solitude

Arsene Wenger’s fortress of solitude

This was never the plan. Arsene looks down at his miniature version of the N5 with the Emirates stadium placed right on the rail line and just south of Highbury. Here in front of him was his very own Kandor, minus the shrunken citizens, but a reminder of what was and what could have been abstracted from reality.

The plan was simple: get the players in young, have them play together and develop a bond and when they all came good at the same time it would be Arsenal’s very own “golden generation”. By picking 16 year olds from Spain like Cesc, and from Southampton like Walcott, you could eliminate some of the uncertainty of banking on players who are 9 or 10, and hoping that they come good in a decade. Instead, you could accelerate the academy process, if you picked right.

Put those young players in real games, not practice sessions or reserves games, with legends like Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp and it would accelerate their learning curve while teaching them what it means to be Arsenal. Pay them well too, that had always been Arsene’s philosophy, it was the first thing he did when he took over at Arsenal, paid everyone well.

It should have worked but it didn’t.

One by one the players abandoned the project. Some were lured by greed, like Cole, Adebayor and Nasri. Some were lured by the siren call of their homeland like Cesc. And some were lured by the promise of trophies and playing with better players, like van Persie. Each seemed to have their reasons but in the end, the important thing is that they left. There’s only one remaining, Theo Walcott, and he wants assurances that Arsene could never give.

Dein saw it coming, Arsene’s old friend, the rise of the super-billionaires. “Soccer” was being broadcast in America. The Chinese were getting richer. All of Asia was booming. And football is the world’s sport. It was only a matter of time before English Football, the home of football, would be the hottest commodity in the world.

£70m or £100m a year seemed like a lot of money in 2004 but Dein saw the writing on the wall. The scale and rate of change in English football was going to be astronomical. Abramovich spent money like water to build Chelsea from a shit-hole of a team full of racist fans into one of the biggest brands in world football. £70m is what Roman would put out for 2 players. Chelsea’s salary would double Arsenal’s. Once that happened, building a stadium that seated 60,000 and brought in an additional £70m in revenue? Chump change. Arsenal would need their own billionaire to compete.

“Kick greed out of football”? Impossible. So why not kick greed into the boardroom? Dein tried by bringing Kroenke to the table. But he soon realized that Arsenal didn’t need an owner who would be happy making a few million pounds off developing some property around the stadium, they needed an owner who would speculate to accumulate. Dein was wrong about Kroenke. Kroenke was small potatoes. Dein needed a big, Uzbek, potato and his London based Persian partner: Usmanov and Moshiri.

But Arsene and the board rejected that notion outright and Dein was fired.

Arsene could think back to the board from the 2004/2005 season; Clive Carr, Richard Carr, Lady Nina, Ken Edelman, Danny Fiszman, Ken Friar, Sir Gibbs, and Peter Hill-Wood. The only remaining members from that group are Ken Friar and Peter Hill-Wood and Hill-Wood is on borrowed time as the specter of a heart attack looms over him.

The management’s not the same either. Pat Rice retired last summer after one of the toughest 4th place finishes Arsene has ever endured. Where are the familiar faces? Who can he talk to about the way forward? Jack Wilshere? He’s all that will be left once Theo is gone.

And so, Arsene’s Arsenal and his dream of building a golden generation, of self-sustaining football bringing the club glory for decades, lies in tatters. And he is all alone, beset by enemies and relying on strangers. The warmth of Highbury has turned into a frozen fortress of Arsene Wenger’s solitude, The Emirates.

Qq

71 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger’s fortress of solitude

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Yes, a case of reading what he wants into it.

      Only in footy can you be criticised of taking the sensible fiscal approach in club development.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      “Old friend” doesn’t mean that they are ex-friends, it indicates longevity.

      But I haven’t heard this old friend come to his rescue, have you? Thus Wenger is still all alone.

  1. +15 Vote -1 Vote +1Jerry

    For this season, as bad as things look right now (and they do look bad), if Arsenal can rattle off a couple of wins in a row against some mediocre upcoming competition, they’ll be right there in the top 4 mix. Maybe even in the top 4. Maybe even in 3rd.

    The reasonable objectives for this season were: 1) Finish in the top 4 (hopefully the top 3) and 2) Win a domestic cup. As hard as it is to believe after watching some of the recent matches, those goals still very much in play.

    Longer term, there are some major questions to answer. What is Arsenal’s place in the modern football world? Can we ever expect to legitimately challenge for league and CL titles? Right now it looks like the answer is “no”. What can be done to flip that to “yes”? Is it even possible?

    But right now, we can still qualify for next year’s CL. We can still win a domestic cup. Those were the reasonable goals in August. They’re still reasonable goals right now. We just need to start scoring some goals to get there.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

      I was going to post something similar though not nearly as well written, but now I don’t have to. This is not misplaced optimism, but a perfectly reasonable take on what might happen, albeit given a couple of pretty big ” ifs”.

      We’ll know by next week if our season is really circling the drain.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      Although my belief is to the contrary, for the sake of Arsene and the AFC, I hope you are right.

      In reality, there are 3 basic train of thoughts:
      1. The Optimist (putting you in that category)
      2. The Pragmatist ( I put me in that category and a 5-6 place finish)
      3. The Pessimist (not much to be said about that)

      Only time will tell.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        I am not optimistic either at the moment but things change quickly in football and the gap to 4th spot is not as wide a gap in terms of points as the positions may indicate otherwise.

  2. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Rob M

    @Shard: Yes, sad but very true.
    @Blogger: Well written blogger……I almost feel sorry for Arsene.

    1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Simon

      It does but its only the last 5% of one. The rest would look to the record with a small team in France; the adventurousness and openess to coach in Japan and the stellar achievements throughout his career in N5.

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Londoncalling12

    Hello everyone: On my way from the office I had a thought. What if Arsenal finishes 7th in the League come May. What would be the Negatives and Positives of that outcome? Open question…..it’s out there

    Tim: We don’t thank you enough for your daily blog. Thanks ::}}

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

      Negatives: no cl money. Reduced appeal of the club to players, less money for wages and transfers. Forced sales? Less games to watch next year.

      Postives: Not relegated. For Wengeroutists-maybe he’s out. For Board outists: none, they’re staying anyway. Some may say we’d finally spend more money, but I don’t think it follows that having less money causes you to spend more.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

        Forgot: For Kroenkeoutists – yes maybe he decides to sell to Usmanov, but probably not, so there is the benefit of continued infighting…

      2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Londoncalling12

        The Negatives and Positives of Arsenal not being in Europe next season and finishing 7th and below

        Negatives:
        1. Arsene Wenger resigning ( His contract is almost up) and the possibility of the team declining further
        2. No Champions League & No Europa League exposure, therefore no CL and no Europa money
        3. Cash inflow diminishes due to lack of exposure to global audience (marketing/sales)
        4. Partners may withhold cash incentives due to position in the League
        5. Fan base may weaken, although I find that one may take some time
        6. The continuation of Arsene’s cultural set –up may inhibit the new Manager. Arsene is a big personality to follow
        7. The Board continues to be cautious and adhering to the Business Model
        8. Quality players may choose another team to join ( Spurs perhaps)
        9. Losing existing players ( possible negative/positive), unable to pay wages and salaries
        10. May have to consider closure of the Academy and a reduced Diamond Club area income stream
        11. Club Level memberships ( high payers) reduces
        12. Some areas of business may need to be shelved due to lack of cash budget
        13. The Owl taking over by offering Silent Stan a shipload of money for his shares ( he has almost 30% )
        14. The Club possibility in the midst of a take-over and the challenges that it entails

        Positives:

        1. With no European football an opportunity for Arsenal to focus on the EPL and Cup Competitions
        2. The club is not be relegated, time for a new start
        3. Newly available cash from Image Rights, new Kit and Premier League to re-enforce the team
        4. Possibility of “writing off” a few players due to position on the league (( No CL) reduced wages clause)
        5. The team playing for the new manager with vigour and style (dream on)
        6. Arsene Wenger remaining at Arsenal. He will be 65 on Oct 2014; maybe he wants that final year with money for a final fling at the cherry pie (EPL).
        7. Arsene Wenger remaining as Director of Football or a member of the Board – can’t see that
        8. Arsene Wenger won the EPL three times with Arsenal, playing some breath-taking football which of course included the 40 games unbeaten season
        9. Arsene Wenger played a huge impact in the changing of English football
        10. Arsenal as at 3 December is less than 6 points from the top 4 spot. It’s not over yet…
        11. Arsenal is still in the Champions League, The Capital Cup and the FA Cup… and who knows that the future holds?
        12. Bring in 3 new players in January 2013 and we are rolling baby, who knows we may be Europe next year

        Finally; this is the time of year for faith hope and goodwill. Some folks said to me recently; the Arsenal players seem to be afraid to make mistakes, and in trying so hard not to make mistakes they make mistakes. I think they were right. The players need a few teams bounding exercises with lots of talking about the issues amongst themselves. Trust and more trust.

        My team is Arsenal and I love my Club and everything about it…. Even more so today.

      3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

        “…the Arsenal players seem to be afraid to make mistakes, and in trying so hard not to make mistakes they make mistakes.”

        Yes. This. They look afraid – one wrong move and the wrath of 60,000 people (well, I guess more like 40,000 these days) comes down on your head. I would never deign to tell supporters in the stands what they should and should not do, but it seems plainly obvious to me that the atmosphere at home is poisonous, and it isn’t helping. I feel for the boys, really. I know there’s not much sympathy out there for millionaire footballers, but they are only human. It’s an ugly spiral – fan support could help, I think.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1LES

    Tim. Do you reckon Wenger would resign if we lost to Bradford? I seriously see that game as Walsall 1983 ?

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      That’s an interesting analogy. Not sure it’s exactly right but interesting. Maybe you can fill us in: wasn’t the manager mostly hated at the time and the board mostly loved? And isn’t this kind of exactly the opposite?

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    I cannot help watching Arsenal less this season; I want to avoid those listless and clueless games. Even when we win, it is rare we produce the same quality of football a few years back, much less the Invincible seasons…anyway, this is a well written piece. Sad to see Wenger lose his way this season; buying seasoned pros but cannot help Arsenal sliding down the black hole of mediocrity. It will be a cold, cruel and sorrowful December if the team cannot pick itself up. Even a draw against WBA in the next game is a defeat…

  6. +14 Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    This content is so beyond being “just a blog”. This is op-ed worthy of The Guardian or The Times (London, NY, LA or wherever).
    Superlative once again, congratulations.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    One other thing this season: we of course miss RvP, but more than that, we miss Song in midfield, the way he patrols in front of the back 4, and how he can deliver a killer pass. Does Arsene think he can dispense with Song because Diaby, Rosicky & Wilshere can take over? 
    I cannot be too sympathetic with Arsene, because he makes a lot of wrong decisions in recent seasons, buying a lot of dead wood(Chamakh, Squillaci, Gervinho) when previously he found gems…

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Absolutely. It was a bad call to have sold Song. Beyond the PR, Wenger knew we would be short but could not secure Sahin and made the mistake of losing Song before securing the Turk.

      With Diaby’s durability confirmed, it makes sense to bring in someone of similar ilk to replace Diaby long run (we won’t sell Diaby easy) and cover Sahin.

      Capoue is a good option without sacrificing height and physical presence, he is also dynamic going forward.

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Ironically, the “La Masia” model could only work in England with the sugar-daddy clubs. The only reason it works for Barca is because they’re one of two teams in the league, and they’re one of the most successful of all time. In England, the only desirable clubs for the most talented of youngsters (coming through any academy, let alone Arsenal’s) are the most successful…which also happen to be the oligarchy clubs + United.

    However, while the youth project certainly lies in tatters, I’m not sure the self-sustainable model is dead. This is something that time is still waiting to tell. It appears we’ll have substantial funds at our disposal very soon, and this is not money we’ve had to borrow or have gifted to us by an Uzbek billionaire. The fruits of the current model have yet to really materialize, but there are strong indications that they will. For me, the real test will be when we’ve paid off the stadium debt. Then we’ll see how competitive we are financially.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      PS: I say “ironically,” of course, because the sugar-daddy clubs in England have no interest in developing youth.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

      Stadium debt won’t be paid off for awhile, but the combination of FFP and new commercial deals should definitely put Arsenal’s resources in line with Man City’s and Chelsea’s, probably surpassing (I don’t see how City can make it, and Chelsea may have difficulty if they dont get out of group stages).

      I’d argue that last summer’s transfer business is already demonstrating that FFP is taking a bite. And Fernando Torres’ continued presence in the Chelsea lineup is evidence as well.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Ironically it is Arsenal that foreign club which now holds some of the best prospects for England’s future…granted Walcott may of course leave.

  9. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Jaymin

    FFP will end up hurting Arsenal more than Chelsea, as we are locked into having no remaining assets bar Wilshere and the Ox. As a lot of people starting implying in 2009 after our CL semi loss to United. We were mocked, told we supported some tyrant, based on the accusations of someone who had so much credibility, he posted them on his own, personal website. Had we taken the inevitable path Usmanov would have represented, we would have won the premier league by now, and probably the champions league. You self righteous ‘positive gunner’ types are all very elegantly changing your views now, but you should admit, that when it was still a contest, when it was still possible that we could be a top football team for years, you backed the side that gutted us, that destroyed us.

    1. +13 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Wow, the ultimate “I told you so”.

      This “celebratory” post of yours is a bit odd since it’s assuming that Usmanov would have done something different (you can not possibly know that – why hasn’t he just given the money to the club anyway?) and that whatever he did would have made Arsenal both champs and richer. You also assume that it’s game over for Arsenal and the only way forward is to whore ourselves out to the biggest billionaire (can’t we at least rate Carlos Slim and not some minor billionaire like Usmanov?).

      But the very worst part is that you are celebrating this supposed “downfall” of the club you claim to love because it strokes your ego by proving (only to you because we have no actual proof of anything) that you were right. It’s the ultimate “told you so” followed by the demand that we genuflect before your awesome prognosticating ability.

      Sorry, but it’s a little premature for your “celebratory” ejaculation here, Jaymin.

      1. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        If the theme seems celebratory (no quotations needed) then you’re willfully overlooking the unblinking support i have given the team over the years, evinced by posts here and elsewhere, and framing me as some sort of a masochist. it’s directed at those i feel have strengthened the hands of those who have weakened the club. that you equate my outburst with sexual imagery of one achieving climax says a lot more about you than it does about me. i’m not posturing when i state my opinions, i just state them, i don’t need to fit into some continuum in the Arsenal blogosphere, and watch what i say. this isn’t about me. that you project that what i want, what i’m after, is dogs’ praise for picking an opinion which eventually becomes popular, is, in the context of the fact that you run a blog which has slowly risen in prominence (and has always been my favorite) quite revealing..
        i did do theatre in high school, so i’ll commence with the histrionics: how dare you presume this decline which we are witnessing is in any way pleasing to me. really, Tim, your twitter bio is apt.

      2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Read our own words:

        “We were mocked”
        “we would have won the premier league by now, and probably the champions league.”
        “You self righteous ‘positive gunner’ types”
        “you backed the side that gutted us, that destroyed us.”

        I’m not sure if you’re the guy in the first post or the guy in the second post, Maybe you should have a sit down and think about the team a little and figure out what you really think.

        And yes, of course my words say something about me. Your words say something about you as well. Maybe you should read them a few times and have a crack at what that might be.

      3. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        Nor am I sure of what you’re saying. I don’t need to read the words, i wrote them. my opinion has not changed in 60 minutes. i expressed anger at a section of the support i feel has been cancerous. you responded by accusing me of grandstanding and pride of prediction. i retorted. you responded with a post quoting my original (3 inches up, i have a small monitor!) and basically condescending to me that i need to “look at myself,” whatever that means. if you’re going to condescend, it’s best to do it from on high, not with obfuscation. otherwise it just lowers the whole conversation. literally.

      4. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        I think you are forgetting the reason you started watching football. If a section of the club’s fans that support the club while it went down a path which led to no trophies, are to be dubbed a cancer, how then would you describe fans who would berate their club simply because they couldn’t win trophies? Fans who view the club’s success as their own but have no stomach to be part of the failures?

        Before you say it’s not about trophies, then how else could you justify referring to Arsenal as destroyed? We’re financially viable and aren’t going under, and we haven’t sold our soul and ethos either. Pretty football? That will return. Or it won’t. Arsenal will still remain.

      5. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        I share the frustration in our continued underperformance but not necessarily the doom and gloom.

        There are a lot of positives in place for the club to build on with a sound financial future and the money coming in from renegotiated sponsorship deals.

        nor have we been shy on spending either having shelled out 94m over last 2 summers.

        Granted we should continue to reinforce the holes in the squad but the environment hasn’t been easy for selling off players either which surely must add extra pressure on our wage structure when considering the addition of new players.

        As a club, we live within our means. I have no issue with that.

        I’d like to see a title and success on the pitch like anyone-else but beyond that I would like to see Wenger reconstitute the sort of football that made us an attractive side to watch and the sort of development that grew my interest in a team that once played successful total football.

        The plan has gone decidedly flat of late due to entrenched tactical ideals that have not kept up sufficiently with the modern state of the PL.

        Spending on new players is not the issue. Retention of key players is.

      6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1PositiveGunner

        I must say I find Jaymin’s posts a combination of funny, spoilt, confused and contradictory…he claims to support and then claims the ones who supported are a cancer to the club…he is whining about the downfall, demise and destruction of the club when the last few seasons have basically seen us succeed in every way barring that one shiny bit of silverware which we’ve just fallen short of (and we’re not far away from even now in this season)…in the end all i can conclude is that the impatience for silverware has eroded all logic, sense and support in some and that has led them to believe that support means demanding trophies at the cost of bringing in someone with as shady a background as usmanov and abandoning the very principles of the club that got us trophies and led people to getting so spoiled by success in the first place

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

      Ridiculous.

      I am not absolving Wenger and the Board from whatever decisions have hampered our success, but the sides that will be gutted and destroyed are in Manchester and West London and in the Spanish capital, not us.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        the Spanish sides with the highest revenues and best players in world football, the Manchester side that is building what will end up being the biggest academy in Europe? they’re going nowhere. the West London club might, though.

      2. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

        That Manchester side is fighting for its Europa League life this week. FFP will come for it most of all.

        They can never make money. They can never pretend to make money. They will not survive as they are. Being a Man City fan in a few years will be like being a Blackburn fan at the turn of the millenium. And they will scream “we want our Manchester City back.” And the answer will be: it isn’t yours anymore, but you can have an academy to teach your kids how to play for United.

      3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        the Manchester side which is defending champion? and UEFA are sharpening its knives for this club while its parent confederation prepares to hold its signature event in Qatar in 2022?

      4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

        Yeah, the team with the worst ever showing in the Champion’s League for an English side? That one.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Usamov. That’s a bit of a gamble.

      FFP is already making an impact on the continent with clubs like Milan having to sell their top players to balance the book and City curtailed this summer.

      Whether it will have the full impact that our board so desires is up for debate.

    4. Vote -1 Vote +1LOL

      Just out of curiosity, aren’t you the guy on twitter who gets so negative you claimed a couple of times that you believe Santi and Jack will be sold next summer

    1. Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

      Thinking of reggae great Lee “Scratch” Perry, here’s a lyric from him that may speak to the situation of Gooners everywhere:

      “I got soul fire
      And we ain’t got no water
      Soul fire
      Burnin’ in my soul
      Soul fire
      And we ain’t got no water”

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Once again Tim, superb article and definitely worthy of national publication.

    A few thoughts on the youth system:
    Could never really be duplicated in Britain because of the restrictions on the Academies in bringing in players from all regions and from all over the world. Barca has that luxury and therefore a far greater pool, especially at the younger ages where the foundation of proper technique, organization and structure need to be taught.

    The biggest problem with Arsene I readily surmise is that he never had a plan B and has been slow to change and meaningfully evolve to meet the challenges of a new age. I always keep going back to being a Project Manager for Chase and the need to always have one or more backup plans in order to mitigate unforeseen failures.

    Arsene didn’t.

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      Or there really was only one viable plan possible, keeping in mind the overall chosen strategy.

      I think there have been plenty of Plan B’s and playing it by the ear when it comes to Arsene and the club.(Within the overall parameters decided before) When the stadium was planned, there was no Abramovich. By the time his effect became apparent, the club were committed to move (and in any case, they needed to move) and to their own stadium, not Wembley.
      Arsene hadn’t planned to lose Flamini on a free and Hleb to Barcelona. To counter this destruction of a near title winning side (I will maintain the refs cost us that title) he probably decided to pay players like Diaby, Denilson etc just a little bit more so that a core of our team remains even if the stars have to be sold.
      Then also followed the recession and the property market fall. Which impacted the cash flow of the club, in turn calling for more improvisation, and more sales from the team.
      One final effort with the ‘youth’, and then complete overhaul. Also unplanned.

      He wasn’t really unprepared or caught by surprise. It wasn’t unforseen. He had said as early as 2007 that keeping the team together will be his greatest challenge, but that if he can, the reward will be substantial.

      When it was not to be, he went out and bought more senior players. Such as in the past 2 years. In the meanwhile the stadium was being paid off, and the old commercial deals (which were considered very good at the time they were signed) were in the process of renegotiation.

      He’s worked in trying circumstances, and I am not sure he had much room to maneuover a plan B as such. He had to be reactive since he couldn’t do anything to prevent any of the issues that came his way.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

        @Shard,

        It is a well documented myth that moving to the Emirates forced us to tighten our financial belts and that myth was destroyed by David Dein when he was still a Board member.

        In fact, the additional revenue gained from moving to the Emirates far surpassed our low repayment fees. Added to that, with the funds coming in from our real estate investments we had more money than at any other time in the history of our club and our payroll and profits have soared according.

        Agreed, we could not match the Abramovich or Mansour funds, but to say it put us in a lesser financial position is totally untrue.

        If you choose to refute this, please bring facts.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        There’s been a squeeze in the market place considering we have been true to our self sustaining principals.

        Teams with limitless resource have put pressure on our top players.

        Teams which would nominally help rid us of our rejects are unable to as we have been force to keep pace with the oil money clubs with wages.

        Hence the unhealthy cycle of squad renewal every season now.

        Some of it was beyond Wenger’s control. Others were managerial faults.

        Hopefully, Wenger will exercise some muscle this January and bring in a couple of needed reinforcements.

        But as we have seen with Swans, frankly, it’s not all about spending.

      3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        How did Dein bust any ‘myth’? Genuine question.

        The stadium move did bring increased funds. The stadium is paying for itself, was one of the official Arsenal lines that I remember. What did lead to us having to tighten our belts (relative to other clubs, not to our highbury days) was that wages went through the roof with Abramovich, and later City. Which meant our increased revenues weren’t really worth all that much. It also meant that we were tied into long term commercial deals while others negotiated deals much higher and made use of that (this includes clubs like Liverpool and Spurs, perhaps even Sunderland and Stoke) This in turn increased the pressure on the stadium being full. AT the same time, it meant we couldn’t spend to gamble on winning a title to keep the stadium full. The board were apparently conservative when planning the budgets. They budgeted for us to miss out on the CL once every 4 years I believe. Which is where the cash reserves come from. Some of which have to remain as bank security.

        The property side brought in some extra funds, and we’ve built a new medical centre and updated our training facilities. We’ve increased spending on wages (as you say yourself) What we didn’t do is spend all we have chasing a dragon.

        Look if you are saying the board purposely decided to not improve the playing side because they couldn’t be bothered, and that Arsene was an accomplice in that, then I’d ask you why you think so? Give me a hypothesis that makes sense.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1LES

    Tim. the analogy is its a league cup embarrassment. Terry neill was ‘disliked’ to a degree [peter nicholas was far worst than squillaci]. But arsenals board was liked for one reason. a new director called david dein. Wenger now has to win a cup (the coc looks easiest – swansea in fa, anyone in ecl or the title: could we really win these?) Arsenal fans would go mental IF we lost to bradford.
    I love Wenger, he’s been great but he needs to find his touch of winning. And the league cup is it

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      If you red my interview with Nick Hornby you would know that the last two managers to win the League Cup were fired.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1LES

        Sorry tim, that wrong. Mcleish wasn’t sacked by birmingham. Villa wanted his football style. Dalglish was sacked as much for buying dross than winning the cup. I feel winning the cup creates a winning ideal.
        For example, in 2006 Man utd won it by putting out a strong team. At the time Alex had gone 3 yrs without a trophy, and chelsea were cleaning up everything and arsenal still had a good team. Alex wanted a winning team and won the cup. A year later this translated in them winning the league. A winning habit is a good thing.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Yunny

    What’s amazing is if you played Football Manager in the last 4-6 years you could see this coming to. And by “this” I mean what’s happening to English football and teams who share the same vision as Arsenal.

  13. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff

    Thank you Tim for a beautiful and poetic piece.

    Arsene’s dream lies in tatters. Terribly sad and undeniably true.

  14. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1TheGunners...AhTheGunners

    Does anyone follow hockey, and the Toronto Maple Leafs? Because that’s where we may be headed.

    The Maple Leafs are the NHL’s most valuable franchise, charge the highest ticket prices and have the highest corporate sponsorship. But they are going on 8 years now of missing the playoffs, and haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the 1950′s.

    Now because of the “history” of the franchise, the financial commitment of its fan base, and the championship starved fans and media that follow the team with unmatched intensity, the Maple Leafs can’t attract anyone of decent quality to play there… despite their clear financial power. For players it’s simply not worth it, when they can go to clubs with a recent wining tradition, and less pressure on them.

    That’s where we’re headed if we aren’t careful – we’re near the tipping point. Arsenal may become a rich club, with a fading history of glory, but unable to piece together a new championship era under the weight of intense expectations.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1dano328

    Wonder how much it would cost to buy a huge billboard in Kronke’s hometown off a major highway SILENT STAN SELL ARSENAL
    I’m sure enough supporters could put together the funds for such an advert.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I don’t think board room instability is what we need at the moment.

      …the issues are on the pitch and frankly, it isn’t entirely about spending and squad depth.

      Retention is a key issue but when you consider that we have spent 55m two seasons ago and 39m this summer, juxtaposed against West Brom and Swansea, I would suggest to you that problems may lie elsewhere,

      …shortfall in squad granted (but most teams have deficiencies, including Swans who beat us without two of their best players and their first choice keeper)

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    We are in abject form at the moment but I’m not sure if its time to write epitaphs yet.

    We are not in the race for top position as per usual but the fight is not over for 4th (3rd would be a bonus)

    Yes, it is a far cry from where our aspirations should be but I do think we need to show a bit of fighting spirit as fans too.

    Much to fix but lets raise the spirits a little if anything to give the team the added guilt that hopefully would spark better fight.

    Wenger’s fate will likely be sealed if we miss on CL and continue to struggle next season. for the moment, the curtain has not fallen yet.

    ;)

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1PositiveGunner

      In a league that is run in the best way possible and enforces self sustainability in the clubs that are in it…one can hope that FFP and FA’s own FFP-type measures which have already been introduced in the lower leagues can take effect successfully here in england

  17. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1PositiveGunner

    People might not like it…but without Arsene and without the Emirates…we’d either be midtable or lower half at highbury…or worse, we’d be turning into another Chelsea if Dein got his way by abandoning all our principles…what Dein saw was right, but his approach to sorting it out was wrong because he wanted the shortcut of just getting in a billionaire, he lost sight of the Arsenal way of doing things and didn’t have the faith in the direction of the club to survive on its own feet even if that was the most ambitious direction…ambition doesn’t just mean following the trend, its to stick to your principles in the face of adversity to try and beat the trend…i’d rather be the club that opted to fight within its means in the face of bottomless pockets, than be another also ran owned by a billionaire who threw money to buy any success instead of earning it

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1arrogantmonkey

    Has anybody seen The Blizzard? Zach Slaton has an article in their about Arsenal and Arsene. Eye opener, maybe for some.

  19. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DD

    I was referring to this line “But Arsene and the board rejected that notion outright and Dein was fired.” It sounds like Arsene turned against DD.
    I have divided opinion on the subject. Yes, DD knew this would happen, but sharing Wembley still sounds bad.
    I agree that Arsene is alone and I think he chose to be the scapegoat. Maybe he thought that fans respect him enough so it would be the easier choice. Fact is, we don’t have the money to spend. Wenger is spending the exact same amount he was spending 10 years ago.

    Football took the wrong direction and sometimes I wonder is there a way back? Money are destroying the sport spirit and the true meaning of sport itself. Would we rather have some Oily boss? I know I wouldn’t.

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