Alexis Sanchez: The Brilliance Without The Biting

The signing of Alexis Sanchez has left me elated, but it shouldn’t leave anyone surprised. Looking back at the Read more

2013/14: Arsenal's Season Blogged - Sagas, songs & a cup

As the enthralling World Cup comes to a close and eyes begin to turn towards next season, I thought Read more

Gunnerblog End of Season Awards 2014

It’s that time again. Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. The results are in. PLAYER OF THE SEASON In a season Read more

A Party 9 years in the Making

A cup nine years in the winning. A party nine years in the making. A blog nine years in Read more

Thoughts from Wembley: Torturous afternoon’s Final flourish

I don’t know about you, but I remembered reaching an FA Cup final as a good deal more fun. Don’t Read more

Video: ‘Thrift Shop – Arsenal Deadline Day Remix’ (Arsene Wenger ft. Ivan Gazidis)

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Season | 589 Guns

Happy Deadline Day everyone. Early signs suggest it could be a big one.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Fenerbahce: Thoughts on Ramsey, Mata & more

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Season, Champions League, Match Reports, Premier League | 760 Guns

Arsenal 2 – 0 Fenerbahce (5-0 Agg)
Match report | Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

On the pitch, it’s been a good week…
Three wins in seven days is more than I expected after that disastrous opening day defeat.  The performances in Turkey and at Fulham were both wonderfully cohesive displays of counter-attacking. This match had less dynamism. The tie was essentially dead, and despite a spirited first-half performance from Fenerbahce Arsenal were never less than in control.

The club has now qualified for the Champions League for the 16th successive year. It’s both a laudable achievement and the minimum requirement. I’m pleased but not yet satisfied.

Aaron Ramsey has been outstanding…
It’s amazing what a difference confidence can make. The way he took his second goal was the mark of a player who has absolute faith in his ability at the moment. Having gone through a process of simplifying his game and bringing it back to basics, Ramsey is now supplementing his hard work with the flair he patently possesses. His progress is exciting.

Injuries highlight the weakness of our squad…
With Arsenal holding a 3-0 lead, this match was essentially a dead rubber. It would have taken an extraordinary collapse – even by our standards – for Fenerbahce to progress at our expense. Despite this, barely anyone was rested from our first choice XI. Kieran Gibbs was on bench, but was called for as soon as Lukas Podolski’s picked up a hamstring injury early in the second half.

The youthful trio of Emmanuel Frimpong, Ryo Miyaichi and Yaya Sanogo were all on the bench last night. The latter pair were afforded the opportunity to play, and both looked about as raw as you’d expect. Players of that level of inexperience should simply not be called upon in a Champions League qualifier.

If you discount that fledgling trio, and the forgotten pair of Nicklas Bendtner and Park Chu-Young, Arsenal currently have just 12 fit senior outfield players. If you don’t believe me you can count yourself.

It is simply not enough. Arsene can talk all he likes about his faith in the “quality” of his squad, but it’s the quantity that looks set to give us most problems.

The Juan Mata story looks like a non-starter…
The fact that Juan Mata’s father was at the Emirates last night, just 24 hours after Jose Mourinho left the Spanish playmaker out of his starting XI at Old Trafford, has led to stories circulating that Arsenal might be considering a bid for a player they tracked prior to his move to Stamford Bridge.

First things first: Mata’s dad is a professional agent and represents many players other than his son. His presence at the game does not necessarily mean anything. I’m not familiar with his client list but he may simply look after one of the Fenerbahce boys.

Secondly, I can’t see Mourinho allowing Mata to join another English club. His ego wouldn’t run the risk of a decision backfiring so painfully and publicly.

The only hope for Arsenal is that, having been left out of such an important match, Mata might panic about the amount of game-time he will get this season. It is a World Cup year, and that makes players more jittery than usual. That short-termism is something Arsenal can use to their advantage in what remains of the window: players who would ordinarily be out of our reach might be prepared to come to the Emirates if they are guaranteed playing time.

The Real Madrid trio would all be incredible signings…
Arsenal are being linked with moves for Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria. All three would add a huge amount to the Arsenal squad, but only the latter seems remotely probable. Madrid seem unlikely to sell Benzema and Higuain in the same window, while Ozil is likely to also be a target for Manchester United. That is not a tug of war I’d fancy us to win.

Intriguingly, the BBC are speculating that the delay in Gareth Bale’s move to Madrid might be part of a deliberate ploy to frustrate us. Madrid are unlikely to sanction the sale of any attacking player until their move for Bale is confirmed.

After watching Arsene Wenger’s post-match interview…
…I have never felt  less confident about the prospect of us making big signings this summer. I expect we’ll tie up a deal for Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer, and possibly add Yohan Cabaye to the mix, but the marquee attacking player we all crave looks set to elude us.

I’d love to be wrong. We’ll know in less than a week.

You might spot a few teething problems with the site…
We’ve moved over to new hosting and that brings with it a few problems. You’ll notice that the comments are now full of spam – although some would argue they were beforehand too. I’m working on a solution and it should all be up and running properly soon. The good news is that the site should be slightly less likely to fall over every time I write a new blog post.

Transfer Update: The Trolley Dash Begins

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Season | 783 Guns

It has begun. Arsenal have started the painfully inevitable desperate scrabble for signings. Dale Winton has sounded the klaxon, and the footballing version of Supermarket Sweep is well and truly underway.

It began with a brief conversation I had with an agent yesterday, in which they indicated that Dick Law had been unusually open to a suggested signing. Then the news broke that Arsenal had bid £10m for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

Cabaye is a decent player, but not at the elite level as some of the names we were linked to earlier this summer. Targeting him suggests Wenger recognises the need for squad numbers as well as “super quality”. Cabaye is less of a glamorous marquee player and more of a cosy tipi.

Don’t get me wrong, the Frenchman is a decent player, and will help plug the gap created by the departure of Francis Coquelin and the injury to Mikel Arteta. However, he is not the sort of world class talent who will transform us from a side battling to stay in the top four to one competing for major trophies.

It’s all somewhat reminiscent of the final days of the summer 2011 window, when Arteta was one of five hurried signings. Back then, an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United radically altered the club’s transfer policy. Arsenal had been offered Per Mertesacker several times throughout the summer, but never showed an ounce of interest. However, shortly after that game, Werder Bremen’s asking price was met and Mertesacker boarded a plane to London. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Arsenal appear to have reached that point even earlier in this window.

After months of insisting that Arsenal would look after all transfer business in house, I learnt today that the club are now actively briefing agents about the positions they are struggling to fill. They are welcoming propositions for a defensive midfielder and a striker – the latter requirement suggesting the club are close to abandoning hope of securing Luis Suarez.

With Suarez, it’s clear Arsenal were led up a particularly winding garden path by the player and his agent. The £40,000,001 bid and Arsene Wenger’s statement that “we believe we havee done enough” indicate that Arsenal understood this convoluted clause in Suarez’s contract to be a legitimate release fee. The swift scaling down of Suarez’s agitating for a move suggests he was never particularly convinced by the prospect of joining Arsenal – the whole flirtation may have been a ploy to attract a bid from Real Madrid that never arose.

Instead, Madrid have turned their focus to Gareth Bale, and Suarez seems to have accepted that he will spend this season at Anfield. In the meantime, Spurs continue to strengthen their team in preparation for Bale’s departure. Brazilian midfielder Willian is set to join the likes of Paulinho, Capoue and Soldado in a list of signings that would all have been welcome on the other side of North London.

Spurs appear to have a plan. That’s something that Arsenal fans can only dream of. The clock is ticking and the stakes are rising. Things could be about to get very messy indeed.

Arsenal 1 – 3 Aston Villa: It was just a mirage

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Season, Match Reports, Premier League | 893 Guns

I had a vision of a better Arsenal. It was a vision sold to me by Ivan Gazidis, who promised me that after a decade of harsh desert we were approaching an oasis of plenty. It was a vision that sustained me through a summer starved of football.

It seemed entirely plausible: Arsenal were changing. The shifting financial landscape had left us in a position of relative security. Our prudence had paid off, and it was time for the purse-strings to be loosened. Arsenal would challenge for major honours once again.

It was a vision that I, somewhat foolishly, believed in. And it was just a mirage.

The dream evaporated and condensed in to the cold wet reality of a 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa. Some dream. Some start.

Arsenal must be the only club in world football who can begin the summer with a triumphant declaration of renewed spending power, yet plunge in to crisis just one game of the new season. The journey between that zenith and the subsequent nadir has been riddled with negligence and incompetence.

Let’s put this simply: a better Arsenal side would have beaten Aston Villa, regardless of referees and injuries. Arsenal have the resources to build a better team – they spent the early part of the summer boasting publicly about the fact – they have simply neglected to do so.

The buck stops with Arsene Wenger. It is easy to make jokes the vagueness of Gazidis’ role or the clowning of chief negotiator Dick Law, but the truth is that all major decisions on transfer policy are made by one man: Arsene.

My impression is that Gazidis and the board would like to see Arsene spend. However, the manager seems unwilling to let go of the parsimonious habits of the last ten years.

Wenger is fond of challenging reporters to name potential targets:

People always say ‘buy players, buy players, buy players’. When you tell them ‘tell me who?’ it becomes much more problematic.

I’ll play your game, Arsene: Gonzalo Higuain. Luis Gustavo. Etienne Capoue. Paulinho. All of those players are well within our financial grasp and would significantly improve our squad. Two have joined our closest rivals. Arsenal are knowingly allowing the gap to close.

Our squad is in a state of drastic disrepair. A spate of injuries picked up on Saturday means we must travel to Fenerbahce for a crucial Champions League qualifier with a severely weakened team.

There is still time left in this transfer window. What’s more, I fully expect Arsene to embark on another desperate trolley dash before the window closes. However, by then, it may already be too late.

Opening Day Preview: New season – No new faces

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Season, Premier League | 755 Guns

It’s not easy to feel optimistic.

A new season ought to feel fresh. It ought to be a new start. The manager ought to enter the new campaign free of the pressures of the last. However, Arsenal’s disastrous summer has put Arsene Wenger under considerable strain before a ball has even been kicked in anger.

Incredibly, The Gunners are still yet to make a major signing. The dead wood may have gone, but it’s yet to be replaced by any live wood. Arsenal barely have enough players to fill tomorrow’s matchday squad, and the window is just a fortnight away from closing.

I can’t hide my disappointment: this summer has been embarrassing. Our bizarre decision to declare our flush hand at the start of the window seemed hubristic at the time, and has proved so since. Arsenal have lurched from one dead end deal to another. The likes of Clement Grenier, Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Gustavo have all escaped our grasp. Luis Suarez seems certain to join that ever-expanding list.

There are those who will say my judgement is premature. The window is not yet closed, and the situation may yet be put right. Possibly so, but given the resources at our disposal there is no excuse for not having the squad in place before the start of the season. Arsenal face crucial fixtures on both the domestic and European front. Our inactivity means that any early failure will be met by an unforgiving response from the supporters.

If Arsenal fail to beat Aston Villa today, the Emirates will resound with the boos from fans who will understandably feel they have been misled. They were promised statements of intent and a change in policy. Instead they’ve suffered more of the same penny-pinching and indecision.

The one relief about today’s game is that it allows us to concentrate on events on the park rather than inadequacies in the board room.

Football is back. I just wish it felt a bit different.

Could Luis Suarez be Arsene Wenger’s Cantona?

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Pre-season | 1,172 Guns

Arsenal’s pursuit of Luis Suarez rumbles on. A snowball of a rumour has become an avalanche of claim and counter-claim.

Arsenal have had a second bid of £40,000,001 rejected. The £1 is significant: it enabled Arsenal to activate a clause in Suarez’s contract that ensures Liverpool must inform him of the bid. Apparently, he doesn’t read newspapers.

The true value of this clause is something of a mystery. My understanding is that the Suarez camp believed it to be a genuine release clause; Liverpool think nothing of the sort. Speaking to an agent friend this week, I was told that such confusion is common-place. Often a club will find a way to word a release clause that can mislead a player, causing doubt and eventually even legal dispute.

While Arsenal pore over the intricacies of Suarez’s contract, another major target has slipped through our fingers. Gonzalo Higuain has joined Napoli for a fee of around £34m. A few weeks ago it seemed Higuain was destined to end up in North London, but Arsenal have been distracted by the allure of Suarez. Our precious eggs are now all in the Uruguayan’s hostile basket.

Of the two players, I would have preferred us to sign Higuain. He’s a fine player with barely any baggage. To extend the metaphor, Higuain probably travels with just hand luggage. Suarez would arrive at check-in replete with two pairs of skis and several disease-carrying animals.

Higuain has already experienced life at Real Madrid, and decided it’s not for him. Suarez might just be making eyes at us to help get himself to the Bernabeu, either this summer or in 12 months time.

There are those that feel that Higuain is overpriced at £34m. In a world where Roberto Soldado fetches £26m and Hulk would cost you double that, that simply isn’t true.

Our focus on Suarez has seen us let Higuain out of our grasp. We had our hands around the moon but relinquished our grasp to reach for a red dwarf of a star that could ultimately destroy us all.

It’s such an odd strategic decision that I have to give serious consideration to the theory that this is a last throw of the dice from a manager who knows he will walk away in 12 month’s time. By then, Suarez would be someone else’s problem. Perhaps Real Madrid’s.

I’m trying to work out what is going on in Arsene’s head. I have followed his reign at Arsenal for 17 years, and the manager has rarely left me feeling so confused.

For Arsene to spend £50m – and that is what it would ultimately cost – on any one player is bafflingly unfamiliar. To spend that sum on an individual that is so wildly combustible seems like madness.

Wenger must believe that Suarez could be the catalyst to ignite his team and transform them from also-rans to trophy-winners. He must believe the Uruguayan to be the magical missing ingredient.

I am reminded of Sir Alex Ferguson’s radical decision to sign Eric Cantona more than 20 years ago.

Cantona was a maverick and a hot-head. His idiosyncrasies seemed at odds with Ferguson’s disciplinarian regime. But he was also an outstanding footballer, who moved from a rival club to galvanise the team around him in to an unprecedented period of dominance.

Wenger must see something of the same quality in Suarez. To be prepared to smash all his established policies, both economic and ethical, his belief in the Liverpool star must be astronomical.

Of course, when Ferguson snared Cantona, the Frenchman’s greatest sins – the red cards, the assault on a fan – were yet to come. The same, terrifyingly, could be true of Suarez. He’s a complicated cocktail of delightful skill and dysfunctional thinking. Signings Suarez would be a Faustian pact, with potential reward and certain cost.

Speaking of cost, there’s no way he’ll move for £40m, give or take a pound. Liverpool will demand £50m, matching the British transfer record.

The next couple of weeks will be crucial. Failing to sign Suarez could leave us without the marquee striker we desperately need. Signing Suarez will bring its own problems.

The fall-out to the end of this saga, one way or the other, could define more than just our chances next season.

Please, Arsene: Don’t sign Luis Suarez

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Pre-season | 1,218 Guns

A month from the start of the Premier League season seems an apt time to make a return to blogging. What’s more, I’ve got something to say.

I can’t really make this plain enough: I would hate to see Luis Suarez at Arsenal.

Long-term readers of the blog won’t be surprised. For me to say anything else would be hypocrisy of the worst kind. As recently as April I posted this diatribe:

Luis Suarez is a despicable human being. We’ve known that for some time.

In the aftermath of his latest transgression – biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic – he has been widely criticised by the football media. The same football media who have spent much of the season praising him and may have already voted for him as the Football Writer’s Footballer of the Year.

Gary Lineker has begun a campaign last night to see Suarez removed from the PFA Player of the Year Shortlist. I can’t help but think: isn’t it strange that it’s his behaviour today that has precipitated this reaction, rather than Suarez’s previous conduct?

Don’t exclude him from a shortlist because he bit someone. Exclude him from all shortlists – exclude him from English football entirely – because of his racist behaviour. It’s a thousand times worse; a thousand times more significant. I’ve been sickened and disappointed by how easily English football seems to have forgiven Suarez for his proven abuse of Patrice Evra.

Pundits will queue up to ask what kind of example Suarez biting Ivanovic sets to kids. I’d ask them instead what sort of example their season-long praise of a man guilty of proven racist behaviour sets.

I recognise that Suarez is a fantastic footballer. But that, like the biting, is something of a red herring.

This season, some Premier League players chose not to wear t-shirts that bore the slogan ‘Kick it out’. It saddens me that the stark and important message of that campaign seems to have been forgotten.

I stand by those views. Suarez appalls me. His conduct simply isn’t befitting of a club of our stature.

When stories of our initial bid for Suarez broke, I was dubious. However, enough credible Liverpool-based reporters were covering the story that I soon realised it was legitimate.

Initially I, like others, thought the bid might be a smoke-screen: a way of forcing Real Madrid to relinquish their grasp over Gonzalo Higuain. However, as the Suarez story has waxed the Higuain link has waned. Incredibly, it appears that Suarez may have emerged as our primary target.

From a footballing point of view, it makes sense. There’s no doubting Suarez’s talent. He also provides a suitably different option to Olivier Giroud. Arsene Wenger has already said he’s loathe to sign another traditional target man, and when we were first linked to Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic, I said:

Stefan Jovetic is the name being linked most frequently in the press, and you can understand why. He is a different type of forward to Giroud – mobile, inventive and technically-gifted. He offers a similarly diverse threat to that of Luis Suarez, only without the biting.

Jovetic, however, seems destined for Manchester City. Arsenal now seem determined to snare Suarez, biting and all.

For some fans, the ‘football reasons’ outlined above are good enough to counter-balance the full horror of Suarez’s character. Fair enough. In a way, I admire your determined objectivity.

What I don’t like is revisionism. I don’t like the fact that thousands of fans who castigated Suarez as recently as a few months ago are now hailing him as “misunderstood”.

I don’t like what I’m seeing, but equally I can’t blame the fans. The situation is symptomatic of our club’s plight. The supporters are starved of excitement. There is such now such wide-spread clamour and desperation for a big signing – any big signing – that fans are prepared to shut their eyes and ears to the full reality. They want that transfer record smashed, and they don’t care what else gets broken along the way.

As I say, I am sympathetic. Empathetic, almost. What I find harder to understand is how the likes of Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis – the men charged with making decisions at the head of our football club – are even countenancing this deal.

I cannot understand why a manager as ethical and principled as Arsene would go near a player like Suarez. I cannot fathom why our great club would seek to harbour a footballing fugitive. The situation is made all the more bizarre by the apparent availability of the talented and seemingly decent Gonzalo Higuain, who is now edging towards a move to Napoli.

It’s genuinely baffling. Arsenal paying £40m for a player is something I hoped I’d see one day. However, the sight of Luis Suarez in an Arsenal shirt is something I still hope I’ll never see.

Blowing that sum on a player who will be dogged by suspension and controversy is lunacy. What’s more, Suarez has a proven track record of forcing transfers every couple of seasons. If he joins us, he’ll view us merely as an escape raft until he can leverage a move to Real Madrid.

Earlier in the summer I wondered if this day might come. Arsenal have stated their intention to establish themselves as a financial super-power. Stepping up to that elite level usually involves a degree of adjustment in policy. Principles are often the first victim of compromise.

Manchester City fans have had to accept their managers being ruthlessly dispatched. Chelsea fans have done their own deal with the devil: if they stopped to examine the source of their owner’s wealth, they might find their joy at their grubbily purchased trophies tempered. What’s more, they’ve found themselves cheering on the likes of Ashley Cole and John Terry despite their many public indiscretions.

In terms of players, Suarez’s roll call of dishonour makes him, in my opinion, the worst of the worst. When Wayne Rooney seems the more palatable option, you know you’re dealing with an unsavoury character.

Nothing could diminish my love for Arsenal. However, if they do sign Luis Suarez, the club will have sorely disappointed me.
There are other alternatives, travelling with less baggage, at a lower fare. Make the right choice, Arsene.

Arsenal ahead of Liverpool in race for Clement Grenier

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Pre-season | 1,552 Guns

In the past few weeks, Arsenal have been consistently linked with a move for Lyon midfielder Clement Grenier. As of last night, my understanding is that all this smoke has a very real fire at its heart.

Arsenal’s interest is genuine. They have already held discussions with the player’s agent, and Grenier knows what he woud stand to earn at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal are not the only Premier League club looking to Grenier to provide their midfield with an injection of creativity. A delegation from Liverpool travelled to France to speak with the player’s representatives last week. However, their offer fell significantly short of Arsenal’s proposed salary.

As yet there is no deal in place between Arsenal and Lyon. Given Grenier’s delicate contractual situation – he has just one year left on his deal - I suspect Arsenal would be looking to secure a bargain. Given our reticence to push the boat out when it comes to transfer fees, it may be that the France midfielder is forced to see out his current deal before moving on a bumper Bosman salary next summer. However, given that Arsene Wenger is already in direct contact with Lyon, it’s clear Arsenal would prefer to secure his signature now.

Grenier, a central playmaker, is not a player we urgently need. However, he would add depth and quality in an area of the park where we are forced to rely on injury-prone players like Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.

On the subject of Lyon, many of you have emailed me to ask about our interest in Grenier’s side-kick, the more defensively-minded Maxime Gonalons. The honest truth is that I haven’t heard a peep about that deal since I told you that initial discussions had taken place with his representatives in the spring. Perhaps the end of season form of Aaron Ramsey put an end to those particular negotiations.

Although we may not yet be making headlines in the media, it’s comforting to know that Dick Law & Co are beavering away behind the scenes. Hopefully their labours come to fruition soon.


Further reading: Clement Grenier – Scouting Report

Trailer: Sebastien Squillaci – Man of Steel

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Pre-season | 1,587 Guns

Proof, if proof were needed, that I have too much spare time.

Journey well, soldier.

If the embed is playing up click here to go directly to the video.

Over to you, Arsene

Posted on by GilbertoSilver Posted in 2013-14 Pre-season | 1,795 Guns

Ivan Gazidis takes a lot of stick from Arsenal fans. Our perceived lack of ambition is generally pinned on the multi-accented CEO, who is free of the emotional complications most reasonable fans still feel with regards to Arsene Wenger.

The refrain was heard frequently at the Emirates last year: “Ivan Gazidis, what do you do?”

In the light of this week’s extensive Q&A, I’d like to pose a response: what more can he do?

Gazidis’ primary duty has been to put the club on a secure financial footing. With the new commercial deals signed and settled, he has done that. It is not Gazidis’ responsibility to decide how that money is spent. It is Arsene’s.

Gazidis has been explicit. There are funds available. Big funds. Here are a few choice excerpts from Thursday’s mission statement:

“Could we spend £25m on a player and pay him £200k p/week? Of course we could do that. We could do more than that. We have a certain amount which we’ve held in reserve. We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you.

The key to this summer is going to be making the right decisions without damaging the great team unity and spirit which we have – adding to that appropriately and I think we have the right person to do that in Arsene. I think he will make the right decisions and I think we will go into this next season with a lot of excitement around the team.

So certainly we will take a step forward this summer, how bigger step will depend on how well we are able to execute over the next month or two.”

It’s bold stuff. As a fan, it’s impossible not to be excited by Gazidis’ words. The financial landscape has shifted, and Arsenal have been raised aloft to join the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Dreams become plausible. Before yesterday I would have dismissed the link to £20m Gonzalo Higuain as ‘pie in the sky’ stuff. Now, it’s tempting to believe we might just pull it off.

If there’s a nagging concern, it’s that Arsene may not be able to shake the shackles of a decade of prudence. Talk remains cheap. Arsenal are using the rhetoric of a super-club. Now they need to act like one, too.

A significant part of yesterday’s news was Gazidis’ allusion to a new contract for Arsene. Personally, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to hand him a new deal. The final day euphoria has masked an otherwise disappointing season. The club’s trajectory is worrying. I’d have waited to see how Arsene fared this summer and in the first part of next season before broaching the subject a new contract.

Some will argue it’s vital to have a manager tied to a long-term deal to win over new signings. That’s nonsense. Robin van Persie joined Manchester United with no guarantees over Alex Ferguson’s future. Similarly, the players who come and go at Chelsea care little about the short-term tenancy agreements of the Stamford Bridge dugout.

In modern football, few players are a disciple to any one managerial messiah. Money and medals matter far more.

Perhaps Gazidis feels it’s important to present a united front. I can understand that, with a couple of caveats.

The first is that this contract must be breakable. Conventionally, a three year deal for Arsene means exactly that: three years. In his Arsenal career to date, it’s been explicitly clear he’d never be sacked and similarly that Wenger himself would never walk away from a contract.

With that in mind, if our downward trajectory continues, his signature could swiftly become a sentence. If Gazidis and Wenger agree a new medium-term contract, it must be on the understanding that it may have to be suddenly cut short if things don’t improve.

The second stipulation is that Gazidis and Wenger have already had a discussion about transfer targets in which the manager has show willingness to break a habit and actually spend what is available to him.

Gazidis has done his job. Player recruitment is Wenger’s bag.

Over to you, Arsene.