Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fabregas Farce

Going into the summer break, Arsenal fans were looking forward to plenty of activity in the transfer market as manager Arsene Wenger finally realized that the squad he had built just wasn’t good enough when it came to the big games.

Not for the first time a failure to win a crucial game saw a downward spiral that the team, and the manager, seemed impotent to halt.

Back in 2004, when that famous 49-game run came to an end courtesy of Manchester United kicking Arsenal off the pitch at Old Trafford, the team struggled to regain confidence for a while. The next game at home to Southampton was heading for defeat until Robin van Persie’s injury time winner.

Then there was that game at St Andrew’s against Birmingham City. Arsenal was on its way to the title but then Eduardo got his leg broken, Gael Clichy gave away a soft penalty and William Gallas spat the dummy. Arsenal struggled to find any form for the rest of the season and won nothing.

And, of course, last season. Defeat against Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final led to a real crisis of confidence among the players and yet another season imploded with Wenger looking on helpless.

Finally it appeared that Wenger had recognized there was something missing from his blueprint. Finally he, and the club, said it was time to splash the cash.

And what makes the headlines in North London and Europe? Cesc Fabregas moving to Barcelona!

It is normal to use the adjective “inspirational” these days when describing your club captain, but no-one in their right mind would describe the increasingly homesick Catalan as that.

Inspirational captains do not bottle the last few games of the season in the way Cesc did. Once he withdrew from the team to play against Manchester United, it was clear his Arsenal days were finally over.

And then to have your club captain miss the final game of the season, he was in Barcelona, says it all. The club had finally decided enough was enough. Despite the headlines, despite the prodigious talent, Fabregas was not the player to build a team around.

Perhaps Wenger had long known that. Certainly the signing of Aaron Ramsey was seen as insurance for the day Cesc finally returned to his home town. And the increased role of Jack Wilshire over the last season also suggests that when it comes to central midfield, Arsenal feels it has enough ability with the highly rated Emmanuel Frimpong waiting in the reserves.

The Fabregas years are finally drawing to a close and perhaps with it Wenger’s determination to sign teenagers, hoping to win trophies with youth. Fabregas is still perhaps two or three years short of his peak and it is likely Barcelona will receive the full benefit of his talent. Arsenal provided him with the schooling and the experience just like a good feeder club should.

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by Antony Sutton
The Jakarta Globe

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