I have to say, I’m starting to feel very positive about the future of Arsenal. The more I think about it, the more I draw the conclusion that this moment in time, though horrendous in so many ways, will actually work out very positively for The Arsenal.
We’ve still not found ground zero with regards to what’s going to happen at large to football clubs. As with all great disasters, you only find out how bad the mess is when things go wrong. Recessions always uncover bad business practice and I have a suspicion that football has been doing silly things for a while now and this moment in time might bring those problems out of the dark into the light.
What does that mean for Arsenal? Well, it’ll mean that there’s a levelling of the playing field to a certain degree. This is going to happen in a few ways.
1.World-class in every position might die
It doesn’t matter what happens to the pandemic over the next 3 years, the memory of it will be seared into the minds of football executives around the world. Football is no longer stable, fan attendance is now a luxury, the game can be ripped from TV at any point. What does that mean?
It means clubs are going to have to work hard to build better businesses, and most important in that equation, they will have to grow their cash position. The simplest way to generate more cash is to aggressively attack the wage bill and sell unessential assets. I think we’re going to see clubs turn to youth and place less onus on having packed squads of superstars. This will be true of all clubs, bar the mega brands. The days of having a £110k a week reserve right-back might be behind us (for a while).
That will mean bargains this summer as clubs look to move players on. Money will go further this year and there will be a glut of good players on the market.
2. A focus on youth
Clubs were already moving in the direction of academy players, but I think you’ll see more of a push in this direction. Young players are going to be at the heart of The Arsenal model moving forward, no doubt about that. Why this moment in time is going to work so well for us is a few fold. Firstly, we have a world-class coach at Arsenal. People keep chiding me about that, but it’s not even debatable, Arteta is one of the best young coaches in the world and he operates at the cutting edge. He has to prove himself as the top dog, but the credentials for making players better are undoubted. That is great for young players because it means they’re going to get better. It means that young players around Europe will want to join us. It means that we are in a position to develop a squad. This hasn’t been the case over the last 5 years.
Additionally, we can blood these youngsters in a ‘safe’ environment. Learning your way in Premier League football is tough, certainly made tougher by crowds that have high expectations. There won’t be crowds for a while, which means kids can blood themselves into the game with a little less pressure.
3. Fan expectations
Arsenal fans will demand less, if the powers that be come out and state that their plan is to move forward with a young base of players.
We know that we’ve taken wild gambles with transfer fees, we bodged the Wenger replacement hire, there is a lot of fat that needs to be trimmed from the squad. Fans are not expecting a lot from the club at the moment. Again, the perfect environment for a club pursuing a longer-term plan with youth. Fans forgive talented young players far more easily than they would mercenary signings.
What I believe would be a mistake is if we continued to shoot for the stars with has-been purchases that please super-agents. Coutinho? Willian? Really? Why would Arsenal throw more bad money at the squad. Let’s be strategic, let’s focus on a clever rebuild, let’s not ship out one problem and bring in another 2.
4. The dreck
The club will move on senior players this summer. We might not ship out Mesut Ozil because his deal is so outrageous, but I think we’ll certainly look to move on other big-name players that have big wage packets. Alex Lacazette signed his own P45 with that balloon idiocy, I think we’ll move on a host of other players that have 2 years to 12 months on their deal. The reason they’ll move is the same reason Auba wants to sign a new deal with us… security in football is not what it used to be. Sokratis will want a 4-year deal, even if it’s on less money. Lacazette will be 29, he can’t run the risk the game is in a mess in a years time.
I also think you might see some surprises this summer. Players that haven’t delivered to the standards Arteta is looking for. Talent that might not hit the heights we had hoped for. Some players aren’t salvageable, no amount of coddling or arm around the shoulder is going to change that, the difference this summer is we have a manager not concerned about the difficult decisions.
Arsenal were in a mess last summer, this year, we have a fine young manager, we have a Technical Director that ‘should’ have a plan in place, and the brief is clear… sort Arsenal out ASAP. No mercy on who we ship out.
The game isn’t going to be fucking around with big transfer fees. You’re going to see big players take loan moves and you’re going to see big names lose massive value on their fees. Dembele of Barca is now up for sale at the price we paid for Mustafi. You’ll see more of that.
The key thing won’t be the transfer fees, it’ll be the wage bill. If we can free up £600k a week in cash, that can go towards some very exciting young players that we can hopefully pick up for prices that feel within range. The entire dynamic of the squad can be reworked this summer. This is shopping in the dip. Now, I realise we’re not exactly wealthy enough to be picking off players like elite disaster capitalists, but we can make some tough decisions that allow us the freedom to operate in this market. Selling Auba might be one of those moves. There will still be an elite market, it’ll just be smaller. PSG, United, and maybe City will be spending big… but Madrid, Barca, Juve, Atleti and most other clubs will not be.
There are deals to be had this summer, but they might only come if we’re prepared to invest in smart choices and trust in our scouting.
7. The football
I said this the other day, but it bears repeating. The football is going to get better. Having a full month with the players on the training pitch is going to have an impact on the game we play. Better ideas, fitter players, and the mental fatigue of Emery being lifted should contribute to a clearer identity on the pitch and hopefully, a more exciting brand of football we can get behind.
My hope is that we start to become unpredictable in a good sense. The ideal would be that we are a solid team capable of delivering devastating results. We know this team has another level, we know that defending can be part of our DNA, now we need to find out if we can be ambitious. We need to know if the players can be convinced that they are capable of finding that next level. Only then will we know if this moment has worked for us.
Right, those are my thoughts, see you in the comments. x