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Why the media all want Arsenal to buy buy buy, and why we shouldn’t

By Tony Attwood

One of the features that links together most blogs and I suspect all the newspapers and their websites, plus the TV stations and the radio stations, is the importance of transfers.

We can see this at once from the fact that they spend so much time each summer on transfer rumours, 97% of which turn out to be fake.  Indeed the fact that they rarely take responsibility for the rumours but instead cite some other “outlet” which then cites another and another shows how ludicrous it all is.

The headline in the Telegraph tells us exactly how it works…

Arsenal have the right coach in Mikel Arteta – now they must back him in the transfer market. 

At the other end of the spectrum like the Telegraph, the Sun wants none of this clever-clever, use what you’ve got and sell off the rest, approach.

They go with

“Arsenal must seriously back Mikel Arteta in the transfer market …”

No question that there might be alternatives. No there is but one solution – the transfer market, and not just that, “back him” which means “spend big”.

 “Arsenal must take a gamble and back Mikel Arteta in the transfer

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Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has called on the club’s board to back Mikel Arteta in the transfer market and take a … ‘Arteta has done everything right so far”. (Mail)

So my question is, what big backing has there been so far?  Is that what the club did with Mr Wenger?

1996/7 – transfer profit £13m

When Arsene Wenger turned up at Arsenal we made transfer profits and there was no talk about “backing him in the transfer market” when he joined in the summer of 1996.  No, he bought two players – Patrick Vieira for £3.5m (although Transfer Markt quote £4.82M) and Nicolas Anelka for £600,000.

And he financed these purchases through sales.  Merson for £6m, John Harson for £4.5m, Paul Dickov £1.35m, Steve Morrow £675,000, Eddie McGoldrick £405,000.  That’s around £17,85m, which even allowing for the higher cost of Vieira, made a profit of around £13m.  We came third. The previous year we’d come 5th and the year before that 12th, so that was the continuation of the climb up the charts.

1997/8 – transfer expenditure of £17m

Now Mr Wenger did spend.  In came Overmars (£6.75m), Grimandi (£3.38m), Petit (£3.38m), Upson (£2.25m), Boa More (£2.16m).  There were no big sales – Rose, Shaw and Harper left for a total of around £1m.  So a net expenditure of around £17m.  So thus far he has spent £4m net and in 1997/98 we won the double.  Not a bad return.

1998/9 – a transfer expenditure of £7m

In 1998/9 Mr Wenger bought Kanu (£5.63m) Freddie, (£4.05m) Diawara (£2.70m) and Vivas (£1.98).  He sold Ian Wright for £7m – total expenditure £7.36m.  We came second and were cup semi-finalists.  Total net loss so far £11m.

1999/2000 – transfer profit of £14m

Finally taking us up to the end of the century, in 1999/2000 Arsenal bought Thierry Henry (£15m), Davor Suker, (4.86m), Luzhny (£2.48m) and Malz (£1.04m).  He sold Anelka (£31.5m),  Diawara (£3.15m), Crowe, (£1.35m), Bould, (£0.75m) and Boa Morte (£0.63m).  A profit of £14m.

Now it is true during this turn of the century period we were not winning things after that opening double, we kept coming second in the league.  But the club had done this while making a profit of £4m on transfers since the arrival of Mr Wenger.

So why, I ask, after having spent something around £100m net last summer (and for consistency in this piece I am using Transfer Mkt figures throughout, rather than the Guardian figures I used last time), and £70m the summer before, and £24m the summer before that why are we keeping on doing this spending?

(Just so you know I am not making these numbers up, let me explain 2017/18 as there was a general feeling in the office that these could not be right.   We spent £136m (this was the year Auba joined the club along with Lacazette and Mkhitaryan) and took in £112m, selling the likes of Alexis, the Ox, Theo, Giroud, and Sxzczcdczny the smoker.  Total cost £24m.

And yet everywhere I look there is the spend spend spend requirement from the media.  Only Arseblog seems to be more moderate with “Arteta: If we have to wait for the right player, we wait.”

Sky Sports on the contrary is full of “ Mikel Arteta says he will not allow Arsenal to “stand still” in the transfer market…”  And on and on and on.

I am not saying that we can find another genius like Wenger.   But I am saying the media has a vested interest in all this gibberish.  Transfers is their news.  It is free, because they either nick it or they make it up.  The people who write this are like guys standing on street corners saying you can get cheap drugs down the next street.  “It’s not me mate, I don’t do the deals…”   They should be treated with utter contempt or better still arrested, and yet now, somehow they are treated like purveyors of truth, reality and the golden path back to greatness.

We should not fall for the peddlers of gibberish, nor should we buy for the sake of it, because that is what we have been doing for the last few years and it has failed.  It is time to look back to see how the maestro did it, and managed to keep us in the top four for 20 years while winning the FA Cup six times.

6 comments to Why the media all want Arsenal to buy buy buy, and why we shouldn’t

  • Absolutely right. We have an academy, so use the young lads coming through. The upside of this is it will attract the best youth players to your club as they know they will get a chance. They will also have a feeling for the club not turn up because we pay them loads of money. Give the young fellas at least 20 games to prove themselves the worst that can happen is he may not be good enough for Arsenal but if you are young have played 20 times for Arsenal you will command a descent fee thus allowing you to finance the 1 or at most 2 signings you may need to make a season.
    Big transfers and big wages leads to Ozil type situations, where you are lumbered with a player you don’t want who is eating into your wage budget.
    One of my big problems is the talk about centre halfs we have to buy. We have one coming in and a good young man called Holding who is what I would call a proper centre half. I don’t want another bloke from god knows where who will take time to bed in. Play and coach properly what we have at the moment.
    If im honest I don’t think Reiss Nelson or Eddie are quite good enough (although I hope im wrong) but neither is Mustafi Xhaka & Pepe and they cost a combined £140m.
    Lets stick with the young players get rid of the dead wood if possible and stop thinking spending big is the cure.

  • Arsenal really don’t have to spend much and also don’t need to. The defence has already improved under Arteta and with Saliba coming in, will probably still keep on improving. We can also probably get Sarre for free and he’llet probably demand a salary like Kolasinac, which he can replace. We can also get Wiilian for free and he with Fraser will earn less than Ozil if we get rid of him. That would be quality and depth. The money from Torreira, Sokrates, Kolasinac and Elneny could fund Partey and maybe Mustafi. We can keep Mustafi however as he has been improving and will still grow as defenders generally becomes more solid with age. We might even make a profit this window without selling Aubameyang, Lacazette or Guendozi and be a much better team with more depth and quality.

  • Nitram

    Simply not true.

    For ten years Wenger kept us in the top 4 on a zero net spend, which we all know was a remarkable achievement, but Wenger was a remarkable manager.

    But ultimately despite his genius we won nothing in those 10 years.

    He was competing with 3 mega spenders and by and large it was those 3 that finished above us, if there was a 4th, as there soon might be, the likelihood is they too would of finished above us on a regular basis.

    The purse strings were loosened and we started spending and ultimately went on to win 3 FA Cups, but still no title.

    Despite spending more we were still often as not behind at least 2 of the 3 really big spenders .

    Either way those 3 FA Cups were not good enough for some and Wenger was hounded out.

    If he had been backed by the fans and the board, and stayed who knows what would have happened, all I know is the entire reason behind Wenger and AFC building the Emirates stadium was so we could compete in the transfer market with, at the time Man Utd. In other words so we could spend more money.

    So please don’t tell me Wenger didn’t appreciate the need to spend lots of money on players, as I say, that was the main, if not only reason behind the building of the Emirates.

    In fact it was so important he was prepared to suffer 10 years of criticism and derision to get to a position were he could spend money.

    I know Wenger always said he didn’t like to buy more than 3 players at any one time, which might be were we have recently gone wrong, but I am in no doubt he would of spent money, and lots of it, just perhaps better than our more recent manager, but who knows, he wasn’t by any means faultless in the transfer market.

    So just because we haven’t got the return we would of hoped from last seasons spend doesn’t mean spending big doesn’t work, as I have shown many many times.

    Despite what you say history shows that rather than stop spending, continued high spending, over several seasons, and that is the key, is the way to win tiles, as shown by the fact the 3 biggest nett spenders are the 3 biggest trophy winners.

    We may or may not have a good enough squad to push on for the top 4 next season, I think we have, we may even have a good enough squad for a push at the title, personally I think we are quite a way off that, but that’s just my opinion.

    What I do know is, history has shown that to win the title continued investment in the squad, to the tune of an average £30/£40 Million Nett per season, is absolutely essential, and if we don’t or can’t do that then we will not win the PL, it’s as simple as that.

  • I’ll disagree with you Nitram, for once. There’s the technical point – we went eight years without winning, but while paying for the stadium, not ten, and then returned with the second run of three FA Cups in four seasons.

    But my point (undoubtedly poorly made) is that the current owner cannot match Man C and Chelsea even if he wanted to, which I don’t think he does, so the simplistic approach of an Artetian version of “spend some fucking money” is most likely to bring us into further dispute and anger, and more changes of manager. There are other solutions, my intention in that already overlong article was just to set out the dangers. I’ll try and write a piece on the alternative approach.

  • Nitram

    It’s cross wires really then.

    I agree we can’t match those clubs and therefore we indeed, as you say, have to find another way.

    My point is, and it’s sad really, that I just don’t think we can win the PL if we don’t spend big, it’s just the way it is.

    To mine and I believe your mind Wenger was a genius and even he couldn’t do it, though he got damn close with that 2nd and he still got pelters from some.

    I’m certainly not saying we SHOULD spend what we haven’t got and I would love our youngsters to be good enough but it’s a big ask. As someone once said “you win nothing with kids” 🤣

    So yes, for us we have to do it OUR way.

    Whatever happens they will always have my undying love.

  • Mawa rogers

    During the era of those of fabregas, nasri, clichy, etc what did we win?. we only became am academy of big clubs.

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