Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughArsenal must look for help at home - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Arsenal must look for help at home - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Arsenal must look for help at home

In 1930, Herbert Chapman, one of the most successful, innovative and forward thinking football managers in the history of the beautiful game, signed a young Austrian goalkeeper called Rudi Hiden for Arsenal. The transfer was about as unlikely as today’s Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, signing an English player, for international transfers, in the 1930’s, were almost unheard of.

The transfer however, fell through thanks to the intervention of the Ministry of Labour, who concluded that, by signing a foreign goalkeeper, Arsenal endangered putting a British goalkeeper out of work as a consequence. The government of the day told Arsenal, in no uncertain terms, to go out and buy British players instead.

Most football fans baulk at the idea of the government interfering in football matters, football is something far too important for politicians to be trusted with. But perhaps, deep down, there’s a guilty, sneaky thought within every Arsenal fan’s football psyche that wishes their foreign master’s hand might be forced into sanctioning British jobs for British workers.

Like Wenger, Chapman had a great eye for quality, signing some of the greats that Arsenal fans still appreciate today. The signing of Alex James from Preston in 1929 was comparable in magnitude to Wenger’s signing of Thierry Henry 70 years later. Like Henry, James made an instant impact, something Wenger needs from his business, if he is to do any.

Arsenal fans will wonder what Herbert Chapman would have made of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, and Shay Given. As well as countless other British players who could be plying their trades in North London. A minority of fans have even whispered Joey Barton’s name of late, exactly what a no nonsense Yorkshireman like Chapman would have made of him though is anyone’s guess.

Wenger seems reluctant to sign Barton and the acquisition is unlikely. Besides all the obvious drawbacks which come with signing a character like Barton, the Liverpudlian’s wages will also prove a stumbling block. Bizarrely, for a player who was playing in the championship two seasons ago, Barton’s wages are, I’m told, are higher than what Arsenal usually pay for a player of his quality and in his position.

Scott Parker is another English warrior who would be at home in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. However, Spurs have been particularly quiet this summer and Parker seems destined for a deadline day move to Tottenham in the traditional last minute scramble.  It’s an art form that Harry Redknapp has perfected over the years.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger seems determined to prove his critics right. Two clean sheets so far this season against Newcastle and Udinese paper over the cracks, Arsenal look decidedly shaky at the back and are still short of a tough tackling, experienced midfielder. Preferably someone who will serve them better than a would be tough guy who can’t tackle but can trample on people’s toes and thighs. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though, even with Fabregas and Nasri gone, Arsenal still possess great attacking quality and play the game true to a quick, counter-attacking policy that both Chapman and Wenger endorsed. ‘The most opportune time for scoring is immediately after repelling an attack, because opponents are then strung out in the wrong half of the field’ said Chapman, but this could have easily come from either of the two men.  However, ‘maintaining a good back line is the rock bottom of football’ could have only come from Chapman.

If Wenger continues to refuse to splash the cash on the best of British, perhaps it’s time to ask Nick Clegg, who’s an Arsenal fan incidentally, to pull some strings in government and ban Arsenal from signing more foreign players. He must be useful for something after all.

Michael Smith @Mr_MichaelSmith

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