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July 2021

How does one value football clubs vs players?

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Don McMahon

I am beginning to think that partisan insanity and owners’ fiscal irresponsibility have become a fashionable, Football-wide tradition where master negotiators like Wenger are ridiculed and mocked for their parsimony and astute bargaining by all and sundry.

Behind this obvious stupidity and road to perdition lies an even more profound malaise: the lack of balance and sense of proportion on display by Club supporters and administrators alike.

Fickle AFC fanboys (c0mmonly known as the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal) are baying, once again for Wenger’s head and the BoD to be drawn and quartered for their apparent ¨unwillingness¨ to spend in the last transfer window. These lesser lights fail to see that, despite losing Song and RVP, we have actually strengthened the squad from last year.

The front line has two new talents in Podolski and Giroud, along with the existing stalwarts of Walcott, Chamakh, and Gervinho and are now much stronger, despite the loss of RVP.

The midfield is vastly improved with Arshavin, Cazorla, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Frimpong offering us both skill and depth.

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Finally, we have the defence with Sagna, Jenkinson, Santos, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs and Koscielny providing us, so far, with an almost watertight back 4.  OK, after losing to the Chavs in front of our fans..we are less than watertight, but we are a cohesive attacking and defending machine with two more convincing wins since then.

That leads me to the crux of my question. There is so much emphasis on individual players coming and going or being classed as deadwood or worse, ¨flops¨ by the media,  and anti-Wenger lodge members and the AAA, that we overlook a crucial point by focussing so narrowly on individual players. That is; the value of individual ¨stars¨versus the combined value of the team as a whole.

Was RVP more valuable than all his other team-mates last season? Did he rate higher than 10 other players because he scored 30 goals for us? Are we doomed to despair, disaster and destruction because one or two so-called crucial players have left us once again? Did losing Cesc, Nasri, Adebayor, Henry, Clichy and now RVP and Song doom us to mid-table ignominy? Well, despite the rantings of our mob that claims doom is nigh….we always seem to do as well as or better than predicted. Why is that?

Here are my reasons for stating that we’ll be better than expected and predicted by the doom sayers, once again this season:

a) The Arsenal, as a collective of very good and motivated players, is over the long-term, better than a collection of superstars who are mercenaries, any day of the week.

b) The entire chemistry of the team changes dramatically when key players like RVP, Song, Cesc, Nasri and Clichy move on but not necessarily for the worse. We have a new style and more options with our current squad and are less a ¨one-man¨team as the doubters and media hacks like to occasionally try to remind us.

c) The ¨absence¨ of our ¨stars¨ allow those who were in their shadows for so long or who have come in as unknowns to shine themselves as we have now seen with Diaby, Cazorla, Podolski, and Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gervinho in the past.

d) We become more unpredictable as we get in new blood….most EPL teams are trying to decipher a new Arsenal which no longer relies solely on a tippy-tappy, pass the ball into the net style of play. we can score from 30 yards out just as easily as we can off the boot of Giroud from 3 yards out.

e) With the additional depth, Wenger has a constant ¨dilemma¨ that every manager would love to have. Who does he start in almost every position for each game? Only City, Chelsea and United share this dilemma and that may not remain for long once FFP regulations enter into full force.

f) The young players coming through or in the wings are provided more opportunities to show their stuff once we lose some of our regulars to injury or transfers. Coquelin, Miguel, Frimpong, Mannone, Gnarby, and Jenkinson are just a few of the many talented understudies who are adding strength and energy to our dynamism.

g) Sometimes losing a few ¨stars¨ can change the mood in the team for the better. While we have heard repeatedly that Song had some problems with attitude, we may also question what influence Nasri, Adebayor and RVP’s machinations had on the team’s confidence and unity. Arsenal don’t seem to be overly suffering from the loss of such stars and in fact have solidified areas that were issues in past seasons with such stars in the team.

So, in answer to my initial question, the response is simple and self-evident; No one individual is bigger than the Club and no one loss is a harbinger of anything other than what the team as a whole allows to happen. AFC have decided, as a team, to forget the past and drive forward together…..will Walcott join them or fall by the wayside….Wenger has made it crystal clear that he must lead,follow or get out of the way……that is the Arsenal way!


24 comments to How does one value football clubs vs players?

  • DKD

    To whom it may concern (And he knows very well)

    Nice post. Although I disagree with some points. Period.



  • Legolas

    In Arsene We Trust he managed to lead our club and now we are one of the best clubs in the world . for goodness sake when this financial fair play start i pray and wish Man city , Chelski sinkssssss

  • Asif

    Good one Don – agree with you! And then when you look back, there is no chance that RvP would have a 30 goal season again, Cesc looks like going to cry one of these days after being substituted for the umpteenth time, Song doesn’t even start in one of their critical games, Nasri is just one more signing away from the Petro-dollars to be sent into oblivion…and we don’t miss them either!!!

    And the latest machination by Dailymail was that the next destination for Pep Guardiola is Arsenal… why always us? Are we even looking for a new manager? We already have someone better then Guardiola…!!!

  • GoingGoingGooner

    An interesting article. It highlights the importance of a good leadership team/manager. I will find the replacement of Wenger and SAF at ManU very interesting because both have been able to recruit and develop young players and gain success on the pitch. Neither seem ready to move on but it will be interesting to see which team succeeds best in replacing their helmsmen when the time comes.

  • nicky

    Don, Congratulations! Rarely have I read a post with which I agree more.
    The squad Arsene has now, the tactics he is employing and the entire chemistry (as you call it)of the team is something new and exciting.
    There can be little doubt now that the departure of the mercenaries and their replacement has strengthened the squad no end and this, added to a refreshingly cavalier attitude towards shooting from a distance, has converted the team into a formidable force, serious contenders for all titles.
    One precious advantage is that all the players now display a real “want” to play for Arsenal. The new boys are bonding well and there are starlets in the wings ready to challenge for every position.
    The immediate and longterm future of our great Club looks bright indeed.

  • weedonald

    I don’t wish evil on any Club, just a level playing field as the Yanks say. If FFP and the FA rules ensure that, then all is well.

  • weedonald

    Thanks for the cudos everyone……AFC seem in good hands for the moment but if Usmanov ever gets his way, we might be in trouble!

  • Adam

    Good read, Just to highlight Wengers ability to do the best for Arsenal he off loaded RVP (prems top marksman 2011/12) for £22million whilst Berbatov (prems joint top marksman 2010/11) was sold for £5 million.

  • Stuart

    Another question worth asking is, Would RVP have scored the 30 goals without the other 10 players?

  • weedonald

    Stuart…….that excellent question will only be answered over the next year or so as RVP tries to equal or surpass his one record season with us in Manchester.
    DKD…thanks for the comment and would like to hear your opinion, regardless of whether it diverges from mine….afterall I’m only as good as my next post!

  • Mick

    If RVP stays fit he may well surpass last years goal tally given the extraordinary number of penalties Manure are gifted, if he takes them of course and Rooney does’nt pull rank on him. After the meagre amount of spot kicks which came Arsenal’s way last season he must be in football ‘penalty’ heaven now. Can anyone remember the last time we got awarded a penalty at home in the league?

  • duduspace


    May I also add that RVP was bought for £2.5million and Berbatov for £30m.

  • duduspace

    I couldn’t help but post this as a comment on the latest Swiss Rambler’s piece on Arsenal. He does seem to have subtle digs at Arsenal’s financial model.


    Your figures are factually correct but I detect a lot of negativity in your elaborations on some of the figures, this might be because you genuinely do not believe in the way Arsenal have gone about managing the change that has engulfed the club, the PL and football globally or more likely an expression of ‘journalistic license’ to either keep your audience interested or take digs at a club you do not support.

    I think you are a bit disingeneous with your elaborations on Arsenal’s wage structure in particular, the fact remains that in the past two seasons, Arsenal came 4th in the league with the 5th highest wage bill, you couldn’t resist making a dig about Tottenham running Arsenal close but Tottenham have

    1. Not finished above Arsenal for a long while (even while Arsenal were managing the cost of building the Emirates)
    2. Not been forced to sell their players the way Arsenal has (Luka Modric aside) partly because they’ve not developed high calibre of players or bought young top class talent with good resale value (apart from Modric perhaps) whom by the very nature of their talent also command adequate remuneration (hence the high wage bill).
    3. Are struggling to get a stadium upgrade off the ground when Arsenal according to you have virtually fully paid back the cost of a 450m stadium.

    What I think you also fail to see is that there is a correlation between Arsenal’s ‘moderately’ high wage bill (which is still and has consistently been about 20m lower than the least wage bill of the 3 other clubs Arsenal is seen as competing against i.e. United, City and chelsea) and the fact that the club is able to consistently turn a profit from player trading. The logic is simple and goes thus.

    1. Arsenal cannot compete with the highest paying clubs while bogged down with the low Commercial income and paying off the cost of building their stadium.
    2. Because of 1, Arsenal looks to obtain exceptional talent while they are young and, adequately pay them and nurture their talent while ensuring their contracts do not wind down
    3. Push this youngsters to the very limits of their ability and try to win silverware with them.
    4. When the said players mature and some of them begin to demand excessive pay (in line with their talent and going rates (which have been grossly inflated by the big benefactor backed spenders) but which the club due to its financial constraints cannot meet) sell them for profit.

    Even you must admit this model has served Arsenal well (from the financial information you’ve supplied about the amount Arsenal have made from player trading) while competitively keeping in touch with the games elite in europe.

    Please Note that I’m not saying that every youngster invested in has been a success story, I’m only saying that if you thoroughly examine this model, it has served Arsenal extremely well through the period from the building of the Emirates till now.

    I’m also not advocating that Arsenal should continue with this model in its current form (nor do I imagine that they will do so when the commercial income stream improves) and do agree that the model needs to be consistently fine tuned with emerging realities in the game.

    Out of interest, if you were the one faced with the same challenges Arsenal faced then and still face to a lesser degree, I’d like to see you propose a solution (which does not include spending 1 billion pounds in 3 seasons as City have done).

    I’m a bit amazed that someone of your highly respected financial acumen (and I sincerely do respect your financial acumen) cannot see this. I can only imagine that this is because of some other subjective considerations having little to do with Finance and Management.

    Arsenal is currently undergoing another transition, lets see the full results for the current year and the impact of the new commercial team on the new kit and shirt naming deals come 2014, I’d imagine they will have a massive impact on the turnover to wages ratio and will give the club more than enough room to maintain and more likely improve their standing among the game’s elite particularly if FFP has the desired impact its supposed to have on the game.

  • ARSENAL 13

    The difference is the vision for the future. ASRENE WENGER has made sure that when he departs, ARSENAL remain competitive..

    A few people at the top envisioned the formation of a super club. AND by the look of things, we are right on track. FFP or not, ARSENAL are very healthy financially. And the club has made sure that there is no shortage of funds for the stadium infastructure, youth acadamy, training facility……..the future.

  • Walter

    Mick, the last penalty at home in the league was in the home game against Liverpool on April 17, 2011.

  • Stuart

    Mick, the penalty was in added time I believe followed by Liverpool 8th minute of added time equaliser penalty.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Don – nice and well put article and couldn’t agree with you more. We have always been on the right track and but for a few costly bumps on the road (injuries ,ungrateful players), we could have more sucess and cups.But it is still the best ride for me .
    @ Duduspace – nice hits to the fence and off the middle of the bat too !Well replied !

  • Mick

    Of course, how could I have forgotten that appalling travesty of justice, it makes my blood boil recalling it. I think the ref was Marriner who, after we scored, inexplicably decided to add on some additional Fergie time during which he gave a soft penalty for Liverpool.

  • shaddyp

    in Arsene we trust. What we need this season is a piece of silverware. G4L

  • FunGunner

    @ duduspace
    I think you made excellent points. Did Swiss Rambler respond?

  • FunGunner

    Regarding the main topic of the article, you’re absoltely right – the interests of the club and the squad has to come ahead of any individual player. Where it can go wrong is if the manager doesn’t adapt after the departure of a player around whom a team and style of play has been built. I’m not talking about us; AW does adapt. But if they carry on trying to do the same thing, but without the player who makes it work, they can come a cropper in the short term.

  • Domhuail

    Duduspace…..a very nice precis and critique of Swiss Rambler’s analysis but don’t forget that hid purpose was NOT to criticize the club nor to diss our model but rather to show where we are headed with our current model and what we actually seem to have to spend on transfers and wages (both inextricably tied together) as the FFP supposedly begins to take precedence. My take on the FFP is that it is, like all things EUFA and FIFA, a thin veneer of regulatory intent covering a rotten and corrupt system desperately seeking any hint of respectability.

  • amahgfur

    For any short-sighted fans, they will always fail to see Arsene’s grand design for Arsenal in terms of squad building and financial strategy.

    I have the same view about swissramble’s (SR) latest take on Arsenal financial model. Only because my english is limited, I couldn’t express my thought as eloquently as you did.

    hats off, mate