First comes the denial, then comes the anger, then comes the ‘what the f*ck?’
Another disappointing summer. One of the worst. Mostly because all the ducks were lined up.
Great run in 2015
Tactics became a thing
Preparation clearly happening to a high level
New Fitness coach weaving his magic
Team working on in-game scenario planning
Players coming into their own
Settled squad with no one leaving
Chelsea in disarray
£200m in the bank
3 players is all we needed to make the league ours. 3 players. We landed the world class keeper. What a move. Nicked from one of our rivals. Perfect.
All we needed to ensure a great season was a striker, which had been on the cards for 3 years and a defensive midfielder to cover the ageing Flamini and Arteta.
What did we get?
Now, this is the point where the anger has dissipated. I’m now reflecting on it rationally. However, I still can’t fathom what went on there. It doesn’t make sense.
So there are a few things going on here that confuse me. We touched on some of them yesterday.
Wenger is a football addict. He’s so addicted, he can’t quit the game because he doesn’t have any hobbies outside the sport.
Part of his addiction sees him watch more games than anyone who ever walked the planet. He loves it. He has Sky Sports, BT, Canal+ and ESPN… all in sweet sweet HD. Costs him a fortune per month. But he watches a lot of football.
He trains and works with his team every day. He’ll watch the games back. He’ll know the frailties. He’ll know the problems.
He has a monster scouting network he upgraded last year.
He has a very good deal fixer in Dick Law.
He had £200m and 3 years to think about the issue of the holding midfielder and the striker.
Yet we end up with nothing?
I need someone to explain this.
The club don’t need to hoard cash. It’s absolutely pointless. £200m in the bank doesn’t bring in interest worth bragging about. It’s a waste of time having it there.
Surfer X put this on the site last year:
In 2008, we had £93m of cash and short-term deposits. Allowing for the £24m and a prudent £20m for operating cashflow we need to hold back, that was a potential ‘warchest’ of £50m give or take. In 2008, the average spend per player (after removing loans and frees) £6.0m. Fast forward to the end of 2013 £154m- a warchest of £110m. What does that buy us now? The average spend per player has risen to £7.9m. So we are looking at an inflation rate in transfers of 30% across those 5 years.
What does this mean? That £50m we had 5 years ago is, is- in terms of a players worth- has devalued to £35m. Or, put another way- the £50m that is still would of bought us a couple of players in the world-class bracket at £25m. Today? Those players combined would be going for something closer to £66m.
So what we’re saying here is actually, cash in the bank loses it’s value year after year. You’re better off investing in players. Arsene Wenger wouldn’t pay £50m for Suarez, a season later, he went to Barca for £70m. The value that we’re moaning about this year isn’t going to shrink next year. Players will get more expensive.
Here’s the other thing. People trying to defend the folly of Wenger are saying that players are too expensive.
Here is my retort.
In the whole of European football, Arsenal were the only club not to sign an outfield player. Even Barca did and they had a transfer ban. If, in the world of football, there is no value to be had when you have £200m in cash, perhaps the way you’re valuing players needs to be reassessed?
Also, taking a gamble can be expensive. But what’s more expensive to a club trying to build a global brand is doing nothing. Because nothing ensures you won’t progress. If the aim of this summer wasn’t to compete for the league and the Champions League. What was it?
So anyway, the conclusion I’m drawing from above is that there’s something going on here. Three scenarios.
1. Arsene is right. His squad can win the league. He goes against the grain. He becomes the first manager to win the major trophies without proper investment. We all look stupid.
1. Arsene Wenger has lost the plot. I know people won’t like me saying this, but this has to be an option. He loves football. He finished third last season. He knows what a winning team looked like 15 years ago. Now he apparently doesn’t. Some times you lose it. It happens. Being great doesn’t last forever. Maybe time is drawing on his career. But when you think the way to make up a massive points gap in the league is to do nothing, you have to ask this question. You also have wonder what sort of economics degree Wenger took. If he’s struggling with the basic concept of inflation and he hasn’t seen the pattern of the last ten years, you kind of wonder what’s going on.
2. There’s a deeper reason for the money not being spent. The cash doesn’t benefit Arsenal sitting in the bank. It doesn’t benefit the team sitting in the bank. But does it benefit Stan Kroenke? Does having cash allow him to borrow more money to fuel his empire? It does. I don’t like pointing that out. But having a club chugging away with £200m in the bank benefits Stan big time.
So that kind of makes you think doesn’t it. I mean, that would go some way to explaining the unfathomable. But what’s in it for the manager? He doesn’t ever win the league. He never brings home a Champions League trophy. He doesn’t reassert himself as the greatest. The man who made Arsenal European Champions.
But something is going on. Because I just don’t believe a man who is that smart, with that much resource and that much passion for the game wouldn’t do all he could to make his team the greatest in the world.
There you go. Disappointed. Sad. Fully accepting of what’s likely to happen this season bar a miracle.