By Tony Attwood
One of the regular comments made against Arsenal is that there is no coherent plan. I disagree. In fact, I think the club has over the past two years had three plans.
Plan A: to wrest back control of matches from PGMO
This, we’ve been following for over a year. Cut out tackles and the ref can’t give fouls. Cut out fouls and the ref finds it hard to give yellow cards.
And it was important as in 2019/20 Arsenal got the most yellow cards in the league, getting more than twice as many as the least carded club – Liverpool. This season we are 16th in the yellow card league with just four more cards than the least carded club WHU, and only one more than Liverpool.
Plan B: bring in a new young defence that could keep the cards low.
To do this Arsenal replaced the defence with the best young players we could find, who would learn from a younger age, how to play with minimal tackling. That was completed last summer.
Plan C: cut the wages bill
This consisted of two parts. Get rid of the players on top salaries (Aubameyang and Ozil) and only buy young players, while also promoting brilliant youngsters. As a result, we have the youngest team in the Premier League.
Of course, this is not just an Arsenal issue, for all the big clubs in Europe are struggling with wages, which last season continued to rise across football, as revenues collapsed. Indeed 15 clubs in European first divisions and a further 37 clubs in European second divisions were subject to insolvency proceedings during the 2020/21 season. All for this reason.
But at the same time player wages kept rising across Europe. As a result, the top clubs between them lost £3.4bn in 2020-21 season, largely due to a) covid, and b) having a loss-making model and c) wages still rising.
In fact, the total insanity of football is revealed by the fact that across the top leagues in the world salaries and agents’ fees took up 91% of revenue. As a result, the top clubs took on another £670m debt – that is new debt to be added to the old debt they already had.