Is development important or is the end of the season all that matters?

By Tony Attwood

In a recent commentary on the article The anti-Arsenal conspiracy. Here’s the evidence. Kingsmuf said…

“Surely it’s where Arsenal are at the end of the season that’s important.   There’s no trophy for being good for two thirds of the season. One thing is certain, 8th isn’t good enough for Arsenal. Also, we’re behind teams such as Leicester and West Ham, teams that have not spent more than us and barely ahead of teams such as Leeds and Aston Villa who have spent less than us.”

I think it is an important point and at the risk of boring everyone stupid I’d like to deal with it.  Fortunately I’ve got the time because this afternoon’s social gathering has just been cancelled so I’ve got the time, and so, if you have a spare five minutes I invite you to spend it here.

1: Where we end the season is important.

Of course, and this is how we are measured over time.  While most fans will know how many times we have won the League or FA Cup, not so many know how many times we have come runners’ up.  So yes, I agree.

But to me this is an example of monocular vision – just seeing one thing and not the surround.  Like driving along a minor road in the middle of the night thinking how great it is that at this time the road is totally clear, while forgetting that someone with the same thought might be coming the other way in the middle of the road.  A broader perspective can be helpful.

That perspective comes from the fact, so oft-repeated by me, that our last two thirds of the season was fantastic.  And that is important because it tells us we are on the right track.

But let’s imagine we don’t think that. We see 7th as a disaster as Kingsmuf said and so buy loads of new players, and totally change the team again.  Or as some of the media suggest, change the manager.

Yes it might suddenly give us a title winning team, but it is probably more likely to give us a team that does less well than the players who played in the last two thirds of the season using the tactics that Mr Arteta devised.

And so the team that did so well across two thirds of the season is broken up, loads of money is spent, and it may or may not work.

Or else we take something that is working and try and make it work all the way through the season.

2.  We’re behind teams such as Leicester and West Ham

Yes that is true, but also irrelevant because we’ve already found a way to be better than both those teams – and we did it through the last two thirds of the season.

So here’s the choice.  We have a team and a manager and a style of playing which for the last 24 games of the season produced results three points better than West Ham, five points better than Chelsea, eight points better than Leicester, nine points better than Liverpool and ten points better than Totten Hots.

Why is that approach to tactics and player formations not worth perusing?   It doesn’t mean that every player has to be kept and no one new bought, because teams evolve all the time.  But it does suggest that maybe we should keep most of that team.

3.  Several of our team are very young

Which means they are likely to improve further.  I’d include in this list William Saliba, Gabriel, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.   I’d also add Bernd Leno who is young for a keeper.

Now of course I don’t see them in training, and some may not be developing – perhaps that is true for Eddie, and maybe Reiss Nelson.   But bringing in a number of new players just because we only did ok in the last two thirds of the season, could well mean that absolute gems are going to be lost.

4.  West Ham and Leicester spent less and ended up above us

Yes they did, so if we do see only the end of season table as relevant then logically that would suggest we should be spending less, like them.

I don’t think that, but equally I don’t think that spending equals success.

Club Total Position in spending table Position in league this season Comparison between spend and position
£-308.60m 3 8 -5
£-254.43m 6 11 -11
£-262.34m 4 4 0
£-255.70m 5 10 -5
£-92.81m 10 5 +5
£-119.73m 9 3 +6
£-560.66m 1 1 0
£-498.42m 2 2 0
£-204.08m 7 7 0
£-170.63m 8 6 +2

So spending vast sums of money can be a disaster (Aston Villa being sixth in the spending table but 11th in the league table, or a triumph (Liverpool being 9th in the spending table and third in the league).

The problem is that neither the League nor Uefa have proven themselves to be adept at reigning in the spending of Manchester City who have spent over half a billion pounds in five years.  And remember Manchester United spent £190 million more than Arsenal, just to come second (which I suspect some Arsenal fans would consider to be “not a trophy”.)

Clubs don’t reach the top four without spending money, but just spending money does not guarantee a top four position (just ask Leicester).

Now some will say that Arsenal spent over £100m more than Tottenham over five years but finished up below Tottenham, and that is true.  So we spent the money on the wrong players.  But there is no guarantee that this time round we’ll buy the right players.

Personally I think the spending should be seen against progress, and that’s what we have.

The end of the season isn’t all that matters; progress matters too.  Next season matters too, and that’s why I’m feeling rather good on this beautiful Sunday lunchtime.

Arsenal against the media….

Arsenal’s amazing January transfer window turned the season around

Arsenal to replace Nicolas Pépé with older player who scored fewer!

How the Daily Mail’s war against Arsenal treats fans as Neanderthals

How 8 Arsenal players swept to the top 20 table in Europe this month

Are the refs and the media really out to get Arsenal


4 Replies to “Is development important or is the end of the season all that matters?”

  1. Well said, I’m tired of all the negativity surrounding our club.
    I’m optimistic about the future. Only two teams conceded less goals than us, and we conceded approximately 1 goal / game it’s a progress compared to recent seasons. To take the next step we need to concede less and have a better core in our team, which we have. At least some of us are tired of silly goals, and a team divided into two camps when defending, one trying to defend and the other not tracking home. We are making progress and do look like a proper team again. We have lots of young talents with a bright future and they are progressing too 🔴⚪️ COYG

  2. OK Hans, please explain why. If you are not willing to give rational reasons, then I think some of the other websites that deal in pure emotion only rather than any form of logic, would be better suited to express you views.

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