An honest view on the current progress of the club.
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]aturday, 21st May, 2005, Arsenal had just won the FA Cup for a 10th time and the 4th time under Arsene Wenger by defeating their arch rivals Manchester United on penalty shootout at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, a year after the famous invincibles. Fast forwarding to the present day, it is hard to believe that they, a club once considered to be one of the most successful clubs in Europe under the stewardship of Arsene Wenger have gone 9 years without lifting a trophy. They currently celebrate a top 4 place finish as a trophy and most importantly, finishing above their north London rivals Tottenham in the race for 4th. A club that once boasted world-class talents like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva, Sol Campbell just to name a few, whom many would argue could walk into any team they desired at that time. These players sought greener pastures when the trophy cabinet started drying up with the departure of inspirational skipper and talisman Patrick Vieira leaving for Juventus in the summer of 2005.
The team has come close to ending its trophy drought on numerous occasions such as; getting to the UEFA Champions league final against all odds in 2006 only to loose in the final to Barcelona, the controversial 2007 Carling Cup Final defeat to Chelsea, recently the 2011 Carling Cup Final to Birmingham City whom many expected them to beat and coming close to winning the Premier League titles in 2008 and 2011 only to fall short in the final few months of the season. The club has also moved from its customary old home Highbury to the new state of the art Emirates Stadium in Islington which costs the club so much that it has led to the reduction and restriction of the club’s power to compete financially with its rivals in terms of salary and transfer fees. This had led to the club changing its approach from buying world-class talents to developing and breeding in new talents capable of challenging for titles. Every time the club is at the verge of building a team of players worthy of challenging, they are left with the challenge of convincing these players to stay at the club which in most cases, these players leave. Notable cases are; Patrick Vieira who was the catalyst in 2005, the sale of Ashley Cole to cross town rivals Chelsea in 2006, Thierry Henry in 2007 to Barcelona, Alexander Hleb also to Barcelona in 2008, Clichy and Nasri to Man City in 2011, Fabregas back home to Barcelona and Song to Barcelona last summer. The most controversial of all is Robin Van Persie’s move to arch rivals Manchester United, a move that showed how the winning mentality at Arsenal had disappeared. Interestingly, all these players mentioned have gone on to win numerous trophies that had eluded them at Arsenal.
Additionally, the club has seen the influential David Dein, the man who brought Arsene Wenger to the club, leave the club following disagreements with the board about transfers and the downward path the club was heading. He was replaced by an American Ivan Gazidis. A new majority shareholder has also taken over the club in the shape of Billionaire Stan Kroenke, an American who owns 62.89%, with Alisher Usmanov as the second largest shareholder with 29% shares even though he is denied a seat on the board.
This summer promised a lot at the beginning with the club announcing that they were in a better financial position to compete with their rivals with new sponsorship deals with PUMA worth £30 million per year for 5 years and almost paying off the debts for the stadium. Wenger has been given a whopping £70 million war chest to revamp the squad and sign marquee players worthy of making them title contenders again. With about 44 days remaining in the transfer window, Wenger and Arsenal are yet to sign any marquee player. Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, and Marouane Fellaini have all been linked with the club. Higuain’s deal some weeks ago, looked to be a done deal but is still dragging on as Real Madrid are demanding a high fee from Arsenal, and of recent the news of Luis Suarez has gathered momentum with the clubs £35 million bid rebuffed
Final thoughts on Arsenal Football Club
One thing for sure is that whoever they choose to buy would definitely break the club transfer record which stands at £16 million paid for Andrei Arshavin in 2009. If for any reason they end up without buying anyone, then be rest assured that the 4th place finish that has much been celebrated for the past 9 years would be a thing of the past.
OVER TO YOU GUYS
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