By Walter Broeckx
You can often hear and read of some fans wishing we would be like Manchester City and Chelsea. The ones that are in it for the winning of things. I really like us to win anything and I will be filled with joy when it happens, but for me and I think for many of us here on Untold there is more about Arsenal than just winning a trophy. But as all people are different there are of course the dreamers of spending money as if it is nothing. Yes we know it can buy you trophies. But buying trophies is not the same as winning trophies.
But let us imagine that the board would sell our club to a very rich person who has money to burn and who wants to spend it on the club. Just typing those words sends shivers down my spine to be honest. I wouldn’t like it at all but well for Untold I want to imagine it.
So we would have the richest person in the world as our owner. And what would he do? He would go to all the other teams and outspend them. He would buy us Messi, Ronaldo and all the other mercenaries around. Hell I think he would even buy RVP back as he maybe will hear another child crying inside and suddenly believing in the project called money.
So all would be fine and nice. The supporters will be very happy with all the trophies we will buy. We wouldn’t care about FFP rules at all as… well we might bribe our way around it somehow. Or use accountants tricks to get round it. Or go off and create our own league for non-compliant clubs.
Now there is one team that is actually doing this (although not the last bit yet). A club that has won the league a few times in the last few seasons. Hell we even have a player in our team that has won the league with them last time. I am talking about Zenit St. Petersburg.
They have one of the richest sponsors in the world with Gazprom. Gazprom has almost a yearly higher profit than the whole EC together has a hole in their budget. I think they can even buy a country like Greece and take over their debts. Okay this might be slightly exaggerated but Gazprom has money to burn. As long as you burn it with gas.
A few weeks ago they went shopping in Spain and Portugal. And they bought themselves two players. Hulk and Witsel. It looked like a bargain to them. They only paid 80M Euro for both of them. I can hear some saying: we should do like them. I can hear a little boy shouting: this is the ambition I want to see. For half of that money Arsenal has bought 3 players.
Now how did the purchase of those two players affected the Zenit?
Let us start by on the field performances. Well since they have bought Hulk and Witsel… they haven’t won a single game. The last Russian champions lost at home to Terek Grozny with 0-2. They went to Malaga (now in financial trouble) in the CL and got beaten 3-0. A bit funny as the Spanish club who thought money was no problem but then it turned out to be a problem after all won against a team where money is no problem.
And then they managed to get a draw away at lower placed Krylya Sovetov (have you ever heard of them?). And now Zenit have dropped back to 5th place in the league and that after being first before the new toys arrived. Oh that should have been boys but never mind. It is correct.
So on the field things have gone backwards rapidly. Hulk scored a goal in the 2-2 draw. So that is not that bad maybe. And Witsel was bought with an injury so he still cannot play. But that is not a problem when you got money to burn of course.
But the most important thing is that there is a lot of unrest in the team of Zenit St. Petersburg for the moment. Club captain Igor Denisof and top scorer Alexander Kerzhakov have openly demanded a pay rise. They say that they don’t mind when the club buys new players and adds them to the squad but they cannot take it that those new boys without having kicked a ball get millions per year more than they are paid.
Denisof who earns himself the “workmans” wage of only 3M Euro a year thinks is it not right that the new boys earn up to 3 times what he earns. And so he and Kerzhakov want a pay rise of 2M a year. And if they don’t get it they will not play for Zenit again. As a result both are put back to the reserve team. And on the field they are losing points at a very high rate.
Coach Spaletti has said that there is unrest in the team. And that because of the dumb action (his phrase) of the two Russian internationals the whole team is suffering. I don’t know if the action can be described as dumb. I think when they see that their club has money to burn, they just want a little piece of it. How would you feel if you earn your money at a company and your boss hires two new people who do the same job as you do but who get 3 times as much as you get? Would you feel happy about it? Wouldn’t you feel a bit underrated by your boss?
Denisof said that if they would have bought Messi or Iniesta he could understand them being paid much more as they are worth it. But Hulk (okay not that bad) and certainly Witsel are just not that much better compared to them.
Both Denisof and Kerzhakov have played more than 500 games for Zenit up to now and are full Russian internationals. And it is understood that they are the only one because of their stature in the game in Russia who are brave enough to stand up to the club and ask to get a hefty pay rise. It is likely that others feel the same but don’t dare to be that open about it.
And so the team has fallen apart and the results suffer. Two of their best players in the past years are out of the team and maybe the other players think about the new ones : OK you earn 3 times what we earn so work 3 times as hard as we do on the field. And maybe don’t feel completely 100% happy and started under performing a bit.
An example of what can happen when a club pays too much money to bring in new players and now they have unrest in a team. So even having all the money and spending all the money can bring you in to trouble. Not that I mind. In fact I think it is rather funny.