by Ben Rose
There is a song by the band The Offspring titled The Kids Aren’t Alright. The song begins with the line “When we were young the future was so bright” – Arsene Wenger’s mantra.
This summer saw a few high profile players leave the Emirates. Arsenal sold Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri to name but a few. These players fetched almost £70 million a good two weeks before the transfer window shut. What happened next had even the most trustworthy Wengerites wondering what was going on.
Arsenal signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a 17 year old who has no premier league experience for £12.5 million. At the time he could have spent an extra £10 million to sign a Spanish superstar in the making for around £22 Million. Juan Mata would eventually sign for Chelsea for similar money. In the final days of the transfer window Arsenal made a number of panic buys. While Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun were top players in their prime there is no doubting that these were signs of desperation as Wenger and his fans wondered where £70 million has disappeared to?
Since selling the likes of Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy and replacing them with Arteta, Benayoun and Andre Santos Arsenal have only one win from their opening five games this season conceding twelve goals in the process to give them the worst goal difference in the league, equalling their worst start since the 1953-4 season.
Arsenal – or Arsene Wenger – has always had the philosophy of grooming young players and make them superstars. Would anyone agree it has worked?
Alan Hansen once said that “you don’t win anything with kids”. Arsene Wenger has obviously heeded the warning finally but are the signings of Benayoun, Arteta and Mertesacker going to help them win titles? Would Arsenal have been better off spending a bit of money on players who would at least excite the fans somewhat? Juan Mata, Ricardo Montolivo, Christopher Samba, even Joey Barton are all players Wenger would have done well to at least try to sign. All available fairly cheap and would have made a big difference to the Arsenal squad.
A vibrant mix of youth and experience is exactly what Arsenal went for in this transfer window but unfortunately the players they signed were not top 4 quality and in the case of Oxlade-Chamberlain I can see him being another “in 3 years time…“ type player.
For Arsenal it certainly seems the Kids Aren’t Alright despite their futures being so promising. If Arsenal don’t want to sign you and are signing 30 somethings instead then your future is certainly not quite so bright.