by Tony Attwood
There is a big part of me that doesn’t want Arsenal to get back into the Champions League – the part that recognises that we might well get through the group stages of that competition but then be slaughtered in the first or second knock out round. And that the knock back of another slaughter by Bayern or Barcelona, will have a negative effect on the team.
Of course there is the recognition that although the Champions League brings in lots of money, that profit is as likely as not to go to the owner, not be fed back into the club. This past summer the owner gave the manager £50m, which then was seemingly raised on appeal to £70m of which when we take sales into account we spent £63.8m. It seems to me that it was spent wisely.
But wisely or not, that spend was nothing like the £156.3m spent by Liverpool. That Manchester City spent very little is also worrying – they have it all ready to spend in January if they are not by then striding away at the top of the league.
Manchester United made a £43m profit on transfers in the summer – they too have the money there if need be – and with them, that profit comes out of their world wide marketing. Arsenal has made progress in that sphere but I suspect that the endless negative publicity the club receives and the constant association wit the United Arab Emirates does put some potential sponsors off.
Manchester City have a similar association with that profoundly undemocratic part of the world but they have a prime sponsor who will spend whatever is necessary to keep their dominant position.
In short if Arsenal make it into the Champions League, I can’t see them getting very far with their current resources, and I can’t see the owner granting the club the £100m plus to buy players to compete in the Champions League up to the final.
The simple fact is that resources that the likes of Barcelona, Real Mad, PSG and the rest possess is just way beyond anything that Arsenal will have. Indeed for Arsenal even Monaco can be a threat – after all they made a profit this summer of over £200m (all of which of course is tax free), and that is sitting in a bank account somewhere ready to be used.
At the same time I don’t want the club to be funded by a state that believes in flogging and stoning as suitable punishments for those who have committed religious crimes. And I don’t want the club to buy huge numbers of youngsters on a cattle market basis, so they can be traded.
But I suppose my attitude is also one that is affected by having been around for a long time. Arsenal have had three eras in my lifetime of doing very well in terms of trophies (and contrary to Blacksheep’s assertion, one of those was not the 1930s).
I’ve witnessed the Graham era, the early Wenger years with the two doubles and the 49, and the latter Wenger years with the achievement of the FA Cup record for himself personally, and the club. I don’t mean that that is sufficient for me – it is just that I can’t see the club and this owner outspending Barcelona and the rest. And I suspect Mr Wenger was the last manager who would be able to conjure forth such talents as Vieira and Henry at prices the club could afford. Yes Mr Emery has pulled out one rabbit in terms of Guendouzi, but will there be more? I would be delighted if there were, but I am not sure.
Which in a roundabout sort of way means, I want us to win stuff, and I can’t see us winning the Champions League, but I can see us winning the Europa, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Now I have oft been told that this makes me less of a supporter – that I should be pushing my club to aim for the stars. But if that means failure – as in getting knocked out of the Champions League year after year before we even make the semi-final, why go for that? For not only is such defeat frustrating because we could have been challenging in the Europa, it is also distracting from the other competitions we are in.
I do think it is helpful also to compare ourselves with other clubs. In the last 10 years Liverpool has won the League Cup. In the last 10 years Tottenham has won nothing. In the last 10 years Arsenal has won three FA Cups. On that basis I would stay with our model.
I want us to keep on winning things, rather than focusing so strongly on the Champions League that we stop getting a chance to win some more trophies.
In our pre-season forecasts, Untold took the view that if we could take our away form back to the levels it was at before last season, we’d make it back into the top four. I still think that is possible. It is just that I am not sure it is such a good idea.
The latest from Untold
- What every football club (and most certainly Arsenal) is aiming for.
- The apparent decline of Tottenham and the question of care for players elsewhere
- Positive injury news for Arsenal ahead Monday’s game with Sheffield United
- Arsenal’s finances stay secure but we can expect more price rises for fans
- How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk