many headlines this morning regarding PHW’s interview in the Standard screaming ‘WE CAN’T COMPETE’, which really doesn’t tell the full story. We can’t compete in some respects, we know that, and that’s what the Chairman said.
“At a certain level, we can’t compete”
And he’s talking about the clubs whose resources are endless. City and Chelsea whose owners bankroll the clubs, can soak up losses, can afford to write off huge amounts of money on players. For example, Man City paid Arsenal £25m for Emmanuel Adebayor, handed him a contract worth close to £10m a year, then when it turned out Adebayor was, you know, a troublesome cunny, they farmed him out on loan here, on loan there, before pretty much letting him go for nothing to some lower league club just to get him off the books.
So, for a total of 48 appearances and 19 goals their ‘investment’ was somewhere in the region of £50m (taking into account some of his wages were paid by the clubs he went on loan to). I remember the hype when Trevor Francis became the first million pound footballer, is Adebayor England’s first million pound per game footballer? So, at that certain level Arsenal can’t compete.
Now, that’s not to say that we don’t have issues like this ourselves. Every club does. We have Marouane Chamakh whose Bosman signing on fee boosts his weekly wage and it’s hard to say he’s provided a good return on investment. Sebastian Squillaci another, a player not on particularly high wages by any standards, but another guy whose lack of playing time means we’re not getting much in the way of value from him either. Arshavin fits this bill too, but as I said, this isn’t an issue unique to Arsenal, there are players at every club, at every level, like this. Players who, for one reason or another, don’t or can’t contribute but get paid … as they’re entitled to.
But while clubs like City and Chelsea can afford to pay big money, and lose big money if signings don’t work out, we have to be a bit smarter than that. When you can get a Santi Cazorla for £12m or a Lukas Podolski for £10m then you do it and I don’t think anybody has any issue with that. I don’t think any Arsenal fan with a realistic head on their shoulders expects us to compete in the market for the same players who cost £30m+ and as such demand wages in line with their transfer value.
None of us want to see us spend £40m+ on somebody called Axel Witsel, do we? But what we do want is to find the middle ground, to find the place where our finances remain manageable and our squad is as good as it can be. I don’t want to pick at the old wound again this morning re: the transfer window. It’s been done to death and there really is no point in making it an issue now that it’s closed, so when PHW says we can’t compete ‘at a certain level’, I’m with him 100%. But if he suggested we might be capable of doing a bit more then I don’t think too many people would argue with that either.
Anyway, I’m not sure I see the need to get knickers in a twist about something we already know, and PHW remains as a figurehead, not somebody who drives or implements club policy. When it comes to spending money, that’s the manager’s domain, and if there ought to be pressure on him to deliver or use all resources available it should come from Stan and/or Ivan. The comments regarding Wembley were interesting too, at the time of the new stadium project it was David Dein, then vice-Chairman of the FA, who wanted us to move into the soon-to-be developed stadium there, rather than build our own. PHW says:
It would’ve been crazy to have gone to Wembley. I hate Wembley anyway. It’s a bloody long way away. And I would absolutely not have wanted to be a tenant of the Football Association.
Amen to that. The most crucial thing about our new stadium was that it allowed, for the most part, the match day routines to remain unchanged. Locating just a few hundred yards from Highbury really was important, and you just have to consider the journey to every home game now if we’d ended up at Wembley. Nightmarish, to say the least.
In other news, reports this morning say Jack Wilshere is stepping up his training and his return draws closer. If you look at the squad that we took to Liverpool – remembering there was no place for Chamakh or Arshavin – adding Wilshere to the mix again, along with a fully fit Bacary Sagna, rounds it out even more. Obviously expecting him to have an instant impact is unrealistic considering how much time he’s spent out of the game, but the sooner we get him back the sooner he can start that road to match fitness.
Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he’d be open to an offer of a new contract from Arsenal. He’s away on international duty with England and said:
Obviously if Arsenal and myself wanted to sit down and talk about anything like that then that’s really good because I’m loving my time at Arsenal. I’m really enjoying playing for them so I’m planning on being there for a while so that’s good.
Although he had a couple of dodgy moments on the ball – and I think we have to forgive that as he’s still pretty raw as players go – he added some real solidity down the right hand side against Liverpool, protecting his full back when necessary from a tricky opponent. It’s now down to him to combine that side of his game with the more adventurous talents he has without losing anything from either side. His progress is continuing apace and tying him down to a new deal which reflects that isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion.
Right then, enough waffle for an Interlull Wednesday, more tomorrow.