Yesterday’s article has sparked a lot of debate, some name calling, and an interesting reaction from Arsenal fans on both side of the supposed divide. I want to follow up on a few thoughts.
1. The release clause: I think the Liverpool fans’ absolutist position on Suarez not having a release clause is based solely on the PFA interpretation. But it’s important to remember that the PFA ruling is just one interpretation. The other interpretation is that John Henry has bragged that Suarez had a release clause, Suarez and his team of lawyers believed they had a release clause, and Arsenal and their team of lawyers believed he had a release clause. What never happened was an actual test of that clause, through the courts, which Henry knew that Suarez wouldn’t do in a World Cup year. So, based on my evidence, I firmly believe there was a clause and that Liverpool refused to honor that clause. Based on the other side’s evidence, likely the PFA interpretation, they say there was no clause. Since we will never see this tested in court I can stand by my interpretation and be correct and so can they.
2. There’s a common misinterpretation that I am arguing against Arsenal spending money. This is almost certainly because I included the paragraph at the end about Arsenal’s bad luck with injuries and had earlier ridiculed Liverpool’s spending. This misconception happens because certain arguments about Arsenal and spending have become cliched. But here’s something you might not know: one can hold two beliefs simultaneously. For example, the argument that Arsenal’s injury record hurt our chances in the League is rock solid. But so is the argument that Arsenal should have bought more this summer and perhaps even in January.
The fact is that I have been calling for Arsenal to spend money for two years now, to the tune of £100m+. This is money that the club have (they don’t have to rack up debts) and with their public proclamations of newfound financial ability and dry powder have fashioned into a golden albatross to hang around Wenger’s neck. One could, then, read my lamentations about Liverpool’s spending not as a cry against spending but a cry in favor of spending because it is, it is again both.
Part of the reason Arsenal had such a huge problem with injuries in midfield was because, as Wenger himself admitted, Arsenal didn’t rotate enough. Ramsey, in particular was a huge miss and Wenger said ”Maybe we overplayed him a little bit, we should have rested him before he was injured.” Since I know how this works and that you won’t like that quote you can also go back to early December, before the injury to Ramsey, and see that Wenger knew Ramsey was getting tired. He even rested him on the 11th, just two weeks before he picked up the strain.
And there were a lot of injuries all at the same time, plus Giroud was caught with another woman, Flamini’s suspension, and suddenly things went from bad to worse. Some of that is down to luck, some of that is down to the fact that we didn’t buy a Luis Gustavo or Sven Bender in the summer, some is down to overplaying certain players, some is down to buying Kallstrom in January and having him come to us crocked. It is all of those things and spending some money would have helped a lot of them.
3. Here’s what I want to say about Financial Fair Play – Swiss Ramble thinks Liverpool will make it just fine under the FFP tests because they will be able to include their Champions League money, their increased revenue from partnerships, and their increase in prize and television money. Still, though, he was clear that they will not be able to write off the stadium planning money and that they will need to include the accounts for the last two years and their losses of £90m. We have to see how much more revenue they are bringing in with their new deals but I almost wonder if they will be able to spend a little on transfers and still break even? What they won’t be able to do is lose £50m again next season and not run afoul of FFP.
The reaction to this article has been interesting. I wrote it in a very open fashion which encourages multiple interpretations because that is how I feel — I see almost every side of every argument about Arsenal at the moment. This open writing allowed people to read into it whatever they wanted. For the Liverpool fans they wanted something to get upset at because that’s where their comfort zone is. For others they could read into my article a sense that financial prudence is the right way to go, or that financial prudence is the wrong way to go. But what is truly fascinating is that in over 100 comments I didn’t read a single person griping about my assertion that Arsenal should have done more to keep Cesc. It was, for me, the most controversial position in the whole piece and yet no one seemed to notice because they were too busy arguing contract law and the morality of spending money.
But winning the League isn’t about moral arguments or arguing contract laws, it’s about having the best players, keeping the best players, and getting the best out of those players. Something that Arsenal haven’t done well for at least 4 years now.