The problems at Arsenal: Trying to resolve the cause and effect

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By Tony Attwood

In the modern blogging world, exploring the issue of cause and effect is sometimes known as moaning – and “moaning” of course is a pejorative word.  No one likes a moaner.

So what is a moaner?  Generally, a person who is given to excessive complaints and crying and whining.

In a situation where something is not right just complaining, crying and whining is therefore moaning.  What a moaner doesn’t do is suggest a) an analysis of what is wrong, b) the cause of what is wrong and c) how to put it right.

I would imagine most people who have watched Arsenal this century will consider that compared with the early days of the century things are not going as well as they were in the past, and I’ve been trying to argue that some of the reasons for this are because of events within Arsenal over which the club has control, and some are due to events outside the club’s control.

That is not moaning, at least not by any normal definition.

The club, of course, has control over its investments and its appointments, its playing and coaching staff etc, but not over the behaviour of other clubs, the FA, the media, referees etc.  The club also has control over the behaviour of its fans on the club’s premises, but only to a limited degree, and a heavy-handed approach to supporters at a game can stop unwanted behaviour, but can also result in bad publicity and a fan revolt.

The problem is that trying to untangle this web of activity is difficult, because the borderlands between analysis and moaning, whinging and whining are not always clear, any more than they are in many other debates.  It is always easier to describe commentary that is not welcomed or against one’s own point of view as moaning, rather than trying to analyse the ins and outs of the situation.

Where the sensitivity appears to be occurring in this situation is with the view that some supporters are to blame in part for the current position of Arsenal both in terms of results and in terms of finances.   Obviously we all know about our position in the Europa and the Premier League but the financial position is only now becoming clear.

The recently issued set of accounts to 31 May 2019 show Arsenal made a £27.1m loss in the last financial year that has been reported, and obviously the defeat to Olympiakos will in the future put more pressure on the club which will show up in the 2019/20 accounts.  The loss of £27.1m compares with a profit of £56.5m in 2018.

Turnover at the club has continued to rise – it went up about six and a half million pounds from one year to the next, the source being commercial activity, although rather annoyingly the accounts do show outgoings in terms of “transaction advisory costs incurred by the company in relation to KSE UK Inc becoming the group’s sole shareholder,” which effectively means that club is paying for itself being sold to its new owner.

These figures also show a profit on sales, because they do not include the huge expenditure in the summer 2019 transfer window.   There is actually a profit on player sales in this set of accounts of £120m as it includes the release into the wild of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.  In the next set of accounts there is going to be a whacking great loss in this section, because of the summer spending in 2019.

Anyway, this loss that has just been reported, was the first loss made by since 2002.   As the people who chanted “spend some fucking money” possibly knew, during the Wenger years by and large the club made a profit.

Now to return to the moaning theme.   Given the way some commentators are writing to Untold at the moment, mentioning these accounts, (which I’d call analysis), might well be called moaning.   Suggesting that times are going to get tougher will almost certainly be called moaning.

To overcome that one needs to propose a solution – a route that the club could take which will avoid the owners from entering a phase of cutting back.

When Mr Wenger was our manager I constantly put forward the view that holding onto him and his team was our best way forward, and that record run (for a British club) in the Champions League was (for me if not for a lot of other people) proof that the approach worked.

Now we don’t have the Wenger Effect any more.  So what can the club do to avoid an era of financial cut-backs?  Quite honestly I don’t know, which is why I have spent time looking back to the cause of the current circumstance – on the grounds that if one can find a cause of the current problems the club might be able to eradicate it, and this could help us find a way forwards.

That’s not to say that anything is down to me – whether I can see some possible solution to Arsenal’s issues is absolutely neither here nor there;  I’m self evidently just a guy who writes a blog.   I spent something like 11 years trying to suggest that keeping Mr Wenger was the best thing the club could do, but obviously that strategy is over.

What we need is a new strategy and I guess because I can’t see one, I’m called a moaner, which in the end is a trifle ironic.  I was criticised like mad when I endlessly supported the Wenger approach, and now that he’s gone I’m criticised because I can’t see an alternative approach that will work.

Ah well. So it goes.

22 Replies to “The problems at Arsenal: Trying to resolve the cause and effect”

  1. I have always felt that Arsenal’s decline was initiated by the removal of David Dein from the club. Then the buyout by Kronke sealed the club’s fate. Since these two events, there has been a decline both on and off the field. Disastrous contract renewal policies, sub standard recruiting overall.

  2. Nice one Tony. There is a saying that “ you never value what you have until you have lost it. I believe when Arsenal started this project years back, Mr Wenger was the mastermind and he promised and made sure that Arsenal always qualified for the UCL. The shallow minded analysts and commentators criticized and tried to ridicule everything Wenger and Arsenal. Now every club that has spent 100times was used by Wenger to qualify for the UCL. I find it amusing that people are complaining. Hilarious

  3. Bad Management decisions which embrace contract issues and player acquisitions, is the main cause of our downfall.The fact that we have a weak, aging Board is another reason for our lack of success during the past 6/7 years.

  4. Watford, of all teams, are honouring The Invincibles, the PGMOL will have to work very hard to save LiVARpool in this game now

  5. Off topic but just leaving Nottingham after we lost in time added on to an offside Chelsea’s goal. I knew something was amiss when no replay was shown on the TV screen. Chelsea won 2-1 with their keeper the best player in their team. As a helsea supporter said to me in the gents at the end of the match x the best team lost today.

    Bl…y incompetent officials!

  6. match report doesn’t even hint that Chel$ea winning goal was offside. And, I am not seeing articles on the game in Google news.

    If you visit places like TheGuardm,vdfkjndfvjndfzjnfjvn , Irish Times, … you can see they have written about the game. Few places say the Watford injury has anything LiVARpool! component to it.

  7. Best thing about the Watford win was doing it against the best efforts of Michael Oliver. I’m no fan of Deeney but Lovren had both arms around him pulling him back inside the box and out and not one call! The commentating puppets on each and every replay said “no foul for me”. No foul?, he should have had 8 yellows at least. Van Dijk can push, maul, trip, etc. and there’s no call. He is very talented but with the protection of the PGMO. They lost today, couldn’t save Liverpool’s unbeaten season or streak. Riley must be apoplectic. Curious to watch Oliver’s assigments going forward. Will there be consequences?

  8. Well Tony, I consider you a moaner not because you have suggested or not suggested a strategy moving forward, I consider you a moaner because just as in the definition you quoted, you are given to excessive complaining and whinging about everybody else other than untold, Wenger and arsenal.

  9. @seismic – now he is not the best in his house!


    There are two separate strategies Arsenal have been using to get us back to the top – one is pure Arsene, the other one is pure crap.

    The Arsene one is the one we can identify with – unearth gems such as Martinelli (£7m!!!), get their best football years and then sell them for £50-60m. Promote youngsters such as Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Saka, who knows, maybe even Balogun…and hope they will come good. Then earn big money on their sale while replacing them with new gems – bought or brought through the youth ranks. Buy players with a resale value (Saliba). Make stars instead of buying them.

    The second channel we use, however, is everything we despise. Superagents are now welcomed at Arsenal. People like Kia Joorabchian and Jorge Mendes have been earning big money (seriously, how much money have we spent on their services in 2019?) thanks to their close connections with Edu and Raul. We get involved in stupid transfers (Cedric, David Luiz) and then it turns out those players are represented by either of our superagent-friends. No wonder Arsene didn’t want to see them at Arsenal.

    The thing is, nobody can say which model or combination of models (like the one we use) will work. There are only a few pointers for those who want to win stuff.

    If a club wants to win Premier League these days, players and the manager have to run the marathon at the pace of a sprint. Win fewer than 30 games and you are out of the title race. Liverpool even lost the title race last season despite winning 30 games, losing just one and picking 97 points, third best record ever.

    Running marathon like a sprint requires a lot of things.

    Firstly, you need a philosophy, a vision, an idea of what values you want to represent on the pitch. With Mikel Arteta we can see what we want, what he wants. There is a plan and that’s the fundament for any future success.

    Secondly, you need players that are both physically and mentally prepared to deal with those 9 months of football and capable of imposing the manager’s idea on the pitch. I’d say we are long way from it but let’s wait for the first summer preseason for Arteta.

    Thirdly, you need support from the board/owners. Klopp got precisely those players he had wanted. Not a Van Dijk but THE Van Dijk. Emery, for instance, wanted Maguire and got David Luiz instead. You want Mercedes but your boss just happens to know the dealer who has a perfect Yugo for you. Arteta’s vision requires players that fit his vision. Not some patches but real things.

    Fourthly, you need support and patience from the fans through bad times. Klopp got it. Emery didn’t. Arteta has to get it. If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if we end up with 15 managers in the next 15 years trying to get Europa League football and/or avoid relegation.

  10. Deb, following your comment, then presumably you are a moaner too by your own definition.
    You have now had 43 posts published (and quite a few which were not published in which you have moaned about me). Now that, by virtually any definition is an obsession, as well as moaning. Of course many people don’t like what I and others write on this site, but they manage to get on with their lives and not write post after post after post whinging and whining and indeed moaning about me, and which are for the most part like this post – nothing at all but personal negative opinion. To send in so many posts shows a very unhealthy obsession.
    At least if I do moan (which by my own definition I don’t although by your definition I do) I do it in combination with proposals for what should be done to put things right in the club I support; a club that millions support. All you do over and over and over and over is complain about one guy writing a blog – when you must know perfectly well, it won’t make a blind bit of difference. OK we do get a fair sized audience, but really we can hardly be said to be a major influence.
    Have you ever asked yourself, what on earth is the point of going on and on and on and on and on and on about one guy writing one blog? Surely if you had any vestige of a life you’d do something more productive.
    I must admit I have on one or two occasions when yet another whinging and whining comment has come in from you, I’ve thought of banning you from this site, but in the end it is the thought of the awful life you must have wherein it is so important to you to keep on and on and on complaining about me that causes me to allow you to continue in a life in which complaining about me is important enough to write all these comments.
    Indeed I think it is time to gather the collected moaning of Deb and place it together so people can see just what happens when an individiual lets this sort of activity get out of control.

  11. Deb-untold? PS. Keep up the good work. Investigative journalism at its best.

  12. Grant Dixon

    “I have always felt that Arsenal’s decline was initiated by the removal of David Dein from the club. Then the buyout by Kronke sealed the club’s fate.”

    Have you? And why is that, because this is utterly untrue and cannot be substantiated with facts in any way shape or form. I have disproved this theory many many times. I am not going to go into the season by season analysis I have done before but basically:

    – We stopped winning things when we committed financially to the building of the Emirates stadium. We went 10 years on a zero Net spend on player acquisition. It had little or nothing to do with David Deans exit from the Club.

    – In the immediate aftermath of Kroenkes majority share acquisition we started spending more on players and as a result we started winning trophies, whilst maintaining our top 4 status. So we actually IMPROVED.

    Yes, for the last 3 years we have seen a decline, but that is far more complicated than simply laying the blame at Kroenkes door.

    2015 – 2016: 2nd in PL

    2016 – 2017: Won the FA Cup. Finished 5th in PL, missing out on top 4 by just 1 point.

    That is the kind of failure Spurs would die for. At the time, that would of also been success for Liverpool. Yes, we all wanted to win the PL or even the CL, but we are up against some very good teams with lots and lots of money. It is not easy, and whilst I agree that it’s frustrating, I don’t agree it is anything like the catastrophic failure it was continually painted as.

    So that leaves just 2 seasons that can really be classed as ‘failures’, 17-18 and 18-19, and even then we had another trip to Wembley and picked up a community shield. So even when we are supposedly s*** we still win more than the magnificent Spurs, and again at the time Liverpool. Both of those Clubs, still in their mega trophy droughts at the time, were getting nothing like the abuse we were getting, and that was just from our own fans.

    We are having a poor time of it at the moment of that there is no doubt, but as for the why, that is way more complicated than simply blaming the loss of Dean (really) or the arrival of Kroenke.

    While I’m typing this I’ve just had a ‘pop up’ from Gooner News with the headline: Cole says Arsenal are Miles behind United and Spurs.

    Are they?

    I think you’ll find we’re 3 points behind Spurs and 4 behind United. Is that MILES?

    We have had one defeat in 2020.

    In the PL we are on a good run. Spurs are having a poor run.

    Yes we are out of the EL but Spurs are up against it in the CL as well.

    How the situation these 3 clubs find themselves in puts us ‘miles behind’ is anyone’s guess, but hey, this is Arsenal so lets not miss a chance to yet again turn a defeat into a full blown disaster.

    Chelsea were absolutely battered the other night and all I heard was excuse after excuse, excuses we were and never would be afforded. They drew at relegation threatened Bournemouth. We are not that far behind Chelsea, let alone United and Spurs, but as I say, when it’s us, one defeat is turned into a complete catastrophe.

    Yes, it wasn’t our best performance but even so we were a terrible miss away from going through. It happens, not just to us, but to every team on occasions.

    But hey, this is Arsenal, where winning is never enough, so what hope have we got if we lose.

  13. OT: Conti Cup

    Eurosport mentions that perhaps the better team didn’t win, but says nothing about Chel$ea second goal possibly being offside.

  14. And as if by magic to reiterate my point:

    Everton 1 – 1 Man Utd

    Spurs 2 – 3 Wolves

    So I can slightly adjust what I said earlier to:

    While I’m typing this I’ve just had a ‘pop up’ from Gooner News with the headline: Cole says Arsenal are Miles behind United and Spurs.

    Are they?

    I think you’ll find we’re 3 points behind Spurs and 5 behind United, WITH A GAME IN HAND. Is that MILES?

    If we win our game in hand we are level on points with Spurs and 2 points behind Man Utd.

    We have had one defeat in 2020.

    In the PL we are on a good run. Spurs are having a poor run.

    I’m not saying either of their games were easy today and I actually think a point at Everton is a decent point, and Wolves are a very good side, so losing to them is no shame. But that’s not the point. The point is, Arsenal may or may not be as good as United and Spurs. We will only know at the end of the season. But given everything I’ve seen this season, to claim we are ‘miles behind’ is simply ridiculous and is the typical knee jerk reaction we have come to expect, not only from the media but from some of our fans, on the back of one poor result.

    This game is such fine margins.

    Liverpool Lose.

    Leicester Lose

    Chelsea Draw.

    Man Utd Draw.

    Spurs Lose.

    Burnley Draw.

    Everton Draw.

    Of all the teams above and around us only one of them won.

    As I say. Win our game in hand and we are not just in a battle for 5th, but 4th is at least within our grasp.

    Despite our lose on Thursday this is a good weekend for us, if PEA had stuck that chance away it would of been a fantastic weekend. On such fine margins do things hang.

    Miles behind? Really ?

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