thumbnail Hello,

Correspondent's Column: The Gunners manager is not solely responsible for his side's shambolic summer, while Van Persie represents the Fergie gift that keeps on giving

Greg Stobart
         Goal UK



WENGER LEFT HIGH & DRY BY SILENT STAN


When Arsenal players danced on the pitch at St James's Park in May, having edged their way into the Champions League, it was supposed to be the start of a summer that would bring the Gunners back to the big time.

Fast-forward to Saturday and Arsene Wenger's side are being booed off the pitch on the first day of the season to the anguished cries of "spend some money" following a humiliating defeat to Aston Villa.

The anger is not just restricted to the supporters, with honorary vice-president Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith taking to Twitter to express her "regret" at selling her 15.9 per cent stake in the club to Stan Kroenke in April 2011.

It has been a disastrous, incompetent summer for Arsenal and, frankly, they paid the price that they deserved this weekend.

The responsibility for the shambolic window to date, with free transfer Yaya Sanogo the only arrival, lies with Kroenke, the board, Ivan Gazidis and, of course, Wenger.

After a weekend in which Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich broke his silence for the first time in 10 years with a message to supporters in the Blues' matchday programme, Silent Stan continues to show zero leadership or ambition in north London.

We know Arsenal have money to burn. Gazidis arrogantly boasting about the club's spending power earlier in the summer but their £70 million-plus warchest remains untouched despite 17 players leaving.

Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Luiz Gustavo have all been summer targets but they are either staying at their clubs or have moved elsewhere. Now Arsenal, forced to cope with an untimely injury crisis, are restricted to panic buying between now and September 2.

"After Roman Abramovich broke his silence for the first time in 10 years, Silent Stan continues to show zero leadership or ambition."

How they could do with some focus in the boardroom, a David Dein figure to bring Wenger into line, to play the game when it comes to negotiating transfers. Those who have dealt with Gazidis have confirmed the suspicion that while the chief executive is an effective administrator, he has never grasped the murky world of agents and the transfer market.

That world used to be Wenger's kingdom but, as scouting networks elsewhere have caught up and the market has inflated, he has failed to adapt to the times. To sign the very best players, you have to pay top dollar.

Wenger has appeared out of touch with the transfer market for a while now and subsequently finds himself under enormous pressure as he prepares for a crucial Champions League qualifying tie against Fenerbahce.

"Even if you go on the Eiffel Tower and you throw the money away, you play with the players you have," was the Frenchman's curious response to fierce questioning on Saturday as #WENGEROUT trended on Twitter.

Wenger is in talks over a new contract - his current deal expires next summer - but Arsenal should scrap those plans and make him earn it. No individual should weald so much power at a club, particularly when it has been eight years since they last won a trophy.

The defeat to Villa is not the end of the world - they have 37 more games to pull it back - but, unless there is a dramatic change in policy, leadership and direction between now and September 2, the signs are already ominous in north London.

VAN PERSIE WAS FERGUSON'S GREATEST GIFT TO MOYES

There must have been times over the last six weeks when David Moyes has cursed the hospital pass Sir Alex Ferguson played to him in relation to Wayne Rooney.

OHHH ROBIN VAN PERSIE
PLAYER RATING v SWANSEA CITY


Showed world-class technical ability to volley his side into the lead before playing an important part in their second goal just moments later. Fired a rocket of a shot past Vorm for the third goal and was the star of the show. Constantly a thorn in the side of the Swansea defence.
One of Ferguson's last acts as Manchester United manager was to deepen the rift between Rooney and the club by publicly declaring that the striker had asked to leave - a claim that the player continues to deny.

But, for all the aggravation that the Rooney saga has caused this summer, Ferguson also left Moyes with a gift from heaven in Robin van Persie.

The Dutchman's 26 league goals last season were the main reason behind United's title success and he has started the new campaign in similar fashion, making Moyes's life much easier as the Scot adapts to the expectation and pressure at Old Trafford.

On the back of two goals in the Community Shield, he scored two wonderful goals in the 4-1 win over Swansea City on Saturday. The first was particularly important, a hooked volley with his weaker right foot when United were under pressure in the game.

Van Persie is the sole reason that United can challenge for the title in the first season of the post-Ferguson era. Moyes will build the team around the 30-year-old, keep him fresh and watch the goals fly in.

TOTTENHAM & LEVY FINALLY LEARN THEIR LESSON

TOTTENHAM LATEST
Evens Roberto Soldado is Evens with BetVictor to score anytime v Dinamo Tbilisi
Tottenham fans often joke that their season does not start until September, after chairman Daniel Levy has finished his last-minute wheeling and dealing.

This year, though, Spurs have done their business early and their four new signings - Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho - featured in the opening-day victory at Crystal Palace.

It was Spurs' first win away from home on the opening day since 2005 and, while solid rather than spectacular, manager Andre Villas-Boas will consider it a reward for their decisiveness in the transfer market.

The Portuguese felt that the opening fixtures of last season cost the club a place in the Champions League and new technical director Franco Baldini has been ruthless in delivering targets this summer.

Spurs are also dealing pragmatically with the cloud of Gareth Bale's anticipated transfer to Real Madrid as Levy continues to hold out for a deal worth £100m for the Welshman.

Even if Bale leaves, Spurs seem prepared. The likes of Willian, Fabio Coentrao, Erik Lamela and Alen Halilovic are all long-term targets. The scattergun has been packed away and they are now operating with direction and ambition.

Maybe Arsenal could learn a thing of two from their neighbours.

Related

From the web