Faith No More In The North London Maxim: “Arsene Knows?”

Neil Blackmon waxes on what may be the end of the Arsene Era dawning.

For Wenger, a Champion's League moment--finally--that didn't disappoint.

One of the things that makes sport so compelling is that while, in the end, sporting events are contrived events whose results have little effect on the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of our lives–we often see within sport little reflections of the day-to-day life lessons as well as the over-arching lessons of…history.

Today’s Champions League playoff for the group stages victory at Udinese aside, one can’t help but sense that we are witnessing precisely such a sport-as-microcosm-of-life sequence of events right now with long-tenured, absolutely-revered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

In fact, today’s victory seemed all the more appropriate in the “sport as reflection of life” vein, because as summer hours give way autumn nightime,  a resolute, determined and outplayed-for-large-swaths Arsenal side determined to not let the embers of past glories be extinguished, survived.

Alas, any objective viewer must sense that the group stages will hold only disappointment be but a brief interlude to the general decay and narrative of Emirates empire collapse occurring in North London.

What’s more–even the believers are forlorned now, sensing the decline and hoping against hope for one moment of magic, one surefire indicator that the heartstrings inside of them are right to suggest it is not yet time to turn out the lights.

The Arsenal faithful are a beatdown bunch these days, searching for positivity when the possibility of silverware always seemed well within their grasp.

It is fitting that Arsene Wenger stands among those seemingly incapable of grasping the dire nature of the situation—or, if incapable is the wrong word, at least reluctant to concede the gravity and extent of the problems. His empire is slipping away.

As one notable publication wrote, he and his most loyal fighters resemble, only half-ironically, the futile but noble captured fighters of the French resistance, seemingly oblivious or at the very least impervious to the looming and increasing-in-number swarm of interrogators at their doorstep.

Old strengths have become weaknesses, so the interrogators seem to suggest, and having now turned against the man who so many of them previously obliged with blind faith, the formerly accepted calls for “caution” and “patience”, the confident “I have a plan” reassurances–  fall flat, landing somewhere due south of reassuring.

If it wasn’t the play of the red-and-white today, it was the camera captures of the manager and a particular image of sweat stained attire that seemed to suggest that playing it cool was out of the questions any longer.

The builder...

There is simply faith no more in the old North London maxim, “Arsene knows.”

Why? Well, the answer as compelling as the question.

The answer again lies in the annals of history.

Examples of era-ending decline are legion and one common thread among these examples is that hindsight often guides us to fail to read the warning signs.

One indicator of era-decline that rings nearly universal in history books is the notion that overstretch is devastating to empire.

Overstretch affects an empire both economically and in the field of battle or conflict, often inflicting wounds with great overlap.

The Roman Empire...

In ancient times, this was a critical contributing factor to the fall of Rome.

Engaged from East Asia to what is now Europe, the Roman Empire simply lacked the manpower to curtail all challenges to its military and economic power. It was forced to make choices about where it would place its troops throughout the vast expanse under its control, and in so doing essentially failed to make clear choices about which engagements were most critical.

Privileging no particular engagement over any other, the Romans decided to engage on all fronts- whether it be the creeping Vandal, Hun (more on Attila in a moment) Goth civilizations near the Danube, in France, Spain and Northern Africa, or the land trespasses further east in Asia.. The result of course (and yes- this is simplistic because space demands it) was it lost attendant economic power by trying to engage everywhere, and it lacked the manpower to effectively engage anywhere. In the end, the Romans were simply “overstretched”, and too heavily reliant on their old alliances (which often failed), to counter increasing intrusions on their supremacy.

In modern times, examples of overstretch creating an atmosphere conducive to empire decline range from the very obvious (Nazi Germany and the two (really three) front war effort) to the to-be-determined but increasingly less subtle (United States- Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya).

Without a useless commentary on the politics of the latter situation, the impacts can still objectively be viewed as similar to that of Rome and at a great price in both tactical success and economic treasure.

At its pinnacle, an empire can weather some overstretch, even in times of adversity (see the United States in World War II, England in the age of Victoria), but in the end you can usually rely on overstretch being a contributing factor to the end of historic eras or the decline of empires. And here we arrive back to Arsenal.

Sporting dynasties, eras and yes “empires” also see overstretch as a driving factor in their downfall.

Beginning with soccer, the most notable example is the Ajax empire of the 1970’s, perhaps the most prolific in the history of the beautiful game, was besieged by an overstretch issue.

In 1973, at the end of a four year reign of dominance in European and Dutch football, Ajax were, among many things, tired and disinterested in privileging particular engagements.

In an effort to win everything, the players were exhausted.

Having already accomplished nearly everything, the players, mostly Dutch, were more interested in the one thing they hadn’t won—a World Cup.

1974, Cruyff and the Dutch stretch to be Argentina

The same group of players that finally lost a European Cup match to CSKA Sofia in 1973 were present at World Cup qualifying weeks before that match and in the weeks after—and all were too focused on Dutch accomplishment at the 74 World Cup to think too much of defeat in the league or the European Cup in 1974.

In the end, those limited failures might suggest sacrifices were made to achieve the ultimate goal—a World championship for country—except that they lost the World Cup final in 1974 shockingly to West Germany, ending the Total Football Empire for good.

By the end of the 74 campaign, fatigue from fielding top level sides in all competitions and players prioritizing personal accomplishment at international tournaments over club achievement had crushed cohesion.

Indeed, the great Dutch midfielder Gerrie Muhren, who was Ajax’s Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs, put it best when he noted to David Winner, author of the magnificent opus Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer that when the decline hit, it hit suddenly, because Ajax were “exhausted and (we) didn’t stay together. Had we stayed together, we would have been Champions of Europe eight times.”

While it is certainly true that the economics of the game were changing in the 70’s and the alluring financial markets of Spain and to a lesser extent England contributed to the collapse of the Ajax empire—one can’t help but find history’s lessons about overstretch instructive. Today, those same lessons apply to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.

Miraculously, a European Cup trophy in 1994 didn’t spoil the faithful at Arsenal. When Wenger arrived in 1996, he managed to do what is mostly unthinkable in today era of treble and quadruple seeking glory hunters—he harnessed the raw greed endemic to that endeavor into a proper ambition, which involved a formula of focusing on first division glory first and allowing the chips to fall where they may beyond that stated goal.

The truth is, despite the lack of a Champions League medal, the ploy worked, resulting in three Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles and four Community Shield victories.

The Invincibles...

Is their regret about the failure of Wenger’s “Invincibles” to capture the Champions League in 2004? Of course.

And there are still those at the Emirates who rue the defeat to Barcelona in 2006. But in the end, Wenger’s philosophy of win the league first, worry about other competitions later was more than effective—it was a blueprint on how to successfully ensure that you at least had a chance at glory—hence the old Wenger line about how it is “good to finish fourth” because, after all, it means you can beat Udinese and still seek glory on the continent, as Arsenal have done today.

In truth, one wonders why this blueprint isn’t (or wasn’t) obvious: when you play in the best league in the world—league success should be privilege—the spoils will rightly follow.

Those following the developments around London Colney last summer didn’t, but probably should have, grimaced when Wenger and others hinted at a run for the treble and even quadruple.

Was there reason for enthusiasm of a high degree last summer? Of course. The team was simply so loaded that its more obvious weaknesses (somewhat overrated defense, the complete lack of a proven keeper) could be overlooked. What was more, the remainder of the league was shrouded in question marks and sides with more glaring weaknesses—so why not think big?

The simple answer is that Arsenal hadn’t done that before—it was out of character.

It was a leap too far, and one only need look at a few of the teams fielded in all competitions to see there was an unusual determination to secure results with a top unit that was unlike the Arsenal sides in the past.

Depth, so often an Arsenal strength (at their pinnacle, and even beyond it, this was a side that could field Carling Cup elevens capable of qualifying for the Champions League) was hamstrung in the name of a glory agenda, and when failure and injury resulted, the always-present goal of in-league success was hampered. History, instructive.

A second contributing historic factor to era or empire decline is economical and overlaps with overstretch.

The older but still historically recent global economic downturn—what we Yanks call “The Great Depression”—was, with all appropriate apologies to my collegiate finance and economics professors—essentially caused by bank failures, Britain’s odd choice to revert to a pre-World War I gold standard, and a contraction of the money supply that resulted in a stock market collapse, aided of course by malfeasance on the part of bankers and investors who had become, simplistically, overinvested in one particular area of the economy rather than having a wide-range of possible investment.

If that sounds somewhat familiar (albeit crudely stated), it should: the Global Economic Crisis or Near Depression that began in 2007 was caused by very similar and inauspicious circumstances—not limited to but certainly primarily being the subprime mortgage crisis and predatory lending, a lack of revenue in relation to accruing debt, and (again) bankers and investors being too heavily engaged in one particular economic area at the expense of diversification. It is noteworthy that in many respects Britain never has recovered its global superpower status in the wake of the Great Depression, which of course had a great deal to do with World War II—and, given the recent downgrade of American credit, the United States may not recover completely from the current economic crisis—it will instead have to adjust to a “new normal.”

The situation at Arsenal is much less about the decline of the club’s economic well-being—it is relatively secure (compared to many other European clubs of similar make-up) under American owner Stan Kroenke—but the ignorance of the warning signs that terminally resulted in each economic crisis do tell us something about the decline of Wenger’s Arsenal. Two things in particular are worth noting: first, each crisis was to a reasonable extent caused by overreliance on one particular market or investment. Here, Wenger is guilty, and the chickens have come home to roost.

For all of Wenger’s forays into the “obscure talented young Frenchmen” or “talented youth from far less competitive league” markets that have been successful, there have been, with increasing number, far too many that have failed. Silvestre is an example you hear often but it is a poor one—he was 28 when he joined the Gunners and established at superclubs.

More accurate examples, however, exist, and range from the “flashes of brilliance” types such as Denilson and Sebastian Squillaci to the erratic and infuriating types Andrei Arshavin and Nicky Bendtner down to the pure disasters, players such as Alexander Hleb or Pascal Cygan.

There was always faith in the mantra “Arsene Knows”, both among the Gunner supporters and more so within the manager himself, and now, with the money to diversify investments, look elsewhere and sign proven commodities, Wenger continues to rely on his ability to find the guy other folks weren’t looking for. Simplistic? Maybe. True—well—if Arsene Wenger has been playing “Moneyball” nearly as long as Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane—then it might be worth noting that “Moneyball” doesn’t always work—and one only need look at six years and no trophies or at the A’s rash of bottom of the barrel finishes to figure that out. Throw in the fact that Lyon decided to begin competing, at least in a cursory manner, with Wenger in seeking out “Moneyball” type talents, and you start to understand the way overinvestment in one particular area, sans diversification, can generate a climate of instability. When you factor in the failure of Wenger to resign his proven commodities like Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri (either because he’s confident his “find a new obscure French dude” strategy will work again OR because he already has a plan involving Jack Wilshere and other youth—we’ll never know, because Wenger doesn’t say), and you at least understand the concerns about Wenger’s arrogance getting in the way of success or the general feeling of unease around London Colney.

What’s more—the “Arsene knows” mantra also has a bit of the old historic empire-decline problem of underestimating your adversary as well. Is Wenger still right that it’s best to make sure your club’s money is safely in the bank than invested on the field in the current era of treble-quadruple seeking glory hunter sides? Time will tell, but for the time being, one can’t help but think he’s no longer correct.

Manchester City are playing the role of Attila the Hun to the Roman Empire, the figure you thought was too primitive and barbaric to succeed but is perhaps a shrewd and clever player in the world of European soccer. Surely you can’t just sign a host of glamorous players an expect results to roll in, can you? This nouveau riche attitude creates resentment and perhaps, in the mind of a long-proclaimed genius like Wenger, it creates a bit of overconfidence. Problem is—Wenger is bleeding players to City, and City look like worldbeaters, having put their money on the field and not in the bank. Of course, no side has the resources at their disposal that the Citizens have—but that’s precisely the point—it is high time Wenger recognized that competition will require good-faith expenditures on his part. That doesn’t appear to be coming—indeed—Samir Nasri is off to the Eastlands and Juan Mata, a potential star who seemed to be in the Wenger ilk, is off to Chelsea—and all we hear from Le Professuer is a “we’re not signing him”,  but not an explanation why. If  Roberto Mancini can manage all those egos—and here’s betting Wenger’s betting he can’t—there’s no question the Citizens will run victory laps around the Emirates this year and beyond—and Arsene seems to be the person who “knows”. Forgive me if that failure doesn’t remind me of the old story about when Rome’s Priscus went to meet Attila the Hun in 449 AD, and discovered quite quickly that he wasn’t the savage beast he’d believed him to be, but instead represented a clever, and perhaps overwhelming, foe.

Finally, there’s the little matter of history being instructive the other direction. Sure, there are times when faced with great adversity, very powerful nations (and sporting teams, for that matter), have responded and come up from the ashes to return from brilliance. The British Empire, in one final stand, saved the world in the Battle of Britain. Ditto the Americans in thirteen days in the 1960’s. Dr. King was jailed again and again but still delivered a dream that is worth fighting to perfect today.

On the more trivial front of sport, the Yankees weathered the brutal post-Winfield horrors of the 1980s. The Philadelphia Phillies lost 10,000 times. Then they won the World Series. Ajax returned to all-world dominance in the 1990s. Barcelona weathered Franconian repression and became, though it isn’t anymore, “mas que un club.” And there is, of course, the truth that Arsenal are only two matches into the season, lack Jack Wilshere, and are safely through to the Champions League group stages. There isn’t, at least for now, a lack  of joy in Muddville. But one can safely suggest there might be soon. And one should worry if things have gotten stale.

The notion of a coaching situation “becoming stale” is a relatively new phenomenon and is located primarily in American sport. Yet it is important to think about in the Wenger context precisely because sometimes revival requires requisite and fundamental change. Alabama football, for example, was a awful southern mess in the early part of this century before Nick Saban came in and changed a culture grown complacent. Bob Bradley was just replaced after one of the more successful eras in the history of US Men’s soccer—not, this writer would argue, because he was a failure as a manager but because there was a general malaise and lack of “newness” to the culture in Chicago and beyond.

Will Wenger slowly dance in a burning room? Or will perhaps Cesc Fabregas needle him from Barcelona and tell him it’s time to turn off the lights.

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90 responses to this post.

  1. completely rubish

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/08/24 at 10:26 PM

      Anything else to add? That’s kind of weak piece of commentary in isolation.

      Reply

    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/08/25 at 9:03 PM

      Basically.

      Chelsea and Man City are not run for profit. They’re vanity projects. Therein lies the difference. Their owners can and will spend whatever it takes to win. We aren’t competing with them. If they want a player we want, we will never win that battle.

      You really think we need to be more like Man City? The team that paid through the nose for Robinho, Jo, Adebayor, Milner, Balotelli, and…wait for it….Roque Santa Cruz?

      LOL.

      Nasri was bought for something like 15M. Sold for 25M.

      Fabregas was bought for basically nothing. Sold for ~35M.

      Clichy was bought for 2M. Sold for 7M.

      And this is bad management?

      Puh-leeeze.

      One of the big problems with this article is that it was published before the transfer window has even closed, at a time when our squad has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions (Diaby, Gervinho, Song, Wilshere, Koscielny, Gibbs). It’s highly likely that Arsenal will reinforce and be right back in the top 4 come May.

      This article is just more chicken little nonsense.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 9:13 PM

        Really? Chicken little nonsense?

        Between Fabregas and Nasri, I’d guess a majority of “chances created” just exited Arsenal. These are both excellent players. Excellent players are, by definition, difficult to come by. Where is the midfield creativity going to come from in Arsenal? Wilshere doesn’t strike me as a #10; Ramsey looks inexperienced in that role; Rosicky is too old. Is Arsenal going to buy a replacement? There was an interesting-looking one in Mata…but Arsenal totally screwed up what should’ve been an easy deal. If they do buy, is that player or players better than that pair available and relatively cheap? Replacing Nasri seems difficult but achievable; replacing Fabregas, let alone on short notice, is nearly impossible.

        And that’s not getting into the issue of replacing Clichy. Is Arsenal just supposed to use Gibbs? We’ve never seen him get an extended run of professional games. What happens if Arsenal gets a run of injuries at centerback? Their defensive line isn’t high-quality, and worse, it’s thin.

        There are legitimate reasons to be very worried, in my mind. Just because people yell “crisis!” too much doesn’t mean they’re wrong to say “crisis!” now.

        Reply

        • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/08/26 at 12:50 PM

          Again…talk to me when the window has closed. Right now we can only speculate as to what Arsenal will do with the influx of cash (we have about 70M pounds to spend).

          As for Clichy, no Arsenal fans were sad to see him go. He’s just a guy at this point.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/08/26 at 1:19 PM

            Well, I’ll be happy to. But Mesut Ozil isn’t walking through that door. Juan Mata isn’t walking through that door.

            The point is that you need two players whose combined production–in terms of chance-creation especially–equals that of a world-class midfielder and a near-world-class midfielder. Do you know of any that are available, let alone for affordable prices? I don’t. So it seems likely that Arsenal will suffer a drop-off in that category, and given their lack of defensive quality, it’s not exactly crazy to argue a crisis.

            And if the the bad case scenario comes to pass–that is, Arsenal dropping out of the Champions League–how easy will Arsenal find it to attract new talent (of the required standard) then? People have argued that Liverpool shows what can be done, but Liverpool were willing to pay much more money and had positive perceptions on their side. If the bad case scenario comes to pass, neither of those things would likely be true. Which would represent a disaster.

            (As to Clichy: clearly, Clichy is not all that great. Still, it’s hard to imagine Gibbs is better than he at this stage of his career, and defensive depth is poor at this point. It’s the knock-on effects that you should be worried about.)

            Reply

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/08/26 at 3:26 PM

              That old Rick Pitino gem never gets old….

              Aresenal may end up fine but the next couple days are key. If they don’t get at least one stud by the time the window closes they risk ending up in a position come Jan that doesn’t allow them back into the top 4.

              Once you get stuck in the Europa league you will have a hard time getting top line replacements (ask Spurs how getting new players and keeping old ones is going).

            • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/08/26 at 9:38 PM

              The defense is a lot better than non-Arsenal fans realize. We have conceded 3 goals in 4 games against pretty decent competition. Szczesny looks great so far. Sagna is the best RB in the Prem. Koscielny has looked great this season when fit. Vermaelen has made a huge difference. Djourou has his fair share of lapses, but he’s an adequate #3. As for Gibbs vs. Clichy, it’s a bit early to call that race. I like what I’ve seen of Gibbs this season though. He seems a more lively player overall. The guy who watches them play every day didn’t seem to concerned about retaining Clichy, so why should fans be worried about losing him?

              For my money, Alex Song is the best defensive midfielder in the EPL right now. He’s inconsistent in the attack, but a devastating man marker, a great ball winner, and crafty with the rock at his feet. The young buck Frimpong showed a lot of potential against Liverpool despite his cards. And there’s A LOT of chatter linking us with Yann M’Vila. But if I’m going to rip people for assuming that Arsenal WON’T reinforce then I can’t assume that we WILL.

              The way I see it, our allegedly horrible defense really only has a few weaknesses. We lack a proven LB, a good fourth CB, and a convincing backup at RB. Not ideal, but not nearly the dire situation portrayed in the media. Koscielny was a first year EPL player last season. Ditto Szczesny, who didn’t even begin the season as a starter. And Vermaelen was injured pretty much all season. Media pundits don’t talk about these points enough.

              As for the midfield, Nasri played most of last season on the wings. We brought in Gerviho to play there. He’s a different style of player, but his net impact on the game should be similar. So I don’t count that as some sort of catastrophic loss.

              The biggest loss for me is Cesc. He was a phenomenal passer. It won’t be easy to find someone who can approximate his contributions on offense. But there are some interesting names being thrown around as potential replacements. Kaka. Marvin Martin. Eden Hazard. Xherdan Shaqiri. We’ll see what Arsene does. Maybe he’ll really stand pat and roll with Ramsey, Rosicky, Chamberlain, and Wilshere. That’s not the best group in the league, but it’s really not so far behind the likes of Fletcher/Carrick/Anderson or Ramires/Mikel/Essien’s corpse.

              Arsenal is not at any risk of becoming Ajax. First off, we play in the EPL. Ajax doesn’t. That’s important. Secondly, we have a shit ton of money, a huge stadium, and a worldwide fanbase. IIRC, we are considered the third most valuable franchise in the sport behind Man U and Real Madrid. If the need ever arises, we have enough money to gout and buy whoever we want. And as much as players pine for the CL, money talks. Just ask David Silva, Samuel Eto’o, or Luis Suarez.

              To quote the honorable P-Diddy…

              We ain’t

              Goin

              No-where.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/27 at 4:16 AM

              Gibbs may be better than Clichy but will he ever be fit? He’s just another Arsenal player that you never know when he’ll be able to play.

              I think Arsenal are very much in danger of ending up in a worse position than Ajax. Ajax isn’t competing for a spot in Europe with 3 clubs that have more money in City, Chelsea and United plus teams like Liverpool and Spurs that are able to put together solid teams as well. Will Arsenal ever spend the money?

            • Posted by Alex Song on 2012/04/13 at 6:33 PM

              Told you.

              Arsene knows.

              Period.
              :-)

            • Posted by dth on 2012/04/13 at 9:32 PM

              You were right about what ended up happening, but I’ll stand by my analysis any day. “Stuff happens”, of course–in this case, the total implosions of the London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea.

  2. Posted by woody on 2011/08/25 at 1:49 AM

    Creeit where credit is due, the Brits did great but it was 20 million dead Soviets who saved the world from Hitler.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Rob on 2011/08/25 at 2:22 AM

    how was hleb a disaster? the guy was a genius with the ball at his feet. also an excellent passer of the ball.

    Reply

    • Posted by Neil W. Blackmon on 2011/08/25 at 4:39 AM

      I think I was a bit harsh to Hleb. I also think some folks are a bit too nice to him, and some of that has to do with his being basically a misfit at the Camp Nou. Hleb had nice moments and gave Wenger flexibility and depth (again- a huge argument for Wenger when his blueprint was working).

      What Hleb didn’t do, and suggestions to the contrary are somewhat damaged by stats lines and game tapes– is provide Arsenal the goal scoring boost it was felt he would when he came from Germany for 15 million pounds. I also found his mindless passes to nowhere a bit numbing at times– and maybe that made me harsh.

      Certainly choosing a different disaster signing would have been appropriate, as you are correct, Hleb was adequate.

      Reply

    • Posted by Braden on 2011/08/25 at 4:42 AM

      Completely agree. Hleb does not belong anywhere near disaster. He was the driving creative force before Fabregas was really ready to fully take the reigns.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jesse G. on 2011/08/25 at 4:54 AM

      I wouldn’t necessarily say “genius” but Hleb was excellent during his last couple of years at Arsenal, imo. Definitely not a disaster, although that would be an excellent description of his tenure at Barca.

      Reply

  4. Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 6:31 AM

    Nobody can tell me that Deuce would not help out this team. I don’t see arsenal finishing in the top 5 this year. Wenger is smart and gets a lot out of his team but he is too stubborn. He is the Andy Reid of the EPL.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 7:57 AM

      His grit and steel would be welcome, but he’s not good enough to get in the first XI.

      Reply

      • Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 8:06 AM

        I disagree that he is not good enough for the starting 11, but that’s just my biased opinion and i know we have had this discussion before.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 8:24 AM

          With respect Crow, this article is about Arsenal / Wenger. But yet you attempt to shoehorn Clint Dempsey into the conversation *only* because he is American. Whereas if you mentioned Howard, I would think that Arsenal have a need here and Howard has the talent and experience to meet this need. Talent not nationality.

          Reply

          • Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 9:30 AM

            Not true. Maybe they could use Howard but you know Wenger doesn’t care about GK just like Andy Reid doesn’t care about LB. They lost fabregas and probably nasri. Dempsey might not be the same caliber but he is a quality attacking mid for a much cheaper price that brings the team grit. Its not just about Dempsey. Why didn’t Arsenal go after any of the cheap transfers from Bolton. Lee, Cahill, or Elmander. Or Mata from Spain. Or a million other possibilities. Wenger is smart but is too stubborn to improve positions that he feels are not important or spend a little bit more money.

            I have trouble accepting that Howard is more talented than Dempsey if you have watched how the two have played over the last 2 years. Granted it is a ridiculous comparison.

            Reply

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 9:48 AM

              Dempsey would not improve the team, plus Arsenal are not in need of him.
              Mata turned down Arsenal and Spurs, and said it was not to do with money. Wenger believes that Cahill is over priced. I tend to agree with him, but I think I would pay the premium to fill the gap.

            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/08/25 at 9:50 AM

              Shoehorning the Reid comparision in just undermines your argument. Wenger fielded the one the best teams in football for 5+ yrs at the turn of the century using his strategy. Undefeated for a full season and then some. Trophies galore. Barca before Barca. I don’t like him one bit and think he’s past his moment as the article suggests but you can’t disregard the fact that he’s WON multiple championships which immed puts Coach Reid out of the discussion.
              You may want to invest in a different straw man.

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/08/25 at 10:29 AM

              @KickinNames I was not shoehorning the Reid comparison. I meant the comparison by the fact that they both value certain positions on the field very highly and view others as not important. They are both good coaches but are very stubborn in their philosophies. I was not comparing how many “trophies they have won”. But when you consider the success the Eagles have had in the regular season, that even somewhat fits.

              Yes, its true Arsenal has won the league (years ago), but they have so many terrible losses in Champions Leage, FA Cup, and Carling Cup the last several years its hard to count them all. @GeorgeCross I said at the beginning that we were at a stalemate on how much we value Dempsey. I had not heard that Mata declined Arsenal. ESPN and TSG have been my main sources for Transfer Talk. I also think Cahill was a bit overpriced, but that’s the point. For the good and bad, Wegner is never willing to overpay for anyone.

              I say we set up a league on Football Manager 12 and settle this! TSG set up a Fantasy League, can’t we set up an online Football Manager League. LOL.

      • Not going to sidetrack this discussion into a Deuce discussion, and GeorgeCross is usually splendid- but it is somewhat laughable to suggest Dempsey wouldn’t start for this team.

        Reply

        • Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 2:49 PM

          Thank you! I felt like I was taking crazy pills or something

          Reply

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 11:41 PM

            After your Hleb comment above, and now this, your credibility has sank to an all time low. I appreciate that you do not want to sidetrack this article, but I encourage you to get my email from Matt, and I would LOVE to hear where Dempsey would fit into this Arsenal side. LOVE it [Kevin keegan style].

            Reply

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/08/26 at 3:35 PM

              I am a biased Dempsey supporter but in the first game against Udinese Aresnal started a MF of Song, Rosicky, and Ramsey (as the attacking part of the destroyer, link, attack mid 3). While I am not saying Dempsey would be a guaranteed start he is at least in the conversation with Rosicky and Ramsey for a starting spot (ignoring Song since he’s a DMF. Ramsey is box-to-box but more defensive (like a lottery winner’s version of MB90) and Rosicky has 91 appearances in 5 years and 12 goals (neither of which say that his spot in the line-up is immutable).

              I understand Ramsey is young and got upside but for one game today I can easily see selecting Dempsey over Ramsey.

  5. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 6:50 AM

    wengers approach, a lot like that of the former us mens team coach, has grown stale and stagnate. and actually losing their top talent is a step in the wrong direction for arsenal. plus arsenal has a soft mentality, which they have pretty much always had, save the tony adams and a couple others. like viera, who is now recruiting for man citi. arsenal need to find a new coach pronto. if arsenal are smart they will put all of their efforts into remaining in line for champions league for next season. if arsenal try to contend for multiple trophies this season, then they will be doomed to failure.

    Reply

  6. Posted by damon on 2011/08/25 at 7:15 AM

    What is Arsenal’s payroll compared to ManU, Chelsea, or Man City? I think its unfair to expect them to be at the level of those other 3 teams which I’d guess their payroll is half as much. You never see team payroll information for the EPL but I think it would be rather start of how much Arsenal is trying to do more with less.

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    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 7:36 AM

      whatever, arsenal are soft, and have weak mentality. payroll shmayroll. i dont know why, but it reminds me of hans baccke saying the winner at the end of the MLS regular season is the winner of the league as far as he is concerned.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 7:38 AM

      Arsenal’s payroll is not that much lower. The main difference between Arsenal and the others is that Wenger doesn’t buy players that are even close the level that the other clubs buy.

      I can’t find the info right now but the data I’ve seen before was Chelsea, Utd and City were up top followed by Arsenal and Liverpool with Spurs behind them. They may have changed now that Nasri and Cesc have been sold.

      The latest data I can find is from 2008/2009 and at that time it was Chelsea (167 mil pounds), Man Utd (123 mil), Liverpool (107 mil), Arsenal (104 mil) and City. That is supposedly a good indicator of where a club will finish in the league and that season it was Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal with City in 10th. That was prior to the arrival of the true big spenders at City. Those are from the annual review that Deloitte does on the premier league.

      Reply

      • Posted by damon on 2011/08/25 at 8:21 AM

        Its brutally hard to find data on this and I recently Asked ESPN’s stat department to try. Here is one graphic talking about “the cost of the starting 11 of all the EPL teams” as of the first day of last season. http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/08/14/article-1303221-0ACC8A35000005DC-53_306x797.jpg

        Here it has Arsenal at half of Chelsea and Man City- but looking at the footnote this may just be about the transfer fees paid. I just think it would be very interesting to see the payroll disparity because I’d think the difference has gone way up in the last couple years.

        Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 9:58 AM

      Arsenal doesn’t pay as much money in salaries, it’s true.

      They could pay more, but they don’t.

      Reply

  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 7:33 AM

    Icarus Paradox sums this up nicely.

    I still maintain that Wenger’s stubborness has been his downfall. It is well documented that Arsenal could not compete economically with Man Utd especially during the construction of Ashburton Grove. Wenger’s strategy, like Neil mentions was trying to find young, cheap talent that had their best years ahead of them. And I feel that Arsenal punched above their “salary” weight for a while. But a few things have happened. 1). Other clubs across Europe have also expanded their global scouting network to unearth tomorrow’s stars. 2). More billionaire owners have entered the market reducing Arsenal’s purchasing power. 3). The loyalty of just ten years ago does not exist today.

    When combining these factors, it is no surprise that Arsenal are struggling. The fact that so many teams can gazump Arsenal. Take Cech, Smalling, Jones, Rooney and Ronaldo for example. These players were all tracked by Rowley but the fact is that Chelsea and Man Utd offered the selling club more money and the player the better contract. Then look at the recent departures to Man City, they have all gone for better contracts. You can blame Wenger as much as you want but there is nothing he can do about that. Remember Petit and Overmars? They just won the Double with Arsenal and went to Barcelona because of better personal terms.

    However, I mentioned (financial) stubborness earlier. Well, that is my one critique. And with their need greater and the transfer window getting smaller, these are characteristers that have an inflationary affect on price, especially as people know Wenger’s approx. transfer kitty. He needs to inject some steel, and if he has to pay a small premium, then he has to take that hit.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 10:01 AM

      I agree with your last point. Wenger is too obsessed with getting value for money, but if he passes this time, he risks greater stagnation next summer…whereupon clubs, knowing Arsenal’s desperation, will demand more money, creating a vicious circle.

      I’m convinced that Liverpool, for example, lodged a bid on Gael Clichy specifically to unsettle Arsenal further.

      Reply

  8. Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 7:46 AM

    I see parallels between arsenal and everton. Wenger and Moyes. Sadly I don’t see Everton finishing in the top 10 this year. I’m going to be watching more I’d the Bundesliga this year. I like the parity of the league and hopefully some young Americans will be breaking through.

    Reply

    • Posted by Fellaini's_Fro on 2011/08/25 at 9:24 AM

      Another Everton Fan? (see my post name) If so while they are a mid-level club, I like them. David Moyes almost always has them playing hard from whistle to whistle and a never say die attitude like last years match against Man U when they scored two goals in extra time. Though they too often underachieve against the lower level clubs like QPR last week.

      As for the actual comparison, the main difference is money that’s available to spend, revenue from a new stadium and playing in the largest city in England. If David Moyes had these at his disposal I would suggest that he could have Everton contending for top 5 each year.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2011/08/25 at 10:44 AM

        Everton is my favorite EPL team. And it isn’t just because Tim Howard plays there! Tim Cahill and Fellaini are two of my favorite non-American players. I think David Moyes does a wonderful job (even better than Wegner) with the resources available. I’ve so badly wanted for them to finish in the top 4, but they just can never get off to a good enough start. I saw them this year when they played in Philly. It was hot, but they looked absolutely terrible. The Union weren’t using half of their starters and they absolutely dominated possession. I was concerned that Everton would yet again start off the season poorly and that appears to be the case.

        You’ll like this- At PPL Park, there is an area the fans can stand at, just outside the locker rooms. I got a picture of Fellaini on his cell phone just outside the locker room. I teased Moyes about getting off to a good start for once, but he was very kind to everyone present. Tim Cahill briefly interacted with the crowd, and Leon Osman signed autographs, although some of the Union fans didn’t have any idea who he was! D’oh!
        Everton is a class team, but they literally didn’t make one move this summer. I think they are beginning to stagnate. Arteta is not the player he once was, and they still really haven’t found a striker. With City spending so much money that it is almost impossible not to make the top 4, and Spurs making some good signings, Everton pretty much has no shot at the top 5, and I have a bad feeling that they may just drop out of the top half of the table this year.

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      • Posted by MJ on 2011/08/25 at 6:21 PM

        COYB! Diddo on the Evertonian love, esp. re. Cahill. I feel like Moyes just has no money to work with, but if he did, he would spend it. He also seems to still have some of that loyalty & class, personally and instilled into the club, that has vacated many other teams.

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  9. Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 7:49 AM

    The Moneyball comparison is a good one and I think fits perfectly. The issue that Billy Beane has now is that too many other teams now use some or all of that strategy. One of his key ideas was on base percentage as an unused stat that would get him value. Well, guys like Theo Epstein began to use stats as well and have payrolls that dwarf what Billy Beane can spend. That has transferred over into the draft as well where teams like the Red Sox can throw money around on unproven players (which is exactly the issue that Arsenal now face). A lot of the value guys that Beane would have found before have now been scooped up many rounds ahead of where he would have picked them before.

    Arsenal were always going after young players that they could find on the cheap and sign in somewhat dubious circumstances due to the differing labor laws in the UK compared to Spain and France. The issue is that teams like Man Utd and Chelsea started to follow that same tactic with players like Pogba for Utd and Kakuta for Chelsea right down to the clubs that lost the players trying legal action. Utd has done that and been willing to spend money on more proven young players such as Phil Jones this season without losing players due to contract issues. So now Utd has young players that they can bring through a system that is in place who can learn from veterans in Rio, Vidic, Rooney, Van der Sar, etc without having to rely on a team made up entirely of young players.

    I think the big difference between Billy Beane and Wenger is that Wenger has more money than he chooses to use. He spend 12 million pounds on Oxlade-Chamberlain while doing nothing with the potential windfall from Nasri and Cesc (approximately 50 million pounds I believe). I find it hard to believe that he couldn’t have been slightly less stubborn and found some solid premier league performers or more proven continental players for half that amount especially in defense or midfield. Instead he will continue with a young unproven team. How much do you want to bet that if Van Persie can stay healthy this season he leaves next summer to win trophies?

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  10. Posted by crow on 2011/08/25 at 8:04 AM

    What I really want to know is what is Leander’s opinion on this subject!

    Reply

  11. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 8:11 AM

    So, who do Arsenal replace Wenger with? Who can do better with the same financial resources? And please, nobody had better say Mourinho. He doesn’t build a team, he buys one. And we already know Arsenal don’t have the money to do that.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 8:29 AM

      Well, that depends on how long Pep Guardiola is going to manage Barcelona. If he stays for a lot longer than someone like Luis Enrique who just went to Roma might be a good choice if he does well there.

      It would have to be someone that is willing to continue the Arsenal style of play under Wenger. I’m not sure their fans would except someone who played Mourinhoball.

      I’m not convinced that their financial resources are as bad as they are made out to be. They just spent 12 million pounds on an 18 year old from League 1.

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      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 8:49 AM

        It is not only the transfer fee, but wages. Arsenal cannot afford to pay the reported GBP9.3m pa that Nasri just picked up. Look at many of the players that could improve Arsenal now (not tomorrow**), and you’ll probably find the majority at competing clubs or that the selling clubs have put a prohibitive price tag on the player.

        Not saying Arsenal are completely innocent in all of this, but there’s one thing saying Wenger’s lost the plot, but quite another to improve the team within the club’s wage structure.

        ** I guess that is part of the problem; ‘tomorrow’ never comes…

        Reply

        • Posted by damon on 2011/08/25 at 9:05 AM

          Its interesting to me that in american sports we hear Joe Johnson signed a 6 year 120 million dollar contract and it just makes it clear how much of a financial commitment the team was making for him and it makes it clear to fans why the team may not be willing to pay it. Hearing that Nasri was signing a200,000 per week contract doesn’t have that same effect. But hearing that Arsenal wasn’t willing to match a 5 year £50 million contract for him.

          I’ve always thought that it was in the best interest of the teams to put that salary information out there just because it took the pressure off of them. Interesting that in England the teams don’t seem to feel the same way. I’m just shocked that we can’t find the EPL equivalent of a page liek this for the NBA: http://www.storytellerscontracts.info/resources/11-12salaries.htm

          Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 9:09 AM

          Well, let’s take for example one of the people they’ve been linked with recently in Yann M’Vila from Rennes. Do you really think that he’s on such high wages that he can’t fit into their wage structure? I find that hard to believe.

          I don’t think he’s lost the plot but I think there is more money there than what he is willing to spend. They also seem to wait until it is too late to negotiate with these players as happened with Flamini a few years ago.

          Also, they take a long time to clear out deadwood. Denilson and Bendtner I’m sure are on fairly decent wages after the time they have spent at Arsenal but barely play. They finally unloaded Eboue. As you said they wait too long to decide that tomorrow isn’t coming.

          Reply

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 9:36 AM

            M’Vila would be a great signing (along with Sakho – I mentioned this over 18 months ago on TSG!). But you have to take into account that Wenger is a living legend in France and he has an edge over other managers re. young French talent. But, history will repeat itself when City sniff around with a double-your-money contract in 3 years!

            Reply

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 9:48 AM

              Of course it will but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. If you’re Arsenal and you stop being stupidly stubborn as they were with Cesc and Nasri you can do quite well with that sort of movement. It requires that it is planned for rather than reacted to after Wenger spends a summer stating that neither will leave. If Arsenal anticipates that they can only have players for so long because of their wage cap then they need to work on cycling players through. Instead they wasted a summer haggling and set the club back.

              Does he still have that edge? I’m not so sure he does due to the difference in contracts on offer. It has also been a long time since he won anything. A 16 year old kid isn’t going to care that Arsenal used to win things or that Wenger used to produce quality young players.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 10:08 AM

              Unfortunately, I don’t know what the original offer or what the proposed payment structue was vs. what was accepted. Arsenal were just trying to get the most revenue for their asset… they could have sold Fabregas for more money but he only wanted to go to Barcelona. Sometimes you need to receive the money first before you can spend, when you don’t have somebody bankrolling things…

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 10:44 AM

              Except that if they wanted to get the most revenue for their asset they would have sold Cesc last summer when he was worth more. Instead they foolishly kept him and cost themselves money while also not making any contingency plans for the fact that Cesc made it pretty clear that he was leaving for Barca at some point in the next couple of years.

              Also, I highly doubt that if Wenger went to Kroenke and said I need the money from Cesc to spend before we buy him because that way we’ll get better value for money that he’d be told no. Kroenke is not new to sports and has been successful.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 12:09 PM

              Hindsight is 20/20. Why would you think last summer that Fabregas would be worth less in 12months time, especially given his age? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 12:26 PM

              Every player is worth less each season unless they sign a new contract. Every year closer to the end of the contract a player is less valuable due to the fact that they are closer to free agency.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 12:44 PM

              So a player does not appreciate as he gets better? The fact is he still had a few years left on his contract. I think your theory only holds true when there is a real risk of losing a player on a Bosman. Not when there’s still 3 years left to run.

              Now, allowing Nasri’s contract to run down to the last year was extremely bad management (although Nasri did stall multiple times on signing a new deal when he said he would).

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/08/25 at 10:35 AM

          It appears that Wenger has decided that the prices being paid and transfers are crazy and have decided to sit it out.

          To some degree I agree about the craziness as it seems like there are maybe 10 teams that pay “whatever” for “whoever” and then there is a steep drop off. Aston Villa gets Given for 3.8M euro (sorry for swtiching but trying to fact check while at work) DeGea goes for 21m euro. Similarly both Chelsea and Man City singed back up keepers at 3X Given’s fee or more.

          Is DeGea that much better than Given? I don’t think so and for that Wenger is being smart not to pay petrodollar/russian ? inflated rates. The question is does Wenger get anything for being right. If they don’t qualify for the transfer league does his transfer kitty shrink when it comes to the point the market corrects?

          Reply

          • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 10:58 AM

            Wenger is banking on the Financial Fair Play rules to level the playing field in a few years. Unfortunately for him if he doesn’t qualify for the Champions League then that will damage the revenue for Arsenal and weaken their position once FFP kicks in fully. At that point he’s hoping that it will go back to being Arsenal and United (depending on how the Glazer’s debt is viewed in FFP terms) as they have been the ones who seem to do the best in financial terms. Although, if Man City is able to get ridiculous sponsorship deals from other Middle Eastern rich people that will be difficult to compete with.

            De Gea is not worth that much more than Given this year. De Gea is that expensive because he has shown that he is one of the young outstanding goalies and United have moved from spending big money on older players to spending that money on young players who they can then sell in a few years for profit once Real Madrid come sniffing around.

            Reply

    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/08/25 at 9:39 AM

      To keep with the Beane theme, you’re right on the money George. It doesn’t seem to me that the available coaching talent pool is very deep, and I imagine management is keenly aware of this. The fact that Arsene is considered an elite manager who has kept his teams at the top of the table without necessarily throwing the whole war chest at new signings is quite an accomplishment over ten years.

      What managers out there can make claim to similar accomplishments as Arsene?

      If he were to go, I think Arsenal would have to unearth a, fittingly, young manager on the rise. However, if his stubbornness persists I do see a downfall coming sooner rather than later; something that looks a bit like Rafa’s demise at Liverpool.

      Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 10:03 AM

      If I were a really big club, I’d put my money on Jurgen Klopp. And quickly! Before Borussia Dortmund become a big club themselves. They’ve got the huge stadium and the young talent; the Bundesliga lacks a big second club…the opening is there for them.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 11:19 AM

        But the question still remains: would he better Wenger (ceteris paribus)?

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 11:45 AM

          I think he would better the current Wenger.

          I think the best option, as I’ve said earlier, is to shake up the staff around Wenger. Wenger is clearly still talented, but when the most common description of Wenger is “stubborn”, this says to me Wenger is hearing too many of the same voices for year after year. It’s easy to get stuck in a groupthink situation.

          Compare Wenger to Ferguson. The latter has had his assistant coaches rotate through, either by accident or design. He had Quieroz for a while, then Walter Smith, and he keeps on cycling new voices through. I don’t think it’s an accident that Ferguson is able to keep things fresh with his team and continues to be innovative.

          Reply

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 12:29 PM

            How many times has Ferguson broke the transfer record? This accident you refer to is being able to blow most teams away in the transfer market. The reality is that if Chelsea, United, City and Arsenal identify the same transfer target, the likehood is that the player will decide to go with one of the former three. See my comment above for examples of players that have done just that.

            I have read a lot from has-beens and never-weres this week, but none of them have come up with any suggestions. I am 100% that AFC have contingency plans and targets that they want. But sometimes it is easier said than done.

            As frustrating as it is, at least AFC live within their means. But Arsenal fans should remember life before AW.

            I see that Gallagher brothers have done a complete 180. It wasn’t so long ago that they used to sneer at United and Chelsea for buying their success. Will they pen a song about this? Definitely maybe…

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 12:37 PM

              Of course United have more resources in the transfer market and by and large, they use them well (with some Bebe-sized exceptions).

              But I do think Ferguson’s rotating assistant coaches to make sure he always has new and different voices in his ear have helped. If Wenger did the same thing, I think Arsenal would be better off. Better than United over the same period? Certainly not. Better enough to capture an extra trophy or two? If the hypothetical hires were wise, I think so. And since success breeds success, I think Arsenal would’ve found it easier to retain the players they wanted to retain and hence go forward more positively.

  12. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 9:41 AM

    i hate that people make it out to be all about the money. what a devaluation of the spirit of the game.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 10:17 AM

      How many players do you see making a horizontal move, but cite “sporting ambitions” as the reason, whilst picking up a bumper contract? These shallow badge kissers are open to the highest bidder. Maybe it’s something you don’t understand because you don’t have the same emotional connection to a club or community because you’re 3000 miles away?

      Reply

      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 12:10 PM

        good points brit. i guess if someone is a dc united fan, they can love charlie davies just as much as they love chris pontius, even though one player is only at the team on loan. who does barra bravo love more, de ro, or cd9? isnt it probably the guy scoring the most goals and having the biggest impact. i know things are a little backwards in europe, but come on.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 12:34 PM

          It is all about the money and you don’t have to be from Europe to understand that. It’s always been about the money.

          Maybe we don’t see the guys jumping for money as such a big deal because free agency has existed in the US a lot longer than in Europe. Free agency existed in baseball since the early 70′s while Bosman didn’t come along until the mid 90′s.

          Reply

          • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 1:58 PM

            jared son, im sorry to break it to you, but it is all about the game, above all else.

            Reply

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 1:59 PM

              You keep telling yourself that. The game was given over to money a long time ago just look at the organization (FIFA) that runs it.

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 2:03 PM

              im sorry, i dont mean to call you son, you might be older than me. but if it was all about the money, the pittsburgh steelers would not be the most succesful team in the history of the NFL.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 2:09 PM

              There have always been big clubs, but the rich (G14) are getting richer and the gap is betting bigger. If it wasn’t about the money, do you think European clubs would be trotting off to all corners of the world (market extention) for their preseason tours?

              You’ve got to be an Egyptian fisherman not do see this, Sir.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/25 at 2:11 PM

              American football and football are two entirely separate sports that can’t be compared. The Steelers compete on a level playing field due to the salary cap system of the NFL. Arsenal compete in an artificially inflated situation made worse every year by the purchase of clubs by oil tycoons who can buy anyone they want.

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/25 at 2:28 PM

              if a club wants to sell its soul to the devil, thats on the club. man city has yet to prove that money can buy titles. chelsea, where is there european silverware, you dont see it do you? no, its about a system, which runs with money, but more importantly with smart people sailing the ship. you dont see a lot of idiots winning championships

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/25 at 11:55 PM

              Stop right there. Chelsea were the width of half a goal post away from winning in Moscow. And United have bought players for years.

              If you want further proof, look at Madrid from Hugo’s days forward. I only see one idiot here, mate…

  13. Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 10:08 AM

    by the way, a lot of people are calling Arsenal’s champions league group weak. If you compare it to the Group of Death (A), sure, it is…but if Arsenal play like they did in the two-legged Udinese playoff, they can very easily get bounced from the group. Both Dortmund and Marseille are better than Udinese (unless Arsenal buy Marseille’s best players.)

    Reply

  14. Posted by dth on 2011/08/25 at 12:10 PM

    OT, but Dutch reports of a JOLAZO in AZ’s Europa League qualifier to put the aggregate at 3-2 with an AZ away goal.

    Reply

  15. Posted by Jared on 2011/08/26 at 4:40 AM

    For further proof that Wenger is losing it, Arsenal apparently offered 6 million pounds for Gary Cahill who Bolton have him valued somewhere around 18 million. That’s just sad and not at all the way to get negotiations going especially when Bolton know that you have somewhere around 60 million from the sales of Cesc and Nasri.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jim S on 2011/08/26 at 12:58 PM

      Please check facts first. Arsenal has denied offering 6m and if required can provide proof of that. Cahill is valued around 16-18m but he’s in the last year of his contract and could easily sign a pre-contract in Jan and walk away on a free transfer, then Bolton would get nothing. Bolton is just pissed because Arsenal won’t fork over more knowing that they jsut sold nasri and cesc. If Citeh and the Other Billionaires Toy Clubs weren’t paying over inflated prices he’d be priced far lower. What actually jacks up his price the most in the Homegrown rule. So in the EPL the English players who are above average will go for far more than an equivalent foreign players (who didn’t come up through the epl youth system as that would be homegrown too). If Bolton were trying to transfer Cahill out of the EPL he would go for around 8m.

      At the same time, from the fan point of view, should Wenger meet the 18m asking price, most definitely. That comes with a caveat though. The higher the transfer, the more the player expects on weekly wages, so they aren’t just wasting 16.6m (that’s actually what they bid), they would probably end up wasting and additional 10-15,000 per week on wages. Over a four-year contract, your looking at 2-3m. so instead of paying 12m which is actually reasonable, adding the extra 6 million and the wages, make that now an 8-9m increase. that’s almost double what he’d be worth in the european transfer market.

      And actually who knows if he even minds paying more, because it seems the real people holding the salaries back is the board. Sometimes it helps to see both sides of the story before assuming someone has lost it because they aren’t willing to spend frivilously on players in the final year of their contract.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/26 at 1:47 PM

        I’d love for you to tell me how to check my facts when all the websites I read stated that Arsenal had made a bid of 6 mil including the BBC. Also Coyle quotes of the bid being derisory doesn’t make it seem like Arsenal actually bid 16 million either which I also read when I apparently should have been checking my facts. Next time I’ll just call Wenger.

        Also, I’m not stating that he’s losing it because he isn’t willing to spend frivolously. I’m stating that he’s losing it because Arsenal were from what I “researched” told that Cahill was theirs for 18 million. So he’s losing it if he thinks that Bolton will accept a bid of 1/3 what Arsenal were quoted.

        Also, Cahill can’t sign a precontract with a Premier League club until the end of the season per my understanding but could sign for a continental club on a precontract in January.

        Reply

  16. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/08/26 at 2:02 PM

    Upon looking at the interviews with Owen Coyle & Wenger about the Cahill offering I believe there is probably a lot of misinformation going on here. I believe that Arsenal did make a cursory low-ball offer but not as bad as the press are hammering on and typical of business dealings. I believe the bigger picture that needs to be looked as is what is the narrative being put out. Wenger and Arsenal by proxy are being percieved and portrayed as a decaying franchise who can’t keep their players, win trophys, or compete financially for players=can’t means won’t. This perception might not be true but Wenger certainly did not help his cause by stating “why should anyone be insulted by any offer, its either yes or no”. (If i had an ad on craigslist for a fender strat and someone comes over,takes a look it at it, and offers $ 5, of course I’m insulted)
    It could be a language thing, naivete, frustration with the accuracy of the story.portrayal of him, or stubborness but it plays into the media depiction of him and Aresenal.(its all about Branding!) It could also be a product or envy or xenophobia of some sort for some.But either way it doesn’t look good or garner any sympathy from fans or supporters. Now if Arsenal wins something who cares what people(or me) think.
    I think they should match the evaluation to demonstrate intent but I’m a guy who only goes to Olive Garden when they have the Never-Ending Bowl of Pasta Deal.

    Reply

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