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Next season’s tactics: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Man U, Man C

By Tony Attwood

Each year every club wants more.  “The very least we can demand is an improvement,” is a theme tune of the Moderate Wing of the AAA.

The problem is everyone is going for improvement.  Yes, Arsenal may improve 10%, but that’s not much good if the two teams who came above us last season also improve by 10%.  It is not just improvement we need, it is improvement by more than their improvement.

But improvement is not just buying and integrating new players.  It is also about having back ups, avoiding injuries, avoiding being targeted by bent refs – and a few other things too.

So, I decided to ask myself the question, do we have a clue as to what the leading clubs are doing for next season?  And do we know how they are doing it?

Arsenal is not too hard for us to divine, simply because we are closer to them.  They are strengthening a squad which came back from 17th in the league to end up third.  Podolski is the first obvious example, with at the very least one more player promised.

Financially Arsenal have no problem with Financial Fair Play, since the club makes a profit.  But if Arsenal want to keep buying they have to up the profit.  That can’t be done via the stadium, so it has to come via marketing, and this is where things are exciting.  The big deals that were arranged to pay for the building of the stadium are now coming to an end.  New deals are being put in place.  The purse strings are being relaxed.  And Kronke has worldwide contacts in marketing.

TACTIC: Enlarge the squad to cover for inevitable injuries, and know that in two years Arsenal will have a financial explosion of the most positive kind.  And there is still more property development to be done.

Manchester United are buying: Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell.  Powell looks a good bet for the future – Kagawa make take a few months to get used to the style.  But these are not huge purchases – if Arsenal had made them it would not have raised eyebrows.  The club is still getting rid of money to finance the owners and their purchase of the club, and the fact they can buy at all is a tribute to Sir Alex and to their incredible marketing machine.   The only worry I would have in their shoes is just how far this amazing marketing operation can go.  What happens when it hits the buffers?

And FFP?  I still don’t know, for two reasons.  One, I don’t know how it works viz a viz the Glazers expenditure, and two, I don’t know if they can reproduce the trick they just did of making a profit.

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TACTIC: Put Sir Alex on eternity pills.

Chelsea paid £32m for Hazard which is enough to keep Lille in business for a year or two – a phenomenal amount of money.  So what of FFP?  Chelsea have held themselves up as the club that invented FFP – yet that sort of spending, suggests they have had enough of that game.  The new manager is popular, and the owner will presumably give him lots more money.  Not qualifying for Europe via the League is not an option, and third place in the league is only an option for year 1 of the new world.

Chelsea have got some players to sell, but to give a crude overview, some of them are getting on a little, and the value will go down.   So the strategy seems to be, compete with the others by building a new squad fast, to hell with Uefa, and let the manager bed in the new men, while securing a top four finish.

TACTIC: Money can buy anything

Manchester City: if they have any intent on complying with FFP this season has to be a dramatic one of selling more than they buy.  Nothing has happened, no one has moved, so we wait and see.  Their chances of bringing through many players from their youth system seem limited – so could they possibly be saying that the squad is more than good enough?  That seems a risk, given how close the championship turned out to be in the end.

What of sponsorship and marketing?  Yes, they can sell the shirts, of course, but it is the giant marketing links that they really need – and they are so closely associated with Ethiad I wonder if this is possible.  Maybe it is, and the coming months will tell us.  Do multinational brands prefer the global impact of Man U and the international esteem in which Arsenal is held, or the mega-rich owner with a dominant brand name everywhere?

TACTIC: Hope the squad that won this year can be pruned, and its tactics entrenched as the remaining men mature to an even better team.  Stop buying just because he’s available.

Tottenham Hotspur:  Whatever the tactic was, sacking Mr Redknapp now means start again, and as Chelsea saw last season, even with a good squad top four is not guaranteed with a new manager.  Whoever is brought in, he is going to have to work incredibly hard to get the club up and running, with unwanted players out, wanted players held onto (that might be tough), new players bought.  All from a standing start.  Being tough is Levy’s self-concept, but it doesn’t always make life easier.

TACTIC: Give the guy a year, accept the Europa, and all the while plan for top four in 2013/4 and then on to the top.

Liverpool:  At least at Liverpool the owner has made it clear.  Building an Emirates Stadium in the far north is not going to solve their money crisis, because it is the wrong type of city.  But, the owner said, they have a world-wide reputation.  And that will be their weapon.

This is where the owners could come good, because with their American interests (like Arsenal) they have connectivity with gloabal brands, and they see this as their source of money.

As for the squad, I can’t see the current squad making much of an improvement – at least not enough to secure Champions League, so the emphasis must be on cups again to try and secure the Europa slot to continue to give them some coverage.  And that’s the problem: the memory fades.  Not of the real fans, of course, but of the people who were converted when they last won the European Cup and who live overseas.  They may now have new idols.

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15 comments to Next season’s tactics: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Man U, Man C

  • robl

    Nice one Tony, it will be an interesting year.
    Regarding United, they are pushing ahead with the far east listing to clear some of the interest paying debt, which if they can clear down should mean they can compete with the top clubs on transfers and wages.

    Not sure on Nick Powell – needs to develop a lot physically to cope more consistantly with League 2 let alone the premier league, but undoubtedly very skilled. No where near Rooney at the same age. One for the future, and worth a punt.

  • insideright

    As I said in my piece the other day Spurs’ management strategy is very simple – dress up the club for sale. That’s why they tok it off tyhe stock market (‘to make it easier to raise funds for the new stadium’) and that’s why Harry got the sack. He’s too old to satisfy the City’s demand for long term senior exec security; has no record of being able to work within a budget (just the opposite); has no record of providing a return on investment (again, the opposite) and could never talk to potential investors with any credibility as a business strategist. Not a single box ticked means he had to go.
    Who can look like a better bet (with a proven track record) is anyone’s guess. Not much of a strategy is it?

  • bob

    Tony,
    Imo, the blind can see that most the global economy is not improving, to put it very mildly. That said, what specifically makes you so confident that “that in two years Arsenal will have a financial explosion of the most positive kind”? Can you really count on fans paying the freight of season ticket prices as they are; and of new strategic marketing deals when there may well be less aggregate consumption. I wish us all godspeed, but is your optimism tribal or well-founded?

  • bob

    ^at most, sorry.

  • SouthernGunner

    Think it’ll be tricky for City to repeat their success/luck of winning the title next year.

    One thing that was overlooked last season was that United were without one of their most influencial players for half a season, due to early retirement. Had Scholes not been absent, then it’s likely United would have amassed enough points to just nick their 20th league title, without playing great I might add.

    There is a feeling that from a footballing sense, the league is there for the taking. No team has played with complete dominance throughout a season for a few years now (Chelsea’s 2009 Double under Ancelloti is the last I can think of), but most clubs (even the big spenders) are showing signs of caution.

    In Arsenals case, I think all that time of running the club sensibly is going to start paying off relatively soon and stand us in good stead. Wengers managed to do such a good job without a lot at his disposal, whilst at the same time keeping us close to the top. So I look forward to seeing how much more he can do at the club, both on and off the pitch, when more resourses are available.

  • Shard

    Spurs are an interesting case. Apparently, the line they have leaked to the media is that they were thinking about a new manager even before Capello resigned. Levy apparently wants to remove the manager from the transfer process and appoint a director of football (weren’t Liverpool also looking to do that?) Redknapp wouldn’t have accepted that, apparently. (I wonder why..LOL) Spurs also tried to lure away Steve Rowley, our chief scout. Chelsea tried the same a couple of years ago.

    Spurs seem to be hinting at a more long term approach. Whether that means they are planning to not sell, or are planning to have some sort of structure in place to make the club more marketable, and then sell… Well, we’ll see. The key will be what manager they appoint. Managers like Wenger are not easy to come by. If I was them I would look to AVB or Jurgen Klopp, and then give them time. However, I don’t want them to do well, so I hope they go with someone else. Maybe Alex Mcleish? 🙂

  • Shard

    Well well well..What do you know.. Apparently Gazetta Dello Sport is reporting AVB has signed a 3 year deal at Spurs.

  • Laundryender

    First game of season. SUNDERLAND @ home. so i have heard.

  • Bob – I believe Tony is referring to the shirt and ground sponsorships which come up for renewal in two years. Top sides are getting 20-25m for shirt deals and we get a fraction of that, if you look at the etihad deal for City and tone it down (for likely overpayment on market rates) if we replaced Emirates with someone else the stadium money could easily go up by multiples.

  • Johan Greening

    I don’t know about others but re FFP. Do you think that as long as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Inter & AC Milan, Manchester United, Arsenal, and too a lesser extent Chelsea fit with the parameters they will apply the rules to Manchester City? I think they might as Manchester City even though they have top name players are still not a global team.

    And Manchester City still don’t have the truly world global names either.

  • bob

    Phil,
    Many thanks, I’m more hopeful on those grounds. Amen.

  • Black Hei

    Surviving last year was the biggest challenge for Arsenal. I think the club will grow from strength to strength. But the next big challenge is 2014 when Wenger’s contract expires. I think he is not going to renew for age and health reasons but I do hope he moves up to become a board director and help bring in his own successor.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    One way Man City can cover up to meet the FFP is to make extra large deals with their own conglomerates. As a matter of fact I have always found this conglomerates buying up sports bodies as a way of hiding money or making it legitimate by cooking up or manipulating the books.

    Its something which happens alot in our part of the world and the involvement partners are as regular as in here – the politicians, the businessmen and their firms.

    Most probably UEFA cannot or will not investigate much in to this because those involved have far greater reach than the people in UEFA who more or less would depend in other ways with those involved say like some group firm or some big sponsor in UEFA has a clout with the family there by putting a word or two. As a matter of fact I really doubt reading much of UEFA investigation about the stadium deal after some noises early on.

    I don’t think Kroenke has got that big a reach to be involved in all these and also the American system is much more comprehensive that somewhere there legalities don’t see much with the reach of the person but in countries across Asia its the people who reach above the legal system. I don’t know about Europe or England as we don’t get to read much here but still from what I have read UEFA is as corrupt as the people here.

  • Stuart

    Sven to be next Tottenham manager?