Wenger: the ultimate gambler.

By Tony Attwood

My French is far fr0m perfect but I get by, and I was reminded of a word I particularly got to know when a newspaper recently quoted Thierry Henry’s use of “caviar”  – meaning the perfect pass which puts the striker through.  The number 10 or the attacking midfield player has put through his perfect pass – his “caviar” and the forward really has to to his bit.

Henry said that Bergkamp could do them for ever.  I thought that Pires and Henry could do them from each other.  My theory was that defenders got so worried about Henry that they used to put two or even three men on him, and then that would leave Pires free (since by the time Henry had two or three men on him he would be playing where on paper Robert P was supposed to be leaving Robert free in the number 9 position).  Henry himself put the caviar across and then Robert scored, being unmarked, since Henry had drawn everyone out of position.

And when Santi C came along I thought: my goodness have we found another one?   Recently the answer has been no – but then I think back to Pires’ first season with us which if we we wish to kind we might call “average”.   Quite a few in the crowd thought he was a dud that first year around.

It was only when Pires worked out two things (one, how to take a stroll along the half way line with the ball, waiting to find the caviar, and having the nerve to go all the way back if the pass wasn’t on, and the the other, the trick of getting unmarked when Henry had half the defence wandering around him) that things really worked.  That was the second season.

But the situation is more complex.  Arsenal had Bergkamp in his team from the off – the man who was deemed so useless by the Italian media that they ran a “Bergkamp of the week” story each Monday, in which the readers voted for the most awful miss or pass they had seen over the weekend.  No wonder that Dennis too didn’t quite click when he first came.  His belief was shot to bits.

Henry too was slow to pick up the pace.  Vieira made the joke about the fact that it wasn’t that Henry couldn’t hit the goal, it was that he couldn’t hit the clock – and in fact couldn’t get anywhere near the clock.

What we readily forget these days are these bad opening seasons.  Because Fabregas and others have had the chance to move gently into the team through our youth system, we forget how hard it was for some of the new players to make it.  Vieira was the exception – he looked stunning on game number 1 when he came on as a sub.    But we had a lot of players who didn’t make it as time passed.  Boa Morte anyone?

This takes us on to Liverpool’s purchase of Andy Carroll – the Wenger purchase of Henry was the same sort of gamble – and this by a manager who had just spent two years in Japan.  Not forgetting that the opening of that first campaign in Japan was awful – with the chairman calling the manager in for a talk after about 8 games.   Wenger is reputed to have listened to the chairman, and then said, “Yes it is not going well.”   The chairman said a change was needed, and Wenger thought he would be sacked.   Instead the chairman offered to sack his translator.

Wenger in short is a gambler – a real live big time gambler – whose early gambles are ignored because he won so much at the start and because the seasons before him were so awful.   Rioch gave us a Euro place, but only on the last game, and his style of play was so utterly awful even I had trouble supporting the team. Before that we had George Graham trying to do an imitation of Billy Wright.

Wenger gambles and his early gambles were sometimes yes sometimes no.   He gambled that he could revitalise the back five by changing their diet, and modifying their style slightly.   He gambled on Henry, and gambled that Wright was past it.  He gambled on Chris Wrey and played him in the cup final ahead of Wright, who was apparently outraged.   Remi Garde?   Gilles Grimandi?  Stepanovs?

Yes sometimes the names are wheeled out because they were flops, but not too often much because no one cared that much because we were winning doubles.

So he gambled on Anelka – twice.  Once to bring him in and settle on a bill of around half a million pounds, selling him a couple of years later to Real Madrid for £25m, and then using that money to build the new training complex.  He gambled that Anelka was not the long term centre forward he needed because of his personality issues.  And he was right.

Thus Wenger is a gambler in different ways.  He gambles on players he will spend big money for, he will gamble on when to sell them (I’ve mentioned the fact that Barca ended up paying something close to half a million pounds a game to have Henry), and he will gamble on which players to bring through from the youth team (we seem to have about three ready to break through at any moment).   He also gambles on buying young players – Ramsey, Theo, Oxlade Chamberlain.   He even gambles on players who he knows are unlikely to play for the club for a while – Campbell without a work permit, Ryo, not quite ready.  And we have our own Jack W already there (unless England crock him again tonight).

Vieira has even said that he didn’t quite know how he came to leave Arsenal for a club so steeped in the mire of Italian football that having won the league title he found he had it taken away from him after something naughty going on with the selection of the refs.  Wenger gambled that this was the moment he would get more money for Vieira than at any other time.  And he was probably right.

It is this side of Mr Wenger’s life that is often ignored – and that is why so many analyses of him go wrong.  Like all gamblers he can win big time, and he has losing runs too.   That is a good argument against gambling.  But just how boring would you like Arsenal to be?


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40 Replies to “Wenger: the ultimate gambler.”

  1. chances of winning he league with van persie – 50:50
    chances of winning without van persie – 100:1

    value of sale – £24m
    estimated cost of a premier league point – £3.3m

    the gamble – will van persie net his team 8 or more points this season?

    hmmmm…. you decide

  2. Yeh, he gambled that Diaby would be fit all season.

    Cazorla is probably the best purchase he’s made in years. So he’s had a few ordinary games but that’s because he’s been stifled by tactically aware opponents. I think he’ll come good (and then we’ll sell him).

    There are several decent players in the team but something seems to be lacking.

  3. Tony,
    Ref the purchase of Andy Carroll.

    I wouldn’t class this as a similar purchase / gamble to be honest. The reasons being, Carroll was having a bit of a successful spell on the pitch and there was lots of positive (over) hype surrounding him where as Henry / Bergkamp had negative hype about them. The players were at opposite ends of the spectrum in the way they were portrayed by the media (probably because one is English with that English Grit and the others are not). I wouldn’t actually class the Carroll purchase as a gamble but rather more like stupidity or naivity / falling for the hype by a manager who really is out of touch with the modern game and should have remained an ex manager (for his own image amongst the fans) or as a pundit with the rest of those out of touch with the game. Wenger clearly is a man confident in his own decision making who is not affected by the media frenzy taking place around him, I imagine he actually finds it quite amusing.

  4. Tony,
    It’s good that you should issue the occasional reminder that instant success, unlike coffee, rarely exists, particularly by those entering the EPL from abroad.
    For potential scorers, whether the distance between our goalposts, like the Continental railway lines, are of a different gauge I know not. Suffice it is to say that time must be allowed to all immigrants into our national game in order (like a good cricket wicket) to bed in.
    Patience is indeed a virtue.

  5. Wenger is a risk manager. NOT a gambler.

    When you have $10 in your pocket you ‘have’ you have different kind of risks to manage. If you lose that and have $1 left you are finished.

    When you have $1000 in your pocket you lose and with $10 left you are still in the game.

    The pressure and skills required to play with $10 knowing if you lose $9 is tremendous.

  6. Nicky,
    I like your coffee analagy. To take it further, it took years to develop it and get it right and now it is like the real thing.

  7. i dont think discontented arsenal fans are asking for a boring predictable manager, i think quite the opposite. its become so commonplace that we sell our best players even to rivals now that the element of excitement is quickly fading because we all know wenger’s going to do it regardless of what he says and you can see it coming 6 months or more in advance. i wonder what odds on sagna getting sold over the next year… if it doesnt happen i will be incredibly surprised, likewise i dont expect vermaelen to be a gunner in 2 years.

    whilst arsene has made some fantastic selection and transfer gambles over the years he can be exceptionally predictable tactically for the most part which is really infuriating. gone are the days when we had a squad so good and confidence so high that we could tear through anyone at ease. nowadays when we’re playing terribly and he has good impact subs on the bench its remsrkable to see wenger make a sub before 65-70 minutes, almost out of principle and regardless of how bad individual players may be playing or who is on the bench. just like after every good result when asked what he said in the team talk at half time they always say he said ‘keep going and believe’, you start to wonder if thats all hes saying during the bad performances where we go on and drop points poorly as well.

    so no i dontthink arsenal would need to become boring without arsene. for starters if we spent 30mil on players we wouldnt necessarily have to expect that we’ll offset that by selling our best players predictably. likewise tactically we might not be so easy to work out and so slow at changing tactics when things arent working out. for me and a lot of others that would make us much more exciting

  8. Wenger was like a breath of fresh air to Arsenal .With Rioch, we were going no where as was with Graham .As someone put it,one dour Scotsman for another .It was painful !
    As for the players you mentioned ,Tony , Wreh won us 6 points in the run in .As for Grimandi , he did a great job coming on as sub late in the games to shut the door to protect our lead.I personally feel that he contributed greatly to that double winning side of 2001-2002 .
    The next season we didn’t have the ‘fireman’ to douse the opposition ‘s flame and we tottered .

  9. Wenger never started Chris Wreh ahead of Wright in a cup final…
    He statrted ANELKA ahead of him against Newcastle in 98 but never Chris Wreh and by that point Anelka had already ousted Wright from the 1st team anyway.

  10. He also could have got far more for Vieira than the 16M he got from Juventus a year or 2 earlier. Figures of 30M were bandied around from Madrid then, but we (rightly) didn’t want to sell.

    Good article though and you’re right, Wenger is a gambler. The problem with real gamblers though is that eventually their luck runs out and they end up ruined.

  11. Wenger’s early “gambles” weren’t near as much gambles as this article is making them out to be in my opinion.

    Petit? League 1 winner, French cup winner, Full French international.. before working with Wenger at AFC.

    Overmars? 4 Dutch titles, Champions League, Supercup, Intercontinental cup, best young players award at world cup 94, full Dutch international at the time Wenger signed him.

    Gilberto? World Cup winner when signed Wenger

    Sol Campbell? England’s number 1 defender when signed by Wenger (plus league cup winner already).

    Pires? Full French international, very experienced, with world cup and Euro medals to his name, former league 1 young player of the year etc when signed by Wenger.

    Van Bronckhorst? won everything in Scotland, was a full Dutch international with big tournament experience.

    Lehman? Budesliga winner, Uefa cup winner, played for Milan, German keeper of the year when signed by Wenger.

    Wiltord? League 1 winner, former league 1 top scorer, Euro medal with France and full French international when signed by Wenger.

    Kanu? Fifa U-17 world cup winner, Olympic Gold, Dutch League, Champions league, Supercup and intercontinental with Ajax, played for Inter and had Uefa cup medal with them, full Nigerian international etc when signed by Wenger.

    Lauren? even him, Olympic Gold, full Cameroon international with WC experience, Spanish supercup with Mallorca, was in La Liga for a long time etc when Wenger signed him.

    Edu? A couple of Brazilian championships and the World Club Championship with Corinthians when he signed.

    Even players like Henry and Vieira (technically signed so it’s said and not inherited) that Wenger should rightfully be given credit for developing (esp. Henry as he had him before), were not complete “gambles” per se, but amongst the best known young talent in the world playing for giants like Juve and Milan, and in Henry’s case was signed by Wenger as a key contributor to France World Cup triumph.

    Even Ljunberg, wasn’t a complete gamble, he was the hottest player coming out of Sweden was being tracked by clubs including Barcelona and Chelsea, hardly an “unknown gem”. Reyes was one of the hottest youngsters in Spain hence his price, he was hardly unknown either.

    Anelka was definitely a gamble due to his age and inexperience and the role he eventually had, but even him, he was one of the hottest young players coming out of France wanted by several big clubs. But there was no gamble on merely signing his well known explosive talent.

    And this is not to mention the players Wenger inherited with all their experience and accomplishments like

    Bergkamp (won so much throughout Europe, full international with big tournament experience), Adams, Seaman, Winterburn, Bould, Dixon, Wright etc (basically won everything there was to win in England, and were very experienced pros and internationals).

    Wenger never won a thing at Arsenal with teams full of “gambles” or unearthing unknown gems. Rather his successful Arsenal sides were littered with players he either signed or inherited with long CVs full of club and international accomplishments, and some of the highest rated young players in the world at the time.

    players like Kolo, Cole etc were the vast exception.

    Wenger should be given complete credit for assembling those teams and players and in some cases extending and improving careers, and credit for picking up players that were enduring difficult spells at their then clubs (but still players whose pedigree, quality, and high potential were not in doubt or not unknown)… but he has never been successful at Arsenal with teams full of “gambles” of unearthed gems that’s a complete myth. His successful teams were littered with highly successful players before they worked with him at Arsenal (be it signed or inherited).

    When you build teams full of players who won World Cups, Champions Leagues, Euros, Uefa Cups and trophies, Olympics, domestic honours in England, France, Italy, Brazil, Holland, Scotland etc BEFORE working with Wenger at Arsenal, it’s really not “gambling”. These players were largely very experienced and accustomed to winning before they worked with Wenger at Arsenal. And players who were accustomed to the pressures and expectations of playing at big clubs before (even Vieira etc). Credit to him to for looking abroad before most in England did in depth, but his teams were built with experience winners, it’s not much of a gamble really.

    Lastly, it’s less of a gamble when those teams in addition to being littered with experienced proven winners, were also routinely the tallest, heaviest and strongest teams in the league (a very physical league, remember this is England) while in recent years we are amongst the shortest and lightest.

    He’s done most of his gambling since ’05 and has lost. In my opinion (feel free to disagree) gambling that was borne partially out of necessity (stadium and all that), but also partly as a result of gaining early success in a more conventional approach (i.e. relying on proven experienced players) and using the goodwill and capital he rightfully earned to embark on his long-held idealistic goal of creating teams from scratch largely from youth and unknowns (there are some similarities to his time an Monaco that support this).

  12. AAA, first six games this season: “Santi is our savior; Giroud is crap, drop him!”
    AAA, last four games: “Santi can’t adapt to the English game; Giroud isn’t getting enough service!”

    I’m not worried about either of them. I have no idea how many times doubts about a player during their bedding-in period (Koscielny) need to be proven wrong for it to sink in.

  13. Regarding this part of the post: “Vieira has even said that he didn’t quite know how he came to leave Arsenal for a club so steeped in the mire of Italian football that having won the league title he found he had it taken away from him after something naughty going on with the selection of the refs. Wenger gambled that this was the moment he would get more money for Vieira than at any other time. And he was probably right.”

    Well later in Wenger’s well documented exclusive with Martin Samuel in 2009 he explicitly said the reason was this….

    “When Cesc Fabregas was 18, 19, I would play him in a 4-4-2 with Patrick Vieira and I saw it did not work. Then I had the decision to make about letting Patrick go, because Gilberto Silva and Vieira worked, Fabregas and Silva worked, but I could not play Fabregas and Vieira. But Fabregas was 19 and if he did not play I knew he would want to go, so we risked destroying everything, all the work we had put into this player. Now we have that same situation with Jack Wilshere.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1206377/ARSENE-WENGER-INTERVIEW-The-transcript-Martin-Samuels-fascinating-meeting-Arsenal-manager–I.html#ixzz2CDFHBo37

    So there you have it, his exact words. He decided (gambled) to get rid of his legendary Captain (still in his prime at 29 at the time) and admitted that his most successful midfield partnership (Gilberto/Vieira) still worked, but he prioritized gifting a teenager everything he wanted for fear (he would throw his toys out) and want to leave (how did that eventually work out?). Note, per Wenger’s words this wasn’t borne from financial realities but driven by purely ideological reasons. He gambled on getting rid of his Captain (no surprise since then the Captaincy at AFC has been almost a joke [imo and that of many])who even if somewhat regressed still had so much benefit to offer in terms of continuity and passing on the winning culture to the next generation, all because he wanted to not lose a teenager. It’s no coincidence that our last trophy coincided with Vieira’s last kick of a ball for AFC. To me that was also the turning point that sent a message around the football world that if we were completely willing to get rid of our legendary (in-prime) leader, that there isn’t no-one we would sell or be forced to sell with the right amount of pressure and destabilization.

    Freely deciding to sell Vieira specifically to prioritize an 18 year old’s development, was Wenger’s biggest gamble, and that directly set in motion the downward spiral (in terms of the football product, not financial) that has occurred since.

  14. I think most managers have expiry dates. When they cannot deliver, they are sacked. Modern football is complex, and managers are in a lot of pressure from the management, owners and fans. Hence good managers need to evolve and adapt to changing environments, be it technical, tactical and/or financial. An excellent example of a good manager is SAF. On the flip side, you have Dalgish, an excellent manager and player during his days. But Dalgish have not adapt or change with the times.

    As for Wenger, IMO, he had over achieved in his first years but have been finding it increasingly difficult to adapt, probably due to constrains we may not know, or simply out-dated. Someone commented that he is confident in his dealings and probably finds it “amusing” with all the bad press about him. His confidence,stubborness and perceived arrogance I imagine came about chiefly from not being held accountable like all genuine big clubs. I seriously wonder, many may disgree, whether he can last 7 seasons without a trophy at Real, Barca, Chelsea or MC.

    And the comparison between Henry and Carroll… Henry was a world cup winner prior to joining us and young… absolutely no comparison and only an out-of-touch Dalgish will pay $35 million for a player like Carroll. I don’t think that’s even a calculated risk. Its pure recklessness.

  15. @ Rupert Cook, not only did he gamble on Diaby’s fitness, he freely admitted to it!

    It didn’t take a genius to make the very reasonable assumption that a player who has struggled with injuries for 6 years, will once again………..struggle with injuries.

    Yet he decided to gamble on him, which was even more alarming given Wilshere had been out for over a year, and then even more astonishing when he got rid of Song (imo to meet the mandate of making a transfer window profit or net-zero transfer window balance), Song being our only physical midfield presence.

    That’s not so much gambling and is it negligence! But given the lack of accountability and lack of pressure from his superiors, it’s a gamble I believe that Wenger can take because there are no consequences or repercussions for the obvious expected loss that particular gamble would result in.

  16. An interesting article Walter, but one that doesn’t really stand up. Wenger isn’t a gambler when it comes to transfer dealings, nor do I think are most other managers although I think it was Redknapp who admitted to buying a player who he had never seen play.

    He may gamble toan extent within the context of a single game, (e.g. a player not being entirely fit, or a change in formation when chasing) but the examples you give are all judgement calls not gambles. In all cases there were arguments for and against what was decided, and he made the decision. That is what management is about in all walks of life.

  17. @ Nick Lee re: “I seriously wonder, many may disagree, whether he can last 7 seasons without a trophy at Real, Barca, Chelsea or MC.”

    I completely agree, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that of course he wouldn’t last that long without a trophy at those clubs. Actually some of them (notably Real and Chelsea) have gotten rid of managers who won things at the end of the season just the season before (Capello, Ancelotti). Not saying it’s right or wrong for big clubs clubs to be run that way with respect to managers, it just is what it is.

    One thing Wenger isn’t is stupid. He knows how could he has it, he has a completely unique situation in top club football in that he has no pressure to win (Mourinho correctly highlighted that years before). Who in their right mind would leave their post as one of the highest paid in their field, in a job with no pressure to deliver top results for the primary product, in a job where your ultimate bosses have publicly guaranteed you a job for life, and in a job where you are worshiped by most regardless of results…None of us would, and neither would he.

    Not only that, but Wenger (I believe) doesn’t do good with interference, and many of the other elite clubs have Directors of Football, Owners, Presidents or Chairmen that directly interfere, influence, or have decision making power with first team matters.. I don’t think Wenger would tolerate that or rather, wouldn’t last long with that kind of set up.

    Moreover, he would be forced to spend on big name players, and while I believe Wenger would spend more if we had more, I still think that he has said enough over the years to suggest that he holds deep principles on spending too much (regardless of how much he had available to him, didn’t PHW famously say Wenger would give back 100M if offered?)..And as someone so devoted to spending within means, he couldn’t last at many of those clubs I believe.

    I don’t doubt Wenger is genuinely loyal to and loves the club, but frankly I’m not so naive to think that he’s still here completely on only for selfless reasons. The guy knows how uniquely good he has it, he would be silly to leave for the uncertainty, heightened pressure, heightened expectations, increased accountability and highly results(winning) oriented cultures that typify the other elite clubs.

    That’s why I never took those threats of “being interested in the Madrid project” (when dare being questioned by the fanbase) seriously.

    The man isn’t stupid. He knows how good he has it at AFC.

  18. @ A. Stewart I do think that Wenger is under pressure to deliver results. It’s just his incentives (so are of Gazidis) may not be directly tied to winning trophies. Wengerlooked extremely anxious at the end of the last season when Arsenal were in danger of missing on the CL spot. I guess this is one of the results he is under pressure to deliver. We will see what happens if in this season Arsenal don’t finish in the top 4.

  19. @Tony

    Cheers for the post Tony. Witty and educational, the ulimate combo for a quiet Thursday morning (in Sydney, probably night time at Untold Towers).

  20. Some interesting and varied comments. Wenger has certainly gambled on some,issues, I would put song down as a gamble, although he did say he had resources for jan if he hit problems, he may have to use these resources. While I think he was wrong to let song go without a replacement, still think he dodged bullets if he really was interested in sahin or mvila…..shame about Essien though.
    There are many types of gamblers, reckless gamblers, gamblers who seek the one off big win, those who seek value, those who try to scientifically assess the risk, and those with insider knowledge. Which one is wenger? And is he playing poker with theo or does he want him out?

  21. Mandy Dodd,
    Gambling with Song has lost us points and stretched Arteta in the midfield. Playing poker with Theo at this time is, hey, a gamble. Isn’t it rich? Now any error is down to the sheer adventure of being a gambler. As in Russian roulette? How “boring” is it to experience departures of the great players Arsene brings in and then (or perhaps the board, though we are too naughty to be told what’s on in those quarters) sells to achieve zero transfer balances or unspent troves. Perhaps January’s needed gambles, if placed, will fork lightning and pay off on the pitch. Then again, to gamble this January and to let Theo go and perhaps Sagna in the summer will be a gamble too far. Imo, there is a limit to playing so fast and loose with the bonding that fans do with quality players; and that limit has been pushed to the limit with the spate of dicey sell-offs, which Mr. Attwood now considers oh so exciting.

  22. @A.Stewart
    Yup… I often commented that AW is a shred player. In fact, and I’m playing the devil’s advocate, AW engineered all these dependence on him and the desired outcome is his indispensability. How a manager can be intertwined with all aspects of modern football operations attest to his manouvres and politics at AFC. In short, AW has power and control over the fate of AFC.

    Compared this with most managers who are under pressure to deliver and don’t give two hoots about financials. That’s someone else’s jobs.

  23. @ A.Stewart, an excellent overview of Wenger. This is what amazes me about Arsenal, that Wenger is still there after seven years of no progress. This, many feel, proves that the club has limited ambition.

    @Mandy, yes I really don’t get the selling of Song on the eve of the season. Did we really need 15 million so badly?

  24. Andrei,
    I have long felt that Arsenal (not necessarily Wenger) is targeted financially and I believe the board put pressure on him to make those targets a reality. It is highly possible that spending is restricted until enough money is stashed away so that the stadium debt is covered.

  25. Rupert

    re : “This, many feel, proves that the club has limited ambition”

    My thoughts exactly, I don’t blame Wenger for this however but rather sympathise with him due to his employers lack of ambition. I honestly believe if Wenger goes, the next manager will have the same issues.

  26. @ Stuart, yes this is the worry, that Wenger’s departure will not mean much change in direction, if any.

    Someone is being economical with the truth at Arsenal it appears because Gazidis says there is money for Wenger to use and yet AW rarely uses it without balancing his expenditure with sales of key players. I must admit I trust Gazidis about as much as a starving crocodile, just a gut instinct, not based on fact.

  27. bob
    There was one interview where Wenger said that the club needed to raise 15-20 million from player sales every year. He’s said that just once. I have no idea if it’s true. I am hopeful that that sort of thing will stop soon. Though I fear it might be too late for Theo. But we are buying older players offering less re-sale value, and we should be getting in an additional 20-30 million through revised commercial deals. Those are the two things that make me hope that perhaps the selling cycle might be nearing an end. We’ll still have clubs poach the odd player, but it won’t be regular.

  28. Shard,

    In that particular interview Wenger explained how making £15M to £20M profit is important. I believe he then went on to say something along the lines of ‘if we sell Cesc & Nasri then no one will take us seriously’

    This is me reading between the lines but I took it to be Wenger publicly opposing his employers without publicly opposing them (if you know what I mean)

  29. @ Stuart, perhaps you are correct, maybe just maybe Wenger is in opposition to the board’s/ownership’s policies (personally I doubt it though). But if so, a man who is lauded for being so deeply steeped in principle could either speak up and walk out, especially if through his love for the club, he ultimately thinks it may be best for the club in the long term to make such a statement….

    It’s not unprecedented at all for managers who are not pleased with how things are being run by their superiors to walk out based (at least in part) on principle (and often forfeiting big pay in doing so.) Capello (with England), Paul Lambert, Martin O’Neil and Mourinho are names that come to mind in recent years of managers who have disagreed with the direction of their superiors and did the honourable thing and walked out…No silent coded read between the lines ambiguous messages, rather plain straight action. Wenger can never be accused of lacking principle, thus personally I believe the current model of the club is supported by all levels of club management (including Wenger). Perhaps his principle of honouring contracts supersedes any plausible principles of speaking out against things with which he may disagree? I don’t know. It’s plain as day though that Wenger enjoys a situation (influence in club matters well beyond first team affairs, very high pay without having to win, interference free environment from his superiors, publicly guaranteed a job for life etc.) that exists at no-other elite club, thus to me he would be silly to walk away even if he disagreed in principle with the current model (though this is a man that has been preaching financial prudence well before this current ownership, stadium etc.).

    Anyway before getting called out, this is all speculation on my part (in response to a speculative post)..

  30. A. Stewart,
    Nothing is plain as day at AFC. You admittedly speculate, fine. But none of us know the actually doings and dynamics. These shadow acts all amount to a Rorshach test of our projections about what we’d each like to say is going on (on behalf of our respective values). It is club policy (as with most clubs) to keep knowledge private, and that means neither of us know, as you know.

  31. Shard,
    Yes, I live in hope about finally breaking the log jam. There’s also a new, unprecedented and very sweetened 2012 TV deal for EPL clubs, including us. The under duress coach/manager at Crystal Palace has let the public know just last week that being in the top flight has meant a 20M+ boost (at least, and perhaps 40M but I don’t recall the exact number in this moment) per club, as I recall it.

  32. A. Stewart
    Yes partly down to being a man of honour I would say although he keeps renewing his contract too. I think most likely he lives in the same world as you and I where there will always be something we don’t agree with.

    If we all quit our jobs because there was something we didn’t agree with then we’d all be unemployed.

    Like you, I also think that Wenger agrees with the current model and I’d even say he knew about it before agreeing to join us. This IMO was a long plan worked out up to the end of the stadium finance repayment which was dealt a blow with the housing market crash

  33. Stuart,
    What is your proof that the stadium repayment has been dealt a blow? We have LONG been told that there’s a penalty for early repayment. And only recently we’ve all heard that there was plenty of money in the till. So what do you mean by citing the housing market crash as the source and/or basis of our reputed (financial) woes? I find your statement based on a protective impulse (which I share), but blowing smoke will not help us advance the cause.

  34. Bob,
    Due to the housing market crash in the UK we have seen house prices selling for lower than one might have predicted. The knock on effect being less money in the kitty for Arsenal on the whole. This is not necessarily a direct blow on the stadium repayment but as it all comes out of the same pot, logic would tell you that something has to give.

    I still think (and this is my own personal opinion) that the original plan was to use property sales to pay for the stadium so that all cash generated (or a very large proportion) from the new stadium could be used for the team/club purposes.

    With regard to the early payment, yes, of course there is that but it doesn’t stop us stockpiling the cash intended to repay the mortgage.

  35. Stuart,
    I’m touched that you invoke logic to slate my points. However, to play the same card, Logic would tell you that the new TV deal, an historically unprecedented deal, would have gone a long way to sweeten the purportedly (by your intuition) depleted pot. It’s camouflage to point to one pot and say that the housing downturn depleted it and therefore our overall well being when there are other pots that have been sweetened that enhance our overall well being and to remind you that your man Gazidis has assured one and all that there is a lot of money on tap to meet our needs. Whatever else may be awry, pleading poverty with an illogical answer does nothing to diminish the need to spend in the January window and, imo, not to get rid of Theo because of a completely affordable 15K per week difference. Surely you’ll be defending that self-injurious move soon enough on the basis of this all-purpose housing bubble argument.

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