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October 2016
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The press are telling us Arsenal can win the league. But why can’t Man C?

By Tony Attwood

Manchester City were bought by Sheikh Mansour, with an estimated individual net worth of at least £17 billion with a family fortune of at least $1 trillion, in September 2009.

He removed Manchester City’s accumulated debt of over £300m and has since worked, and is continuing to work, on the infrastructure of the club.   The approximate amount spent on transfers in is around £300m.  £500m was said to be available to ensure that Manchester City reached to top of English and European football.

So what has the owner got as a result of this investment of nearly £1bn

In terms of Europe, Man C have not progressed beyond the last sixteen or either the Europa League or the Champions League.  Here are the league and FA Cup details…

  • 2009: 10th in League, 3rd round in the FA Cup
  • 2010: 5th in League, 5th round in the FA Cup
  • 2011: 3rd in the League, winners in the FA Cup
  • 2012: 1st in the League, 3rd round in the FA Cup
  • 2013: 2nd in the League, runners up in the FA Cup
  • 2014: 1st in the League, 4th round in the FA Cup
  • 2015: ? in the League, 4th round in the FA Cup

So, for £300m transfer investment, £300 spent paying for past accumulated debt, and probably the same amount again on infrastructure (or maybe closer to £400m), Man City have won the league twice and the FA Cup once in seven years.

As for the stadium Man City pay the council £3m a year and and Etihad airlines have said they will create a British hub for Etihad Airways.

Now of course with projects like this it can be said that the results will be seen in the future – but it is not clear if this is the case.  Certainly this year’s league table, and the failure in Europe suggest that the imagined duopoly of oil rich Chelsea and Man City winning everything has not happened after seven years of mega investment.

Man City were hauled back once by European FFP, although they did get the damage reduced on appeal, and they have been helped enormously by the apparent abandonment of FFP in the Premier League.  So the harm hasn’t been done too much at that end.  It just seems that seven years is not enough time to get to dominance.

Certainly Man City have been able to take themselves into the top three over the past four years and they have won three of the main domestic trophies over the period.  And that of course is more than Arsenal.  But I think maybe the owners, and some supporters and commentators expected more.

Does this mean that £900m to £1bn spent on infrastructure, players and debt clearance is not enough to get a club right to the top?  If so, just how much does it cost?  Presumably over £1bn.

And that is interesting because it could be this that puts off further rich investors.   I think some (like the Venky’s at Blackburn) thought they could do it for far far less than this.   Man City has been a bit of a wake up call all round.

Of course Man City’s investment is in huge contrast with the struggle that Arsenal have had to pay for their £380m stadium over this time, and the rent of £3m a year that Man City have to pay looks like peanuts compared to Arsenal’s year on year investment – all done without the £900m investment package.

Which raises the question: what of Arsenal in the face of this £1bn investment?

Clearly we haven’t won the league in these last years, and just have last season’s FA Cup and a nearly paid for stadium to show for our endeavours.  But at the same time, our old chums who write under the name “Telegraph Sport” have come up with an article saying…

Arsenal can win the Premier League – here are seven reasons why

Now I don’t take much note of the Telegraph when it says negative stuff about Arsenal so I am not going to say much when they are positive, but still, I always strive for balance… (No actually I don’t, but anyway I want to quote this).

My point here is that after seven years of Man C investment and Arsenal’s struggling to pay for the stadium, Man C are being given a rough ride by the press who have suddenly started writing these seven reasons for hope…  (This is an abbreviated review of the Telegraph’s piece)…

1: Four out of Arsenal’s last six matches are at home

“Arsenal have won their last nine home matches in the League – a club record – and has included impressive wins such as the 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool at the start of April.   In the form Arsenal are in at the moment, it’s hard to see Swansea, Sunderland and West Brom picking up any points in north London.”

2: Chelsea are still to visit the Emirates

“A defeat for Jose Mourinho’s men could also affect them negatively in their remaining fixtures.”

3:  Arsenal’s squad is stronger than any in the league

“Arsenal have more Premier League goalscorers this season than any other team, and Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky can’t get a game right now.  At the back, Arsenal look almost as well staffed with international defenders Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers similarly twiddling their thumbs.

“Just to add to Arsenal’s options, they are soon to welcome back Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also to return before the end of the season….”

4: Arsenal can’t stop winning at the moment

“Eight league wins in a row is Arsenal’s best run since the ‘Invincibles’ season, and in that run they haven’t once fallen behind or conceded an equaliser….”

5: United at Old Trafford should hold no fears

On paper, a match away at in-form Manchester United looks like being Arsenal’s toughest test, but their 2-1 win in the FA Cup will put paid to any inferiority complex.

6:  If opposition goalkeepers stop dropping clangers, Chelsea will start dropping points

“Chelsea can’t keep getting away with the insipid displays that have characterised their recent form…”

7: Chelsea have some tough looking fixtures

You can imagine the rest.

Of course this is just a Telegraph dream, written just to set us up to knock us down, but still, it is interesting.

While Man City are being pushed off their perch and this week people are talking up Liverpool again, we’re being set up as very unlikely possible champions.

But that’s no my point here.  My point is that Man City have invested nearly a billion pounds turning the club round, and they have improved their results a lot.   But they don’t have the domination that I think their owner and his advisers imagined they would have by now.

Nor do we, of course, but we are on the up, and we haven’t used up the money of an obscenely rich family.

I think it makes our re-birth all the more remarkable.

Of course we could have taken billion pounds from an oil rich person, but then morally we’d be in the same place as Man City.  I’d sooner be where we are.

Untold Arsenal

17 comments to The press are telling us Arsenal can win the league. But why can’t Man C?

  • goonersince72

    Tony I agree with the points you make about City and I prefer to support a club like Arsenal, as you know. My answer to the question is that while City were clearing up debt and buying every attacking player available, they failed to address age and wear and tear in two key areas – defense and holding midfield. Teams (including Arsenal) are running right through them. While I am an admirer of your writing, and Untold, I wish you wouldn’t have reprinted that obvious set-up piece from ‘Telegraph Sport’, that anonymous, gutless group (HW) of MU supporters. They only deserve your disdain.

  • Josif

    I like the part about the Old Trafford match. It’s interesting to point out our FA Cup victory was just the third match in which we scored more than one goal at the Old Trafford in Wenger-era – previous two were FA Cup victory in 2002-03 (2:0) and that defeat from 2011-12 (2:8) – but it looked to me like we are at least two levels above United. Personally I’m more afraid of the match against Swansea at home than the one at the Old Trafford.

    Anyway, speaking of our current team, we do have The Invincible Squad. We haven’t lost a game with Ospina between the sticks, Nacho on the left full-back, Coquelin on the defensive midfielder, Alexis on the either wing and Giroud in the attack. Sort of a winning spine, I’d say. Basically, according to the stats, if we put a team like this:

    Ospina-Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal-Coquelin, Cazorla-Özil-Ramsey, Giroud, Alexis (or a version where Welbeck gets the nod ahead of Ramsey)

    you can feel safe as it’s very likely we won’t lose.

  • Oluwatoba

    As far as the press is concerned, Mr. M. Pellegrini is no longer the Coach of Man C and Mr. J. Klopp is to be their next Manager. Of course their lines ain’t complete without Mr. J’s possible veering off to the grove to take over the largest Coaching shoes in the premier league. What is the world turning into? Is this a downside of the ‘Information Age’ or just the unfortunate tip of the iceberg of the incoming ‘Wisdom Age’

  • Menace

    Stand aside Telegraph – I saw the possibility 3 weeks ago. The combination of OOOooooooooooooospina & The Coq has strengthened the Arsenal spine. The stability has paid dividends. It is a question of when the chavs slip like JT did a few games ago.

    COYG the FA Cup final is a start………….

  • GoingGoingGooner

    My take on things is that Man City is doing about as well as can be expected. They are in the top tier of teams, though not in form right now. In their first 3 years they improved year on year and won the title in the 4th yr and again in the 6th yr. I believe the law of diminishing returns kicks in at some point. The first £1000m was enough to take them near the top and to win a couple of times, but to be dominant (a la Bayern Munich), as opposed to competitive, which may well take three or four times that amount what with other rich teams around. And, as you said Tony, it takes a lot of things lining up correctly to actually win the championship.

  • para

    Whatever happens end season, AW will only be leaving the post(probably not Arsenal) when they find a suitable replacement, and of course they have been looking since 2 or 3 seasons ago.

    If Klopp is one they have looked at, they(Arsenal and AW) would have to now decide if Klopp’s availability now(end season) is now the right time to get him.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Man Shitty can probably righten their ship for next season by following these simple steps – most of which was brought up by ‘them’ smart alecks who tried to advice Arsenal ( but failed !).
    Who’s to say that this blue print might not be the right way for the Citizens .

    1) Sack the clueless manage ! That ought to work !
    Not withstanding the fact that he has been a winner in Manchester and also in Spain. And a gentleman to boot .
    Promote from the legions of successful armchair and online soccer managers .

    2) Unfurl them black scarves ; wear those ” Enough is enough is enough !” witty t-shirts that you have been dying to show off ; get out those black bin bags and congregate outside the stadium and disrupt those who want to get in to cheer the team on .

    3) Get rid of all the deadwood . Move them on to the more gullible clubs at a profit ala Chelski . To avoid FFP and all that you know .
    Surely there must be a fool around who is willing enough to part with his money, just to show that he is smarter than the rest .
    Or sell them to one of your other clubs in other continents , where no one checks accounts .Who in their right minds would refuse to move to the Bahamas or other sunny locales ?

    4)Promote those youngsters that you have been gradually and patiently grooming and nurturing over the years in you academy .You know , to play the ‘City’ way !
    Go on , take a few minutes to laugh your head off !

    5)Spend some more fucking money ! You cannot take it with you to the grave anyway – so open them taps and have some fun now ! And oil prices are sure to go up soon enough .

    6)Listen very carefully to the journos , pundits and commentators – they seem to know their stuff !You’d probably learn something from them . Stop holding you breath !

    If you chose to follow the above advice and decide to implement them ( at your own risk ,of course !) , please send the cheque to Mr. Brickfields Gunners c/o UA .

    I’m off to order a corduroy 3 piece suit that I’d always wanted since the early seventies .With matching corduroy bow tie too .Nothing says ‘class’ more than that !

  • GoingGoingGooner


    Mmmm can’t forget my corduroy bell bottoms

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ GGG – Lucky you . Never owned a Levi’s STA-PREST , either! But I had a 25 inch denim bell bottoms .Ohhh , were those guys all envious !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sample resignation letter –

    Consultant from Oxford Self-Outsources

    Why did you resign?
    Too much Management-Speak

    What are you going to do next?
    Self-Outsource to a less pretentious company

  • Andy Mack

    One thing with $iteh which won’t necessarily be the case with the Chavs is that such a large amount of the oil money has been invested in infrastructure and the academy that even if they walked away right now, they have put $iteh in a position where they’re pretty cemented as a top half of the table team at the very least. If The Russian dodgy dealer walked away now, I’m not certain the Chavs could say the same, and won’t be able to until they sort out their stadium, and although they may have an academy it’s got too much London competition whereas the 2 Manchester clubs have little competition over an enormous area for their ‘catchment’. If they had a few more academy players in the 1st team squad then maybe they’d be an attractive option but they only have money on their side at the moment.

  • Menace

    These oiler clubs are all in debt to their directors (owners). If the owner walks the club dies because of the debt. United is in a slightly different situation in that the debt is to financial bodies.

    City has a fantastic set of players but no system. If they (had) learned to play Wengerball they would be way above the rest of the EPL. It is so easy to underestimate the system that is Wengerball. The Master has paid a debt to the football Gods for many years to get to his system. He is the one who brought the holistic approach to the player. The health, the morals, the respect, the skills, the fitness, the system & Arsenal are all parts of his education in how to play the game. That unfortunately breeds a level of contempt by the corrupt who no longer can control the feed to their wealth. That is why Wenger is targetted because he has interrupted a flow of brown envelopes, white goods, holidays & a variety lubricants that made sauce for the gravy train of the corrupt.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Paradoxical Commandments
    by Dr. Kent M. Keith

    1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
    2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
    3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
    4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
    5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
    6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
    7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
    8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
    9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
    10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Benefactor

    A man returns home a day early from a business trip. It’s after midnight.While en route home he asks the cabby if he would be a witness. The man suspects his wife is having an affair and he wants to catch her in the act. For $100, the cabby agrees.
    Quietly arriving home, the husband and cabby tip toe into the bedroom. The husband switches on the lights, yanks the blanket back and there is his wife in bed with another man!

    The husband puts a gun to the naked man’s head.

    The wife shouts, ‘Don’t do it ! I lied when I told you I inherited money:

    HE paid for the Porsche I gave you.

    HE paid for our new cabin cruiser.

    HE paid for your football season tickets.

    HE paid for our house at the lake.

    HE paid for your Hawaiian golf vacation.

    HE paid for our country club membership, and HE even pays the monthly dues!’

    Shaking his head from side-to-side, the husband lowers the gun. He looks over at the cabby and says, ‘What would you do?’

    The cabby replies, ‘Me? I’d cover his ass with that blanket before he catches a cold!!’

  • Gord

    The PFA shortlists for player of the year and young player of the year are out. Francis Coquelin did not make either short list.

    The Huffington Post, has an article out (by an author who apparently works for Liverpool), about France Coquelin being a more valuable player than Harry Kane is (who did make the short lists).

  • Gord


    Congratulations to Alexis for making one of the shortlists (Player of the Year).