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This is the worst Arsenal team since the last time we said it was the worst Arsenal team.

By Tony Attwood

So what do we make of all this?  Last season was dubbed by the media, (always anxious to find some new depth to which Arsenal have slipped), as the worst in 21 years.  So the keyboards of the pub based scribblers are prepared to make this the worst in 22 years, with the table showing us in 7th.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester City 17 16 1 0 52 11 41 49
2 Manchester United 17 12 2 3 37 11 26 38
3 Chelsea 17 11 2 4 31 14 17 35
4 Tottenham Hotspur 17 9 4 4 30 14 16 31
5 Liverpool 17 8 7 2 34 20 14 31
6 Burnley 17 9 4 4 16 12 4 31
7 Arsenal 17 9 3 5 30 20 10 30

Of course if one wants to one can always say we are just one point off fourth, but in many ways it hardly seems to matter, what with the title race proving that with six clubs in a franchise spread around the world, unlimited funds, no FFP and a dictatorship behind you, any club, not matter what its pedigree or past, can win the league by a mile.

I see that one or two people, contemplating Arsenal’s plight, are returning to the issue of changing the manager, and of course that might help – but the key word is “might”.  Most of the time managerial changes don’t help clubs beyond giving them a short lived bounce.  Mr Wenger’s arrival at Arsenal was an exception: a manager coming in without a huge amount of extra cash being made available to him, and he turns the club around.

It doesn’t work like that any more.  Would Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho have taken their clubs to first and second in the league without all the money?  I suspect not.

And of course I would love it if Arsenal could match them with finances – while continuing to develop and evolve young players as we have seen over the years – because that combination could potentially be even more powerful than Manchester City’s – although it is going to be hard to improve on (and thus overtake) 16 wins and one draw as an opening  to the season.

But no, it does not appear that Kroenke is going to make available the sort of money it would take to compete with Manchester City – not least because although he is a billionaire, he doesn’t actually own a country.  Sheikh Mansour, let us remember, has an individual net worth of at least $20 billion with and a family fortune of at least $1 trillion.   That is $1,000,000,000,000.   You can buy quite a few players with that.  Actually you can buy quite a few countries with that.

Nor does Arsenal have a group of football clubs – Man City is now part of the City Group with clubs in Uruguay, USA, Spain, Australia and Japan, as well as England.  Untold did actually suggest, when this started with just two clubs, that it could be a problem for world football, and very few commentators agreed with us that the plan was to have clubs in each Fifa confederation.  But I still see this as the heart of the problem: a club franchise within a sport.  The only good thing about it is that it will in the end make Fifa and the regional associations like Uefa less and less relevant.  City group will eventually own the leagues.  But will it actually make football better?  I can’t see how.

Of course the great problem for those who are critical of Arsenal is that with a couple of decent results we might well find ourselves in fourth.  Unfortunately we have just had 12 years of being told fourth is not a trophy, but it is interesting to see that we have scored the same number of goals as the greatest forward line in the history of the planet.

So yes, I really do believe that the Premier League is moving into a similar mode to that of the Spanish League, which has two clubs with almost unlimited wealth, and a third tagging close behind, and with the clubs in fourth or fifth closer to the foot of the table than the top.  If things keep moving as they are, it is then only one step to the German model: you know who will be champions before the Charity Shield game.

Arsenal could join that group of the elite by spending the sort of money Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City spend in the blink of an eye, and they are setting up the backroom team of talent spotters and negotiators to do that.  Combine that with the extraordinary throughput of young players we have, and we certainly could make an impact once again.  But will the owner also make the money available?  There are no signs yet of Arsenal being anything other than self-funding under Kroenke.

Anyway, this is the moment for the usual suspects to wheel out their “worst start to an Arsenal season since…” lines, so in order to help I thought I would use the Arsenal History Society files to give some details of other worst ever starts to a season we have had across the years.

The 2003 one still makes me smile, even after 14 years of reading the sort of drivel the press put out.  So it’s not all bad.

28 October 1893: Arsenal conceded 15 goals in three consecutive games losing 0-5 at home to Liverpool on this day.  It was Arsenal’s worst defeat at home equalled only in very particular circumstances on 14 February 1925 in the game against Huddersfield.

31 August 1946: Arsenal’s worst ever start to a season,  Wolverhampton 6 Arsenal 1.  The season began with the same fixtures as the abandoned 1939/40 season.  (See 26 August 1939:).

19 October 2002: The all-time away win sequence ended with a 2-1 defeat by Everton, the start of 3 defeats in a row, the worst run for 19 years.   It was the first defeat of the season, Rooney scored his first goal, in the last minute.  Arsène Wenger said, “At that age, Rooney is already a complete footballer. The guy can play. He’s the best English under-20 I’ve seen since I came here.”  13 years later he became England’s all time top scorer.  

26 October 2002:  After losing to Everton and Auxerre, Arsenal suffered their 3rd defeat in a row, 2-1 to Blackburn making this the worst run in 15 years.  Edu scored for Arsenal and conceded an own goal.

31 August 2003:  The Times reported the league match against Man City as containing “the worst 45 minutes [by Arsenal] that any of their fans could remember”.   It ended Man City 1 Arsenal 2 and was the 4th league match of the unbeaten season.

6 October 2013: The Arsenal History Society presented a 10 year comparative analysis of the first six games of the season in order to try and overcome the hype about best and worst starts.  It didn’t work.

18 October 2014: A 2-2 home draw with Hull meant that Arsenal had won 2, drawn 5 and lost 1 and languished in 7th.  The totally untrue story that this was Arsenal’s worst start in 30 years circulated in a vain attempt to put pressure on the manager.

22 November 2014.  Arsenal 1 Man U 2.  The press made much of Arsenal’s “poor start” to the season of four wins, three defeats and five draws thus far as Arsenal’s position of 8th in the league was (quite wrongly) called the club’s worst start for 30 years.

1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2.  Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years.  They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool.

25 December 1899: Arsenal’s worst ever Christmas Day defeat – Lincoln 5 Arsenal 0 in division 2.  However recovered enough to be unbeaten in the next four games.  And fortunately we don’t play on Christmas Day any more.

 

 

 

36 comments to This is the worst Arsenal team since the last time we said it was the worst Arsenal team.

  • ron

    listened briefly to the awful mark chapman on the bbc -introduced e-mails denigrating arsenal to the lowest wonder if the response was similar after chelsea’s loss to west ham -also apparently no chance of the top four even though the gap only a point

  • rupert cook

    Groan, moan, drone. Leicester won the league on a far smaller budget than us. Wenger has had years to build a team to win the league and he has consistently failed. 14 years without a title under one manager rather suggests that we are a club with parsimonious ambition or one that puts profit before success. Or both perhaps. There’s no denying Wenger had some genius in his younger days but much of it seems to have ebbed away. Every club needs change now and then and I think we’ve been overdue one for some years now.

  • Mike

    1. But if money is such a determining factor behind City’s superiority, how come Chelsea won the league last year with less money than City? And Leicester the year before that??

    2. Also, Untold has for many years argued that money is *not* the determining factor behind footballing success, in disagreement a great many fans’ rant to “spend some f*cking money, Arsenal”. So you contradict yourself.

    3. “Of course the great problem for those who are critical of Arsenal is that with a couple of decent results we might well find ourselves in fourth”.
    Focusing on 4th place is deceitful. We need to keep the focus straight: Arsenal have finished the league on average 13,7 points behind the winner since 2005. Not one serious title challenge!

    4. Also, your take on La Liga is wrong. You have 5 teams placed fairly close to each other at the top of the table. Both Valencia and Atlético are higher up the table than Real Madrid, one of the richest clubs in the world.

  • Pete

    If it’s all about money, how come Arsenal failed to beat West Ham, Stoke, Watford and Southampton – teams we have 10 times more money than? How did Leicester win the title, why do Spurs keep finishing above Arsenal, why did Liverpool come one game away from winning it a few years ago, how did Atletico Madrid win Spanish league and get to the final of the Champions League, how did Liverpool win the CL. Why are Burnley above Arsenal? Why has Arsenal’s £46.5m striker only scored 8 goals? Lack of money is a pathetic and tawdry excuse for underperformance. Yes, money is important, but it can help you compete for the title if you have the right management structure in place to take advantage of it. Arsenal dont, play and simple. Wenger could spend £200m a season, he’d still fail. GUARANTEED. He’s old, he’s lost, he’s past it. Try something or someone else before this club sinks even further into mediocrity.

  • jet

    It won’t be too long, our football has become predictable, to the point many can for tell when we will capitulate in our seasonal run. All to often we grumble about the league forerunners being super rich and how we are so poor. Wenger has been too loyal to some of the players whom consistently fail, one or two have departed whilst some remain, that’s why we had such lacklustre summer transfer window, with the 25 man squad limit filled. Addressing our defensive shortcomings hasn’t really been seen, just as our game strategy again our rivals, this season our away form is shocking. We as fans have come accept this as part Of The management package, as nothing will change until it changes at the top!

  • Mike and others, I am sorry that I have not made myself clear, although I have tried to do so in other posts, and I was trying not to repeat myself too much.

    Money has always been a determining factor, I am sure, but in the past it was possible to overcome the issue by clever purchasing of promising players who had not reached full potential. But I think we are now at the point where three clubs have so much more cash available than others that they can always outbid the rest. Also although it is true that only 25% of players bought in for high prices show their true form in their first year, these ultra rich clubs can afford to buy an expensive player and play him only occasionally in year one as he gets used to his new surroundings. The figures I have quoted so often show 25% of expensive players make it in year one, 50% get there in years 2 or 3, and 25% never justify their expensive prices.

    My argument has always been that spending money does not bring immediate success; what the 3 spending clubs have is sufficient resources to spend spend and spend each year, and allow for only a percentage to make it. This is not a contradiction, but a continuation of the same message.

    And point four is for me very misleading. I am trying to look at trends and developments over time, not just the Spanish league at the moment. Likewise I accept that occasionally the unexpected team will win the league out of nowhere and sink down again. It has always been thus – indeed I commented at some length at the time on the first championship of Man City, who were relegated the following season.

  • Pete, I think the answer to some of your questions is in the last comment I wrote, but let me just comment on one point you raise.

    why do Spurs keep finishing above Arsenal,

    That is a most interesting point, and one that I think I really need to consider further. But my starting point would be to ask, “which historical period are you looking at?”

    I suspect you are considering 1951 to 1970 in which period Tottenham finished above Arsenal 14 times, while Arsenal finished above Tottenham six times. The reason, since you ask, was management. After Tom Whittaker die, having emulated the achievements of Chapman and Allison, we had several managers who really thought that the way to win the league was to buy players, and it didn’t really work.

  • rupert cook

    The question I’d like someone to answer is just how long do we continue with the manager? Is it fine to finish roughly ten or eleven points behind the league winners every year, probably even more this year? And if we again finish fifth or lower this season do we really need another year of Wenger? Just how many years of this are people like Tony willing to put up with? Let’s imagine Wenger was immortal would we seriously want to be in exactly the same place 100 years from now? When will it be time to effect change?

  • Rupert, I wonder what the point is of my writing an article making the point that it is the fact that we have 3 clubs with massive funding behind them that makes the difference, when you come in and write about something totally different – that is the manager – without giving any evidence at all that a change of manager without a change of financial arrangements could make a difference. You’ve had over 1700 comments published on this site, surely you should have got the rules of the site understood by now.

  • jet

    But we have had a change of finances, as the club has built substantial funds, but also have allowed the manager to purchase players in the higher market sector.

  • alexanderhenry

    Sorry, but I think this blog is getting it wrong.
    Before I point out why I’d just like to say that I am not a wenger hater- quite the opposite. For roughly fifteen years Wenger was an excellent manager for Arsenal fc and I detest the revisionism and disrespect shown by many ‘WOBs’ out there.

    However, I truly believe that he is past it and at 68 years old, it’s not that surprising.
    You raise the issue of money and I agree, it has become too much of a determining factor. However, firstly, there’s nothing anyone can do to alter that and secondly in recent years arsenal have spent significantly- significantly less than Spurs and Burnley who are above us. Look at some of the players we’ve spent big on. They include Xhaka who is hugely disappointing, Chambers who’s disappeared, Lacazette doesn’t even get picked and Ozil- yes Ozil- a great player but one who is far too inconsistent for the Premier league.
    Look at the contract situation with Sanchez and Ozil. How on earth did Wenger manage to get himself into this situation? Everyone knew Sanchez would ‘take it easy’if arsenal allowed him to run down his final year and not only has he done that, but wenger keeps picking him. It’s embarrassing.

    Look at the game last night. Wenger once again benched his biggest ever signing, preferring to play Giroud and Sanchez who doesn’t seem to want to play at all. With Giroud in the middle arsenal played extremely narrow and did not get crosses in to him. Why not?
    It’s become too easy to defend against Arsenal.

    Look at walcott. What is going on with him? If you’re not going to play him, don’t keep him at over 100 grand a week.

    What happened to project youth and the ‘English core’?

    Also, the way wenger played smoke and mirrors with his contract negotiations last season was unacceptable. He even admitted himself that it effected team performance. The way he was reinstated- through a private meeting with Kroenke with no consultation with the BOD- highlighted the fact that he has had too much power and not shown enough accountability for years.

    You talk about money, but don’t ever forget that Arsenal fans have been paying the highest ticket prices in football since the club moved to the Emirates.
    They deserve better.

    Wenger needs to do the right thing and quit. Then it’s all down to Kroenke.

    Will he step up and show the kind of ambition and commitment to Arsenal that we all expect?

  • taxpayer

    Block them all Tony except Gord, Andrew and Menace. Happy jiving mate!

  • goonersince72

    alexanderhenry

    All of your points are debatable except the last. There is hard evidence to prove Kroenke will never ‘step up’ as you say: his sports teams in the U.S. He does nothing there, especially re spending to try make his American football and hockey teams win. Doesn’t matter because N.A. sport use the franchise system. No matter what, a team stays in the top league and reaps the financial windfall from television. Winning doesn’t matter and attendance has almost no effect on the bottom line, especially in NFL football. The TV money will be there. If revenues from AFC meet his expectations things will remain the same. Some fans scream for more involvement by the owner. Not this owner, in my opinion. The only reason he’d change anything would be if AFC were actually losing money, then he’d sell. But not before the total demise of the club at which point he’d move onto a different asset. That’s all it is to him. I don’t think he or his son even watch football beyond, perhaps, an occasional Arsenal match.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Why do Spurs keep finishing above Arsenal?
    On recent history, guess once in two decades qualifies as a team who keeps finishing above Arsenal?

  • MickHazel

    Mandy
    Similarly from alexanderhenry….
    ‘Lacazette doesn’t even get picked’
    WTF. He has eight goals without being picked!

  • Polo

    Why do Spurs keep finishing above Arsenal?

    Wow! Speechless. I didn’t know Spurs changed their emblem from a chicken to a cannon.

  • Chris

    @ruppert,

    hell, you are so right ! they keep finishing above us, week-end after week-end for the past few months, and before that since the Playstation existed.
    What was before, well who cares. It is prehistory anyways and dinosaurs were roaming the Midlands plains.

    However how come St Totteringham day was no trophy and suddendly them being before us is a disgrace ?

  • Amos

    Why is city’s business plan so painful for you Tony? They’ve decided to build the franchise, I’d say that’s smart business sense. Of course it gives them an advantage, but id rather applaud their business team than become so bitter. This is the kind of behaviour that got Wenger called a voyeur

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    To cut the argument short, going by the many defeats Arsenal have suffered in recent seasons which stopped them from winning the EPL Title, it looks as if Le Boss has not succeeded in signing the right players for Arsenal in as many he has signed overtime, Only a handful of his current first team signings in the last 5 years or so have turned out to be of top quality ones like Oezil, Sanchez, Koscielny and Monreal and the home grown Wilshere save for his injury pickings, he looks to quality with his incisive passing. The rest are just squad players. However, despite Giroud turning to become a squad player this season, at the height of his form, he has scored almost regularly for Arsenal in past seasons. Welbeck is more or less a washout signing by Le Boss as he gives more sidelines to Arsenal than to score goals for them save on a handful occasions. Had Le Boss succeeded to buy more of top quality players than the squad ones, I believe Arsenal would have been enabled by the many top quality players they would have had in their first team won the Premier League Title severally in the past 13 seasons they’ve not won it. Because how can one explains the perennial annual collapse by Arsenal in the PL that has saw them consistently missed out on the Premier League Title for the unprecedented record of 13 seasons?

    Watching Arsenal from A – Z away to the Hammers in the PL yesterday night, the Gunners back-line looked shaky and lacking defense steel n that game. They have the linesman to thank for his flagging an attacking Iron headed goal offside. Another day, the flag would have stayed down. And Cech has the cross bar to thank for stopping Chitorito’s shot from going in and crossing the goal line. The Arsenal defense-line could not confidently contained the West Hammers assaults but thanking their stars for not conceding. I watched Jack Wilshere blazed the ball over the bar instead of burying the only goal clear cut goal bound chance Arsenal had in the game. Talks of him taking the shot with his weaker right foot is rubbish to me. Why should he have a weaker right foot and didn’t train it to become two footed strong when he was in the Arsenal academy school.

    The reason I think Arsenal failed to breakdown the West Ham defending yesterday night and be effective in goals scoring despite their having 80%? possession in the game is because they don’t have a schemer in the team who can take on many opposition players and scheme past them to find his any of his colleagues in front of goal or size up the goalkeeper himself. Joel Campbell who is the only schemer second to the injured Santi Cazorla is loaned out. Sanchez is a different kind of schemer who can dance round the opponent playes but holding too hold too long to the ball makes him lose possession at the end. But Maitland Niles impressed me yesterday as he found Giroud twice with his crossings but Giroud with all the talks to start him failed to connect with the crossings to convert for Arsenal. I think he should remain a super sub for Arsenal. Iwobi tried by trying to dribble through the Hammers defense-line. But his lacking of end products is a problem. Surprisingly, Lacazette was a passenger for Arsenal on the field of play when he was brought on.

  • alexanderhenry

    goonersince72

    I agree on kroenke and on how American sports are run.. My question regarding him was rhetorical. I actually think he is a far more serious problem than Wenger. However, Wenger needs to go which will reveal this to fans- those who haven’t worked it out already.

    You describe my other points as ‘debatable’. Well, by all means debate then.

    Can you honestly see any sense behind the contract situation with Sanchez?

    Do you really think many of Wenger’s recent purchases have proven good value?

    Did you watch the game last night? We’ve become so predictable. It’s become so easy to defend against us, and if we’re going to drop our £50 million record signing and play Giroud instead, get some crosses in, surely.

    What is going on with Walcott? What’s the point of never playing one of the biggest earners in the squad? What did happen to project youth and the English core? -two of them have been sold (the ox and Gibbs) and Walcott, chambers and Wilshire rarely play.

    What was that ridiculous soap opera over Wenger’s contract all about last season?

    Finally, what the hell was Wenger on about the other day talking about Sumo wrestling?

  • alexanderhenry

    MickyHazel

    Exactly, so why did Wenger bench him?

  • MickHazel

    alexanderhenry
    Because, and I am only guessing, he had a perfectly able player in Giroud (who gets in the French team in front of Lacazette) waiting to take over the striker position, a player who has performed admirably for us the last few seasons. Giroud needed game time and scored at Southampton last weekend coming on from the bench. With three games in the week it makes sense to give Lacazette a break. It’s called rotation.

  • Al

    Off topic
    Sorry but just watched this compilation of Diaby on YouTube, and it left me a little teary 😢

    What a great player this guy was, never realised full his potential, curtailed by PL thugs abetted by equally complicit refs😡

    https://youtu.be/E6DlacpXIsY

  • alexanderhenry

    MickHazel

    That’s the third time this season he’s come on as a sub. He wasn’t injured and hasn’t been playing CL. He’s made a promising start and shown that he’s a lot more committed than sanchez. Leaving him out made no sense.

  • MickHazel

    alexanderhenry
    It made no sense to you maybe.
    It made perfect sense to me and A Wenger presumably.

  • omgarsenal

    Boy, the trolls are out in force….Wenger out, anyone else in….spend some $$$$, etc. ad nauseam!

    Spuds finishing above Arsenal so often???? As the loser from Liverpool said; what are you smoking for breakfast over there?

  • alexanderhenry

    MickHazel

    That’s what worries me, the fact it ‘made sense’ to Wenger; about as much ‘sense’ as allowing Sanchez and Ozil to run down their contracts and walk for nothing next summer.

  • MickHazel

    alexanderhenry
    Ozil and Sanchez have refused to negotiate on offers which, we are led to believe, have been put to them since well over a year ago how can that be interpreted as Arsenal ‘allowing’ their contracts to run down? Should we have tortured them to force them into submission?

  • Polo

    @AlexH,

    Can you honestly see any sense behind the contract situation with Sanchez? 1) Arsenal don’t want to be seen as a selling club, 2) finding equivalent replacements who are within the budget limit.

    Do you really think many of Wenger’s recent purchases have proven good value? Ozil, Sanchez, Cech, and Lacazette in my opinion are good value. Xhaka maybe a slight disappointment.

    Did you watch the game last night? We’ve become so predictable. Well when a team is well organized in parking the bus it’s quite difficult to break them down, even Barca and Real Madrid sometimes struggle breaking down a well organized bus. In addition, the problem is being clinical in front of goal not chance created, and for some reason they are not being clinical. In my opinion Giroud started because for rotation and to keep him happy.

    Finally, what the hell was Wenger on about the other day talking about Sumo wrestling? ManC was full on celebrating their victory over ManU in their dressing room, Moaninho didn’t like it and went over to rant about the celebration, and an altercation broke out between the two team. Press ask AW for his opinion on the matter, he said in Sumo wrestling you can’t tell who won or lost the match because the winner don’t celebrate the win due to respect for his opponent and so forth.

  • Because for football to be a sport it needs to be competitive

  • rupert cook

    @Tony Attwood, We’re not exactly poor though are we? We paid around 50 million for Lacazette and made a massive bid of around 80 million for Lemar. And what proof have you got that Wenger will ever make us champions? No more than I have that a change of manager will. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a change as many fans I know think the club has gone stale?

    @Chris, don’t know what you’re om about mate but I don’t play playstation. I enjoy a good book far more than dumb computer games.

  • CORNISH

    I am puzzled by the Editors thinking on all this. Could someone explain to me how Leicester managed to CONVINCINGLY win the League title only a short while ago? I have looked but find no evidence of financial doping.

  • Rupert we made a profit in the last summer transfer window. And I have no proof that a change of manager won’t work wonders and make us top of the league. Indeed I have never claimed that. I just look at the number of changes of manager that are made each year in the PL and the number who, after the initial bounce, actually make a difference. It is very small.

  • Mike

    Tony, I find it odd that you remark on all the points I make except for the most crucial one, the fact that Arsenal have finished:

    -on average 13,7 points behind the PL winner since 2005, and
    – not mounted a single real title challenge in this period.

    I think this is the kind of long-term perspective that needs to be reckoned with when we assess the success and failure of Arsenal. Isn’t this what you say you want to do, look at long-term trends?

    Wenger himself tends to make his case in a deceitful manner:
    – On the one hand, he will deploy long-term metrics, pointing to his record of keeping the club in the Champions League for 20 consecutive years.
    – On the other hand, when it comes to PL trophies/record, he will not cite long-term patterns but instead refer to a plethora of short-term, often contingent factors which we are all overfamiliar with: player fatigue, adverse refereeing, unfair league schedule, negative home fans atmosphere, bad luck, injuries, and so on and so forth.

    (In fact, over the past 14 years I don’t think I’ve ever heard him assume personal responsibility for the team’s performance. It’s always some other factor. Please correct me if I’m mistaken.)

    1/ Anyway, I’m not quite sure what your argument is as to explaining success in the PL. But you seem to be saying that money has now (the past 3 years) become the most crucial factor.

    But if we look at last year’s league 2016/17, for instance, it doesn’t hold:

    – Chelsea 1st, 93 p
    – Arsenal 5th, 75p

    TOTAL PLAYER WAGES 2016/2017
    Arsenal £234m
    Chelsea £254m

    TRANSFER NET SPEND 2014-2016 / I refer to three seasons so as to factor a slightly longer trend than merely the summer transfer window of 2016, which wouldn’t give a just picture /

    2014
    Arsenal £46m
    Chelsea £10m

    2015
    Arsenal £8m
    Chelsea £32m

    2016
    Arsenal £85m
    Chelsea £85m

    = So, with a comparable wage bill AND with Arsenal actually having HIGHER accumulated net transfer spending than Chelsea in 2014-2016, Chelsea finished 18 points (!) above Arsenal.

    To me, this is quite damning. Add to this the longer-term statistic of Arsenal finishing on average 13,7 points behind the league winner since 2005 and the inference we must make is that Arsenal have a manager who is longer able to build a winning team.

    I can’t explain why Wenger has failed consistently the past 13 years.
    Has football tactics moved on?
    Is Wenger buying the wrong type of players?
    Is he not investing enough in the squad?
    Are training methods inadequate?
    Are the methods for psychological preparation insufficient?

    But I can say there is clear evidence that he is not performing well enough at all when the club’s financial resources are fully comparable with a team like Chelsea.

    2/ Also, you write that you “have no proof that a change of manager won’t work wonders and make us top of the league” and that you “look at the number of changes of manager that are made each year in the PL and the number who, after the initial bounce, actually make a difference”.

    But this is a misleading argument.

    For you assume only 1 factor as the determinant of success: managerial change. It is wrong to do so. You cannot compare, say, Middlesborough, Swansea and West Ham as clubs having made manager changes with the top clubs changing the manager, because the latter also have much greater economic resources.

    The more reasonable object of comparison would be clubs with more or less comparable economic resources having
    changed their managers. And when you look at the top clubs, of course you’ll see a great number of cases where the club have made clear progress/won the league with a new manager. Look at Conte last year. Look at Klopp who came to Dortmund in 2008 and won the league in 2010, then in 2011 again. There are countless examples.

    The bottom line is this: Wenger is not good enough and the club now needs a change of manager after 14 years without a single serious title challenge (and not a single Champions League trophy).

  • I think the basic problem Mike is that Untold has been running for a long old time during which I have posted a fairly large number of posts expounding my views. And I do not repeat points that I have made in the past too often, because it becomes awfully tedious for people who have been reading Untold’s comments section if not from the start, then for many a long year.

    But I will try and answer this point again: the argument that Mr Wenger is not good enough and that another manager with the same resources would have done better since the Unbeaten Season.

    My point is that it is possible that this might be the case but most certainly not assured, because the evidence shows that in most cases changes managers in the Premier League doesn’t have a long term effect. It can do, and you can cite examples (although I think any comparison with Chelsea (by mentioning Conte) is false because of financial differences.

    My view, based on such evidence as I can find, is that once the building of the new stadium was announced, and once it was decided to do it out of the club’s own resources, and then when shortly after, Chelsea’s new financial regime arrived we were in difficulty. By the time the money was available again football had moved on and we had three clubs spending at far higher levels than Arsenal had available.

    Despite this, as the financial restrictions came to an end Arsenal did win the FA Cup three times in four years. Although many argue the FA Cup is not a proper trophy I’ve quite enjoyed going to the semi-finals and finals – and the fact that Arsenal is the most successful FA Cup team of all, and Wenger the most successful manager in the Cup of all time.

    In terms of could we have done better under another manager, quite possibly yes, but also very likely no. As we saw Man U got the wrong man twice, and despite having the sovereign wealth of an entire nation behind them Man C had to change managers and spend huge amounts year on year just to win the league once in five years.

    I also believe there are numerous unanswered questions raised by the activities of PGMO, and I still find it hard to understand why they remain such a secret society, operating in such a different way from the model adopted everywhere else, after the Italian match fixing scandals.

    So I don’t suggest that a change of the manager would not help Arsenal, rather that evidence shows that most of the time when faced with the financial dominance of certain clubs we now see in the PL, (as we see in Germany for example) it is generally not enough.

  • Mike

    Tony, on one point (perhaps several) we are very much in agreement: the unchecked influx of capital in the world of football is detrimental. It ruins the sport. I very much regret that FFP has become so toothless. I do believe the FFP needs to be refashioned and properly implemented.

    A couple of points for debate, though:

    1. “in most cases changes managers in the Premier League doesn’t have a long term effect.”

    –I think you misconstrue the notion of a “long term effect” here. Quite clearly, changing the manager has had a tangible enough effect for many teams in that they have gone on to win the league under him. For me, a league win one year is very much good enough as “effect.” Winning the league is not something that can and should be expected to continue over several consecutive seasons.

    2. “In terms of could we have done better under another manager, quite possibly yes, but also very likely no. As we saw Man U got the wrong man twice”

    –Here your argument is specious. The point IS to get the RIGHT man, not to hold up cases of where clubs have gotten the wrong manager — and the point is to believe that Arsenal very well are CAPABLE of getting the right man again! We cannot rule this possibility out, since we have changed the manager before and gone on the win the league.

    3. “I don’t suggest that a change of the manager would not help Arsenal, rather that evidence shows that most of the time when faced with the financial dominance of certain clubs we now see in the PL, (as we see in Germany for example) it is generally not enough”

    –Yes, financial dominance should not be underestimated. BUT we have seen several examples of clubs with less economic clout than the financial top clubs which have been able to compete and win the league. It doesn’t happen every year, for sure, but it DOES happen. That has mainly to do with 1) having an excellent manager, and 2) purchasing the right players.

    Atletico, Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Monaco, Montpellier, Lille – are some clubs which have won the league over the last 7-10 years on decisively smaller budgets than the financial giants in their leagues.

    Also, compared with these winning clubs, Arsenal are much more wealthy relative to the PL financial giants than the former are in relation to financial giants of their respective leagues.

    4. Finally, to me, one important point now is that we are again faced with the situation of our best players wanting to leave the club. Since we know the contract offers to Alexis and Özil have been very substantial and indeed quite comparable with what other top clubs have offered, we know money isn’t the sole determining factor for these players’ desire to leave. It very likely has to do with the lack of footballing success.