky. Of course, the press then de-contextualize it and plaster headlines like the one above (actual headline) but the truth is more complicated than just a one-liner.
This press conference was pretty much dominated by the question of transfers. How much do we have, why doesn’t he spend it, will we have to sell to buy, who is he targeting, and many other questions. The boss responded to the ‘how much’ question with my favorite quote of the night
If I tell you I have £250million, every player I call will cost three times more. When I am manager of a club I do with what I have available and you have never heard me complain about the money that was available. But as well I do not accept people to think that I am stupid enough to have £100million at my disposal and put it in the bank because I am scared to spend it.
He said £100m!! That’s like, like, the magic number!
On it’s face, this is one of those statements that confuse a lot of supporters. It looks like he’s saying that Arsenal don’t have £100m when the financial statements that the club released last season clearly show that they do. This is one of those statements that make Arsenal supporters shake their head and ask if Wenger has lost the plot? Doesn’t he read the financial statements?
Of course he does! Please note that if you parse the statement he says “at my disposal” which, not to put too fine a point on it is exactly what I’ve been saying since I found out they have the money: they are reserving that cash for an emergency. What if they can’t make 4th place next year due to Swine Plague ravaging the team at a critical juncture? What if newly re-promoted Birmingham and Martin Taylor break 4 player’s legs this year?
What if the housing market takes a turn for the worse, the banks call in their loan on the Highbury development, the economy goes further south, fans stop showing up to matches, people don’t buy that stupid blue kit, and injuries prevent us from taking 4th place?
It would be nice to have £130m (my estimate of this year’s year end financials) in the bank if that happened, in fact, it would be crucial for a self sustaining club like Arsenal to have a large amount of cash around just in case something like that happened. The only other option is to go to scum like Usmanov with our hat in our hand.
No one wants that.
So, I think Wenger’s being coy, watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. There’s money to spend, he just doesn’t want to say how much or it will adversely effect the cost of transfer targets and I feel like he cheekily threw out the £100m figure to get the ire of people not paying close attention.
I, for one, hope he gets cracking on spending what he’s got, Fulham’s already offered Hangeland more Brede to stay and we don’t want to let one of the few players out there who has the experience and size to truly help this team slip through our fingers.
That’s about it for today, tomorrow’s match is on Setanta at like noon or something and some of us are going down to Doyle’s to watch it after the morning kickaround. Before I go, I want to remind you all that you have just two more days to vote for the Gooner of the Year so get over there and get stuck in you lot!
Highlights of the FA Youth Cup here.