How do you solve a problem like Arsene?
Arsene Wenger intellectually is the smartest manager in the premiership
He can speak numerous languages and the extent of his football knowledge is vast. One further quality we can be sure about, is he is neither blind nor stupid. He will say he did not see a foul, when we know full well he did. This has become his trademark, his catchphrase and in it lays the secret to explaining the conundrum of Arsenal Football club.
Wenger does not have money to spend. There you go, I said it. Start from that premise and the rest shall become clear. The stadium cost hundreds of millions. The money Arsenal borrowed for the stadium was secured luckily years before the worldwide financial crisis. This doesn’t affect the amount we received but it will affect the payback period. At that time there’s no doubt Arsenal would have opted for a fixed rate for at least the first few years, which is fine. The problem lies in any renegotiations. Arsenal would have very little room to manoeuvre. The fact is Arsenal has to free themselves from the shackles of the bank before they can get back to being a free spending football club.
We can all do the maths; high season ticket prices, regular external events held at the stadium, and a consistent cash flow from Champions league TV rights. The money is definitely flowing in, what grates Arsenal fans is why does that not result in bigger signings, with the wages to match? Why do we not retain our players at all costs? Why can’t we just spend £20m and buy Gareth Barry etc.
Imagine the scenario, you have a £250k Mortgage with a Bank. You tell them, “I can’t pay this off any faster we simply don’t have the money!” whilst simultaneously buying yourself a brand new car each year, parked in full view on your driveway. Your excuses will not wash. Business men are not football men. The banks want their money back, they need it more than ever. A £200 million loan is no small shakes for any bank, let alone one that’s payback period that is tied to a sporting entity’s success, which is in no small part dependent upon the ability to spend money. Unless of course you can be successful without spending money. Step forward Arsene Wenger.
How can a manager that watched Vieira destroy midfields single handily believe Denilson can do the same? Does he truly believe Diaby can hold a flame to Petit, or finally that Djourou will develop into the next Sol Campbell? The answer is no. He wants them to be Denilson, Diaby and Djourou. The same way he wanted Anelka, Henry, and Vieira to find themselves and to be their own men. The weight of expectation is great and the players are not. His eagle eye allowed him to turn stones in diamonds and he is a victim of his success. The deserved accolade of the “Greatest nurturer of talent” hangs heavily around his neck.
Wenger wants to find the next bright spark, but not for his personal pride but out of necessity. There is no money. Why would he be willingly to wait 4 months between the summer transfer window and the January transfer window to save £3m on Arshavin unless it was absolutely vital. A footballing man would say, “If you wait till Winter, he will be cup tied for the Champions League” and business man would say “He’ll be cheaper”. Ivan Gazidis is the man at the top of the tree. He is not a footballing man he’s a business man. When he moves on, and his prospective employers ask him to outline his previous achievements, he will not refer to great victories or extended cup runs ending in success, the achievements will all be financial. The number of years of positive income growth, the reduction of long standing debtors and such like. Arsenal are a business and they make business decisions.
The players we currently have at Arsenal are not special. Infact they are woeful. Nasri, a poor man’s Pires and is frail of body and mind. Diaby is weak, and slow, his size is deceptive. He seems imposing but rarely does. Walcott is another Keiron Dyer in the making and at best a Jermaine Pennant of 2008/9 season’s standard. Wenger’s hands are tied. He wants to spend but the weight of expectation and the cost of failure weigh heavily on his shoulders. We’ve send the transformation of a man that was the epitome of calm, controlled, management under pressure, to being a highly strung, agitated, nearly man, yet is the only manager that can cope with the restrictions at the Emirates and he knows this. To leave Arsenal now would be a complete breach of his duty of care. Criminal almost, bordering on neglect. Arsenal need him more than he needs them, perhaps that’s an insight into the theme of the conversations he had with Cesc Fabregas.
The good news for Arsenal fans is this period shall not last forever. The debts will be soon repaid and then the true fight shall begin…for sole ownership. Another saga still to be concluded.