With pre-tax profits of around £17.8m for the 6 months up until November and a cash pile of £123.3m Arsenal look in great form financially. But, on the field, the team isn’t doing the business. It would be wonderful to know the truth behind Arsenal’s thriftiness in the market. Is Arsene Wenger unimpressed by the football talent on offer around the world, or is he really against the idea of spending the sort of money that it requires to buy genuine, top tier talent? Or, are his hands tied by a board that is more interested in the club’s bank balance, than having a truly competitive team?
A few days ago the Arsenal boss made the following comments when asked if he would be prepared to spend big on a player like Radamel Falcao
“We can do it and if we can afford it, we will not say no,”
“I am not reluctant to spend and if we find tomorrow a player of top, top, top quality, we will take him.”
“First of all, we only had money recently. Secondly, in England there is a way of thinking that every problem is sorted out just by spending money but that’s not always the case. If it was like that, the same teams would win the Champions League every year.”
“I believe that the problem today is not the money, it’s to find the talent that strengthens your team. We went out to spend money at Christmas but we didn’t find the players.”
Top, top, top quality? Isco, Falcao, Hummels, Wanyama, Cavani, Neymar, Lewandowski. These guys arguably all come into that category and are all available at the right price. They would certainly all improve the team and give the fans a boost. Actions speak louder than words. We have witnessed the words. So many of them. But we are still waiting for the actions. And meantime Arsenal continue to sign mid-priced, mid-level talent.
Arsenal is one of the most expensive places in the country to watch a game of football. Is the the board exploiting the loyalty of the fans? Sometimes it appears as if the top brass believe that, whatever they charge and however little they spend on the squad, the fans will keep coming to watch their team. But that loyalty will be sorely tested if things don’t change. I was with a season ticket holder at the weekend who told me that he won’t be renewing next season. He’s had enough of watching a team decline year on year while the prices continue to rise.
Arsenal used to be one of the most difficult places in Europe to go and get a result. But teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City now fully expect to come away from the Emirates with 3 points.
The really sad thing is that Arsenal are so close to returning to the top. They scout youth extremely well. They don’t need to buy a whole squad. They just need to complement all those brilliant youngsters with some tried and tested experience. Buying proven class will not only improve the team but give the young players immeasurable experience. Rafael Da Silva, of Manchester United, crystallised this point at the weekend when talking about Ryan Giggs.
“Every game you see him, he works hard, scores, makes assists. It is getting boring. He is just such a good player. He is the same in training; he just loves to play the game. He is one of the top players that I have played with.
“He gives us experience, confidence, and when you are feeling bad he comes and helps you, especially young players.
“Sometimes a young player finds it tough going and he helps them to show how to do it. He knows it from playing for 22 years.
“He pulls the player aside. He spoke to me a lot when I was young.”
Arsenal simply don’t have enough of these sorts of players around because they aren’t prepared to pay the money to keep players like RvP. Players who not only do the business on the pitch but help the young colts to become top players.
The Arsenal coach last year prophesised a bleak future for football.
“I believe that Europe overall, as a unit, is going towards a massive crisis, which nobody really expects now. I am convinced that Europe will go into a huge financial crisis within the next three weeks or three months and maybe that will put everything into perspective again.”
Maybe Arsenal’s prudence will pay off as other elite clubs go to the wall in the next few years. But we don’t think this will happen. Arsenal need to spend some serious money to avoid terminal decline. It’s that simple.