by Tony Attwood
That headline is taken from an article in the Guardian and I suspect that after last night quite a few people might agree with that.
Although the situation takes on a somewhat surreal notion when one looks at other headlines and finds this one from The Hard Tackle.
“8/10 Mustafi the sole bright spot; Leno among ten to get 5 or lower – Arsenal Player Ratings”
It does highlight the problem at Arsenal. The media and some supporters have united to attack Mustafi over a prolonged spell, and he has survived that assault. But the impact on the club as a whole of the raging campaign against him will surely last for a considerable while. If you were a player having a decent run with another club, would you risk coming to Arsenal and playing in front of these fans and this media?
In a sense for any player looking for a transfer, it is now a bit like applying for a job with a company, going to the interview and having a walk around the firm’s premises with a current employee who spends the entire tour telling you what a bunch of ne’er-do-wells the management and other employees are. It probably wouldn’t encourage you to take the job if offered.
So any potential signings will look at Arsenal and the endless complaining in the media and on the blogs. Everyone, I suspect, will admit that Mustifi must have the most extraordinary mental strength to have been able to put up with what he had to take from journalists and Arsenal fans alike and come out the other side But will potential players feel like putting up with it? Perhaps not.
And I think on these lines because we’re now approaching the second anniversary of the time when the club bowed down to the demands of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal by spending £17m on encouraging Mr Wenger and his staff to leave the club before the end of their contracts. Was it money well spent?
Of course it can be argued (and I have heard it argued) that Arsenal would be in a better position now if Mr Wenger and co had left two years before, and we can’t know if that will be true. The past has happened, and yes maybe some potential transfer targets will indeed ignore what some Arsenal supporters and the media did to Mustafi, but I am not sure.
Certainly, at the moment we look as if we are travelling along the West Ham route – a club whose list of managers is so plentiful of late they have taken to publishing the list of past bosses in alphabetical order, to avoid drawing attention to the multiplicity of changes. They’ve had 17 managerial changes this century (although to be fair, they’ve appointed David Moyes twice, and that total does actually include two short term bashes in the joint by Kevin Keen. So maybe we should say 15. In 20 years.
Anyway, we’ve had three managers since the start of 2018, and we have been spending money – exactly as the AAA demanded. So maybe their argument now is that we have not spent enough and that in the new window we should have spent more.
Personally I suspect it is unlikely that Arsenal is going to spend £150m a year on new players (which is the average spend of Manchester City over the last ten years), even though we approached that total last summer. Mind you Man City have been buying on average 28 players a years across those ten years and I can’t see us doing that either.
Although even that is not matched by the 577 players bought by Juventus in the last ten years. (Actually I should add that these figures come from the Sun, so a certain amount of sodium chloride might be necessary to take with these figures.) Still it is undeniable that the approach works – at least in Italy. Juventus as bought its way to the top of Serie A for each of the last eight years and are top again at the moment (although only just).
And Manchester City has won the Premier League four times in those same past eight years which is pretty good by English league standards.
So spending vast amounts of dosh can buy the league title, but I find it hard to believe that Arsenal’s owners are going to continue down the route of chasing the biggest spenders having spent so much last summer. And besides for most clubs, it doesn’t work. The six biggest spenders last summer are all doing worse or pretty much the same, as they were doing this time last year.
The alternative approach is the one of bringing through lots of youngsters and finding players who are off the radar but are real gems. But then that was Mr Wenger’s approach, and the “fans” protested against him so much, he departed the club.
As last summer’s transfer spending shows, Arsenal were right up there with the biggest spenders, and as the managerial charts of the last couple of years show, Arsenal is right up there also in terms of managerial turnover, exactly as the signatories to the WeCareDoYou letter demanded. (That was Arseblog, Arsenal Armed Forces Supporters Club, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Black Scarf Movement, Gooner Fanzine, Goonerholic, Gunnerblog, Gunners Town, Highbury Squad, Hugh Wizzy, Le Grove, REDACTION, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Suburban Gooners, You Are My Arsenal Blog, 7am Kick Off in case you missed it). It is their policy that the club has been following these last couple of years, and this is where we are.
Of course the club could now change direction and follow a new policy, given that this one doesn’t seem to be working (what with being ninth in the league and out of Europe). We might get up to fourth and qualify for the Champions League (and maybe they’ll forget that fourth never used to be trophy). Maybe they will focus on youth – although the stories that Bukayo Saka is not going to sign a new contract and will leave at the end of his tenure, are annoyingly persistent.
Or maybe the club will realise that although Mr Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal didn’t bring us any trophies in the latter years (apart from making the club and the manager the most successful club and manager in the FA Cup of all time, but that appears to have been written out of history) it was not a bad approach.
Fourth might not have been a trophy, but at least when we went out of Europe it was to Barcelona or Bayern Munich, not Olympiakos.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP