The transfer window is closed but we might still have a surprise in store

By Tony Attwood
In the article Why big name transfer window signings are more likely to flop than succeed we showed that the statement, made by a few people within the commentaries on this blog, “why has Arsenal not strengthened the squad with top players, all the others have?” was actually the wrong question.
In the past we have pointed out that while big money purchases are obviously helpful on occasion (Gabriel, Ozil, Alexis etc etc) they should be handled with caution, and that it is a desire to appease the media and some fans that makes clubs buy players who in effect just don’t make it.
We have also pointed out the destabilizing effect that can on occasion arise, after a period of success, with such policies, and we have often pointed out on this site the success we have had with young players working their way up through the squad having been brought in at a young age.  Coquelin and Bellerin are just two recent example, and indeed the stats on Coquelin put him in the top half dozen of European defensive midfielders this year.
But what that article added at the end was an extra notion.  Not only can it be very successful to bring in young players and develop them, sometimes players brought in for a huge fee can perform no better or even worse than players brought in for nothing.
Of course Arsenal is no exception – those of a certain age will recall the genius Reyes was supposed to be.  On the other hand although Bergkamp was our record signing at the time, he was seen in Italy as a total wastral on the pitch and even had a joke column in a newspaper named after his alleged appalling errors.  As you may have noticed, under Arsene Wenger he flourished as never before.
The Tomkins Times table of success and failure of expensive players that we linked to before showed some extraordinary “total flops with minimal resale value” including
Player Cost (2014 equivalent) Sell on (2014 equivalent)
Shevchenko £80m £0
Torres £63m £0
Wright Phillips £58m £10m
Reyes £53m £17m
Mutu £47m £0
Owen £46m £0
Carroll £44m £17m
Adebayour £38m £7m
Veron £38m £0
Anderson £31m £0
Aquilani £31m £0
Parker £31m £17m
Lukaku £29m £28m
Hargreaves £29m £0

There are of course many more that could be added here – and of course the measure of failure is subjective, so it might be a good idea to consult the whole table through the link above, but I think that little extract gives a general idea of the more extreme failures.

A much bigger group (about half of the transfers analysed in the article) were however 50/50 players who were not absolute flops, but who really didn’t consistently live up to anything like the expectations that the fee paid suggested in advance.  Players who could have been replaced by much lower cost alternatives, in fact.

Now the counter argument is, ok, even if it costs a fortune, Arsenal has the money so why don’t we spend it on four different centre forwards at £30m each, because according to the stats from Tomkins Times one of them ought to be a genius.

The problems are multiple.

One is that with this extreme position (which of course no one is seriously going to follow) each player will demand as part of the deal that he will be the main centre forward for the club.  The second, third and fourth player to join won’t join, because each sees Arsenal has just bought another centre forward.

So it is a case of just buying one and hoping that you have the one in four who turns out to be worth the fee.  No manager gets it right all the time.  When you do you are a genius.  When you don’t…   We remember Bergkamp.   We forget Platt who came at the same time.  And Reyes.

But there is another issue here – bringing in a very expensive player disrupts the squad.  Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but it comes at a risk.  You might have a thoroughly decent centre forward but think you have found a better one.  Except that he doesn’t turn out that way (although he was sensational at his last club).  So the club scores fewer rather than more goals.  Ultimately he gets dropped, but by then morale in the team has slipped, and there is no telling if the old player who has been displaced is going to be in a mental state to come back and do the business, knowing he might well be dropped again.  Indeed there is every chance that by then he has put in a transfer request.

So the statistics overall show that buying top players is a dodgy business.   An alternative approach is to strengthen the squad from within with the occasional purchase where this is not possible, which of course is exactly what Arsenal do.  Although lots of people write to blogettas and ask “why didn’t we buy more players?” the reality is if the question is “who did Arsenal bring through to the first team last year?” the answer is

  • Gabriel
  • Bellerin
  • Coquelin
  • Cech.

Four players in one year, each of whose statistics have shown thus far that they are not in the flop class of Reyes et al, is very good going.  In my view we should be congratulating the manager for those four, not castigating him.

The added bonus of course that this sort of work has no transfer window closing.  It is not all over for us, as it is for many other clubs, and a look at the two lists of 25 nominees in yesterday’s article is more than likely to include at least one, if not two players who are not household names now, by the end of the season will be a first team player.

And it will come as a surprise (although perhaps a little less of a surprise to those who haven’t seen the under 21s of late).

But let me share one more thought.  Consider this headline from yesterday’s press…

Stats show that Manchester United have made no progress under Louis van Gaal despite spending £181.9m more than David Moyes

Of course Van Gaal might well come good and his spending of £181.9million more than his predecessor might turn out well, but it is a reminder that spending money takes time to recoup rewards.  You cannot buy a £30m player and stick him in the reserves or on the bench until he settles down.  He has to settle down in the team, while the rest of the sides are gaining points.

You hope that you don’t have goal scoring figures declining like that, but I am sure the crowd at Very Old Trafford is a lot more patient than at the Ems.  (That’s irony by the way).

(Or maybe sarcasm.)

It costs about £35m to buy a top player these days but with only one in four top purchases delivering the goods, that means you have to spend £140m to get a guaranteed top player. Plus the wages which for four players for 3 three years at around £74,000,000 making a total of £214m to buy a top player who really delivers.

Assuming he doesn’t get injured.  Then it costs a bit more because you have to have a back up player who hasn’t actually played at all because having spent all that money on a top player in that position you have to play him.

And all of this is before we get to the fact that you can’t tear up a whole team formation for one player who might not work.  Well you can, but it is not that sensible.

If you don’t get it right you end up with headlines like

Revealed: Each LVG win costs Utd nearly £10m

That is the Telegraph.
Let me end with one final thought.  We have had numerous demands in the commentaries of late that we should stop publishing on certain topics because we make ourselves look foolish, or that we shouldn’t talk about other clubs but just focus on Arsenal.  Such readers won’t like this venture into Man U territory.
But I think there’s a real inward looking, restrictive agenda there, which I really don’t like.  So, as long as I am publisher here, we will stay true to that little phrase that has been on the masthead from the start…

Football news from an Arsenal perspective.


Thanks for reading.

The anniversaries

  • 5 September 1891:  Gavin Crawford’s debut for Royal Arsenal and is reputed to be the first professional signed by the club.   He played 83 senior games 49 goals for Royal Arsenal 1891 to 1893  and went on to make 138 league appearances becoming the first man to reach 100 games for Arsenal. 
  • 5 September 1970.  Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0 to make it 3 wins 3 draws and a defeat.  League match 7 of the first Double season.  Armstrong got both goals.  The return match was played on the last day of the season and won Arsenal the league.

From the Pre-season files

The Untold Books

49 Replies to “The transfer window is closed but we might still have a surprise in store”

  1. Is the Reyes loss referring to when he was with us or his move to Madrid? I know those aren’t your figures but thought he did well for us, leading me to believe they’re referring to him flopping at Madrid.

    I’d say people need to watch out for Adelaide and Akpom, those two are going to be our next big players.

  2. The writer of this article just articulated my thoughts exactly. Sensible clubs don’t buy players just so it will be said they were active in the transfer market. You buy players you need, who will improve the team AND who are AVAILABLE!! Yes we need strengthening in some areas of the team, but it is not a disaster state. Plus people forget that we have several players coming through the youth ranks who may step up within this season and fill the gaps we have identified (a la Coquelin). One player I urge you to watch out for is with Ajax at the moment, Sanogo. That boy may one day become a Thierry Henry.

  3. I agree with Al on Adelaide and Akpom as well. Arsene is building both for now and the future and I for one am fully in support of his work.

  4. Sorry if I’m repeating myself but over the last five transfer windows Arsenal have introduced ten ‘new’ faces to the first team squad (a turnover of 40%) with none of them being categorisable as a flop and several looking like huge successes. With a record like that it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the need to go out and invest big to replace ‘mistakes’ being pretty much non-existent.
    A huge proportion of the money spent in Manchester, Tottenham and Chelsea was to replace failures some of whom were themselves very recent purchases.
    It could be argued that recourse to the transfer market at all is an admission of failure to produce you own players which Arsenal have always been good at and seem even more dedicated to doing.
    If however the Clubs vast fortune isn’t going to be spent in the transfer market maybe Untold could host a debate on where that money should be spent for the short, medium and long term benefit of the Club and it’s members?

  5. I should add that Reyes was perhaps only deemed a failure because he was kicked out of English football by such luminaries as the Neville brothers. Both have said that was the tactic employed at Manure to deal with players of superior skill to them.

  6. insideright

    Your points are very relevant and as such bear repeating. The following being a particularly relevant and brilliantly made point:

    “A huge proportion of the money spent in Manchester, Tottenham and Chelsea was to replace failures some of whom were themselves very recent purchases.”

    When you evaluate it like that, it is quite extraordinary, but sadly so predictable, that it is Wenger and Arsenal that are getting the stick.

    It’s unbelievable really.

  7. insideright – well said. I like the promotion of the Ugly Sisters to luminaries (dirty unskilled idiots). I liked Juan Antonio Reyes. He is an Arsenal type of player. He is still successful & I am happy for him.

    I’m not sure that players who are not successful at clubs are at fault. More often than not there are other reasons that reduce quality to mediocrity.

    Wenger is very astute in this regard. He analyses the holistic fit of players; character, technique, morals, social habits, mentality & physical. His selection criteria generally ensures players become assets to the team. There can occasionally be a rogue that causes friction. Thankfully Wenger clears them out quickly.

  8. Excellent Tony…The mind boggles why Arsenal is always singled out by the stupid plundits and Media!!

    insiderigh; you make extremely accurate points!

    The damning data of Excessive signings (which have been TOTAL FLOPS) made by a large number of PL clubs with the theme of TRYING TO (at least) improve their squad – should be considered as negligence and that systematic year in year out!!

    But as Jamburg points out its not surprising that the Media applaud these STUPID decisions clubs make – worst still – they demand and question as to why The Arsenal don’t follow suit!!


  9. Insideright
    Well said. We have so much promising youngsters in every position that to go and splash on an expensive flop would look stupid.

    I disagree with the Tomkins Times flop list, Reyes should never be in there. He was one of the best players during his time with us and was even being talked as the future of Spanish football. Didn’t Aragones say something that led to a major fallout between Spain and France during a training session of the Spanish football team because he thought he was better than Thierry.. Reyes was one of the stars for Spain, as he was at Arsenal, and only faded when he joined madrid. Of course we all know that he may have seen his best years at Arsenal had he not been kicked to pieces by those two thugs.

  10. A thought; Just imagine if we had done what MaNure has done in the past two seasons or so; spending in the region of 320m’s and being no better off!!!

    The IDIOTS would have had a FIELD day with our club and manager!

    The more one looks at that number – the more one MUST see just how delusional it is!

  11. Lets face it; with the huge transfer fees and and the rest which changes hands during each and every TW, I am sure that our model isn’t exactly what the associations like to see and support! We wouldn’t be a top earner for them thats for sure.

    No wonder they will do everything possible to see our model fail.

  12. Al

    Re Reyes

    I too have never seen him as a ‘flop’.

    I concede he probably didn’t reach his full potential with us, but as you suggest, there where extenuating circumstances behind that.

    Personally I will always have fond memories of Reyes, especially as he scored one of my favourite Arsenal goals ever, in one of my favourite Arsenal Matches ever.

    The 5 – 3 win over Middlesbrough on the 22/8/04

    What a match. What a goal that was.

  13. Good article.

    But the sickening thing is the disgraced Neville sisters, having retired from well paid on the pitch thuggery, have been awarded undeserved positions of influence within the media.

    Unfortunately some former Arsenal players, who should know better, have joined the anti Arsenal commentry club.

  14. Al,

    I wouldn’t say Reyes was a success in Arsenal colours because he was although rarely used and had no major impact in those seasons he was with us, neither could he cement a place in the first eleven before was loaned out and subsequently sold

  15. Al

    “Of course we all know that he may have seen his best years at Arsenal had he not been kicked to pieces by those two thugs.”

    This from that seems to support your suspicions:

    Season 04′ 05′

    Jose Antonio scored in each of the first six matches as Arsenal broke Nottingham Forest’s unbeaten League record in August 2004 and eventually racked up 49 games without defeat. The Spaniard was especially effective at Highbury, not least when he helped Arsene Wenger’s side turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 win over Middlesbrough.

    The defeat at Manchester United which ended that run prompted a dip in Arsenal’s form – and Jose Antonio was affected more than most. He struggled to recreate the fluency of his early-season performances but he did manage the winner in a North London derby against Tottenham.

    The Spaniard ended that season by becoming only the second man to be sent off in an FA Cup Final, although Arsenal did go on to lift the trophy after a penalty shoot-out against Man United. And his fortunes didn’t improve much the following term. Jose Antonio made a significant contribution to Arsenal’s run to the Champions League Final but he managed just six goals in all competitions.

    By now rumours were rife that Jose Antonio was struggling to adapt to life in England and he moved to Real Madrid on loan for the 2006/07 season. A permanent move to their city rivals, Atletico, followed a year later.


  16. Jambug
    Yes, what a great comeback too that was. Or how about the belter against Chelsea in the FA cup, the first of his two.

    I think you may have got that slightly wrong; Reyes was an integral part of the invincibles, and I don’t think any member of that squad can be deemed a flop. Of his 110 games with us only 21 were substitute appearances; you’ll probably find only a handful of players will have better figures than those. I know he didn’t do so well after he left us, and that may tend to make people inclined to class him a flop. A bit like Hleb; brilliant for us but flopped everywhere else.

  17. Jambug 1:
    Spot on. Sorry I was watching the video in your link then replied before seeing your second post. But this pretty much sums up his performances for us. Not a flop in my book.

    P/s and isn’t it interesting that says he seemed to be the most affected by the mugging at OT. We all know why. Someone should have gone to jail for that assault, and who could blame Reyes for being disheartened after seeing the perpetrators being let off without even a slap on the wrist after putting him what he went through.

  18. The transfer window is closed. There’s no point in banging on about Wengers failure to address the squad deficifiencies Tony.

    You are such a doomer!

    Welbecks injury is simply an opportunity for another player to step up and shine. And if Coquelin gets injured all will be well because the super athletic Arteta will save the day.

    Rejoice in the genius of Wenger.

    Everything is roses. Ommmmmmmmm

  19. Al

    No problem.

    I’m a ‘half awake’ person myself 🙂

    I have no doubt that after that particular experience at OT he said to himself, ‘I don’t need this shit’ or ‘No necesito esta mierda’ as they say in Sevilla !

  20. “we might still have a surprise in store” presumably this will be the revelation that Wellbeck is like a new signing when he eventually starts playing again!

  21. Re Reyes, my recollection of him was as a grave disappointment, but I will go back and look at the details and do an article on the Arsenal history site shortly.

  22. ColG – sorry you didn’t quite grasp the essence of the article. The surprise is a surprise of a player of the quality of Bellerin and Coquelin coming through to the first team.

  23. @dex

    so you are implying that Tony is saying that Wenger has Failed on this transfer window and poking around on it?

  24. Just want to chip in on Reyes. I loved him for Arsenal and would never consider him a flop. He was such a slick and dangerous player with plenty of tricks and fast too. I thought he showed character when bullied, which was often, and had all the makings of a fine Arsenal player.
    He certainly contributed his share to the Invincibles.
    Sadly, injuries and a struggle to regain form and fitness plus, and this is pure supposition – but worth saying as I have a strong hunch that its’ true, I believe he never really settled happily in London. It was said that he had come from a tight-knit clannish background which perhaps explains it.
    I was sad he didn’t drink the cool aid and stick around. Angry he was kicked all over anytime he laced up for us.
    Now it’s good to see him at the end of a top flight career captaining his boyhood club.
    I doubt he has many regrets about how it all turned out.

    Also, as I’m rambling, just want to say that I am in agreement with the posters who continue to show faith in AW and the Club.
    I don’t know what happened behind the scenes this summer and though I am delighted by Cech, I expected one or two more ( like many others ) but I don’t believe in buying for the sake of it and I do believe in stability and – don’t laugh – , cohesion and think personalities are important too which thins out a sparse pool further. I think the right players weren’t available so we didn’t buy.
    Happy with that but so sick of the bitching. What happened to Arsenal fans?
    I’m very pleased to see us recruit some quality youngsters. The three french kids look promising and we already have some real talent. I would love to see AW bring one or two up to senior, even if it’s just bench time in the league mostly.

    Looking forward to seeing how the season develops and remain optimistic. I feel great sympathy and admiration for AW having to field so much flack yet still putting club interests above his own popularity.
    I hope his team continue to believe and grow into what they ought to be.
    Emirates crowd needs to do their bit too.

    That’s it.

  25. I believe Reyes was a very talented footballer, he did not adapt to a he thuggery that English football was allowed to get away with. The game against the Fergy at old Trafford must have realised that I am playing the land of the neandethals.

  26. Re Reyes, little went right for the guy after the Night of Infamy, at which the assassins of OT, protected by Ferguson’s pet referee, the corrupt Riley, carried out licensed GBH.

  27. A bit unfair to label Reyes a flop, He left England because he was being kicked off the park by the likes of Gary Neville, you know the one Hodgson thinks he will be a good future England manager!!!!! No wonder Wales are about to achieve a higher rating than England.

  28. nicky – In those days there were 3 mega cheats Riley, Wylie & Bennett. They robbed us of so much. Now we have the entire PGMO. Its like an infestation of white ants (I was going to correct that with termites but I think this is more apt). They destroy all of the inside & eventually the whole Game collapses.

  29. Off topic, but another defeat in the England ODI’s versus Australia. Is this the best side we can turn out?
    To leave out quick-scorers like Root and Bairstow is asking for trouble.

  30. Not all big signings will succeed, that is for sure. No argument.

    However, the number of times I have read that Arsenal are doing great because they are getting 3rd and 4th year in year out becaus ethey can’t compete financially suggests that the money argument is being used at both. In fact whichever angle necessary to justify Wenger’s decision making i sused, unashamedly it seems.

    If big money signings don’t work and Wenger is right to spend less then how comes Man City, Chelsea and Man City are sharing titles between themselves? If it is not the fact they spend big money on players then surely that means that Arsenal’s lack of spending big money on players has had no bearing on them failing to win teh title for over a decade, right?

    So, which is it?

    Or, are we to accept that 4th is great because others are spending big money AND when we don’t it’s because spending big money doesn’t work?

    Pretty strange – sounds liek any old escuse to cast Wenger in a good light and cover up his failures.

  31. Interesting to see that England beat San Marino (ok not a difficult opponent) and a big hoohaa of how equaled Charltons’ record – WITH ANOTHER penalty, whilst our guy…yeah the one that everybody in the Media criticizes – on Theo Walcott scored two outfield goals!!!

    Up the Gunners!

  32. Must add one small detail; Ronney played the full 90, whilst our boy came on at 67′ 🙂 🙂

  33. @jayramfootball
    I owe you a beer

    If money doesn’t work, how come you consistently accuse $ity and Chavs of buying the title? Going by your “buying is not the answer theory”, there’s no way anyone can buy the title.
    If on the other hand spending money does correlate with winning titles why isn’t Wenger spending (we moved to the emirates to compete remember). And the argument of who to buy won’t fly after all we have a scouting team and they must have a brief.

  34. Reyes was assaulted physically by United’s thuggery. However mentally he was damaged on two dimensions. Firstly by Mavis Riley and secondly by Aragones driving a wedge between him and the Arsenal’s black French contingent. Following the international training incident he was caught between his career with his club and his country. It was a great shame he was a great goalscorer and popular with the fans.

  35. Btw Rooney went off after about an hour. Hodgson saving the big moment to sell tickets for Wembley.

  36. Jayram – grow up. How long have you supported Arsenal? If you are a glory hunter then you’re at the wrong club. Arsenal are a properly run Football Club business. Arsenal play good football & in the process, try to win matches that eventually win trophies. Arsenal coach young players to play the Wenger way (also called the Arsenal way). Players bought in are also coached in the Wenger way.

    There are clubs that pour money into the club to buy trophy winning teams, by buying any of the ‘good players’ (players that are seen to play well). These players do not make a team but have to be coached into playing together. They play good football because they are good players but they are not consistent because they usually require time to gel. The owners of these clubs usually have lots of money & not so much intelligence. They are impatient for glory & consequently change their management often. This starts the whole cycle again.

    I hope you understand what I have written. Money is not enough to win football matches, nor are expensive players, nor are those that you think will make Wengers team better. Only Wenger really knows the detail of what he want to achieve. I am an Arsenal supporter & while Wenger is our manager I am happy – win, lose or draw. The football is the best I have seen over the 50 odd years that I’ve been watching. It’s Wenger made.

  37. Totally agree with menace. It’s not our way to buy it. Old fashioned but satisfying to build as much as possible yourself. We are in a strong financial position largely because of smart business and thrift. It’s what makes us different from many of our rivals. If you are going to spend big, spend wisely. Sanchez and Ozil.
    Ready made players who are recruited need to buy into the vision.
    Spending your way to success won’t work unless you are underwritten by limitless funds and are happy with a somewhat hollow victory.

  38. Yes its risky buying top players- but its even more risky not signing anyone – its not as if Arsenal have a great injury record, or an exceptional record of success with young promising strikers like Bendtner, Sanogo, Afobe and it is just wishful thinking that Akpom or the Jeff are ready to step up now. Throwing them in too early could be as harmful as not playing them.

    Surely the purchase of Sanchez did show that Arsenal can make successful big money signings but in all honesty I believe the club needs to be much more proactive to capture any of the worlds elite players- and that is not Wenger’s way. I am not convinced that he is particularly interested in doing so. He will buy a top player only if one virtually falls into his lap like Petr Cech- or where Barcelona wanted to sell Sanchez to raise money for Suarez.

    This notion of players”becoming available” needs to be more carefully examined-do we wait until a top club wants to offload? Are these the only top players we can buy?

    I believe Wenger should not have control over transfers- what message does he give to existing players he is trying to convince are world beaters if he goes out and seeks a replacement? That he doesn’t think they are as good-So he doesn’t do it.

    He’d much rather spend 16m on a kid like Chambers- which in terms of risk is far greater than a player who has at least demonstrated that they can play at the highest level.

    If Arsenal are ever to sit alongside the world’s best we have to move up a level from where we are and where we have been for the past 10 years and that does mean acquiring better strikers and adding some better options in midfield than we currently have.

    It is highly questionable whether stockpiling cash with interest rates being as they are makes much sense. I am sure that sponsors would like to see more star players at the club rather than more promising 17 year olds.- it therefore is a very reasonable question to ask- what are the club doing with the surplus when we are not investing in new players? I guarantee it won’t be reducing the price of pies!

  39. Dude – sorry I did not make this clear. If one buys four big cost players one of them is likely to be a superstar and bring success, and that is what clubs with virtually unlimited access to funds can do. Arsenal are a wealthy club but don’t have access to the sort of money that Man C has.

    When Arsenal builds a new training centre or youth centre the millions for that come from its profits. When Man C did it, the money came as another donation from the owner. When Arsenal built the Ems the money was borrowed from banks and had to be repaid. Man City’s ground was paid for by the state, but when the new tier was built that was paid for by the owner. And of course issues like a new bit of the stadium or a new training centre are not part of FFP so that doesn’t come into it either.

  40. On the issue of Reyes, I do appreciate what everyone has said here. The term “flop” is of course a catch all, and as such includes not settling in the country, being unable to cope with being kicked to death, being injured, having a family that did not fit in well in the new culture.

    So the point is not so much that the player turns out to be no good as a player, but rather that within the context of the new team, the new league and the new country, he doesn’t produce the form that he was known to produce before.

    Thanks to everyone who raised the point of Reyes, and I will try and make this a lot clearer in a future article.

  41. I think Arsenal are being brave and sensible in doing what’s right for the team, not what is expected of them!

    BTW, I only have good memories of Reyes. 🙂

  42. Tony

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Everyone is entitled to there opinion and if people see him as a ‘flop’ that’s up to them.

    I just think ‘Flop’ infers a ‘bad buy’ or a ‘waste of money’ which I don’t believe he was.

    But as you say, the term ‘flop’ is a bit of a ‘Catch All’.

    In your clarification you highlight very well all the circumstances that can contribute to a player not quite ‘living up to expectations’ or ‘failing to set the world alight’ which are just 2 phrases that I believe better sum up Reyes at Arsenal. But of course, neither trip of the tongue quite as readily as ‘Flop’.

    Sad to say, it was such a shame, both for himself and Arsenal, that so many things conspired to supress his true potential.

    Still, it always makes me smile to see him still performing at a good level in his beloved Spain.

    A Spanish lad through and through of that there is no doubt.

  43. Buying big name players for lots of money is obviously a risk, but it is silly to say it is automatically a bad thing, or Wenger is somehow a genius for buying no-one in that bracket this year. Firstly, this is precisely what he did for the two previous seasons – and both Sanchez and Ozil have been justified, in my opinion. Secondly he was actually trying to buy a striker. Would this website be saying something different if he had succeeded? He chose not to buy anyone for good (economic) reasons, and because he is more risk-averse than van Gaal for example. However, he can afford to take this approach – if Arsenal failed to get into the top 4 (say), he would not be sacked (he might chose to walk away but that would be his choice). For Van Gaal at Manchester United anything less than 3rd would be regarded as abject failure, he is dealing with higher expectations, and starting from a lower base. Yes he also has more money to spend, but if Arsene had wanted to spend £50m on Cavani I am sure the board would have backed him.

    I think the real problem is actually that the board and Wenger have consistently fuelled the expectation that Arsenal will actually compete for the league. If they simply said, ‘look, we will give it our best shot, but top 4 is a realistic expectation, maybe with an outside shot at the title’. If you keep telling the fans, year after year, that you can buy anyone, that will compete for the championship, it is hardly a surprise if people are unhappy when it consistently doesn’t happen. I don’t believe they will compete this year, not because I don’t support them, but because all the noises about being competitive are what we have heard year after year, and it never happens – or at least not for almost a decade.

  44. Gad damn it,if wenger buys someone and is kicked to ashes the whorelists and some Arsenal fanatics will codenm him for buying a flop,if he doesn’t buy he doesn’t like the Arsenal to WIN the league,if he wins nothing, he has not won anything for ten years,if he wins the FA consecutively twice by the way that is a record the assho..s forget it and bring in some other bullshit??! What do humans beings want!! Why are they never contented “”!!??For your information DELUDED ones Arsene is gong no where even though he wins anything or nothing.
    How is that??

  45. @Menace
    I have supported Arsenal for decades in fact.

    It seems now that the argument is morphing into ‘money only works if you buy loads of players and only keep the ones that do work out’ – hence another pass for Wenger because he cant afford to buy a lot of players. I think I got that right from the new argument being put forward? It seems every argument will just be skewed the point where Wenger is a genius after all. Then a swift – only Wenger knows what what to do and can’t be questioned by people who have not been managers to round off the debate.

    Unfortunately the reality does not quite fit the argument. I am quite sure reality can be adjusted a little further though to rewrite history to the point where Wenger is the worlds best manager.

    By teh way, I DON’T agree that we are playing the best football we have ever played. In fact I find our current game mostly boring – with occassional brilliance. Way too inconsistent.

    Wenger has had plenty of money for years. He has decided not spend it and he has acheived very little since 2004. I say that on the basis that 4th place and CL qualification means absolutely nothing in my view.

  46. @Menace
    One other thing I forgot to mention.

    Your first paragraph at 11:17 states:

    “Jayram – grow up. How long have you supported Arsenal? If you are a glory hunter then you’re at the wrong club. Arsenal are a properly run Football Club business. Arsenal play good football & in the process, try to win matches that eventually win trophies. Arsenal coach young players to play the Wenger way (also called the Arsenal way). Players bought in are also coached in the Wenger way.”

    I am wondering whether or not you can see the INCREDIBLE irony in your comment?

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