How all of last summer’s big spenders have all run into trouble

by Tony Attwood and a calculator.

I have been running the story that 80% of the Premier League clubs that have changed their manager in recent times are now doing far worse than they were under the old manager.

The general response to this is that this doesn’t matter, for things are SO bad at Arsenal we must sack the manager.

I can’t argue with that lack of logic, but I can add something else.   The teams that spent the most money last summer are all doing far worse than they expected.

Let’s go through these two points.

Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham.  He had a win percentage of 54.3% or something around that overall (sources vary when giving the exact figure) and the implication in some commentaries is that Arsenal should do what Tottenham have done and got rid of such a low achieving manager.

I am not quite sure I follow the logic that Arsenal should in any way be copying Tottenham.  If we look at 21st century honours we find Tottenham’s trophy record is winning the League Cup in 2008.  And… nothing else.

If we look at Arsenal’s 21st century honours we have the Premier League in 2002 and 2004, and the FA Cup in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015 and 2017.  So the notion that because Tottenham sack a manager Arsenal should do the same seems rather ludicrous to me.  Arsenal surely should not be copying teams that have won one trophy to our eight in this century.  (Tottenham have in fact had 14 managerial changes this century).

Tottenham have other big problems too.  As others have pointed out, Tottenham have a number of players who are coming to the end of their contracts and have not signed a new deal, which means they are taking up places in the list of 25 players, but will ultimately leave without the club being compensated at a time when cash is needed to pay for the stadium.

Although for years the media have been talking up the supposedly excellent financial management of Tottenham, and even suggesting that there will be no negative impact on the club from its development of the new stadium (which still incidentally has no sponsor’s name attached to it, representing another financial challenge for the club).  That seems unlikely.

Leaving aside Tottenham’s lack of trophies their record still does not look that good even if we restrict the analysis to the last ten years where their league finishing positions are:

  • 2nd once (Arsenal once)
  • 3rd twice (Arsenal three times)
  • 4th three times (Arsenal four times)
  • 5th three times (Arsenal twice)
  • 6th once (Arsenal once)

Self-evidently neither side has won the league but in terms of league finishes Arsenal have edged the finishing position in the league, and have three FA Cup wins in the last ten years, to Tottenham’s empty trophy cabinet.

And this is in Tottenham’s supposed glory period; the model club with huge ambition, against Arsenal’s demise as proclaimed by some fans and most of the media.

Managing the huge debt that a new stadium brings is enormously difficult for any club, and as our analysis of clubs that have moved grounds has shown, clubs that do move, rarely maintain their league position of previous years.   Although our analysis shows that this is generally because of a decline in the club’s home form, but Tottenham have bucked this trend slightly.  Instead it is their away form that has become the horror show while home form is average-ish.

If we look at home games only Tottenham are 7th in the league

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 6 6 0 0 17 6 11 18
2 Leicester City 6 5 1 0 14 3 11 16
3 Manchester City 6 4 1 1 19 5 14 13
4 Burnley 6 4 0 2 11 7 4 12
5 Arsenal 6 3 3 0 11 8 3 12
6 Manchester United 6 3 2 1 11 5 6 11
7 Tottenham Hots 6 3 2 1 11 5 6 11

While in away games this season they are only just above Burnley and Norwich

P W D L F A GD Pts
15 Everton 6 1 1 4 5 10 -5 4
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 6 1 1 4 5 11 -6 4
17 Aston Villa 6 1 0 5 9 13 -4 3
18 Tottenham Hots 6 0 3 3 7 12 -5 3
19 Burnley 6 0 3 3 6 11 -5 3
20 Norwich City 6 0 1 5 1 12 -11 1

What they are damaged by is something quite obvious but something that the media have studiously ignored much of the time: they are short of ready cash.

When Arsenal moved stadia they cut down on transfer fees dramatically, but Tottenham did not, splashing the money last summer as never before.

Indeed it all seemed very strange when after two transfer windows in which they appeared to do nothing much at all they went spending money as if there were no tomorrow (which for their manager it has just turned out there isn’t) buying Ryan Sessegnon and getting Giovani Lo Celso on loan at the end of the window, after getting Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for £55.5m, plus Jack Clarke from Leeds.   Indeed so encouraged by this spending were the Tottenham supporting Guardian writers that they ended their preview of Tottenham’s summer spend with the phrase “Now to win a trophy perhaps?”

But in fact if we look at the top spending clubs last summer and the position of clubs in the league at the moment we find something interesting (and these figures are the amount spent, not the net spend)

  • Manchester United £148m (currently 7th)
  • Aston Villa £144.5m (currently 17th)
  • Arsenal £138m (currently 6th)
  • Manchester City £134.8m (currently 4th)
  • Everton £118.5m (currently 15th)
  • Tottenham Hots £101.5m (currently 14th)

Yes those really were the top spenders in the summer and all of them are underperforming against the position they expected to be in with all their money spent.  Which incidentally again suggests Arsenal ought to be cautious about moving their manager on – settling in new players is causing all the big spenders a problem.

I suspect most if not all of those top spending clubs will rise up the table in the second half of the season as the new players settle down, but it just does show the dangers of buying big in the transfer window – which is of course what many supporters demanded last summer.

Arsenal’s great danger now is that they will move on their manager, and then have all the extra trauma of a new manager.  Remember, most of the time, new manager and/or lots of new players, does not work in terms of rising up the league.


10 Replies to “How all of last summer’s big spenders have all run into trouble”

  1. Interestingly, if you take Man City out of the equation on the basis that they have already spent billions building the basis of their team, Arsenal appear to have done the best based on spend of the other five clubs…………but still people want to sack the manager. And people are also defending Poch even though he was allowed five years at the club to win absolutely nothing. But hey why let facts stand in the way of a knee jerk reaction from people who have never worked in professional football……..

  2. But match fixing is the bane, if the matches are played fair & square, then man City, arsenal would up there at the top not where they r langushing rite now

  3. With respect, nothing you have said has any relevance to the question as to whether or not we should invite Emery to leave.

    Let us make this simple.

    1. Are you, as a long term supporter of Arsenal happy at the job so far done by EU since he joined us as head coach 18 months ago?

    2. If you answer is, yes, then that is that. If, however, your answer is no, then do you think that he is capable of improving the performance of the team and thus progressing the club up the league and further in the cup competitions?

    3. If your answer is yes, then that is that. If your answer is no, then what do you think the solution to the problem is?

    No one likes sacking a manager, except maybe his agent, who can then get a new fee on his signing with another club, but, if your answer to the above questions is, no, there is no solution to the problem than that, and it must be done, and, in my honest and humble view, the sooner the better.

    Where is the logic in sticking with a manager who is not up to the job and has been making a dog’s breakfast of it so far, with no prospect of any improvement, let alone no further deterioration, simply because the next one may not be any better?

    You statistics are wonderful but do not help to answer these 3 questions.

  4. Any lingering respect that I may theoretically have had for Spurs is gone with their new hire. This is the person who ran over, during a dust up in La Liga, and stuck his thumb in Tito Villanova’s eye. Yes, he wins matches but I, for one, cannot relate to a person of such questionable character.

  5. Looking at next summer, Spurs are going to find themselves with lots of ‘valuable’ players leaving with no income, and a revenue stream probably not capable of financing stars…. so maybe they have a whole squad of youngsters ready to win the title next year ?

    As for myself, I’m rather enclined to expect an evolution along the lines of what Tony has demonstrated : a fall.

  6. Lets talk about the odious one.

    Its a gamble basically, get an “A list” manager …. And presto! all your “stars” will sign long term contracts in addition to other “stars” scrambling to join up to play for the “A list” manager.

    “Fuusbool Lendon” has gone out of its way to state that the odious never even considered Arsenal due to its less-good facilities and inferior boots-on-the-ground compared to the tots.

    Despite claims that he “enjoyed a large bowl of fish and chips” with the Arsenal hierarchy he goes and picks the spuds over us….. Lets have our 10 quid back Pls….

    I thought the odious one was a big enough headline, apparently the word Arsenal is a mandatory requirement even when the story has nothing to go with us.

  7. A quick check on these clubs xG numbers (understat) provides some interesting perspective. Their formula would suggest that City should probably be top of the table on points, but have been somewhat unfortunate along with Liverpool getting a little bit of luck. They’ve got United currently 4th, essentially level with Chelsea who is in 3rd. Everton sit comfortably in 5th, Tottenham and Arsenal are 11th and 12th, and Villa sit in 15th.

    A more analytical look at those clubs suggests that almost across the board, the results aren’t as good as the actual performances. That makes sense to some degree as the new signings attempt to settle in and adapt to their new teammates.

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