Why Aren’t All Clubs Run for Trophies?
By Sir Hardly Anyone.
Well, bless my soul. The Bleacher Report has sent me an item on Facebook which appears at its heart to turn the whole world of economics upside.
Now I know as well as the next knight of the realm that economic predictions only exist in order to give astrology a good name, but upon my word we seem to be skipping out of reality and into a zone of fantasy land.
It is as if the jolly fellows who ran the French Revolution in 1789 and then went on to chop of the heads of a fair sized number of their fellows had, while waiting at the guillotine for the next bout of blood letting, written a manual on how to run football clubs and said manual had drifted through a wormhole in time, appeared on the desk of an editor at said “Bleacher Report” and the young whipper-snapper had thought, “hmm, no need to read this pile of 18th century ramblings on economics, we’ll just put it out as a piece on contemporary football expenditure.”
Or words to that effect.
Like all rabble rousing espousals, it starts with what seems to be an utterly straightforward and realistic premise, to wit: Whether you support a perennial superpower, a fledgling middler or a team poised for relegation, from season to season we all start with an unbridled hope that this is the year to achieve whichever realistic goals are there for the taking.
And yes, by jove, we do. I can imagine rosy cheeked old men sitting at the boardrooms of clubs up and down the country nodding in agreement. Until they suddenly read
In something of a personal mystery, I’ve always been baffled by clubs that have the financial wherewithal to compete on the grandest stages yet seem to run their clubs with the express purpose of making money—not necessarily to win trophies.
Some may disagree with the methodology and consequences thereof, but the “Galacticos” style of Real Madrid and heavy-investment strategies of Chelsea and/or Manchester City makes infinitely more sense to me than being worried about profit.
And yes that is true, up to a point. The point with Real Madrid is the support they have had from the ruling party in government and in Madrid, and the curious land deals they have engaged in. If (and it is just a supposition) those scamps in the EC really do up the heat on state aid (see the link below if you are opposed to state aid in its English form with West Ham, and then sign the petition) Real Mad would hit financial buffers of such bufferishness that they would out old-buffer the old-buffers who run the FA.
Chelsea and Man C might owners well be decent men about town at the moment, and maybe forever, but everything is dependent on the whim of the few, and the price of oil. And the fact that world tends to ignore the fact that the UAE does not have democratically-elected institutions, where citizens cannot form political parties, where force disappearances are common, where foreign nationals and Emirati citizens are abducted and illegally detained in undisclosed locations, where there is torture in custody and the right to a speedy trial is denied.
Of course some young whipper-snappers will say “what about Emirates airlines supporting Arsenal?” and that is a decent question, if they were the prime source of Arsenal’s money.
But the key case in the strangely worded papyrus is that Arsenal are too frugal for words. They have the money, so it should be spent they argue. And it needs to be spent and hang the consequences says the article, because Arsenal’s “last dependable spine was created 13 seasons ago. In 2003/04, Arsenal had Jens Lehmann (54 apps), Sol Campbell (50 apps), Patrick Vieira (43 apps) and Thierry Henry (50 apps) as their backbone, which resulted in an unbeaten Premier League season.”
Now if this is a valid thesis, then clubs like Man City and Chelsea, and PSG and Monaco, and Man U and so on, would win the league, cup, league cup and Champs League each season, and create team after team that can go unbeaten. For the article is clear, even if the use of language is perverse in the extreme, it is all about money, money, money, and then some.
Now they argue, “even the staunchest Arsenal supporter would admit their spine has severely dropped in quality.”
I don’t, so as a mind-reading exercise Bleacher is clearly off focus, but even if I did, the cause and effect is not proven. Just having money does not guarantee that one can bring together a team that will win the league (or in the case of Chelsea and Man U, get into the Champions League each season by coming up enough up the league table).
Palpably it doesn’t work like that. Of course you might think that (as the Bleacher Report says), Cesc Fabregas was “sacrificed” to pay for the Emirates Stadium debt. But you might also think that it is worth counting how many articles you can find written since last April on Fabregas’ poor form. (Try it on Google if you have several hours to waste). Or you might like to count the number of goals Wayne Rooney has scored in the last ten matches he has played for Man U. Or the failure of such wonderfully rich English clubs in the Champions League last season.
Indeed the fact that this article is based on the behaviour of a three year old who has just discovered that on his sister’s birthday she gets the presents and he doesn’t, can be seen with this section from the Bleacher so-called “Report”.
Linked with north London for the past two summers, as exemplified by the Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson in 2013 and 2014, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is the “No. 9” thought to be Wenger’s saviour.
This summer is no different; Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail suggested Arsenal are willing to give the Spanish giants £45 million for the France international.
Comparative figures on the player’s goal scoring ability are there none. Explanation for why we should believe a writer in the Daily Mail or the fanatically inept anti-Arsenal PGMO supporting Telegraph as a prime source of information on transfer news (two newspapers, we should note, with an accuracy rate in transfer predictions of under 1 in 100) is not explained.
And then with the dexterity of a ballet dancer on heat, he writes, “So it seems, after three summers of speculation, Wenger’s focus must turn elsewhere.”
Let us consider that. The suggestion is that the press and outlets of waste material like the Bleacher “Report” which constantly speculate wrongly on who is going to transfer where, and who have a prediction accuracy level of under 1%, should now influence the manager’s thinking.
And I ask “Why?” And again, “Why?” And again… [I think our readers have got it thank you – Tony]
What you can be sure about is that the moment that the toxic British media starts influencing an Arsenal manager – any Arsenal manager – or come to that any manager in any football club in any football league – is the moment that club goes into a downward spiral.
But apparently, the writer says he will not turn his attention away from this utterly insane concept. And with the ability to turn upside down and back to front that is rarely seen beyond the act of the high wire artist in Billy Smart’s Circus he asks, Are Arsenal run to win trophies?
Then of course we are on to the inevitable rhubarb. “The Gunners have England’s most expensive season tickets”. So perhaps we should note that when we play Leicester away the cost of the ticket is far higher than Leicester fans pay at the Emirates. That the cost of a ticket for the forthcoming Tottenham v Arsenal league cup match is going to be far higher than if it were played at the Ems and on and on. If the writer means that the Emirates has a smattering of club level season tickets that are the highest in the land, then yes that is true, but if that is what the increasingly inarticulate scribbler of this piece means, then why doesn’t he say so? The truth is we have the lowest league cup prices in the land, among the lowest seat prices for many matches in some parts of the ground, and for the very wealthy who enjoy seven course meals and champagne before the match, we have the highest prices.
But let us pass on because suddenly he mentions, in terms of income, “prize money from four competitions”. Oh, one might think, prize money. That stuff that you get for, err, winning competitions.
But hang on, the whole point of the piece is that Arsenal don’t win competitions. Except … oh, it seems we do.
So maybe the argument is that we don’t win the big prize like we used to, and we are not unbeaten any more.
But hold your horses my jolly friends, for there is a logical dilemma here. When we won the two Wengerian Doubles and the season Unbeaten, we did it with a stadium that held 38,000 and didn’t have the high income boxes of club level.
In other words our success came when we had LESS money than now. So if the model that this young fella-me-lad puts forward is that money is everything is right and money is the heart of all football, and we can learn from history, then we need to go reduce our income considerably.
This article is meaningless cods-wallop dressed up as being a reflection of footballing passion and a spot of knowledge. I think I’d sooner muck out stables.
- 26 August 1993: Frank “Tiger” Hill died in California aged 87. He played just 81 games for Arsenal but won the league three seasons running. After injury curtailed his playing days he had an extensive career as a manager, and was one of the vanguard fighting against the oppressive retain and transfer system.
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