Ah, the January transfer window; Christmas for football clubs all over the land. The time when those in charge draw up a list, check it twice and, if they’re lucky, a fresh face arrives and cynicism gives way to optimism for the next six months.
Unless you’re an Arsenal fan.
More often than not, Arsenal’s transfer windows end in bitter disappointment, after several weeks of promise and teasing – mainly by the club’s own baffling “Media Watch” section, repeating the transfer gossip fed to us by the national press. To celebrate the occasion, I present to you the six stages of Arsenal’s transfer window.
1) “We will be active in the window”
Our hero appears to recognise that the squad is struggling with injuries, and the options currently available to him either aren’t ready yet or good enough. The fans get told exactly what they need to hear; presumably the club actually means it too – they intend to be active in the transfer market and sign the required players in order to propel the club forward. After all, we need reinforcements, anyone can see that.
2) “We are looking at some options, this player is one of them”
Arsenal get linked with a few players who are apparently close to signing; one of whom will be Salomon Kalou. Arsene Wenger confirms that players are being considered, but remains coy on exactly who those players are and how far along those discussions are. We are assured however, that players are being looked at.
3) “We will only sign top quality players”
After seemingly realising that that the club will have to pay over the odds for players of any real quality, Operation Manage Expectations takes effect. Remind the fans that the club is highly successful, and only the best of the best will do. There’s no point signing average players just for the sake of it.
4) “There is a lack of players available who can improve this squad, and this market is inflated”
After agreeing that top quality players will be good signings, highlight the fact that not only is there a severe lack of them, but also that in January they will be horrendously expensive. No one wants to sell great players in the middle of the season, because they won’t be replaced. Why spend £50m on a player now, when we can apparently get him for £20m in the summer?
5) “When the injured players come back, they will be like new signings”
Remind the fans and the press that there are a number of players currently on the treatment table – who saw that coming? – and when they come back, there will be far too many players in the team vying for places. Having a huge squad would be awful, and would hurt the young players coming in. When the injured players come back, they’ll be fresh and ready to go. Why spend money on players just to create more competition for places?
6) No one signs
Big Ben strikes midnight, Jim White has sung, and the window has SLAMMED SHUT. As the good people of Sky Sports summarise the transfer activities of each club, one correspondent is conspicuous by his absence; the poor sod assigned to wait outside the Emirates Stadium desperately trying to find another way of saying absolutely nothing has happened. Alone, he imagines how else he could have spent his day: staying warm indoors, spending time with his children, perhaps even going for a walk.
After all the build-up, all the expectation and all the speculation, the inevitable disappointment. The market was just not good enough. No one was available at the right price. There’s no point in signing players just for the sake of it, is there? Who was available? Just no one. We’ll just have to make do with what we have, and hope for the best. Oh, we were close to signing someone, but ultimately it wasn’t right for the club.
So there you have it. Six stages that follow each other like night follows day. Some Arsenal fans will use the next four weeks to look forward in expectation of new signings being announced; I will be marking off the stages as they happen.
By Raj Devandran - Arsenal fan - @