The failure to sign Mark Schwarzer will cost Arsenal dear - and they only have themselves to blame

Arsene Wenger claimed in one of our little press gatherings last season that he often reads what fans say about him and Arsenal on websites, forums and blogs.

If Wenger logged onto the internet after the transfer window shut at 6pm on Tuesday it would have made for very unpleasant reading.

It is hard to remember an occasion when Arsenal fans have been so disillusioned with their most successful post-war manager.

Even the most loyal and die-hard supporters are completely fed-up with his failure and bungled attempt to buy a new goalkeeper during the transfer window.

Wenger's pursuit of Mark Schwarzer eventually turned into a complete farce and has left the Aussie keeper in limbo at Fulham and Manuel Almunia in a very uncomfortable position at Arsenal.

Schwarzer is 37 but would have been a good buy for Arsenal because his experience would not stunt the development of talented young keepers like 20-year-old Wojciech Szczesny.

Schwarzer is also good on crosses, has been incredibly consistent for Fulham and has coaching potential, too. Purely coincidentally, Schwarzer put in a transfer request earlier this summer and it seemed to be a given that he would go to Arsenal.

Arsenal need a change. Almunia had a really good season the season before last. But last season there is no getting away from the fact he had a bad time.

Almunia was taken out of the first team at the end of the campaign because of a diplomatic wrist injury. In came Lukasz Fabianski and his already fragile confidence was shattered by even more catastrophic mistakes, namely at Wigan and Blackburn.

No wonder Wenger decided to sign a new keeper. The first name was Pepe Reina. But Arsenal's idea they could get him for around £6m was a complete non-starter.

So the focus switched to Schwarzer, a reliable keeper with proven Premier League experience. Arsenal's interest became apparent in May - and more than three months later they still could not get the deal done.

Wenger has made a habit of leaving deals until the last minute to drive a hard bargain, namely Andrey Arshavin and William Gallas. But the pursuit of Schwarzer is somewhere between ridiculous and bad management.

Arsenal made a bid of £3m. Fulham claim it was turned down. Arsenal didn't see it that way. After all of Fulham's management issues were resolved, Arsenal went back to Fulham and said the offer was still on the table.

That is where the story about Arsenal going back with the same offer comes from. Fulham knocked it back again. Fulham and Arsenal will probably go on seeing it differently. But last week, they appeared to reach an agreement.

Fulham tried to sign Shay Given and the deal was close. But in the end, Given decided to stay put at Manchester City. The Schwarzer deal might still have happened if David Stockdale had not got injured at Blackpool.

But every Arsenal fan is now wondering why on earth Wenger left it so late to try and wrap up the Schwarzer deal. If there is money to spend then why not dig deep, find an extra £500k, sign Schwarzer and give Fulham time to get a replacement?

Instead, the same Arsenal fans who pay some of the most expensive ticket prices in the Premier League are left with two senior keepers they do not believe in because the club would not pay a little bit extra to sign Schwarzer.

There has also been this argument that Fulham were wrong to hold Schwarzer to his contract, denying him a dream move. Do me a favour. No-one forced Schwarzer to sign a new one-year contract in April and he earns good money.

There is no-one to blame but Arsenal. You can't blame Fulham for holding onto Schwarzer as he is now their only fit and senior keeper, even if he has been hung out to dry by the collapse of the move. That's another knock-on effect.

You simply cannot win trophies without a top class keeper. Arsenal last won the Premier League in 2004 when Jens Lehmann went through the whole league season unbeaten.

The following season, Lehmann was the FA Cup final hero in the penalty shoot-out as Arsenal beat Manchester United.

The following season, Lehmann was dropped, Almunia began to get more games and Arsenal have not won a trophy since.

Almunia is a decent keeper but not a keeper you win titles with. He's also a very nice chap, well liked around the club and yet now his confidence will be even further eroded by the knowledge his manager tried to replace him.

But Wenger, who has annoyed some by spending the whole World Cup working for French TV station TF1 rather than signing new players, failed in his attempts to sign a keeper.

In fact, Wenger did not do very well overall in the transfer market. French defender Laurent Koscielny for £8m from Lorient, Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla for £3m and Marouane Chamakh on a free transfer.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, made -and succeeded with - an audacious move for Rafael van der Vaart. Chelsea spent big, Manchester City, too and Manchester United spent more. All of Arsenal's title rivals strengthened. Arsenal didn't.

There is a big stadium to pay off and Arsenal want to run the club sensibly and frugally. But Arsenal continually say the money is there for transfers. It is there in the accounts. That has been made very clear.

So who is reluctant to spend it? Arsene Wenger? Or the club? And has it really come to this that Arsenal cannot or will not spend £4m on a keeper they have pursued all summer?

There is a lot of unrest among Arsenal fans over the bungled attempt to sign a keeper and the rumblings of discontent that were evident last summer and the summer before will grow even louder if they fail to win a trophy this season.

Arsenal appear to have begun the season with a weaker squad, not wanted to spend money and yet still asked their supporters to pay sky-high ticket prices.

The football is beautiful but the fans are becoming impatient.

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