By PAT SHEEHAN
ARSENAL legend Frank McLintock has hit out at the Gunners after last-ditch panic talks to keep Theo Walcott.
McLintock, the skipper who lifted the Double at Highbury in 1971, is amazed that the club has got itself into another transfer mess.
Arsenal appear to have clung on to Walcott — for the time being at least — but their selling policy has left former Scottish centre-half McLintock perplexed and angry.
The shocking Emirates exodus is perfectly illustrated by the team photograph above, which was taken ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second-leg home clash with Villarreal on April 15, 2009.
Just THREE players, Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Lukasz Fabianski, are still at Arsenal — while seven of the remaining eight stars have been flogged for a combined £145million.
Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Emmanuel Eboue were all sold. Defender Mikael Silvestre was let go on a free in August 2010 by manager Arsene Wenger.
McLintock said: “The photo sums it up perfectly. There’s only three players left after only three years.
“You can’t keep changing your team every year and that’s what has been happening.
“It’s almost as though there has been a crisis every time the transfer window opens and I don’t think it’s fair to the supporters.
“We’ve always been two or three players from really challenging for the title but you can’t be changing most of your team every two years.
“When we’ve not spent money, the reason given is because we are still paying for the new stadium and everyone’s gone along with it.
“But how long do we have to wait until we say ‘Right, the debt’s cleared and now we can compete with City, Chelsea and United’?
“Arsenal fans would like to know whether the club will ever do that again.”
McLintock, 72, even doubts his own view that the Gunners can still be ranked among the world’s best teams.
He added: “I’ve always regarded Arsenal as one of the biggest clubs in the world but maybe I’m wrong now.
“We seem to be selling all the time, especially to Manchester and it’s something that myself and the supporters don’t like to see.
“Maybe times have changed in the last three or four years and we’re the also-rans fighting for fourth place behind United, City and Chelsea.
“We’ve sold for a lot of money and seemed to get players who are not quite as good as the ones who have left.
“You can’t keep on doing that all the time because supporters will get annoyed and wonder why.”
The move to the Emirates in 2006 is estimated to have cost Arsenal around £390m.
Financing the switch from Highbury has been blamed for the lack of investment in the squad.
McLintock said: “The Emirates was meant to help us compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona but you can’t keep losing the players we’ve lost every year.”