Cross: Time for Wenger to delegate?

Posted by John Cross

Arsene Wenger insists the transfer market starts now for Arsenal.

Maybe this is why he needs to learn to delegate a bit more. Maybe it also shows why Arsenal need to change their transfer system. The transfer window was opened a long time ago and it is purely Wenger's choice to leave it late.

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Surely Arsenal's start to the season has been defined by their failings in the transfer market. A failure to sign big names, a failure to replace players who left in the mass exodus and a failure to do deals before the season actually kicked off.

Arsenal's win at Fenerbahce was hugely impressive. Their opening-day defeat to Aston Villa less so. And now they are thrashing around, hoping to get deals done with games coming thick and fast. Why not do business early?

Everything at Arsenal must be done Wenger's way, in Wenger's time and at Wenger's price. Sadly, those rules have seen many targets slip away. Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Luiz Gustavo.

Arsenal are now embarking on a new round of targets. Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Yohan Cabaye and a new goalkeeper. But can they land them?

That is the big question, and it will also probably provide the answer as to whether Arsenal's transfer system needs a shakeup, too.

Wenger laughed last week when asked who had the final say on transfers. The laugh told you everything you need to know. It is him.

After the Fenerbahce victory, he was even more illuminating on transfers and what is to come while also finally conceding there is "absolutely no chance" they can do a deal for Suarez anymore.

Wenger said: "Quality-wise we don't need anybody but number-wise we are short, as I told you. We lost Chamberlain, Arteta and Diaby who is out -- three international midfielders. That is why we are short. We tried to bring one in but we are working on that. You have to understand there is still a long way to go.

"The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and September 2. From August 21 until September 2 you have 12 days, so a lot will happen. It starts now."

Arsenal fans would argue it should have started a long time ago. Which almost begs the question here: Do Arsenal need a director of football?

Tottenham are doing deals left, right and centre. For years, chairman Daniel Levy has almost been a director of football. Now it is Franco Baldini, the hugely experienced former assistant to ex-England boss Fabio Capello, getting the deals done.

Arsenal used to have one in former vice-chairman David Dein. The sooner Arsenal fans move away from trying to bring him back, the better.

He still loves the club, is a hugely well-connected man, but people have to understand the politics and fallout from his departure mean there is no way back for him in this regime. Plus, it would totally undermine the current setup.

But if Arsenal do not succeed in this window, there should be a change. At the moment, Arsenal's system is this: They have a scouting network overseen by the hugely respected and well-known chief scout Steve Rowley.

Then comes their transfer fixer, Dick Law, who negotiates, does deals and sits in with agents, calls chairmen and chief executives to get it done.

And at the head of it all is Wenger. Every manager, in my view, should have the final say on transfers. He's the one who picks them.

But Wenger is also more hands-on than most. Other managers often identify players and the club gets it done for them. Wenger wants a say on price and the level of contract, too. His principles and insistence that the market is overvalued are the reasons Arsenal bid low.

It's the reason Arsenal bid £10 million for Cabaye. It's the reason they did not close the deal for Higuain. He was seen by Wenger as being a £25 million player, no more.

Wenger has the final say. It can be frustrating for Rowley, Gazidis and Law. Arsenal need players, have big money, but have a manager reluctant to spend.

That is why they need a director of football who can push, advise, cajole, call it what you like. Law is supposed to be all of those things, but ultimately has to leave the negotiations to make a call to Wenger to check everything is OK. A director of football probably wouldn't.

If Arsenal can pull off spectacular deals, snare a Benzema, then the immediate anger and frustration among fans will subside.

But, looking back upon this summer and a few before, Arsenal need to re-examine the way they do transfer business. Don't blame Gazidis. He has brought great commercial deals to the table. The scouts have recommended the players and Arsenal are going big.

It is Wenger who needs to delegate. He probably needs someone stronger than Law. Or more to the point, Law needs to be stronger.

As Wenger says, the transfer window starts now. If Arsenal get their big deals done the fans will be happy, and ultimately they are the judge. If they don't, there will be blood on the walls. Either way, Arsenal need to have a look at their system and the people involved.


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