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Where will Arsenal be in 4 years time?

Clubs rise unexpectedly, and clubs fall equally unexpectedly.   With hindsight it is easy, but for the futurologist it is tougher.

Take Wimbledon – who foresaw their rise to the 1st division all those years back?

Take Leeds – we might have raised collective eyebrows over their insane spending – but they weren’t the only ones doing it.  Only their accountant really knew where they were going, sinking from the top of Division 1 to 3 and quite obviously he wasn’t telling.

Some clubs rise up for a long time – Liverpool were a solid Division 2 club and then with one manager got themselves together and stayed up.  Sheffield Wednesday were a very solid first division club who decided the lower levels were more their style.

Some stays are short: Manchester Utd and Tottenham both trotted off to Division 2 for a season, just to have a look see.

Anyway, four years on should not be that tough to predict should it?

According to most commentators much will be the same as now.  It’s like the weather – if you want to predict tomorrow, the safest bet is “same as today”.  But I think not.  I think this is the turning point.  In four years time, life will look very different…

Manchester Bankrupt will be in the EPL but slipping away from the top.  Sir Alex F Word will have gone, and the owners who are clearly petrified of him, will use that change over moment as the opportunity to reign in the wild spending that has been part of his overlordship.   The issue will be – can they make Europe?   They will survive because the owners want to sell the club – and to do that they have to keep it afloat – somehow.  Their youth team will give them some support, but they will be selling.  Ultimately the banks will say, you have to pay the interest, you can’t just add it to the debt.  And then the game will be up.

Liverpool Insolvency will be insolvent.   The fact that the banks only gave them another six months on the loans this week shows how dodgy their position is.  The owners want to sell, but their resources are less than those behind Manchester Bankrupt.  They will either be in administration and sitting mid-table, or else in administration in all but name and going down fast.  That means no buying, but lots of selling.

KGB Fulham will be on the edge, and about to go over it.  I suspect that within the next 3 years Mr Abramovich will give notice that he is leaving, and wants his money back.  The deal is that it must be repaid in 18 months from the date of notice.  The club will be up for sale (the only way to get the money in fact) and will be sold, but at under the £600 million that has to be paid to Mr A, and so will survive with a mega debt, and a bank that desparately wants to get out.  Division 2 within four/five years.

Aston “hold your head if you get kicked” Villa are harder to call, but I suspect the owner will be ordering the sale of top players.  They might make it to the top four at the expense of the KGB, but could equally be back to mid-table.  If the owner calls it a day, they’ll go down.

The Tiny Totts, will, extraordinarily, survive.  The owner, tucked away in Barbados of where ever he hangs out manages to make a profit out of the idiots in charge, but no one knows how.  Chaos will continue – a new manager every year or so, no policy, no future planning – largely because of the chairman.   Could be back up to 5th, maybe higher if Manchester and Liverpool fall faster than I predict.  If the chairman stays, ultimately they will go down.

Sheik Yermoney’s Manchester City will be mucking around bouncing up and down, winning, losing, drawing…  The Ooze (that’s the manager) will have long since gone, replaced by all sorts of other people who try it for a year and bugger off.

Newcastle United will be lurking around the wrong end of the table, fighting it off with the clubs recently promoted – which will include QPR, with all the money they have.  QPR in fact could rise to mid-table respectability.

West Iceland Utd will be gone – blown away, bankrupt and relegated to the Conference.  They have everything against them.  Their owners are bankrupt, no one wants to buy the club, the club is losing money, Sheffield Utd are suing them for £50m and the FA and EPL have finally started the long awaited enquiry into the fact that while the club had told the FA that it had “torn up the contract” of Tevez, they were telling the solicitor of the agent of the player that everything was going ahead as before – and indeed they kept playing him.

The conduct of West Iceland is probably the most flagrant bit of cheating since Manchester Utd and Liverpool were fixing matches wholesale before the first world war, and this is clearly the end of the club.

Football money from Sky will be about 70% of what it is now and heading lower, largely because of the 0-0 and 1-0 games, which are  the result of rotational fouling, rotational timewasting and similar tactics.  Crowds will be way down and no one will want to watch the run-of-the-mill games in which 11 men sit behind the ball and fall over a lot.

Clubs in the Championship that stay within their means will be having fun, playing exciting football with high-scoring games to growing crowds.   When faced with promotion to the EPL they will suddenly lose four in a row in an attempt to stay where they are – because although Sky money is only 30% down, the next deal is due, and that will take the money down to 10% of its current level.  Top division is not worth it.

As for Arsenal – that’s the hardest one to call.  If the rampant negativity that is everywhere at the moment continues,  the Lord Wenger might call it a day, and we would have problems.  But let us consider that he stays.  If so we will have a team with the likes of Van Persie at his utter prime, worshipped as one of the greatest players we have ever had.  Next to him Carlos Vela and Eduardo, the great goalscoring pair, alternating between matches.   Coming up fast behind him is Wilshere, alongside Cesc and Theo running the most creative midfield the world has ever seen.  I suspect Denilson may be there too, but I worry about the horrible negative coverage he is getting.

Clichy and Sagna will be there, although the central defence will be different, with Djourou and Nordtvedt controlling everything.

We will be, at last, getting our EPL trophies year by year.  Europe will be harder, because we will have slipped as a league so far behind a revitalised Spanish, German and Italian league.

We’ll do this because

a) our debt is controlled, being in relation to stadium

b) our support is huge and even if the waiting list for season tickets falls away there are always supporters more coming along to the waiting list.

c) our youth policy is utterly sustainable.  Top players know they can come, get the very best treatment and coaching, and play.

d) Thierry Henry will be a member of the youth coaching staff.

So that’s the future.  As for the present, did you know that one blog is now calling people who support Arsene Wenger in all things, “Arsenal extremists”?   If you find yourself frustrated and annoyed by such a phrase, and you like me believe in Wenger, then this saturday there’s a new HIGHBURY HIGH on sale, containing such a cornucopia that you won’t know your corn has been coped.  I heartily recommend it to every supporter, not least because there’s something by me in it.

Highbury High will be on sale outside the ground on Saturday for only two pounds.  (Listen for the jolly cries of “Brand New Highbury High”).

Subscriptions cost £12 for 6 issues (£15 in Europe, £18 for Rest of the World). Send a cheque for £12 to Highbury High, 11 Tannington Terrace, Gillespie Road London N5 1LE.  If you don’t I shall be very upset.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

15 comments to Where will Arsenal be in 4 years time?

  • MoMONEY

    I feel like the EPL may already be the second best league… What happens if Real beat Liverpool and Inter beat ManU (both very possible). Chelsea will probably lose to Juve as well and our matchup is a bit of a tossup with the injuries. I honestly think Spain may be better. Barca (unfathomable level of football), Real, Valencia (Silva, Joaquin, Villa just as dangerous as gerrard + Torres), Villareal, Atletico (aguero is class), Sevilla. All extremely qualified teams compared to ManU (slipping), Liverpool (never really impressive), Chelsea (needed own goals to advance from each round last year), Arsenal, and aston villa (flavor of the week but wont last when Young is sold IMO). I think the Spanish league is stronger then the EPL already. Its just the british marketing machine that convinces people David Beckham is the best in the world, Rooney is a world class striker, and Ronaldo is the best in the world, seem to have convinced everyone that there is no debate as to which league is best…

  • aqqe

    I wrote a really long comment but forgot to ‘answer the question’. I might re-do it later.

    Great blog, keep it up.

  • Ian Trevett

    Love your look into the future. Hope it all comes true, well we can all dream.
    It is mostly fantasy, but one absolute killer truth. The biggest threat to Arsenal is the negativity from our own fans – on the blogs, in the seats (the ones that aren’t empty) and on the radio phone-ins. Why would Wenger want to sign a new contract with all this sniping?
    I love going to the Arsenal, but I’m always surprised about how many people who sit around me who seem to be hating every moment. That isn’t just now, these people were like this when we had Vieira, Bergkamp and Henry, though they are worse now.
    If you are going to the Bolton game tomorrow – enjoy yourseleves and shout encouragement (it is actually good fun). For all the doom-mongers, all we need to do is scrape a 1-0 win and by the end of the weekend we’ll be 4 points behind Chelsea and all the pressure will be on Big Phil!

  • BoyNextDoor

    I am also worried about Denilson for the negativity directed against him.
    However, he seems to have settled in the first team quite well now, and improve game after game. I’m so glad to learn that Eduardo,Vela&Denilson have formed a very close friendship. Vela and Denilson will look up to Eduardo and learn the resolve and determination of Eduardo.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Ian, the fans have been very patient while he has remodelled the club but his strategy is failing, we are playing poor football, always now competing for 3-4 spot Tony implies Arsenes philosphy will come to fruitition in 3-4 years time. That will be nearly 8 years getting it in place without much success. its flawed but so close with the addition of just 3-4 serious players. I just can’t understand why he refuses to supplement the team with experience. we are grateful to Wegner but this team is not where its at right now. you snipe at people who are doom mongering and having a go but they are players are patently not Arsenal quality and NEVER will be, you know your names. Seeing some players attitudes is sickening. they could’nt care less. why should we? I see the potential as you say but there IS ALWAYS something. injuries we never plan for, poor players among truly great players, attitude problems, insane mistakes. I just can’t see it changing any time soon. The fans need a lift now and as shallow as it is bringing in a player like Ardshavin will be great to see. There is a camp of fans between Pro-Arsene policy and Anti- Arsene policy, I fall into that camp. a bit of moderation of youth and experience is something we need. I think slowly but surely Arsene will see it that way too either through injuries or pitch performance and remember he can be quite ruthless with players if performance does’nt come. MoMONEY – i can’t see any of the Spanish teams beating English, even barca. They really are a step above them in the last few years. too much power and pace. You won’t get the room against English teams Barca do to play champagne football.

  • Ian Trevett

    Hi Colonel-
    Some fans have been patient, others not. No-one outside the board and the manager himself, really knows if there is any money to spend.
    We would all like to see more quality players come into the club. Where the pro- and Anti Wenger split lies is:
    Pro – Wenger has magnificiently managed the club over the last four-five season with a budget that has been wiped out by the cost of building a very expensive stadium
    Anti- Wenger is conducting an experiment with only youth players and he is too stubborn to see it isn’t working.
    I am in the first camp, as you may have guessed! But I think the frugal days are now coming to an end as the up-front costs of the stadium have now been dealt with. It would have been wildly stupid to invest heavily in transfers and then an unforeseen cost comes up that the club couldn’t afford.
    So if Wenger does spend now (and I agree we do need a lift by a big signing to unite the support)), both camps will claim they are right. The Pros will say Wenger is now reaping the reward from his sensible fiscal policy. The Antis will say he has finally listened to the patently obvious.
    Either way, I still stand by my original point, the biggest risk is negativity (as Tony points out in the blog). The last four years have been hard, albeit only because of the expectations Wenger has created by his success, but the future is bright. There will be money to spend and we do have some very good young players. We just need more Gooners to believe it..

  • Jonny Neale

    I have a more balanced opinion of Wenger – yes we should all be immensely grateful and supportive of what he has achieved. The stability at our club is largely down to the great man and we should never lose sight of the bigger picture. I am angry at the schism which seems to be developing amongst supporters, too many of whom are short on attention span and patience. 4 years is actually not a long time to go without a trophy – I have had many Spurs fans gloat about their Carling Cup success last year, which I always find too laughable to respond to.

    All of this notwithstanding, Wenger is extremely frustrating at times and, like all of us, does have shortcomings. As supporters I don’t see it as my duty to support every decision he makes but I do think he is the best manager on the planet – just who would we get to replace him? As I said, keep the bigger picture in mind.

    On the subject of how this negativity will affect him I think you are all looking at it the wrong way – there is nothing more likely to my mind to keep Wenger at the club. He lives to show that he is right – when everyone else laughs and says you can’t go unbeaten for a season he just grits his teeth harder. I’d worry more about unqualified success!

    Keep the moaning and the barbs coming – he redouble his efforts and get there in the end.

    With regards the fall in TV revenues I am yet to be convinced this will happen.

    At the end of last year invitations were sent to brodacasters to tender for the television rights for the three seasons starting August 2010. Apparently the value of the rights increased by 60 per cent. A blind auction for the rights will take place in the spring and whilst no one expects an increase of that much this time the expectation is for a at least a small increase on the current model. The blind bidding probably ensure this.

    Sky will obviously renew its rights and Setanta will also want to ensure it keeps it’s ‘Prem Plus’ package. The Setanta operation is currently close to breaking even.

    The interesting contender is ESPN – where Gazidas came from. They already have two sports channels and there are rumours of interest from them – which could skew the pricing dramatically.

  • Jonny Neale

    That should have read ‘…the value of the rights LAST TIME increased…’

  • Spot On 47

    Regardless of where you play or coach, Pro and Anti polarization will evolve.

    The global financial meltdown will give all of football a facelift over the next 24 months.

    Investing in talented youth reflects a big vision for long term club success, performance, and profitability. Arsenal assets are its football image, attendance, media royalty, licensing, and players value.

    At Wenger’s age, I believe his competitiveness will not allow him to wait for 3-4 years for silverware.

    A few ‘experienced’ players are needed to raise the teams confidence and performance. We’ve lost the consistency of last year.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Ian, Jonny – What are you impressions of our current team and squad?

  • don't believe the hype

    Tony and Ian I agree with your points.

    I don’t think the negativity will affect Wenger, but it might affect some of the players, especially the overseas players. Unless the referees clamp down on the anti-football, the PL will become less of a draw and we could see even more of our best players leaving. We can only hope that the home grown players would want to stay, but having been brought up with the cream of overseas talent, perhaps their desire to stay in a dying league would lessen and their willingness to try their luck abroad may grow. We really need to show all our players some love if we want to increase the chances of keeping them here.

  • simba

    Wenger hints at Arshavin deal
    Arsene Wenger has hinted that negotiations aimed at bringing Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin to Arsenal are progressing well.

    Arshavin has been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium this month and it was reported earlier this week that talks had begun over the transfer of the Russian forward, who could cost up to £20million.

    Wenger, refused to rule out a move for Arshavin last week but remained coy when asked about whether the 27-year-old was close to signing for the Gunners on Friday.

    “We do not want to talk too much about who we want to buy,” Wenger told Arsenal TV online.

    “At the moment I cannot give you any good news but in this job no news is good news. Nothing has fallen through. We are on alert in the transfer market.”

    He also hinted that he was also in the market for a defensive midfielder to bolster his injury-hit squad.

    “That is also a priority,” he said.

    “We are not in the big league. We are a little short because we wanted a player like (Tomas) Rosicky to play 80% of games and he has not played at all.

    “We want to spend money but as everyone knows, and as the the chairman has said, we have money available but we have limited resources, and you want to spend it in the best way possible.”

    The Frenchman also quashed rumours that Kolo Toure, who recently retracted a transfer request, could leave the Emirates and was adamant that nobody will leave the club this month.

    “That (Toure story) is finished. We will not sell any players this month.”

    Wenger sees this weekend as an opportunity for Arsenal to get their Barclays Premier League title bid back on track.

    Title rivals Manchester United and Chelsea will lock horns at Old Trafford on Sunday and Wenger believes the result could help his side move up from the fifth position they currently occupy should the Gunners get a result at Bolton.

    “It’s an interesting possibility for us to get us closer to one of the two at least, if not both of them,” he added.

    “Ideally I’d like it to be a 1-1, but more importantly for us, we have to focus on our game and get the points then any result will be positive because it will give us an opportunity to catch those two and the rest in front of us.”

    Arsenal go in to the match on the back of an unbeaten six-match run in the league and Wenger hopes another win at the Reebok Stadium will convince doubters that his side are serious title contenders.

    He said: “We want to put in a good performance and if we do then I believe that people will change their mind about our team – they mean business, they work hard, they are serious and I want the team to be rewarded for that.”

    Manuel Almunia is expected to line up against the Trotters in goal tomorrow.

    Wenger rubbished claims he is set to bid for wantaway Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given by saying he has full faith in his number one and back-up Lukasz Fabianski.

    “We have two keepers in Almunia and Fabianski that we rate highly,” Wenger said.

  • Ian Trevett

    Colonel – my impressions

    First team is a match for anyone.
    Almunia
    Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy
    Walcott, Denilson, Fabregas, Nasri
    Adebayor, van Persie

    There is a concern about the defensive side of midfield which is outweighed by the attacking threat of this side. But with Walcott and Fabregas out, and Nasri often injured we are struggling to break teams down – hence the interest in Arshavin.

    Top drawer reserves are Ramsey (looks ready), Song (very versatile), Diaby (best position?), Toure (hope he stays), Silvestre (safeish option), Eduardo (hopefully)

    Very Close – Gibbs, Vela, Wilshere.

    The team has recently had both Eboue and Bendtner starting which isn’t ideal. Eboue worked hard against Portsmouth (as did Bendtner in the second half) but neither open up defences. Creativity is where we lack most at the moment with the current injuries.

  • Jonny Neale

    Hi Colonel,

    Of the present team – I think we do have to remember the obvious misfortune we have had with injuries. Its easy to argue that if we had a little more depth we would have won the league last season but the truth is we were hit harder than ANYONE could have predicted – even Ferguson admitted Scum U would not have coped with the number of injuries The Arse had, and that speaks volumes. This year has been, if anything, worse, though it is obvious to most Arsenal fans we did not have enough defensive cover to start with.

    I do think letting Diarra leave was a mistake but I also think we have a squad that is quite unique in the history of football – and this is affecting Wenger’s thinking. Can there ever have been such big football club, challenging for the top honours in the game, with such a deep treasure trove of youth?

    It takes vision and an awful amount of patience to build a masterpiece and that is what Wenger is working towards. It might take another 2 or 3 years ( during which time the pressure will ever intensify) but it will be landmark achievement and one that could produce a new era of dominance.

    Bringing in experience will perhaps bring success sooner but it may destabilise some of the talent coming through and that would be a pity. As I said before there is a bigger picture here – excellently highlighted by Tony – where clubs will start to disintegrate financially because of the ludicrous impatience (and the spending to satiate it) of clubs, fans and the media alike.

    I woud like to see a big central defender brought in and I find it something of a mystery as to why Fulham’s Brede Hangelend hasn’t been targeted by any club yet.

    I’d really like a new goalkeeper – an area where Wenger has always failed to properly prioritise. I would be happy to see Wenger splash out 5-15 Million on a worldbeater in this position and I don’t understand why Wenger has devalued the importance of this position by always trying to buy on the cheap. With a great keeper last season we would have won the league comfortably (especially when you consider the 6 points Mad Jens dropped for us in the first couple of games of the season!).

    I think Denilson is doing an exceptional job in midfield – the stats bear this out and that by this time next year he will have grown immensely in stature and be able to command the midfield more. Coquelin looks promising as an understudy.

    I do think the team needs a lift at the moment and if Arshavin can be bought on reasonable terms I certainly wouldn’t be unhappy.

    In summary, and sorry for sounding like a cracked record, the real issue to me is the lack of patience and the increase in expectation that is poisoning modern football. Success isn’t a God given right and throwing money around is not the solution for long term viability as a club.

    And what are your thoughts?

  • Jonny Neale

    Oh yes, I would also look to offload Bendtner and Eboue, get what we can for them and move on.

    Bentdner never looks as though he is trying and I understand is not a popular dressing figure – I do not know why Vela, who seems much more skillfull, is not given more of a chance.

    I agree pretty much entirely with Ian’s analysis of the team.

    I had a conversation with a fellow Gooner the other day about trying out a new formation – based on a fit squad obviously.

    4-1-3-1-1
    Almunia
    Sagna Gallas Djourou Clichy
    Toure
    Denilson Fabgregas Walcott
    Nasri/Adebayor
    Van Persie

    The idea being using Toure as a sweeper but between midfield and defence. When he drops back to cover we have added protection to our defence and it frees up the wing backs. He can play comfortably in midfield and so has license to push forwards when we have the ball and to help add some defensive steel to the midfield.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect (pushes Denilson wide for one) but it does play to our strengths of ‘total football’ flexibility and would provide added bite and protection defensively.

    I have to say I miss Toure, he was always our most consistent player and brings a lot to the table. I think it is a pity he has lost his place in the first team.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?