We know how good Carl Jenkinson has been this season. I won’t bother preaching to the choir. He’s been immense. So good that Sagna could find himself warming the bench when he’s fit. He has exceeded all expectations any fans had of him.
The majority of the fans weren’t convinced at all of his ability. As a 19 year-old kid, he wasn’t good enough or experienced enough to adequately replace the great Bacary Sagna. We needed a new signing desperately. There were rumors, and clamoring for certain names, but ultimately nothing concrete ever developed. The transfer window ended without us signing a right back, and the fans were incensed.
Arsene Wenger didn’t entirely disagree with the fans regarding Jenkinson’s ability. There is some evidence that Wenger was looking to sign a defender, not least the fact that he said he was looking for one. But he also maintained that we weren’t desperate for signings, that he had a good squad and we would only sign if someone “special” was available. He knew that Sagna’s absence would need to be filled, but perhaps he knew something about Jenkinson that we, the fans, didn’t?
It certainly looks that way now. Jenkinson’s done so well that it’s hard to imagine a new 15 million pound signing coming in and doing any better. Now, of course, he hasn’t been perfect, and he will undoubtedly make mistakes and go through spells of bad form, but as a back up right back we couldn’t have asked for more.
So would spending money on a player have done us any good in this case? The argument made against Wenger this summer was that he had money available for once and he didn’t spend it. He was accused of being overly cautious to the detriment of the team. The logic was, we know the team isn’t good enough, so Wenger should spend.
But what if Wenger thought it was? Or that anyone he signed, like an experienced right back, wouldn’t be any better than a youngster gunning for his chance? Maybe he didn’t spend the money because he thought he really didn’t need to, as his team was good enough to challenge as it was.
The whole departure of Song and emergence of Arteta in the DM role is another illustration of this. So is our team’s good start to the season when people expected much worse.
I believe the reality of what happened this summer is that Wenger decided not to spend because he thought the team as it was could challenge for trophies. He trusted the fitness of Diaby and the progress of Wilshere. He could see the improvement in Ramsey, Jenkinson, and Coquelin on the training ground. He saw the different roles that Gervinho and Arteta could play for us and excel in them.
Wenger decided not to spend not so we could save the money and tuck it away in a vault. He decided not to spend because he had an inkling that Jenkinson could be this good. Perhaps the other players who have yet to convince the fans get their chance, they will continue to prove this point.
And if everything does fall apart, there’s always January to make a panic buy or two.