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AW: 'We Didn't Find Anyone.'

Arsene Wenger has explained that he would have liked to have made at least one more signing in the January window, but did not find anyone available that he felt would significantly strenghten the squad. Arsenal added Spanish left back Nacho Monreal in the final hours of the window following an injury to Kieran Gibbs, but could not add the forward he wanted.

''We worked very hard on it. We were everywhere. I would have loved to take somebody else but we didn't find anyone. In the Africa Cup of Nations the best player is Gervinho. Why should we go there when the best player is Gervinho? We already have Gervinho.

Manchester United, who did they buy? Chelsea, who did they buy? Liverpool bought, Manchester City didn't buy, for one simple reason.

For the top, top clubs, it's difficult to strengthen your team in the middle of the season.'

Gervinho will now return to Arsenal after his Ivory Coast side were beaten 2-1 in the Quarter Finals by Nigeria on Sunday.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday February 4 2013

Time: 9:44AM

Your Comments

Are we stronger with Gervinho there or does he block the Ox's path via the bench or the starting 11? For me Gervinho is another Hleb who is actually getting worse every game.
Bit like Arshavin, for me, just without the bright start. Never really kicked-on and started to produce for the team, in my opinion. I suppose it's better to have them in the squad than not at all, but suspect that it won't be long before the boss rows them out (unless some sort of miracle happens and they become premier league footballers).
I feel that Gervinho has the potential to become a class footballer, much like others who came before him, his problem isn't with his ability, it's in hs mind. Unfortunately reports claim that Gervinho sat in the dug out, after the Ivory Coast got knocked out, all by himself, crying.
Not got the right mentality for it, Wenger will give him another year at least to see if he can get proven correct - he doesn't add much value to the team, although he's a better option off the bench than Arshavin
Was that sarcasm in your penultimate line, LD? Especially after your arseblog post that asked (and I agreed with) - if we could sign Nacho at such short notice, perhaps it's not as difficult as Wenger makes it out to be. Of course, Nacho's signing is one extreme (Malaga wanted to sell,we wanted to buy, Nacho agreed terms, the fee & wages were right). But Wenger's at the other extreme and I do believe that we should have signed one more striker. If Gervinho can translate his Ivory Cost form to Arsenal, no one would even ask for another striker, but so far, that has been missing. There was a great article by Jonathan Wilson on the guardian, that explained how Gervinho gets a lot of love, patience, understanding at Ivory Coast, but perhaps, not at Arsenal.
Actually the penultimate line was Wenger's :)
Little Dutch
Actually, you're right, i've just read Jonathan Wilson's piece on Gervinho and it's very good. AW probably knows he's a confidence player too, hence this is the 2nd time that Wenger has said that Gervinho was the best player at AFCON.
Little Dutch
@ Prits, what does arseblogger know about it? Seriously? For a start we *have* bought players early in the window on occasion. We had already scouted Monreal and made the relevant inquiries, that's why the deal could be pulled off so quickly. That was a response to an emergency - we had effectively one left back because the Gibbs injury was twice as bad as was first thought. The better the player, the harder it is to prise them away from the club they are currently at, especially mid-season. Would we sell Wilshere in January for any amount of money? I don't think we would. That's the level of player we were aiming for in new players. But they're always scouting and inquiring so that AW know who's available when. Agree with people's assessment of Gervinho's issues, but I don't think crying when your team goes out of the AFCON is a sign of weakness, I think it shows that you care desperately. Upside for us of CIV going out is that we get him back earlier than last year - back up to four strikers.
Gervinho thrives on being rated as very important to a side (it is true Hazzard did say he was the best player he has played with, for whatever reason), just as it is for him with his national side. At Arsenal, he appears unable to handle the expectation, but he just has to rise above his inhibition and do the business or as Shewore stated, Wenger could become impatient with him and rightly so. He's been sharp and a threat at the AFCON, getting 2 or 3 goals in the process, but best player? I am not so sure. He and other star teammates hardly got a sniff against Nigeria, which surprised many watchers of the game here. One can put this (his average output) down to the whole team failing to produce as well. Of course, credit to Nigeria, a side usually underrated in the FIFA rankings, given the quality of players at it's disposal, perhaps owing to the state of the FA. I feel sorry for Gervinho and can only hope he gets over this recent disappointment to move on.
FG, prits' post referred to my article on arseblog last week Gibbs' is still a relatively short term injury, 6-8 weeks. We have a back up left back in Santos. If the manager doesn't trust him, then it begs the question as to why we waited for Gibbs to get injured before buying him. We should have been buying him earlier. If Gibbs had gotten injured on Saturday as opposed to Wednesday, we would have been left with Santos which the manager has shown is not an option he wants to entertain. So why wait to fix it?
Little Dutch
I think there's more of a rationale in taking the opportunity while it was there than you're willing to concede LD. Santos may well be ok as a back up for a couple of weeks but the latest thinking is that Gibbs could be out for 8 weeks by which time we'd be that much closer to the end of the season having played two thirds of our remaining PL fixtures. At the same time Santos - who was playing pretty well last season has shown rather poorer form this season. Wenger can't win though. He was either wrong not to have two back up left backs in the first place, or wrong not to have relied on Santos regaining form or wrong to bring in a few months earlier a player that he was reportedly about to bring in next summer in the light of a change in circumstances. You can understand why Wenger must despair at any attempt to justify his actions. He really shouldn't bother.
Gervinho is not without some very good qualities. He's great at getting to the byline when playing from the left, rather less so on the right, and is quick with a great burst of acceleration. His few sorties in a central role haven't been without their successes along with the failures. He doesn't seem like a natural finisher though does score some good goals but it seems like the same lack of composure affects him when looking to make the right choices with his final ball. He should and needs to be a better player than he shows but is worth a squad place. Better players than he undoubtedly exist but how many if any were genuinely available in this window?
Iíd say that if a 6-8 week injury to your first choice whilst your second choice is actually fit represents the need to buy, that betrays a lack of faith in your options. We ultimately lost Gervinho for 6 weeks in total but we didnít buy anyone to plug the gap he left. Iím all for buying Nacho, he looks a good buy and the manager obviously felt we needed reinforcement in that position, which seems fair. But that being the case, why did it take a pretty short term injury for him to make the move? Was he winging it and hoping Gibbs could play every game? If Giroud had gotten injured against Liverpool would he have then bought a striker? I mean, if you think you need reinforcement, do it. Anticipate that thereís an excellent choice youíre going to have to rely on the back up you donít rate and address it. Donít just gamble that everything will be ok and your players will be able to play every game. That is also leaving aside the fact that he obviously bought really poorly in the first place if heís given up on the left back he purchased less than 18 months ago, but thatís another subject altogether.
Little Dutch
*excellent chance
Little Dutch
Gervinho just needs to improve on his composure at the decisive moments. He also has to learn to get his balance right and remain on his feet when on the move with the ball; something Eboue also didn't manage to do well. What he does well is hug that right wing area well, take on defenders and go past them, plus generally pulling defenders out of position. The fact two opposing players always need to gang up against him says a lot about what value he can bring, when doing everything right.
@ LD - sorry to be testy. But I think the point still stands - the ease of buying a player depends on the individual selling club and the individual player and individual circumstances. As for AW having lost faith in Santos, I'm not so sure. There are issues with Santos - he's rusty and lacking confidence, and that may have been a factor for AW as well. But he isn't a bad player, as you've pointed out yourself. He just doesn't seem to fit in with Podolski like Gibbs does. Santos is not the only possibility at LB, either, as we have TV and Miquel as well. Perhaps it was felt that that combo would be OK for a month, but the Nacho deal was swung by knowing that Gibbs' absence would be twice as long. One of those will have to play in the CL anyway.
I'm not sure that 6-8 weeks - at this stage of the season - can be looked upon as a short term injury. Notwithstanding that with two months out he might not be fully fit we could have played two thirds of our remaining fixtures if he returns within that time frame. Gibbs injury record doesn't seem to show him to be the most reliable of healers. We were caught out in exactly the same way last season when Gibbs was out and Santos got crocked shortly after. At the same time it's no great surprise if Wengers faith in Santos isn't as strong now as it might have been at the beginning of the season. Players form isn't constant and you can only take a decision based on your perception of risk at the time. If Giroud had got injured against Liverpool we'd still have 3 others who have played as a central forward this season.
I can't accept that he's only just made his mind up about Santos given the fact that Santos was dropped for Vermaelen in November when Gibbs was last injured.
Little Dutch
Not sure where this myth that Santos was good last season comes from, anyone? He's not a good footballer, nowhere near up to standard. Terrible purchase. I think Wenger's waited to do this deal right to the last minute for 2 reasons 1) he's hoping that Gibbs doesn't get injured all season (good gamble) 2) he knows Malaga are selling and didn't want anyone else to offer 500k more that he'd baulk at. Looks like a good signing, but how many more CL clubs are desperately in trouble and willing to sell?
Gervinho has some ability that is for sure. He can glide past many a defender and we've often seen teams double up on him to stop that. Thus he also creates space just by having that ability. However I would point out, although I'm sure you are aware, that the defending at the ACN is pretty poor and the standard of GKs is even worse. If Ox were to play ACN for Cd'I I think he'd also do pretty well. Damn I think I could get a few assists against those defences.
No 10
I think your point is a good one in principle, but it's a question of weighing up the risks. Maybe he hasn't made up his mind about Santos, he's just not taking a risk, given the other circumstances. When he was dropped in November, was that not because of the JvC shirt-swapping thing? Because he definitely played v ManUre and Gibbs was injured then.
My last post was @ LD.
Well, you can't say it's a "myth" that Santos played well last season because it's subjective, I happen to think he did prior to turning his ankle in Greece. This was a piece written days before that injury that I think sums up what he added really well There's a chance he was dropped over the shirt swapping thing, I highly doubt it though. AW doesn't strike me as the type to drop a player over something so trivial unless his form his bad. If he did, you suspect it'd only be for one game, which it wasn't in Santos' case.
Little Dutch
I think Santos isn't as good a fit in the present shape of the team as he was at one point last season. It's telling that after the Gibbs injury Wenger described it as a big blow as he was an 'important player for us going forward and the game we want to play'. The way we play has developed somewhat over the season and its understandable if Santos, though he does have qualities of his own, may not possess the same sort of characteristics that Monreal displays and isn't as effective in allowing Wenger to play the 'way we want to play' now. It isn't always as simple as this player is brilliant and that player is crap.
Newcastle did some good business in this window - I'm not sure that Sissoko (for eg) has the quality do well at Arsenal, but lots of clubs have shown that there are good deals to be struck. And it's not like our squad is filled with super quality that it's tough to find someone better - to find someone better than Squillaci or Arshavin in this market is not impossible. It's difficult for sure, but Wenger, Law & Co are paid to solve those issues. This squad is an injury away from facing some issues coz it's clear that Wenger doesn't rate some of the back up.
Santos is not a crap player, but he has been in crap form recently. Plus he and Poldi do not really work well. The formation is not radically different to last season, but the personnel playing in that formation are different which has made life tough for Santos. Santos can probably be back up to Poldi on the left wing, so that his defensive duties are lesser. Either way, it's one signing that did not entirely work out, and should be moved on in the summer.
@ LD - well, coincidence, maybe! :) Agree about the style fitting thing that Amos talks about, again something that you have mentioned. @ prits - there's no debate that there were players who *could* have been signed, and players who were desperate to join us, but who was available and is *better* than what we have? Or were the top quality players available but nobody wanted them? Doesn't make any sense, does it?
@ prits - who doesn't he rate as backup?
I think the formation last season was different with RvP playing less of a target man role than Giroud and more of the 'false 9' role. This season we've often played with three central strikers in Poldi, Giroud and Walcott. Santos doesn't really provide enough width to support that as he often comes in off the flank to support midfield or attack centrally.
FG - Santos, Arshavin, Squillaci. I don't know who out there is better - I didn't know about Nacho for eg but Wenger did, and Wenger seems to think that he's better than Santos and can compete with Gibbs for a spot. I'm not being paid millions to figure it out. I mean, just because I can't name a player does not mean that no one better exists.
@ prits - He never picks AA and Squillers, they aren't the backup, they are players he is trying to move on. There is a question mark about Santos, but only as a LB who isn't right for the system. We might find that his future is as a left-sided midfielder in the forward line, he does score a lot of goals for a LB. And now Monreal is backup for/competing with Gibbs.
And prits, I keep trying to explain that nobody is arguing that better players than ours do not exist. Of course they exist, what I am saying is that they are not necessarily *available*.
Let me rephrase - Just because I can't name a player does not mean that no one better is available. I do understand that it's not easy to close a deal and lots of issues come up. But Wenger claims that there are lots of players desperate to join Arsenal, so I find it difficult to believe that he could not find 2 players 'available' in the Jan window, who are better than the current squad.
wow, LD have you read the comments under that article? Wonder how many of them still describe him as a brilliant summer acquisition. Why is him being good at attacking (which I don't think he's particularly adept at) such a reason to absolve him of blame? Ashley Cole was good going forward, didn't set the world alight, but was first and foremost a brilliant defender, that's what a left back at the club should be aiming for.
The problem isn't that you can't name a player Wenger could have bought that is better than the current squad prits as much as it is that Wenger can't either. The presumption that you're making is that because there're potentially at least lots of players available that the ones available to us are better. I don't see, given that the majority of clubs in European football aren't playing at the same level as we do or aspire to, why it should be difficult to believe that the greater majority aren't. On the other hand, if a player demonstrably better than what we currently have is genuinely available on a justifiable basis, then surely it is much more difficult to understand why the club wouldn't bring him in. Disenchantment and frustration makes the idea that the club are indulging in some sort of conspiracy to deliberately avoid strengthening the team a popular idea but not a rational one.
Well actually the article describes exactly why he was quite good at defending- assuming that intercepting the ball and winning tackles on a very consistent basis is considered good defending. Arsenal had a style last season of pressing opponents high up the pitch and Santos fits right into that ethos because it brings out his best qualities, he is very good at defending on the front foot. This season Arsenal tend to sit off and hold a solid shape, which he has admittedly struggled with, coupled with the fact that he and Podolski canít play together and Podolski is more important to the team than Santos is. Itís not about absolving him from blame as you put it, not at all. Itís just an acknowledgment that he was very useful to the team last season (remember Wenger picked him ahead of Gibbs for the WBA game in May), his use to the current team has probably expired and he will doubtless be moved on now as a result. But that doesnít simply make him a ***** player. I think heís a very good left back but at 29, itís gonna be pretty difficult to ask him to adjust his game to suit us any longer, so we should probably move him on. Cole actually wasn't a brilliant defender when he first came into the team, at all. He was clearly a winger that had been converted. But crucially, he was about 20 when he came into the first team and we were able to mould him into a world class left back.
Little Dutch
Most new signings will always be treated with enthusiasm shewore. Liverpool supporters will have been full of expectation at signing Andy Carroll and no doubt Chav supporters expected a great deal more from Torres. There isn't a manager in football who hasn't regularly signed players that didn't work out. Sometimes they just don't fit what you're doing at the time. Forlan, for example, looked lost at ManU but scored a few elsewhere. Team evolution breeds redundant qualities and leaves some talents superfluous.
There's no doubt that Gervhino is one of the world's best players because we only sign top, top quality.
Cole learnt a light speed though, within a couple of years he was up there as one of the best in the business - he obviously had far better players to learn from. Actually I think Cole was a forward, I remember an interview with him and Pennant when he described the transformation and learning curve. Amos i don't actually think all liverpool fans were over the moon at Carrol tbf, I agree that most signings are greeted with enthusiasm though, most, not all. I wasn't over the moon at Gervinho however i was pleased we'd signed Podolski for example.
He'll be grateful for the confidence you're showing in him Vin. Reminds me a little of that old football tale about a player who gets concussed during a game 'He doesn't know who he is boss' says the physio. 'Tell him he's Pele and send him back on.' Might be worth a try.
He does have a Brazilian name.... could work
Cole learned at light speed because he was at an age to and, in fairness, I can think of very few better LBs in Europe than him for the last 15 or so years. Santos isnít and never was in that class, but that still doesnít make him a bad left back. In Brazil full backs play rather differently in any case.
Little Dutch
Cole is indeed a quick learner and has learned a great deal from the right people. How to get the most out of a mobile phone, how taxi drivers could take pride in his chunder, that students make good targets for air rifle practice and 'forsaking all others' doesn't necessarily mean that.
Amos, I'm not disenchanted, or frustrated, I'm not saying it's a conspiracy (I'm not sure if you're mis-interpreting my comments deliberately or otherwise). There are 2 possibilities - either Wenger realizes his squad needs improvement, or he does not. The latter implies poor judgment on his part. The former implies that our extensive scouting & contract team cannot identify a better player and close a deal. Then it's a competence issue. It's just a different point of view to yours - I'm not ruling out the possibility that you talk of, I just think it's more unlikely than my point of view.
And honestly, it becomes difficult to have a conversation when you attribute irrationality to a post, especially when I don't think my point of view is irrational (I'm open to being convinced otherwise though). Any disagreement with your point of view = irrationality. It's not only on this thread, but on multiple threads. Am I not able to articulate my point of view clearly enough?
You're being unnecessarily sensitive prits and I didn't say you said that it was a conspiracy or that you are disenchanted or frustrated. I don't think there're just the two possibilities you set out. There is also more likely third possibility, involving neither poor judgement or incompetence that Wenger does indeed realise his squad needs improvement (when will it ever not need improving?) but at this point in time the players to improve it aren't available. Your argument is that they simply must be available with the view if they aren't it is a failure of our scouting team (notwithstanding that there may well be a player out there that everyone has missed including the scouting networks of other clubs in which case everyone is equally incompetent). Of the two views, the perspective of some fans that players are clearly available but that the club is incompetent in not recruiting them and the professional view, that players clearly able to offer an immediate improvement are simply not available in any genuine sense, despite it being in the clear interests of the club to sign them if available, then, and especially if you accept that the club apparently put a great deal of effort up until the last day into signing at least one other player, the conclusion that the former is likely to be the less rational shouldn't really be too controversial.
Perhaps I am being sensitive, but I didn't see the need to bring in disenchantment and rationality into the equation when I did not even remotely mention it. I do acknowledge that there is a 3rd possibility, just that it is less likely, in my view. This line is always trotted out even in the summer window, and every Jan. If you accept that the club tried really hard for one more player only means that there was one player who was available, but didn't sign. That is how I choose to interpret that. If I told my boss that I tried really hard but I couldn't get the job done, I certainly would not get any sympathy.
If you expected Arsenal to be able to sign more players in this transfer window and didn't because of poor judgement or incompetence then I don't see how you can't bring disenchantment into the equation. If you see the third possibility, that players good enough to strengthen the squad weren't available in any genuine sense as being less likely than poor judgement or incompetence then while you're entitled to your opinion for the reasons I've given I still find it the less rational possibility. As for the same line being trotted out in the summer window you should remember that there has never been a summer when Wenger hasn't brought in new players. Your bosses attitude to your success or failure should depend on a proper understanding of what the likely risk of failure was.
Well said about Santos, LD. @ prits - you are saying that our manager knows of players who he considers significantly better than our current ones, that they want to come to Arsenal, that their club is prepared to sell them mid-season, we can afford them...and Wenger is not prepared to buy them. You are also implying that these players are not wanted by any other club, or why would someone else not have bought them? I think that scenario is barely credible. I think it is far more likely that, although AW does know of better players, some of them are financially out of reach, and the clubs of those which we could afford are not willing to weaken themselves by selling in the middle of a campaign.
@ prits. AW isn't looking for "very good" players, we have very good players already. He wants exceptional players, players who can change your season. He passes on Demba Ba, for example, because he has enough strikers and Ba isn't a step up from Giroud, but he'll go all out to sign David Villa because even at 31, he is exceptional. But such players are not available at our convenience, just because we want to sign them. AW was trying to take advantage of special circumstances - Villa is 18 months from the end of his contract and desperate to play more football. There was an opportunity there, but Barca wouldn't go for it. And I'm sure your boss would take into account whether getting the job done was purely up to you or whether you were reliant on other people doing jobs which you couldn't do. Unless he's totally unreasonable.
So is Monreal top top quality or just a good player? I'm confused. It seems he suddenly became available when Gibbs got injured and Santos' lack of top top quality was ruthlessly exposed. What fantastic luck.
Wyn Mills
This argument just goes round and round doesn't it. You can have a feeling that maybe we haven't been too efficient in the transfer market over the past few years, missed out on too many good players, but then you can't pull up phone records, emails, transcripts of conversations - so guess what? You can't prove it. Which means those players clearly were just not effin available, deal with it, move on.
I guess we'll be able to judge whether Wenger's judgement about Monreal is correct over the next couple of seasons Wyn but, reportedly he didn't just become available he was lined up to join the club in the summer anyway. Circumstances made it prudent to bring that forward. It is a circular argument shewore. Either there are loads of players out there all ready and available to pick off the shelf and the club is just incompetent (along with Spuds who are really short of strikers) in the transfer market or good enough players, in any proper meaning, just aren't available during this time. Such arguments will always be circular as those which can be asserted without any supporting evidence can always be dismissed without evidence.
Gervinho looked pretty decent at the AFCON so he cant be that bad...
@ Wyn Mills - If we identify a player who is better than what we have at the club, and is affordable and available, we will go for him. Because of the quality we already have at our disposal, it is difficult to identify players who are better than those we have. If we don't have enough good players in a position, we will try to remedy that. Gibbs gets injured, could be out for the rest of the season, so Arsenal bring forward a deal which was supposed to happen in the summer. By so doing, we solve our numbers problem AND bring into the squad a player who is more suited than Santos to the style in which we play. Does that confuse you?
@ shewore - you're still not getting it. This is not a circular argument. I would find it hard to believe that really outstanding players were available in the last window, but no-one was interested in acquiring them. I'm not asking you to be psychic, or get access to confidential information. In short, I'm not askng you to guess who might have been available. That's why I confined the question to players who did in fact move clubs - because by definition, they must have been for sale. Just cast your mind back and tell me which of those players you feel were clearly better than the equivalent at Arsenal.

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