Arsene Wenger’s “2 per customer” transfer idea is silly - and not where his attention needs to be.

January 28, 2013 in Premier League, Transfers

Arsene Wenger has made his fair share of bizarre claims in his time - and last Friday, he added another to the collection. Apparently buying players in the transfer window isn’t fair. Okay so it wasn’t quite that straight-forward, Wenger suggested teams should be limited to 2 signings in the January window - but the concept still seems utterly ridiculous. Why on earth should teams be limited in the numbers of players they add to their squad and what is so unfair about trying to improve your team anyway?

The Arsenal manager thinks that teams who are extremely busy in the January window, such as Newcastle have been, gain an unfair advantage or at least place other teams at a disadvantage, as their side is transformed, meaning some clubs will be facing an almost completely different team in the return fixture as we move into the second half of the season. For example, Reading have already faced Newcastle twice this season, so going by Wenger’s theory - they are placed at an advantage as they will now avoid the might of Newcastle’s French reinforcements whilst other relegation battlers may not be so lucky.

Firstly, there is no guarantee there is any advantage or disadvantage to be had. Newcastle have lost their top goalscorer in Demba Ba as it is and it is likely that their new signings will require time to adapt and settle - and then there’s the question of whether they’re actually any good or not. Can a team not change its fortunes by sacking its manager and bringing in a new one? Surely that changes the complete dynamic of a team, leaving opponents with a potentially sterner challenge. And even if a 2 transfer rule was implemented, if Wenger ever did splash the cash and signed David Villa for £20m, that one signing alone would immeasurably improve his side, perhaps more so than 3 new faces at Liverpool or Tottenham might. The same applies re: injuries to star players.

But even assuming Wenger is right, so what? Football has never been about maintaining a fair challenge each and every week for every opponent. Players and teams dip in form, officials make calls which directly affect the result of a game, the weather comes into play and forces came to be, postponing results for a possible fixture pile up at a later date. There are all kinds of variables at play throughout a football season. Dealing with the diverse and frequent challenges a long 38 game season throws at you is central to the intrigue and appeal of the sport. Regulating the variables is not something we should be pursuing - not beyond reason. A transfer window is about right, a period of one month where you can sign new players to improve your team in whichever way you see fit.

Striving to improve your team should be encouraged. Wenger has been remarkably hesitant to do so himself this winter, and with just a week or so left in the window, it is bordering on negligence. His side are 4 points behind local rivals Tottenham in the hunt for a valuable Champions League spot. Wenger claims Arsenal’s aim is still the title, a race in which Arsenal are still stuck in the blocks, 19 points behind. His goalkeeper is still error prone, his central defence shaky and his RB may as well be AWOL. Arsenal’s CM is talented but lacks bite, and the forward line is without a truly world class talent. Addressing two or even just one of those problem areas could make a big difference to Arsenal’s fortunes over the coming weeks. That fact renders Wenger’s judgement this morning to be plain wrong and more importantly, highlights where Wenger’s attention should be, getting active in the transfer market, not shutting it down.