Delusion: “a fixed or false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.”
Now that Robin Van Persie has delivered the inevitable “farewell” message to the Gooners, people are once again berating Arsenal Football Club for “a lack of ambition”, their transfer policy and, incredibly, for caring too much about their financial security.
Fans from across the globe have unleashed a torrent of abuse at the AFC board, with celebrity Twitter bore Piers Morgan and even major stakeholder Alisher Usmanov jumping on the bandwagon.
There are a number of things I find truly absurd about these comments – far too many for me to go into every one so I will highlight a few and elaborate on the final.
Arsenals transfer policy during Wenger’s reign has been solid and consistent. They have never spent ‘big money’ on a player and, yet, have purchased true quality repeatedly.
I will instead give you clear examples of quality signings for ‘small money’. Wenger will not spend £25-50M on a player because, quite simply, he doesn’t need to!
The proof speaks for itself: Henry = £10.5M, Vieira = £3.5M, RVP = £2.75M, Petit = £2.5M, Ljungberg = £3M, Anelka = £0.5m, Suker = £0.5M, Kolo Toure = £0.15M, Fabregas = £0M…the list goes on.
I’m not sure where along the line people decided that the definition of Ambition was ‘To spend lots of money’.
It is quite clear to me that Arsenal are fully aware of their own capabilities; it is the general public that appear to be deluded. Please read on…
During the last few seasons Arsenal have been consistently dubbed “over-achievers” due to their inability to hang onto and replace their biggest players. Yet the same people are demanding that Arsenal ‘spend big’ in order to stay competitive.
Also, at this very same time, without ever ‘spending big’, they consistently finish in the top 4…or “over achieve”. Has it never crossed anyone’s mind that Arsenal are therefore not over achieving and are actually fulfilling their potential? Or sitting where they should be sitting?
To finish in the top 4 twice with an ‘average’ squad is possibly an over achievement but the fact that Arsenal finish in the top 4 every single year not only proves that they aren’t overachieving, but also that their squad is far above average! Maybe, just maybe, the manager and the board know a little more about their composition and ability than Piers Morgan and the Twitterati.
And by the way, Arsenal lost (…with a £50M+ profit) Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy last season...and then finished in a higher position than the year before (not to mention Chelsea, Tottenham & Liverpool …).
My main point is this
I don’t know if many, if any, football fans follow world affairs away from football (with the possible exception of Britain’s Got Talent), but the world economy is slowly crumbling.
This isn’t a cynical viewpoint, it’s apparent, no matter what view you take. You may be safe from this crumble if you’re sitting atop a pyramid made of gold (Hi Piers!), but be assured, it’s happening.
To see it you can first look at the growing list of professional football clubs that have entered administration during the last decade: Leeds, Southampton, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, Rangers & dozens more.
You can then look at the list of household-name companies in the same position: Blockbuster, Pontins, Seafrance, Golden Wonder, Game. And then banks: RBS, Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley…and that’s just in Britain!
At the very top of this list there are even not-so-distant countries. Iceland and Greece have both have suffered tremendous economic crises’ from which the World’s economy my never recover, partially or fully.
Even Britain has recently announced its one TRILLION pounds in debt. That’s £1,000,000,000,000.
How many of you reading this are in debt, whether it’s a £200 overdraft or a £20,000 student loan? Debt is everywhere. Do you think it can go on forever? The proof is in the examples above, and many more examples will follow in the future.
The point I’m making is that Arsenal are the ONLY top club with a suitable and sustainable business model. They are not living outside of their means. Yes, Usmanov could purchase the club and put them atop similar a Golden Pyramid to Chelsea, Man City and Goldman Sachs, but my point is - it's cheating the system in which we live.
Football, like life, should be lived on an even plane. Not with 1% holding the wealth and stamping on the 99% fighting for survival, there should be equal distribution.
Let’s look again solely at football. If a cap was put on salaries and transfers fee’s, everyone - no matter whether their owner was a lofty Sheikh or humble carpet factory owner - would be on an even playing field.
Success these days doesn’t appear to rely on a manager’s ability but, instead, whoever’s owner is willing to spend the most money.
To summarise, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are doing it the right way - the only way that will allow them to continue as a football club until others are long forgotten.
If Arsenal offered RVP £250k per week, would he stay? And would it be worth it? If it meant living outside of their means, then certainly not.
Arsenal have proved time after time that they do not need to spend £50M on a player to consistently achieve – they are already ‘over-achieving’ after all!
Wenger buys players for an affordable price who then, after becoming ‘big names’, move on for ‘big money’ – a move that suits both the player and Arsenal Football Club in equal measure. Arsenal then bring in another, not so big player to fill his boots. Last season it worked, why won’t it work again, and again, and again?
Would you rather Arsenal consistently contended whilst considering their long term future or risked their existence in order to immediately win trophies?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald