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Arsenal are not going to match the expenditure of the Manchester clubs no matter who is manager

by Tony Attwood

The notion that if only Arsenal could replace the manager we would then have someone who will ruthlessly identify the players needed and bring them to the club, is, in my view, not a reasonable one.  The expenditure by Manchester City and Manchester United is now getting so far ahead of Arsenal, that it would need a takeover by a state such as Saudi Arabia to make that sort of expenditure viable.

Saudi Aramco is expected to have a $2 trillion value and they have to do something with the money. Of course they could take on world hunger and poverty, or beat the shit out of Qatar, but if neither of those is on the shopping list, why not a football club like Arsenal.

Man City spent £128m net in the summer, Man U spent £136m net.  And they both look like they are going to go on doing this.   Even if we had had a manager whose modus operandi was spend spend spend we wouldn’t be keeping up with them – not without a compliant country on board.

Of course we can blame Kroenke for this – he doesn’t put lots of money into his clubs.  And we can blame the board of directors of the 1950s and 1960s who on seeing how Manchester United started to promote themselves with worldwide marketing failed to catch on to the potential.

We’ve survived thus far with a great youth policy and clever buying of players who are off the radar.   But the radar of all clubs works better these days, and the youth policy can only do so much (we might see how much in the League Cup fixture this week).  But a net spend of £100m plus in each transfer window?  I suspect not.

In fact after five games this season only Manchester City and Manchester United are actually better off than they were last year, among the clubs with thoughts of winning things.

After five games last season the league looked like this… with the “end” column showing where each team ended up at the end of the season.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Manchester City 5 5 0 0 15 4 11 15 3
2 Everton 5 4 1 0 10 3 7 13 7
3 Tottenham Hotspur 5 3 2 0 8 2 6 11 2
4 Arsenal 5 3 1 1 12 7 5 10 5
5 Chelsea 5 3 1 1 10 6 4 10 1
6 Liverpool 5 3 1 1 11 8 3 10 4
7 Manchester United 5 3 0 2 8 6 2 9 6
8 Crystal Palace 5 2 1 2 7 5 2 7 14
9 Watford 5 2 1 2 10 9 1 7 17
10 West Bromwich Albion 5 2 1 2 6 5 1 7 10

So far this season Man U are four points better off and Man City are two points better off than they were at this point a year ago.  Watford are one point better off than a year ago.  Liverpool, Arsenal, West Brom and Chelsea are each two points worse off than a year ago at this point.

The big losers however are Tottenham who are five points worse off than they were a year ago and Crystal Palace who are seven points worse off.

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Tottenham’s problem is their home form.  A year ago they had played three at home, winning two and drawing one.  This season they have played three at home and won none.

Now it is considered in many cultures that saying “told you so” is a bit rude and not very tasteful, so in terms of Untold’s prediction about Tottenham vis a vis their move to Wembley I won’t say I told you so.  I’ll let you work it out for yourself.

So can we learning anything from all this?

Obviously the position after five games is not a particularly good indicator of where clubs will be at the end of the season.  Last season’s champions were five points off the top after five games; Arsenal are currently six points off the top team.

Everton are the big sinkers currently lying 18th out of 20 clubs with four points, nine fewer than this time last year.   And why is that?  Maybe (and just as my view about Tottenham struggling at Wembley was a view based on what has happened in the past) this is what comes of bringing in 14 new players over the summer.  Maybe that wasn’t the best idea going around.

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20 comments to Arsenal are not going to match the expenditure of the Manchester clubs no matter who is manager

  • As has been argued back before though Tony, even with the money we have, we could be spending more of it on more of the kind of players we need to maximise our chances. But I do agree the only way we can match City or United is to be owned by a somebody or a something that is richer than the richest thing or is a genius marketing god who can create an Arsenal brand that out-apples Apple. It can be done but it will take a new kid on the block, a driven innovator, not a sleepy done it all already old timer. New, fresh , inspired thinking needed at the old place methinks.

  • Complaints about changing the manager is a myopic view in my opinion – and the proponents must be looking foolish now that it’s obvious that there was nothing like a “war chest” for transfer dealings. Yet in the midst of the stringent spending Wenger has always made some astute signings – look at Sead coming for free and Holding for 2m. And when some fund is available, he has bought very good guys – Ozil, Alexis, Xhaka, Lacazette…even Giroud back them.

    Wenger has also promoted guys from within the academy to help the team – he has obviously done well. No manager has 100% rate of correct decision making – and if you have one who has brought in 3FA Cups in 4 years, what’s your judgement?

    Tony, you’re right – Arsenal needs a state takeover in order to compete with the Mans level of spending.

  • Josif

    Actually, we are three points worse (10 – 7 = 3) with a goal-difference that is also worse than it was last season at this stage.

    Now that you mention radars, last season I watched a match from Serie A. As you might have heard, Serie A have introduced VAR and it works well so it’s much more appealing to watch games.

    Genoa v Lazio was a decent match to watch, especially in the second half. Even if the visitors won 3:2 with Ciro Immobile scoring two goals for them (six in four games so far), the absolute star of the night was 16-year-old Genoa striker Pietro Pellegri. He scored two goals for the hosts and my first impression was: “Arsene, sign this kid!” He is over 190 cm tall yet with incredible movement and with an eye for a finish that is preposterously good for that age.

    And, today I read at Guardian that Manchester United had already tried to sign him last season after watching him in some youth tournament, offering his parents a job if the kid would join United. AC Milan now are considered as favourites to sign the kid but I still hope the kid has seen what Arsene has done for the young talents like Iwobi now and Anelka, Van Persie, Adebayor…years ago and will join Arsenal.

  • Wolfgang

    Once Arsenal start winning trophies especially the cl,it could attract high end sponsors.
    Where would MU be if they had not been successful the last ten years or more?
    So Arsenal need to win games and start winning trophies. Then the rest would come naturally.
    In fact Arsenal is a premium brand compared to MC.Now
    wouldn’t it be wonderful if Wenger stops his pretty brand of soccer and concentrate on winning and winning ugly if need be.

  • Gord

    Andries Jonker left Arsenal (with Ljungberg) a while ago. He was just sacked at Wolfsburg. Ljungberg was also released by Wolfsburg.

  • Pretty soccer brought Arsenal this brand and you think ugly football can maintain it….even Arsenal haters love it. Ask a neutral to choose a team to watch and you’ll see that pretty football is a factor in the choice.
    If you listened to one of Arsene’s press conference recently, you don’t need to float that idea with him – he believes good attacking football prevails 9/10 than ugly football. He sighted Brazil, Germany, Barcelona, Madrid – teams who play good soccer.

    Except your of definition of pretty soccer excludes the styles employed by those teams.

  • Chris


    you just said it. We ought to get Apple to buy Arsenal….or Amazon, or Google. At least with Appel and Amazon, then AFC acronym AFC would be adequate….
    Problem solved


    I have been thinking along those same lines and unless some kind of balancing mechanism like you find in the NFL or NBA, I believe Arsenal’s chances (and with it anybody else’s then City, United and Chelsea) to win a title let alone a CL will be those of an outlier. The arms race that has been going on is killing any contender unable to splurge 100 millions at least a season.

    It means we have to change the cursor of our expectations. Or change the club we support.

    Or create a crowd-generated force that does not leave an option to the FA and UEFA to regulate the bubble and integrate ‘equalisation’ means into the system : draft, salary cap (my favourite), FFP with real means, whatever works. Even in China, their bubble was burst by governement – they figured out it was just doing more harm then good.

    I think at some point people will rebell and TV revenue will sink, which in turn will break a few teams. At that point, the ‘oli-oil teams’ will be in such a minority that changes my be possible. And no one knows how Brexit will affect this whole circus either…maybe the sheihks will negotiate a loophole that says their football-player citizens are automatic holders of a UK work permit and thus deliver a Quatari passport on the spot to any new addition to their clubs ?

    My expectations now are that I just want to see my team PLAY, TRY, AMAZE, DO THEIR BEST without losing their identity.

  • Chris


    sucessufull in the last 10 years or more ?

    Well since Ferguson left, I’d say that on just results, Arsenal fared better. Correct me if I’m wong, but since 2013, with all their financial might, they’ve got one FA CUP and one Community Shield to show for – and internationally one EL.

    Or tell me where I am wrong ?

    MU were mighty successfull before AW came to Arsenal, then were in a 2 way race with Arsenal until Chelsea bought it’s way to the top, and then came City, which made it the top 4. PL TV rights windfall now has made it a top 6 race.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I love our pretty football. I shudder to think of going back to the likes of George Graham ‘s brand of football.

  • para

    I do not think that AW would even consider changing to a different brand of football, but he should be willing to use it in a game where the opposition has better players, after all, to win must be the highest priority in football, the style in which you win must come second, until one can get the type of players that one would class as better players, homegrown or bought.

    The tactics AW used against Chel$ last time shows signs that his tactical abilities must be used more often than relying on the players alone to organise themselves on field until they develop this ability and can polish it more.

    After all, his great experience is meant to be used to give the players the best chance at winning every game.

    We see from reactions to the game that the majority of fans want to see that all qualities of the manager and players are used to their fullest extent, then win, draw or lose, the fans can feel that we used our abilities and really put in the effort.

    It is only games where AW and Arsenal lacked to show this determination and passion(and there have been many) that have stopped us from being much better overall and winning much more.

  • Yassin

    Hello everyone, sorry to be out of topic, but anyone knows how to get a ticket to Arsenal brighton game. I will be traveling to London on 28th and wish to attend this game, can anyone help, I got lost on the web…sorry for bothering you and sorry tony for posting this here.

  • Mandy Dodd

    It was a club decision to be self sufficient, they only way to keep with the elite on a regular basis is to change this model. As we know , Stan is not the man to do this, the club preached self sufficiency, I am sure Stan was very happy to oblige.
    Not saying there is anything wrong with self sufficiency btw, but FFP has not worked, and if the club stick to that path, expectations need to be measured accordingly.
    But, and there is a but, Arsenal it seems don’t seem to need to be just self sufficient, there seems a requirement, or desire to build up a large cash reserve. Whether this is due to a tight manager….ok I jest here, for a rainy day, a new manager eventually, or a means for Stan to get cheaper loans is open to debate, but it is what it is.
    A new manager might drill the defence more, might appear more tactics obsessed, might revamp the backroom staff, but I suspect he will be under similar, or perhaps more stringent spending restrictions until he gets Stan and the boards trust
    Arsenal are doing things the right way, the sound business way,,perhaps in a way that helps Stans investments as well, but as we know, virtue doesn’t always win out. Any manager of a Stan team who can consistantly take on a team owned by a country or a petrodollar thing is beyond genius . I don’t mean to disparage our owner here, but looking around, success doesn’t seem a primary need for his other teams

  • Chris


    There is one point that needs to be said : MU have such a huge following that their revenue is one of the highest, they will always be able to spend more – yet they are not showing better results as Arsenal since 2013.

    City and Chelsea have owners who can ignore the economic basics of running a business because the financial result does not matter.

    I’d say that Spurs and Pool! are more like Arsenal, watch the profit and loss equation to survive.

    The game is tilted and whatever Arsenal fans are dreaming of, spending hundreds of millions is not something that can happen. And if it were happening one summer, I’d be worried I’m seing the last season of a competitive Arsenal because losses could not be covered.

  • Yassin, if you are speaking of the home game you need to look on the Arsenal web site to see if the game is sold out or if it still has tickets. If tickets are not yet sold out join as a Red member and buy one. Alternatively join the Arsenal official fan club for wherever you live (there is one in every country and lots spread across the regions of the UK) and see if they have any.
    My own view is always that all supporters should join – either directly through the club or indirectly via a regional supporters group.

  • Yassin

    Thanks a lot Tony,

    I did what you said and got a membership in red members, all tickets were sold out but got one with ticket exchange.

    Thank you a lot for your help, appreciate it.

  • Evening all,

    Pietro Pellegri; has a bit of the Rashford about him, in terms of physique and style of play, not bad at all.

    2nd surely City can’t be better off this season? thabn last? But a consistency I feel is that the lack of squad depth, the ability to compete on all four fronts and the single minded desire of PG to win everything (very AW) will take it’s toll and we will again see them peiter out towards the end of the season, but they could very realisticly win the CL and I think both the manager and players will be focused on that goal, over the league.

    Regarding the expenditure of clubd:

    Arsene has proven that being astute and knowledgeable about player availability and their potential and development is what sets us apart. For this he also deserves the plaudits. But I disagree that we need to disembark from our current strategy or have mega rich owners.

    I will reiterate, we need 2 first team full backs to replace the surely departing Monreal and Debouchy. We have 2 and I expect Cohen to make the grade by the summer and Jenkinson offers the same opportunity, or a solid return of I would hope around 10-12 million given his status in terms of minimum registration rules. I would at the least expect that we need one Rigfht back and one left back, but with Harry having become another casualty early on, it may transpire that we get them back a little earlier, than next summer.

    In midfield, you have Wilshere Ramsey Catalyst category 1 Deep Lying Midfielder Xaka and Ozil Attacking Midfielder, with a developing Defensive Midfielder Francis. You can only accommodate 2 more quality signings in midfield.

    Arguably seeing Santi and Elneny moving on to make that space.

    Alexis retains his spot allowing Iwobi and Nelson to be consider the development players. Which allows for one first team spot on the other flank. As Rashford proves age is not a problem, but as Oxlade shows, focus, discipline and a willingness to learn may be.

    Up front we have 3 strikers: development Akpom, rotation: Giroud (asset) First Team: Lacazette (investment)

    GK Cech GK (back up/ coach)

    That leaves us 2 Nigerians on loan, and the next two rangy midfielders coming in Niles and Adelaide.

    In order to upgrade you have to offload Walcott, Welbeck and even if you got a mere £30m for the pair, £5m for Ospina and lost Monreal and Debouchy, you could get another £10m for Carl and be up £45m.

    That buys you a CB. which would give you our running budget, which increased from around £150m by whatever we made net profit this window, to buy a RW, and RB. I sinmply wouldn’t spend over £70m on the pair, and that’s not being conservative. which would leave aroud £90m for a RW and DM.

    Witht he rates for players, I could get every one of my targets in on budget, without spending more than next seasons budget.

    Meaning the sustainable model had matured, because you then only need to sign a player of extreme quality, each season.

    It’s economics, City and United, will not spend the same amounts indefinitely. Jose can expect one more wedge as can PG. Real are stocking up, because they want the name and the quality. Barcelona are cashing in and went for Dembele, because they though well, Eto worked. They are using the prestiege to lower the cost of players.

    It is simple, when a club becomes a giant, it is saturated with talent, so the players go elsewhere and then the clubs sell them to the bigger clubs. Which redistrubtes the wealth. Until a smaller club tries to enter the same, or similar markets. Spurs for instance.

    City are fast tracking, because it works in the end, once they establish a reputation and collect competition fees. As with Monaco, they explained how the balanced the books. Bayern are extremely astute and go in cycles of 3-4 years, selling to clubs in Italy often, and buying in from random leagues, but high quality players. Juventus fast tracked, but maximised the impact of the relegation after their scandal, by keeping developing talent, selliong assets and then stocking up for the return. 5 Scudettos in a row is it.

    We are actually primely placed to come through, the difference, is Ozil and Alexis either staying, or being sold at a premium in January whilst we still make the top 4. The contrats is too stark, and I do not think Wenger so foolish, it’s why I ghave always maintained they will stay.

    The difference a richer owner makes, is increasing the margin, in the same way ther banks were told to ensure they had bail out money in case s**t happens. Usmanov, can throw £300m – £400m into a slush fund and we can then spend what we had originally in reserve and all of our transfer kitty and the next windows as well. As Chelsea and City have done, because we have secured sponsorship that covers those expenses and would be reasonably assured that over 2 years we would be successful with our current helmsmen, and would likely recoup the fund spent in that time.

    This is why the selling clubs are not selling, unless at an extreme premium, because the values are becoming unreasoble, making players eventually unbuyable. Seeing the inflation fall and the pricing reduced.

    This is why Coutinho is so angry, because he’s being held captive, buy the market values, incidentally caused by his pal, Neymar, the irony.

    This is why Wenger didn’t buy now, the market went bonkers, as clubs vied to secure their positions in the CL, at the top table or in Europe.

    It’s like George Osbourne ensuring investment stagnated for a yeat, by way of his liasons with asset management companys.

    It’s why, Real and Arsenal adopted the almost identical strategy. Barcelona got a winfall and spend some of it, United used their spending power, as outlined by Jose, to secure a wonderful asset. and City and PSG went big early, whilst Monaco, Everton, Lyon all cashed in their chips.

    It’s easy if you know how.

    Meyer, he’s the supplement, we must go for the free and offer the wages. Carvalho, we know we can afford the asking price, it gives six plus Santi and Elneny. if we keep our star 2 and this is what they want to see.

    A winger, 2 full back who make the grade and a CB.

    Buy Butrland!


  • Menace

    Damned fantasy managers win every time!

  • PS4 is in storage and dammed council have another laptop, football managing is on ice again.

    Boring old socioeconomics, humph!!!