Busy Friday

Too.Many.Stories.

I could write a match preview for tomorrow’s game against Newcastle, I could talk about injuries, the Champions League Draw, Platini’s “Investigation,” Danny Fiszman’s transfer kitty, Clichy’s comments about the fans, and (of course) the ongoing saga of Arsenal’s lack of transfer targets.  Why on earth do they save up all these stories for Friday? More importantly, how do I condense all of this into one blog without writing 2000 words or (worse) just being a human RSS feed?

I have it!

I’ll have to write about the Platini Investigation thing as it’s own special column.  There’s just too much detail and too many interwoven stories here to simply include it in the daily update.  So, maybe this evening I’ll write a piece and you lot can have it on Sunday or something.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s see, I’ll do the match preview first thing in the morning, including an injury update.  Which really just leaves us with…

Transfer Madness

It really has been a crazy couple of days.  One day Arsene is saying that they won’t buy any more players and the next day he’s saying that he’s going to buy one or two — if they happen to fall out of a tree at midnight and land on his head AND they have the right price. Meanwhile, Danny Fiszman has said that Wenger has a £30m war chest if he wants it. What’s the truth?  Are they buying a £30m player today?

Personally, I think this is just posturing on the part of the board.  Arsene Wenger has never and will never pay £30m for a single player and they all know that.  So, Fiszman could have said £100m or £200m and it would have been the same.  Does Wenger have money to buy players?  After looking a lot of financials (in prep for the Platini article) I can say that I now have no doubt.  Does he have £30m to buy an established player who will come in and demand £150k a week in salary? That’s a little bit tougher.

See, Arsenal’s salary is already second in the league (Chelsea doesn’t count, their salary is so obscene at £140m it’s not so much “salary” as it is bribery) and their wages to turnover ratio roughly 50%.   They have managed this incredible feat not by short changing “lesser” players but by having a stratified salary that pays everyone well.  The way they go about setting salaries isn’t just some “thing” they’ve done: it’s their team philosophy.  But you don’t have to take my word for it, Fiszman admitted it himself:

This constant suggestion that the stadium is bleeding us dry is crap. The reality is our wage bill is very similar to Manchester United, substantially above Liverpool and substantially below Chelsea – but that is to be expected. We pay good salaries, but we pay them more evenly, so we do not have extremes of very high and very low wage-earners. There is an ethos of a team effort.

If they brought in another big name player with big name salary demands they would have to either change their whole philosophy, just flat out lie, or they would have to change the whole salary structure to keep everyone happy.

That’s why this summer has been so difficult.  Their philosophy drives the business, which is the only sustainable model and ultimately the more rewarding model.  The team didn’t break the salary structure when Flamini demanded it.  They also didn’t break the structure for Adebayor.  Clearly the whole club is sticking to this salary structure philosophy.  What would it say to the team if they suddenly changed their minds?  I literally think that change would destroy all club cohesion.  Which is the problem when you sell everyone on a philosophy.  You have to then remain consistent with that philosophy.  So, philosophically, I cannot see them buying a big name player.

More importantly, does Arsene Wenger have the will, the desire, to buy an established, big name, high salary player?  Given all the quotes over the last two weeks I would say the answer to that question is a resounding “NO.”  When asked about transfers on Wednesday he got visibly upset and started ranting about £40m players

It is not one player who makes a difference. It is up to us as a team to show personality, strength and belief. If we can find one more, we will do it, if not we will not limit our ambitions because of it.

So, it’s clear that the board, the manager, and the players are aware of our complaints.  It’s also clear that they are not buying a big name, regardless of Fiszman’s latest £30m pledge.  It’s just not in their plans.

That said, I remain hopeful that Wenger will sign someone on Sunday.  Most of the names that the team has been closely linked to are not going to figure in these last two days: Inler is outler as he just signed a new deal, Barry is staying at Villa this year, Gerrard is hurt and so Liverpool NEED Alonso, besides which he was only on offer in order to finance the Barry deal which isn’t happening now, de Guzman was ruled out by Arsene today, and so who is on the radar?

I don’t know, to be honest.  It seems like no one knows; except Arsene.  He always knows, right?