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If we are so bad why are we being copied ?

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By Ibrahima Fode NDIAYE

If we are so bad why are we being copied ?

I hear Arsenal are so bad they can’t win a cup in God only knows how many years.  Some say it’s five other six but the general consensus seems to be no one really can remember it, it was so long ago.

So I called for some googling just to know how much we have been trophyless,  since nobody seems to know the exact length of time (though we all know we won the FA cup against ManU on May 21st 2005.)

So if my math is as correct as I thought it’s five years 5months and exactly five days since we’ve won a major trophy. (If that is not right its my fault for delaying publication of the article – sorry – Tony).

That must be the longest trophy drought ever known to world football judging by the way it’s been talked up both by the media, the opposition fans and Arsenal’s own supporters or one large section of it.

Last time a Liverpool was trying to have fan at my expense he said “how many years without a trophy is too many?”

I asked him, “when was the last time you lot have won a trophy?”

He started to explain, “Huh… we won the CL in Istanbul not long ago”.

I told him that was 2005 and we won the FA cup that year and the correct answer was 2006 when they won the FA cup so just about a year later than us.

“That doesn’t seem that long. But the way people are talking it up it sounds like an eternity” he said.

So I checked the trophy drought top clubs went through in recent years and I found some astonishing facts :

Barcelona the most successful club in the last five years have gone six years between 1999 and 2005 without a single trophy

Inter Milan the treble winning team of last year have gone eight years from 1998 to 2006 without a single trophy

Chelsea went from 2000 to 2005 without a single trophy

Manchester United from 1985 to 1990 didn’t win a trophy

Liverpool from 1995 to 2001 and from 2006 till now haven’t won any trophy

This just shows there is nothing unique in modern times about the trophy drought of Arsenal. All these clubs suffered a lot more than us, failing to qualify for the champions league or even for Europe. But still people would make you believe we have to be going through the worst ever drought in world football.

But what is really interesting to me is that clubs are copying Arsenal’s model, a model that has resulted in no trophy for five years, five months and five days. The model is built around a strong financial structure, a youth system, an attacking football and a worldwide scouting system even if we haven’t invented any of them we have succeeded in creating the best balance with them.

Clubs have come to realize that “Money does not grow on trees” as said PHW. All those that could only spend, buy the best players they can think of, pay them as much as they would ask and are finding life hard. Clubs are going into administration, clubs are being bankrupt, clubs are being controlled by banks, wages are being hard to support and all that while the revenues have recorded some highs that are difficult to surpass.

On top of all that UEFA came with a plan to stop “financial doping”. So out of necessity football clubs are behaving like normal people, normal companies, normal organizations as we cannot spend and keep on spending way over what we can ever gain.

And as a financial model that can work in football, no one can ignore Arsenal. I remember some years ago when Newcastle’s Ashley was talking about how Wenger and the Arsenal board were working wonders and how everybody should copy only for Keagen to ask money and more money to sign the Beckhams of this world. Now everybody wants to be just like Arsenal in financial terms.

Then comes the youth system, in order to have financial stability, you need to minimize your charges and in order to compete you need to maximize your talent and knowhow. What we know is the players that have shown to the big stage how good they can be are expensive but a year or so before they stepped up they were very cheap. So the idea was simple get them right before they show their entire talent which means get them young, which also means widen up your search field.

That’s why Arsenal has built a world class youth project with the likes of Gibbs, Wilshere, Frimpong the first graduates (who won the first youth double and back to back league titles)  and a worldwide scout network that can find any talented young player anywhere. That’s what everybody is trying to do, with Chelsea doing it the wrong way with the likes of Kalcuta and Neymar.

What people should know is it’s a lot more difficult for English clubs, especially now with FIFA regulations on youth player dealings particularly under 17’s, to have a world class youth system. Arsenal cannot put into its academy the best English youngsters if they live outside 90 minutes drive from London Colney. What we see now is every club trying to build a good youth academy, get them through.

This let me wonder why clubs supposedly successful are trying to copy Arsenal if we have been so bad?

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Want to argue against Wenger and his policy? Then you must read this first, or your comment may not be published

25 comments to If we are so bad why are we being copied ?

  • I utterly love it when a new writer appears out of the blue with a new contribution to make to Untold. Great article by a gooner from Senegal – and welcome to the group of supporters who have chosen Untold as the place to express their views.

    In relation to what you are saying I have even heard some of the anti-Arsenal corps saying that we are going to be overtaken by Bolton.

    It is worth considering what bolton have done to achieve their rise up the league. Consider this comment…

    “A couple of weeks ago the 2010 accounts revealed a huge loss of £35 million plus a significant rise in the net debt to £93 million, thanks to an unhealthy mixture of low turnover and an inflated wage bill.”

    That is from the eternally excellent Swiss Ramble http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-bolton-have-so-much-debt.html -it just shows how much it all costs.

  • anto

    very interesting and well written article!

  • dave

    I have a question for the ‘Wenger Out’ Brigade: Who would you get in to replace him. Is there anyone better who is available? I don’t think there is.

  • Maverick

    Hi All,
    Tony could you do an article about Sp*rs and them apparently getting their new 56,000 seater stadium plans approved by none other than the dithering Boris Johnson. its apparently gonna cost 450m if not more……….i just cannot believe they are gonna do this, not even Chelsea with Abramovich’s money can afford a new stadium so i dont know how they are gonna manage this especially with good ol Arrys penchant to spend what a club doesn’t have (see portsmouth etc) and stay in contention for ANYTHING. and to be honest i didnt feel that Sp*rs (not saying this because they are our rivals) had enough fans or world wide support to pull in money or decent revenue at all.i dont see how they are gonna fill that stadium week in and week out because spuds dont seemingly have enough of a following especially for overseas etc…i just cant see how this will be done without it bankrupting the club or “doing an arsenal” for many years…especially in these financially uncertain times…….i think it is madness on their part look at what has happened to Arsenal whilst moving and they definitely do not have a Manager like Wenger to guide them through the whole process……could this be the beginning of the end for spuds and will this finally show others how much of a good job Wenger has done!! (Spurs aint even guaranteed CL each year to pay for most things miles too inconsistant)

  • Perry Grove

    Nice piece, Ibrahima.

  • walter

    Ibrahima, a top article my friend.
    Some very true points you mention there.
    As there are more clubs than there are trophies available you will have more teams that haven’t wont than that have won.
    I think most Portsmouth fans would have liked many more years without a tropy than the mess they got in to after winning the Fa cup.

  • Really nice article Ibrahima, and all you say stands and hold water. Just we forget that when we cut our finger if we are cowards we believe we ll bleed to death and that’s point of view of D&G, as well as grass is always greener in neighbor garden. Unfortunately there is no efficient way to combat it, than to accept there were always be someone to complain.

    I will have to be rude now, but there is no other way to explain behavior of doom & gloom than Bosnian saying (translated) “To bad penis even pubic hairs represent impassable obstacles”

  • Maverick – have touched on this a few times. The money comes from a benefactor called Jo Lewis who lives in the Bahams and has money in off shore accounts that cannot be readily examined or reported for taxation purposes.

  • Charlie

    Thank you so much, Ibrahima, and to you, Tony, for keeping up this excellent blog. This is a perfect response to those “fans” who are far too focused on game to game to see the big picture. Obviously it’s painful to see a Spurs loss at home and to be without a trophy in recent years, but more important is to note that we’ve been at the top of footballing across the world for all of Wenger’s tenure! That’s quite an accomplishment and cannot be undervalued. Of course, there are a few things that Wenger needs to work on with the lads, but calling for his head again and again certainly won’t help. Besides, there are little to no realistic replacements!

  • Mick

    Very good article, well said. It really is quite extraordinary how most of the pundits, critics and journalists are gleefully sharpening their knives and plunging them into Arsene Wenger now they smell the whiff of blood after a couple of defeats. Shamefully a lot of this criticism is coming from so called Arsenal supporters. It seems they cannot wait for him to fail. But what exactly is this failure they all seem to be seeing and taking such pleasure in. It would be interesting and revealing to compare Arsenal’s ‘failure’ as a club over the last 15 years with others of a similar size and stature, eg Liverpool, Leeds, Aston Villa, Newcastle etc etc; and the managerial achievements of your Redknapps, David Moyes, Martin O’Neill etc compared to Arsene Wengers. We all know there is absolutely no comparison in terms of trophies, financial stabilty, youth developement etc and all this whilst moving to a brilliant new stadium. And yet we don’t hear these other clubs and managers constantly being ridiculed and crucified by the press and pundits. Why, why, why. I suspect that they probably blame Wenger for global warming, the world financial crisis and any other disaster you can think of as well.

  • Nice article as well as the link from the swissramble. Balancing the books is very important.

  • swikrath

    Ibrahima: Very well summarized.. Nice post!
    @ Tony: Whilst you are still musing on getting a some more guys to do articles( I cannot,apologies] i have a suggestion..For the weekends, we have the bulid up,the match itself,ref review and injury.. What i am suggesting something on a regular basis mid-week, Untold arsenal pretty much makes up my weekends ,just trying to get my whole week going:)

  • FinnGun

    Excellent stuff, keep it coming, please.

  • Dale

    The Newcastle situation is an interesting one. A lot of my toon friends saw (and still see) Mike Ashley’s decisions as bad ones.
    In doing an arsenal, reducing the wage bill, bringing in youth talent, limiting transfer spending and reducing the huge debt he’s actually got newcastle in a stable position with a good young side.
    He has made mistakes and fans havent forgiven him for letting keegan go but ultimately keegan was the wrong man to do an arsenal.
    If they can get it right, they’ll be comfortably top 10 for seasons to come.

  • La Shiz

    I do believe that the story at Arsenal will follow the mould at Barcelona. They built up their team in the 98-2005 period and look at them now. 6 of their best players have been developed there and have come up through the ranks. I can’t even think of any of them considering a move to any other club. This is what we are building now at Arsenal. The foundation is complete, it is only a matter of time before our players begin delivering.

    It seems at times that something is going wrong when there are back-to-back disappointing performances. There is definitely something that needs change. We see players apologizing for uninspired performances, Djourou coming out and saying that we need more belief in the team. We have already seen that the team is capable of great things. Clearly, what we need is inspiration. Where do we get it? That is the question.

  • Arsenal to follow Barca only up to a point. Barca ran out of money in the summer and couldn’t pay their players – and that is serious.

  • peter C

    Ibrahima 
    some good stats but that does not excuse wenger for not going for the titles. I feel that this wrapping up in cotton wool style handling of our players helps to make them feel all the more precious which is just another word for weak in my eyes. They are not quite as good as they like to make out and certainly do not have the mentality to go with any talent they may have. Arshavin perfectly sums that point up, a talent to match any I have seen in the last few seasons at any club in Europe, maybe not quite Ronaldo standards but bloody close to most other top names you could care to mention. But look at the effort he puts into games and compare that with any pub team player and you’re sadly coming up short. 
     I feel our players are well too pampered after and treated with kid gloves by our leader. Chelsea have played a very similar team week in and week out over the past five or six seasons, Lampard and Terry have been a set fixture even in their League Cup teams when fit and that certainly doesn’t seem to have hindered their personal performances one jot. We used to take the League Cup seriously every season when players like Lee Dixon and Ian Wright were regulars and I don’t remember them being rested to often if at all.This attitude is what makes us as a team nothing more than a dumb blonde, pretty on the eye but absolutely nothing to keep you coming back for more, zero substance. As soon as things start to go wrong it is game over as there is no-one to rally the troops, no-one making sure people are pulling their weight. We have no leader and we have no balls.

    Stop pampering up to players that don’t give a sh*t and buy in some new ones that do, otherwise we will all still be saying the same things in another few seasons and by then our stadium will be even more of a depressing place to visit than it was leaving it on Saturday afternoon.

    Onto Villa 
    who arent the best side, or the side they were 2 or 3 seasons ago, but they are never a walkover there and its hardly the place to go looking for a confidence booster. That being said, if Le boss stops whinging and does what he did against Liverpool at HT last season (re: cesc’s interview post game for those of us who just look at stats!!), maybe we might get a positive reaction from the team. My worry thouygh, is that given similar situations under wenger, that wont happen. Quite often, loosing a big game has a bit of a deflating effect and wenger has struggled previously blowing up burst bubbles, eg United ending the unbeaten run, Everton and rooney ending the unbeaten run in 2002… And they were teams with arguably stronger character. Still, while I worry it wont happen, I hope my drive up to Villa park isnt a wasted one, and this is an oppertunity for us to get going again.

  • peter C
    you should try to, at last change order of words or so, because your same opinion I can see in Online gooner.
    Its no problem in thinking different, but its problem with copy-paste wisdom.

  • Finsbury

    “Tottenham MP David Lammy has also claimed Spurs would prefer a move to the Olympic Stadium, saying: ‘It is clear from my meetings with Spurs that Northumberland Park is option two and Stratford is number one.” – From a national ‘news’paper.

    It seems that the Tiny Totts are too scared to copy Arsenal, and are holding out for a free stadium, which they’ll then have to knock down and rebuild. Makes sense to me.
    Sir Keith Mills, is a Spurs director and board member of Olympics organisers Locog. So the Spammers could be out spun on this one.

  • Uk

    Who wants to copy u? It’s more like taking some of your good points &throwing out the bad, routine behavior of rational beings. Only stubborn egotists like wenger don’t apply it

  • feb

    Amazingly brilliant article.

  • swikrath

    Tony: is there any way you can the copy-paste crap that peter.c seems to be fouling the pristine world of untold with?
    peter c: Or is that a copy pasted name too?;) you have no idea how much it hurts my arm to go scroll down and read beyond your gibberish.If you have diarrhea i’d suggest you visit a doctor or go crapping elsewhere..

  • Ronnie Brown

    Excellent research and points, will be repeating this to people.

  • Andrew Chua

    Good article.

    But to be fair to the clubs though, this is nothing new. Any club with a history has youth development strategy. Ditto the financial aspects. There is nothing mysterious about the revenue streams; the gate collections, TV rights, mechandise et al. Everyone knows he is in deep shit if he consistently spends more than he earns.

    The problem faced by so many clubs stem from the greed, and instant success becomes the measurement. And in doing so, all else becomes secondary.

    What Arsenal did differently is that we are extremely fortunate to have a manager that is financially astute and have the authority and support from the board to carry out the obvious. And in AW we have the manager who sticks to the philosophy. The board must also be credited for supporting the manager.