Transfer deadline day. It’s a squirmathon if you let it be. A kind of shockingly energetic fiscal barf into the sinew-stretching meadow ‘pon which us Michelin-starred culturosporty cud-chewers mindfully graze. Something pathetically, major-league big but also empty, in fact. Feeling to me more depressingly/divertingly anti-sport than ever. Is it simply the money, the obscene nature of half a billion blown on mere footie players? Must be partly. Is it the subliminal fraudulence (too?) A day, after all, of absolutely no reckoning but lotsa cheap haggling, where the whiff of the mad-bovine prevails over the desperate, illusory need to compete… for what? Cash-cows, or trophies? It’s a blur.
And it’s clearly right up there in the diabolical crassness stakes. Like shopping in Oxford Street; like something blocking or jarring or deeply reflective of our failure to evolve forwards. And our need for the herd and the hero or the god, or… just another Stella. (I mean an Ar-tois.) Hour upon speculative hour of absurd, lonely black-wholeness, offending every sense but that one that twitches over yearnings, over transformational moments of triumph. Like when you actually sign somebody magbloodynificent – which nobody, to my mind, did, or looked like doing – unless we count in Real Madrid, which we won’t, as I’m concerning myself with our lot. The Prem.
So I studiously avoided most of the whole garish bundle, choosing to cast a superior and occasional glance at my twitterfeed and (okay then, I admit it) fire up 5Live for an occasional burst of the goss. (They, like we did, had United and Arsenal neck and neck in the #racetolosethemostface, a staggering lack of planning having led to clumsy dabs or inelegant clawing at too few, too elusive a ‘target’.)
Arsenal’s failings in the transfer market have a Wagnerian scope, do they not, booming as they do around a certain, epic, poignantly-inevitable calamity or twelve? Yet – is it just pervy ole me? – there’s something remarkable and quasi-sexy in the sheer spermlessness of AFC policy over the years. Buy nobody or buy effectively the same player, endlessly. Fire blanks into the Real War going on around. Avoid what you really obviously need – striker/keeper/stopper. It’s been a sometimes expressive, sometimes jaw-droppingly inept performance , held together solely by the safety pin that is Wenger’s brilliance.
So if you’re NOT an Arsenal fan, there may be something faintly attractive about Arsene; the quiet French hawk, the one-eyed Prof. Denied the bare essentials (well, the dosh) but in any case psychotically unable to see past the need to arm himself with shortish, squattish midfield maestros who can Frenchly-beautifully out-doodle the natives. Suddenly, however, with the economic Goonscape transformed (that word, see!) what do we get but… a Turk-German uber-maestro to add to the collection. The boy Ozil being admittedly, clearly a talent of the elite variety but surely, even allowing for the increasing doubts re the longevity of the unfortunate Wilshere, Arsene needed a striker/defensive hulk or two more urgently than another impish genius? Having said that, I do look forward to seeing the 42 million pound signing collect and pass and move and weave his characteristically sweet angles.
Arsenal did do other business, including bringing in another keeper, to be fair. But the suspicion remains that they ballsed the whole thing up by failing to garner a Huth-like monster or three for that perennially mincing defence of theirs, plus a Proper Striker. They may have been after Ozil for aeons but to belatedly pay over the top for a player they may not need (mainly) because the locals have been understandably restive/the situation demands a Big Name Signing is both dumb business and disproportionate footie-wise.
The fact that their much-loved neighbours Tottingham have been going through their little black book of dreams and making all manner of successful calls of course added to the pressure on the Emirates regime. Perhaps, incidentally, the Prem at large should be looking very closely at who did and how did Spurs do all this business? Tottenham are a fine club but they are not Manchester United (for example.) So how come they did all this stuff? Exercised this clout? Over at the Emirates, the feeling remains that yet again Arsenal FC will be carried by their manager’s ability to bully or blend together a competitive side from a squad overloaded with hare-like schoolboys and members of the Sub-Iniesta Society.
Arguably only one club has drawn more guffaws than the Gooners this last week – Manchester United. For a club with such resources and advantages as MU to have failed so pitifully to do any decent business in the transfer window is extraordinary. Sure certain clubs/players/agents are going to piss you around because you’re Manchester United; we know that. Everton are going to want to play hardball over both Fellaini and Baines, there’s gonna be an MU Premium added into most deals. But players are going to want to come. Given the status of the football club it’s plainly ludicrous that a shopping list complete with likelihoods and alternatives could not have been acted upon successfully, early enough. Even with Moyes as a latecomer; the procedure and the order of things – the momentum – should have been established.
None of us – not even journo’s allegedly ‘in the know’ – can be sure how much blame to attach to Moyes and how much to Woodward and others in the backroom staff for the widely acclaimed fiasco. Woodward is inevitably likely to be far more responsible for getting deals done than the day-to-day manager of the playing staff but perhaps there is also the feeling that Moyes as yet lacks the personality or stature to get on the blower and simply get things sorted. But that is more of a hunch than a statement of fact – of which we possess relatively few, other than the damning list of (allegedly) failed buy-ins.
Arguably more could have been done in the last ‘window’ to set the club further forward but certainly obvious and ‘essential’ moves – for me, this means Baines first and foremost, given the 18 months of drift from Evra – should have been driven through. The Spanish difficulties might have been overcome with a combination of better PR and sharper, earlier negotiation but in any case multiple alternatives should surely have been approached simultaneously? To be flailing about late on and then apparently only succeed with Fellaini due to him relinquishing a substantial wedge because he so wanted to join MU simply outgooners the Arsenal on the incompetence-in-the-market front. Fellaini, by the way, I do rate and expect his presence in both boxes to be a significant bonus for United. Whether the need to recharge creativity in midfield will be covered by his arrival is another matter. Fabregas might have been good.
I’ve got bogged down I see with the madness of the window and with United and Arsenal. Tottenham have clearly been the epicentre of most world news in the last period and yet (maybe this is a simple case of not seeing the wood f’ut trees?) I don’t yet see/feel how their team is going to act – not yet. Clearly they have Big New Signings and maybe in this age of the lurid and the loud that may be enough.
If I have obsessed on the appalling umbilical link between the Real Deal in footie and in the capital universe, I apologise – that’s politics, folks. I am hopeful of two things; that Gareth Bale will be a success in the purest(?) footballing terms and that maybe any power-shifts we may see post the window (and related to the influx of new managers here and there) might both lift and spread standards/opportunities/joy, even.