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Arsenal: What Really Is The Cost Of Success?

I went to bed this week in the knowledge that Gael Clichy, Arsenal’s last remaining member of the invincible team, had left the club.

This wasn’t necessarily a negative thing, Gael Clichy has been a noble servant of Arsenal F.C for 8 years and we all wish him the best in his vastly more financially prosperous life – in 2010 the very same Gael spat out the same cliché (no pun intended) about how Adebayor left for the sake of money, funny how two years later they are now at the same club (I’m not cynical, I was just saying). But on awakening, it suddenly dawned on me that from the heights of 2004 Arsenal have gone through a complete and utter metamorphosis both on and off the pitch – not necessarily for the better.

The playing staff has been overhauled and many of the players now in and around the first team have had a major part of their careers developed at Arsenals lower levels. Gone are the superstars and household names. The only remembrance of the pre-silverware barren period are the fancy pictures hung up at Club Level at Emirates. Below are a series of some of Wenger’s more famous quotes and how they have now come back to bite Wenger and everyone associated with Arsenal F.C.

Fans will not stand for is a unsuccessful team with the potential to be great achieving mediocrity while at the same time charging one of the highest prices in the industry.

“We do not buy superstars. We make them.” – September 2007

Arsene Wenger said this not long after the likes of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddy Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira and Nicolas Anelka had all been sold after becoming household names and had contributed to the success at Arsenal. Although that same comment is still true, Arsene has somewhere along the line lost sight of the fact that winning enables you to retain the superstars that he has created.

Arsenal are in danger of becoming a club that creates stars only until they can attract a bigger club a few years later. Have Arsenal become a feeder club to Manchester City, the same way Spurs are a feeder club to United? It is almost a foregone conclusion that Fabregas and Nasri will leave the club this season, but the latter is close to setting a dangerous precedent… play well for half a season and use Arsenal as a stepping stone to bigger things. When did we become a stepping stone for players to move on to more successful clubs?

“What is unbelievable is that I am in a position where people reproach me for making a profit. The people who lose money – nobody says a word. Reproach the people who lose money. I do business by managing in a safe way in a healthy way and on top of that you reproach me for making money. It looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money.” – Sep 2010

It is clear that Arsenal have had to do a lot of work behind the scenes to continue functioning as a self-sustaining outfit. The move to the Emirates was to signal a new era for Arsenal, an era characterized by success on and off the field. A move to enable Arsenal to challenge at the very top of the game.

As a business Arsenal F.C. are one of the best, reducing debt year on year while maintaining a tight wage structure and recruitment policy. However, when ticket prices have been increased and there has been a £21,000,000 net gain on transfers over the past 5 seasons, the fans are right to wonder whether the business or the sporting side takes precedent. Fans will pay whatever is necessary to see their team play. What they will not stand for is a unsuccessful team with the potential to be great achieving mediocrity while at the same time charging one of the highest prices in the industry.

“There are not many players in the world who will make a real difference.” – Interview with The Times and Daily Mail 2009

The above comment explains clearly Arsene Wenger’s frugality in the transfer market. Maybe he is egotistic and arrogant for thinking that he can turn a good player into a great players and, by the same logic, a good team into a trophy winning team. To be fair to him though, he has shown his ability to do that (1998-2005). But maybe Wenger should be accused of not moving with the times, not understanding what positions are so crucial to a team that only the best will do (here’s to Manuel Almunia, who in any other sport would be a laughing stock and would not have played more than 3 games).

Not being able to identify where the club do not have a good enough replacement for world class players. I’m 100% with Wenger on the whole ‘there aren’t that many world class players’ but I’m where we tend to differ is that I have an almost unbreakable belief that some of the players he rates are absolute garbage (sorry Nicklas).

Wenger must start to understand that his philosophy, although noble, has detrimentally affected the future of the club. Nobody can know for sure if he has been forced to adopt this philosophy, but one thing I know for sure is that the fans will make him change it if success does not come soon. Having said all that, us fans know that we aren’t going anywhere else. We may moan and groan but we’ll still turn up every week to watch ‘The Arsenal’ bowl a team over 4-0 before losing away to a relegation candidate the following week.

We sign up the highs and lows as football fans and honestly… we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I leave you with one final quote.

“We were considering him (Ruud van Nistelrooy) and Francis Jeffers and, in the end, we went for Jeffers”

Gotta love the wiry old Frenchman. COYG

Submitted by TLWOF


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