Saturday, May 24, 2008

State of the Arsenal

I haven't updated this blog with any football (soccer) commentary for a while. For a moment it looked as though my football team was looking much better than my political party, but for the last two months of the season Arsenal FC went on a tailspin to make Alan Keyes proud. From first in the League and sitting in the catbird seat, the Gunners went on a stretch where the earned a whole eight out of 24 League table points (and got dumped out of the FA Cup and the Champions League for good measure). Even so, their eventual third place finish was higher than most pundits predicted before the start of the season, so some supporters see the glass half full on that score.

I personally am less optimistic, at least as with respect to the team as it currently stands. If I thought last year's relative success was a stepping stone to bigger and better things, the disappointment at the end would be tempered. But, the team's current needs are such that addressing them will require team management to do things which are outside their comfort zone. We are about to enter the summer transfer season, and the events that occur then will determine, to a substantial extent, the competitiveness of the team for next season and probably longer. For the 11 years that Frenchman Arsene Wenger has been manager, the team has preferred to buy exceptional, young, raw largely foreign talents and mold them into all-around players over the course of a couple seasons. The current squad has too few players for number of games that the team is expected to play over a season, therefore they need to acquire more immediate contributors and fewer prospects.

This is to say nothing of putting a group of individual talents together as cohesive team, or the difficulties any new acquisitions may face, in some cases adjusting to a new team, new League, new country, and new language. My fear is that Arsenal's unofficial motto will be the reverse of the Chicago Cubs', "Wait till last year."

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