Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'm not angry anymore

I've been silent for quite a while, attempting to wrap my head around the departure of Thierry Henry from North London. As in dealing with any loss, I've been vacillating between denial, anger, sadness and pragmatism. It's hard to argue against allowing the greatest scorer in Arsenal history to make his dream move to the Camp Nou, albeit for a piddling sum of $32M.

Henry was an integral part of Arsene Wenger's va-va-voom style, if not the epitome of it, and I know his loss is not just felt in Gooner nation but around all of England. TH14 playing in this league meant that on any given Saturday, we had the strong possibility of seeing something really special. Alas, now us Yanks have to turn to GolTV to satiate our appetites, and what a squad we'll be watching when Henry begins his new career as a member of the Blaugrana.

But from a historical standpoint, TH14's departure is nothing new for Arsenal. The amazing thing for me is that Henry stayed for so long in one place. As angry and as devastated as we may be, there's a part of every Gooner that feels blessed to have seen such a skillful and talented player spend the best eight years of his career at one club as the market and the game changed with the times. Huge sums of money are changing hands at an incredible rate, but no matter how Arsenal was doing in terms of their balance sheet, we had proper attacking football to turn to. Trophies are the main targets, but we always felt Wenger and Co. were chasing them the right way.

But what's in store for Arsenal? Turmoil and uncertainty rule, as the departure of David Dein has done much to unravel the cohesion of competent but young team. Arsenal were already challenged in terms of funds, and the fallout of the board's initial refusal to even entertain the thought of a partnership with the American billionaire Stan Kroenke has only exacerbated the situation at Emirates.

With Arsene Wenger in a powerful position - the board will surely do all it can to keep him at the club - all eyes are on the holidaying gaffer in anticipation of what his next move is. As a Gooner, I have to say I'm anxious to see who will step into the squad, and sooner is always better than later. But I'm not overly-concerned if we don't sign a big name before the end of the window.

Call me crazy, but I feel like Wenger has accounted for this loss in his plans and I'd prefer to see him go about building a squad and competing the same way he's always done, by building and making players great instead of paying the big cash for a big name. Perhaps I'm naive, as Thierry Henry is irreplaceable, but I feel our needs have not changed. Yes, I'd like to see someone of Fernando Torres or Carlos Tevez calibre in the final 1/3 of the field running about in a Gunner kit, but I'll do with some cover in the defensive midfield, an additional back and perhaps a poacher up front.

In the last two seasons, both disappointments for Arsenal, we've heard nothing but praise for Wenger's group of youngsters, and how in the coming years they'll be a squad to reckon with. Unfortuanately, the times are changing and the turmoil at the club may have dire consequences for them if Wenger's position is untenable in any way. We can live with the loss of Henry, but can we cope with losses of Arsenal's golden generation?


No comments: