Let’s talk about risk, baby

Less than a week after his last firestorm died down, Ivan Gazidis gave yet another interview which seemed to contradict the Arsenal manager and vex the Arsenal supporters. This time speaking to the New York Times, Gazidis doubled down on the idea that Arsenal lack the firepower to compete with the big guns in the transfer market. He argued that Arsenal can’t afford to take risks and that, even more extraordinarily, that while Arsenal are aiming to win the League title, they “have to win the right way.”

That last bit about “winning the right way” has been left out of the discussions I’ve read but for me is actually the most dangerous component of his argument.

Our objective is to win the major trophies, and to put the club in a position where it can consistently compete for the major trophies. And I would add, very importantly for us, to do it in a way that’s consistent with our club values.

We believe, fundamentally, in giving a chance to young players. We believe, fundamentally, in playing aggressive, attractive football. We believe, fundamentally, that we should conduct ourselves as a football club in the right way, in a way that makes our fans proud. So I would say, winning is imperative, but for us it’s not enough to win. We have to win in the right way. And that’s an even higher, more ambitious goal, but that’s something we’re convinced that we can do.

Then he talks about not having enough money to compete…

Let me give you an example: this year we’re investing over 20 million pounds in developing our facilities: our training ground for young players and our academy and the main training ground. Those are investments that are being made for the long-term future of the football club, for the next 10, 15, 20 years. And we’re making those decisions in exactly the same way, and Arsène is actively involved in them, even though he probably won’t see the fruits of all of those investments.

We would not be successful if we simply went out into the transfer market and tried to outgun our competitors. We’re run in a self-sustaining way, and a way that we believe in, because we believe it gives us certainty for the future, and enables us to plan our future with confidence. That means we can’t afford to make huge mistakes in the transfer market. We can’t afford to outgun competitors that have far more money to splurge on transfer fees than we do. So we have to be very careful, very selective about how we do things.

I’ve been writing about Arsenal now for 8.5 years. Most nights I go to bed, I read about Arsenal. Last night I started reading Addicted by Tony Adams. Most mornings I read a few thousand words about Arsenal, to stay current on the news. Most afternoons I spend my tea break reading about Arsenal. I research Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in my spare time. I know Wenger’s history, I know Arsenal’s history. I know that Arsenal have always done things their own way and I appreciate that Arsenal have always done things their own way. But what Gazidis is saying here is a bunch of, to quote America’s greatest ever vice-President Joe Biden, malarkey.

First, investing in youth is not mutually exclusive to investing in mature talent. In fact, if you read any book by any player they will tell you how important it was to have older, experienced, talent around them when they were learning their trade.

More that that, you don’t give a young player a chance, they take their chance. If they can win the position from the older, more mature, more physically developed player, then they deserve the position. That is exactly what happened with Hector Bellerin. No one gave him anything. He took the right back position away from Mathieu Debuchy.  That is exactly how football works: you buy an experienced player like Debuchy and if a better young player comes out of the academy, and he earns the right to play, then fair play to him.

Second, it is enough to win the Premier League. This notion that we not only have to win but we have to do it while burdened with some moral rucksack is absurd. No one is talking about Arsenal doping. Ok? No one is even talking about Arsenal financial doping, spending more than we earn. Ok? So, what is this “right way” that Gazidis wants from Arsenal? To win the Premier League without a full squad? To win the Premier League while holding up the “net transfer spend trophy?” Or while holding up the “we-develop-youth-the-best cup”?

And what about Arsenal’s youth development program? Has it been a success? Can Arsenal even hold that trophy?Southampton has a highly successful youth program, we should know, we buy a lot of our young players from them. I think they might have a claim to the best academy in England.

And finally, let’s talk about this notion of “risk.” Gazidis is claiming that he’s risk averse and that’s why Arsenal aren’t going to be spending money willy-nilly in the transfer market. But there are actually three risks here that need to be assessed: the risk of wasting money, the risk of not spending money, and the risk of not investing.

The risk of wasting money at Arsenal is pretty minimal. More than any other club, Arsenal have money to burn. £200m. No one is suggesting that Arsenal should spend half of that on Paul Pogba, who is a pretty big risk and doesn’t fill a needed place in the team. But sensible risks that fill needed roster slots — a center back, a wide forward, and a mobile center forward — are absolutely needed. Arsenal just bought Granit Xhaka for £35m, that was a huge risk, but he filled a needed spot because Arteta retired.

The risk of not spending money is, I think, greater than the risk of losing money on a player. I would understand Gazidis being risk averse if Arsenal didn’t have £200m in the bank, but Arsenal are so flushed with cash that they can plonk down £20m on nicer academy facilities. I’m pretty sure they have the money to lose a few million here and there on some bad purchases.

Even more importantly, if Arsenal don’t invest in crucial areas this summer, Arsenal will be left behind. And by that I mean that Arsenal will not be in the Champions League next season. Gazidis identified that consistency as crucial to the success of the club, because it gives Arsenal a chance to win the League. But if Arsenal do not invest in a goal scorer, at the very least, I think they run a huge risk of being out of the League title race before December and risk once again another season of barely limping into the Champions League places.

They also run the risk of losing money on players like Özil and Alexis. I don’t mean that those two players would leave, though I would imagine if Arsenal don’t invest this summer and if Arsenal fall out of the top four they will be looking for new clubs. I mean that Arsenal invested heavily in those two players. By failing to invest further and build a team around them that can win trophies they are wasting that investment. This is my third risk, the risk of not investing.

Fans don’t want to hear the story about how Arsenal don’t have the money: we know Arsenal have the money. Fans don’t want to hear about how we are going to win the League but we are going to do it with some self-imposed moral backpack weighing us down: we want to win the League the same old way everyone else wins the League. Fans and players don’t want to hear about Arsenal being afraid of spending money!

I think Gazidis has this exactly wrong. Arsenal have £200m in the bank. The risk of them losing a few million on a player who isn’t perfect pales in comparison to the risks Arsenal face if they go another season without investing in the key areas that Arsenal desperately need.

Qq

57 Comments on Let’s talk about risk, baby

  1. With that much money in reserve, Gazidis’ claims are absurd. Unless he’s being instructed by Kroenke to keep the money in the bank, and this is him spinning it? I just can’t understand why he’d say these things. It’s so at odds with the reality of our accounts that you can’t even file this under “getting the excuses in early” for when we don’t buy what we need this summer.

  2. Tim,

    Very well broken down into the various risk segments, and I agree with you. Arsenal can afford a few mistakes, and should go into ‘win now’ mode.

    However, I think Gazidis statements are a reinforcement of Arsenal’s strategic vision. It’s a policy statement. He’s saying we can’t compete with our rivals if we make it a battle of the wallet AS A RULE. Not that we can never do it, or that we don’t have the money to buy the players we need right now.

    I quite like Arsenal’s policy. You may laugh or despair over the ‘right way’, but I think it is part of the Arsenal brand (if you’re a cynic) and Arsenal’s charm (if you’re a romantic) When Gazidis says that our ‘values’ are also what make us a global draw, I believe him. Why? Because it is part of the reason I became an Arsenal fan, rather than a ManU one who were marketing themselves as ‘winners’. Arsenal were also winners, but more understated, more…classy.

    Also, about giving young players a chance vs them taking it. I think it’s a bit of both. Look at Mourinho at Chelsea. He didn’t have 1 player for someone like Bellerin to compete against, he had 2. And if that didn’t work, he still would turn to the transfer market instead of his academy. The intention to look towards the academy has to be there. After that, it is up to them to take their chance. But they need a chance. Plus, the market dictates that Arsenal, not being in the tier 1 clubs, also need to keep looking at youth purchases and academy graduates for value.

    I see nothing to get worked up about in Gazidis’ statements. This is how Arsenal operate. It is simply a reiteration. Now, if it means we don’t buy at least a striker (and now a CB especially since Wenger said we’re looking) then that is a problem. But I don’t think that is due to Arsenal’s general policy. (Although how conservative they are within that policy might be a problem)

    • I understand the philosophical underpinnings of Gazidis’ position. You are giving him way too much credit and leeway here.

      The fact is that Arsenal aren’t building from the academy and also not building from the transfer market.

      Last season, Arsenal lost the League because they refused to buy needed components to compete. They followed this exact argument put down by Gazidis and instead of buying competition for Walcott/Ox/Iwobi/Giroud they went into the season with just one purchase.

      And we are going to do the exact same this season.

      • No we’re not. And if we do, I’ll join you in saying that something’s wrong at Arsenal.

        I think Arsenal are at a tipping point right now. If they claim they want to win, they need to prove it. Not by going wild in the market, but by addressing certain needs. We may not all agree on what those needs are, but I think a striker is unanimous. With Per’s injury, I suppose so is a CB. Plus a winger, though that is less unanimous as a need.

        This doesn’t have to mean abandoning our long term vision. But yeah, we need to look to win now.

        By the way Tim, I left you a link at the end of the previous article. It may or may not be of interest, but I thought of you when I came across it, so put it there.

      • A) I don’t think it’s at all obvious that we beat spurs, city, pool, Chelsea, United (who all invested heavily in their squads) but finished behind leicester fitr the sole reason that we ‘refused’ to buy players.

        B) Hindsight gives an illusory sense of clarity. I for one was pretty happy going in to the season with Ox, Walcott and Campbell competing on the right for example. That didn’t work out so well.

        C) say for the sake of argument you’re right, it’s way too premature to say we will not buy more players. All the signs are that we are very active.

      • Minor quibble: 2nd isn’t “losing the league”. The teams that lost the league were relegated. We were 2nd.

        That said, I emphatically concur with your assessment that not buying at least Mahrez and ideally him plus a fast striker would be riskier than standing pat, especially given the need to convince Ozil and Sanchez to renew their deals.

  3. So what you’re saying is that Arsenal should about brag how much money they’ve got? That doesn’t sound like a great way to negotiate transfer deals to me, but clearly you know better.

  4. Is the comments Gazidis’s is making more for the club’s we are trying to buy players from.
    Like we are not man city , chelsea or man utd so don’t look for the kind of money you’d expect from them.

    • But this is plainly obvious to everyone. Even the most casual fan of football — let alone the management team of a selling club — knows that Arsenal aren’t one of the sugar daddy clubs, so I can’t imagine it is this that motivates Gazidis’ words.

      On the other side of the coin, though, is the fact that even if we aren’t a sugar daddy club, it’s obvious that we DO have the money to make big purchases. Our finances are not a secret, and the TV money is coming in hand over fist. If what Gazidis is saying is subterfuge, it’s remarkably disingenuous, and, well…pointless.

      No, I think this is a message for the fans, not for selling clubs. In my opinion, Gazidis is trying to manage our expectations, albeit clumsily.

      • This is what it looks like to me also, I’d add that he’s as convinced as most of us Wenger will do what is necessary. Last summer was quite the eye opener.

      • Wenger is not going to touch the TV money
        I’m 100% sure of that. He knows that everybody knows about the TV money. so this year there is going to be a huge inflation on the prices of all players.
        He is going to invest that money on something long term, something that other clubs will ignore

        • Fair comment, although it implies that the current fees bandied around (not just those for Pogba and Higuain, but £40m+ on tier 2 strikers) are a temporary spike.

          To me it seems the TV money will only serve to accelerate the expectations (transfer fees and wages) of players and agents. The numbers may get bigger, but the revenue/costs ratio are more or less the same.

          What if this is the reality, as jarringly obscene as it may be right now? We can’t simply wait it out because it seems undignified to participate.

          • It’s a bubble, not the new reality. Right now live sports is the best guarantee of tv ad revenue, but as viewing options move to a la carte from bundled packages the bundle will burst and this may come crashing down, and clubs that lived within their means will look real prescient. Which is not to say we shouldn’t buy anyone, but just that we shouldn’t buy higuain for 90 mil. If we got 2 of lacazate/draxler/mahrez/jese/similar options plus already getting xhaka and holding, that would be an excellent summer. If we get one more that would be satisfactory but not splendid, and he’d have to be versatile a la welbeck (and oh how I wish he was fit).

  5. The final point about the risk of not investing is a compelling one, but alleviating that risk requires some refined management skill, don’t you think? That is, Arsenal need more players at the level of Özil and Sanchez to capitalize on the investments in those two, but the new players can’t be compensated at a level way beyond where Özil and Sanchez are. Otherwise, you have a toxic situation.

    Because transfer fees and wages have inflated so dramatically–and let’s not forget Özil’s transfer fee was the highest paid by any Premier League club in the summer of 2013–keeping the compensation in line with Özil’s and Sanchez’s is tricky.

    So you negotiate new deals with the two stars, boosting their compensation. If you then negotiate with other players you want to keep to maintain the comp structure, you can pretty quickly reduce that cash balance (which is undeniably huge but not £200 million for transfer and wage expenses based on any reasonable accounting).

    I’m not saying this can’t be done. It can. Getting it done is one reason Gazidis and Wenger are compensated at the levels they are. I’m just saying it is a challenging risk to manage.

    The truly puzzling aspect to me is how someone with Gazidis’s proven skill in public relations has botched his messaging here. Who was the audience? What was he trying to persuade those groups of people to think or do?

    It couldn’t have been Arsenal fans or the football media because everyone knows the score already. Gazidis sounds here like a CEO trying either to prepare potential investors for an IPO (all the stuff about fundamental beliefs) or to reassure existing investors about expense management. There is only one investor that matters, and maybe Gazidis is trying to manage up via the US media. Such efforts rarely end well.

    Maybe that interpretation is too speculative, but I’m led there by my inability to discern any rationale for Gazidis’s communications.

    • This was a NYT interview. Gadzidis was trying to explain Arsenal to a US audience. Our approach to try to win ‘the right way’ is our identity, our USP. I can understand how this kind of talk could upset fans who already know the story, and who in the absence of real news are frantically doing kremlinology, looking for nuggets of meaning in bland pr pronouncements.

      • That’s a reasonable explanation. He did run a big PR risk reintroducing the club in such a way to the US audience, which I’m not sure is ripe for exploitation at this point.

  6. Arsenal do very little of brand building too. Pogba for 100mn is not a football signing. It’s a signing to attract the next generation of fans to Utd. Half of Utd’s fans are because of Beckham and Ronaldo. Pogba can fit in that category… especially if he wins a title.

    Our model has seen us stagnate and recede instead of grow as a brand. In fact the unrest among a lot of die hard Gooners is a case in point, while we don’t sign any great – forget world class – players, our opponents are overtaking us. The world is changing and if we don’t change with it then we’ll go the way of dying brands.

    • Arsenal’s brand receding? What is the measure of this?

      Arsenal, very consciously, occupy a branding space which isn’t centred around stars and big purchases. There most definitely is a market for this.

      Worried about Arsenal’s on field chances, I get. Worried about their brand at this point, I don’t.

      • It’s important to build your brand as a football club because it brings in money. But I quite like Shard’s point that Arsenal’s reputation as a club, which is markedly different from United’s, is valuable and attracts certain types of fans.

        • If we continue in the same manner I don’t see new fans running to becoming Gooners. Let’s be honest, a lot of the Arsenal fans wouldn’t be so had it not been for our success in the early 2000s and then the Invincibles. But since then Chelsea and City have come in the market and made progress by leaps and bounds. If we don’t change with the times there’s not a competitive future for us.

          Forget the 100million signing, we haven’t replaced RVP yet, while our rivals have already done so – whether it’s a success or a failure is another story, but it did show intent. No one’s clamours for us to spend 100m on one player, but there’s easily 4-5 players out there who could improve our strike force and not cost a bomb. Hell, even Griezmann was available for 42m before the Euros.

          Jersey sales, attacking football, competitive spirit and hope, all of these would’ve been the result of signing the Griez. Money can’t play as a Striker and CB, can it?

          And a lot of our fans are fed up with our parsimonious approach.

          • A Cesc era startup here….

            BTW, RVP wasnt bought. He had talent and was signed as a youngster. He was made RVP here.

            I dont understand why people ignore the signing of Ozil, Alexis and Xhaka? Was it because we dint have to outbid a rival to get them?? Have you guys wondered what the price of Alexis and Ozil would’ve been had the market known they are up for grabs? We outmaneuvered our opponents, which is a better transfer strategy than out bidding.

    • Man, you have to be pretty uninformed to be attracted by a “brand” that is all about “we spend 100 mil to buy back people we were too stupid to hold on to initially.”

    • If Arsenal aren’t brand building what the hell are they doing in California at this very moment?

  7. I said on a previous post that Gazidis’ comment about not being able to live with the big boys is true. I still believe that. If we’re in cash battle with United or City for a player, we’re going to lose.

    However some of what you quote deserves closer examination. The first quote from Gazidis employs nonsensical logic. If we bought a forward tomorrow (something we need) for 80m it would not be mutually exclusive from “giving a chance to young players”, nor would it be the opposite of “(conducting) ourselves as a football club in the right way, in a way that makes our fans proud.”

    Ambition and decisiveness in the market in addressing KNOWN weaknesses are two attributes that would right now make fans proud. Put a spring in our step for Game 1, signal that we mean business.

    Buying in the positions in which we are weak is also not mutually exclusive from winning in the “right way.” What the fuck IS the right way? Our main CF may not be quite match fit because he’s coming back late. Our main goalscorer is still injured after playing for Chile, Welbeck is absent long term and Theo failed in the role.

    The inability to get forward reinforcements is nothing to be proud of, Ivan.

    So while I agree with some of whta Gazidis said, he is in other instances talking shit. He’s stringing together a series of unconconnected ideas that make no logical sense.

  8. Where these interviews given to the American media? If so, this really might be just a ‘THIS IS WHO WE ARE’ advert for the American public’s consumption. Not the established fans, but the casual fans who might tune in for the MLS All star game, and are intrigued by Arsenal (it is an intriguing name)

    • “This is who Arsenal are: a club that only wants to win if we win the right way (with some rules that not everyone has agreed upon and that no one else adheres to). Oh, and also, we can’t compete with the big clubs in transfers.”

      If that is branding, he just branded Arsenal as a small club.

      We can compete in the market. We can compete in wages. We choose not to compete because “it’s against our values”.

      This is more of the same “we don’t buy superstars; we make them” crap.

      • And yet, that crap sold T-shirts.

        As I said Tim, you can disagree with it all you want, but I believe Arsenal brand themselves this way and it gains them fans.

        No, this isn’t about being a small club. The ‘right way’, ‘values’ are deliberately vague statements which can mean whatever you want them to. You’re carrying the burden of frustration of past transfer windows. It isn’t aimed at you. You’re already hooked. It’s aimed at getting new fans. Bad strategy? Arsenal’s growing sponsorships and FB and Twitter followers (which were mentioned by Gazidis on the MLS interview) would disagree.

        And look, winning ultimately is important. That is what cements fandom. While you focus on Gazidis saying we can’t compete, he also said winning is imperative and not only is it imperative, it isn’t enough. We need more. Style, Class, Values blah blah.

        But being a big fish, which is still a bit of an underdog, has its own charm. It’s kind of the hipsters choice. Which is why Dortmund and Atletico have been gaining fans too. A bit of glory, a bit of glamour, but not too much so as to be seen as the big bad bully.

        • I disagree. A club like Arsenal, who have the high visibility, wages, and history that we have don’t need some marketing ploy to gain supporters. Winning is ultimately all that fans care about. Chelsea have built around that. Man City have built around that. Arsenal built around that. We wouldn’t have the stadium ewe have now if not for that run of 8 years when I was becoming an Arsenal fan. Sure, I was an odd duck who picked Arsenal over Man U but that whole idea that I was picking an “underdog” is frankly bullshit. Arsenal were a huge club and I was attracted to them because they won. I didn’t pick a small club, I picked one of the greatest clubs in English history.

          He’s not trying to sell us this idea that we are underdogs. He’s just making excuses for not spending money.

          And actually, this branding loses them fans. I know plenty of people who are tired of the song and dance about how we are plucky underdogs. We aren’t plucky underdogs. We are perennial top 4 finishers with no hope of winning the Champions League.

          Meanwhile, we sit around with £200m in the bank. More than any other club in history. And spend lavishly on the academy.

          I really hope this isn’t their marketing strategy. It’s one of the dumbest marketing strategies I’ve ever seen.

          • Is it possible in this day and age to lodge a gentle clarification of one point? The way you write about the £200 million cash balance implies the club has that much to spend on transfers. That’s simply not the case. The Arsenal Supporters Trust, no mouthpieces of the party line, estimate the total available for transfers and additional wages is £96 million.

            Now, it’s unlikely that Arsenal would commit to pay an entire transfer fee up front, so even a Pogba-level deal wouldn’t upend the balance sheet right away. If the transfer fee were £100 million with a five-year contract, the amount would be in the range of £20 million a year plus wages. Paying him £250k a week gets him to around a £33 million expense per year.

            The balance sheet might be able to handle that for a limited period of time, but probably not that plus the increased salaries of everyone else in the squad that inevitably follow.

            I’m not suggesting you don’t understand these dynamics, simply asking for a little nuance in the “£200 million in the bank” line.

          • Yes, we have £200 million to spend. The AST estimates close to £100 million because we still have a debt of £100 million – one that we don’t need to repay all at once. With the TV money coming in, Arsenal can spend the full £200 mil without a problem.

          • I specifically said winning cements fandom, and that being a big club is part of the popularity. So I don’t know why you would think that’s any contradiction there.

            As to the ‘underdog’ aspect, let’s face it, Arsenal aren’t the biggest club there is. Not in the world and not in England. So, if ALL that fans care about is winning and supporting the huge club, what reason does anyone have to pick Arsenal? Why is anybody an Arsenal fan at all?

            Guess we’ll just have to disagree. Maybe I’m wrong and that isn’t Arsenal’s brand image, their USP as Greg called it. Or maybe I’m right, but Arsenal are wrong to pursue this strategy. And maybe you’re right in that Arsenal won’t spend some fucking money, though it seems bizarre that this would be their ‘spin’ because no one, not even supporters of their model and record (like me), is buying it.

            Or perhaps, Arsenal actually know how to build their brand seeing as they’ve grown that a fair bit in the past few years even without winning the biggest trophies.

            Ultimately, as I said before, Arsenal have to show they are in it to win it, and that includes addressing weaknesses in the squad through the transfer market. I think they will.

          • “Winning is ultimately all that fans care about.”

            Nah. I started following arsenal in 2006, and have only grown to appreciate them more. I ain’t trying to back a team like the Yankees or the lakers or the merengues or chelski, rich mofos who just buy success. Rosicky made me notice arsenal, but their we-don’t-just-buy-success model and their slick football helped comvince me “they” were worth being “we”. If we start signing real scumbags, I’d question my commitment even if we won with them (eg suarez).

            Again, i’d still like to buy some more players this summer*, but I concur with 900ft gooner that not all of that 200 mil is for transfer fees.

            *names I liked at the beginning of summer but haven’t seen linked (some of whom have now already moved): jese; vietto, fekir, volland, mahrez, bellrabi, alcacer.

  9. Tim,

    Both Arseblog and yourself came out with articles today dissecting Gazidis’ interview. I think you have both made valid points, many of which speak to the concerns of almost every Arsenal fan but I do think you are reading a little too much into it. Here is my 2c on this:

    First of all, let’s think about IG’s role in the club. He is the CEO and a big part of his job is managing expenses and as well as managing expectations with regards to those expenses. Take the phrase “have to win the right way” for e.g. At first it sounds like hubris. After all, it’s not like we have some decree from the heavens to play football a certain way. Also, it’s vague and fans really don’t care about winning the “right way”, whatever that is. My guess is that as CEO, the “right way” for him is another way of saying “spending wisely” and not much more than that. Maybe style is a part of it, but that’s just him buying into Wenger’s ethos.

    Let’s also think about how “we can’t afford to make big mistakes” in the transfer market. This is something both yourself and Arseblog wrote about broadly. I agree with you that the risk of not spending money is greater than the risk of losing money on a player. You also gave Paul Pogba as an example. I think that’s key. “Big” is a very relative term these days. Higuain went for almost €90 million. I think those are the types of risks Gazidis is alluding to. £35 million on Xhaka is not much of a risk given 1) our need for a player in that position and 2) the insanity of transfer fees. Yeah we have £200 million in the bank but what does that get you these days? Two Higuains and you are done. I do think we have to be careful in how we spend that money because going after Higuain might have been a very costly mistake (and I was one of the most vociferous proponents of bringing him to the Emirates a couple of season ago when his transfer fee made sense).

    At the end of the day, the buck stops with Wenger so I don’t take IG’s comments too seriously. If Wenger decides that Mahrez is worth £50 million pounds, we are going to buy him. It’s almost painfully obvious that Gazidis has full faith in Wenger. If we don’t buy anyone for the rest of the summer, it won’t because Gazidis thinks we need to “win the right way” or “can’t afford to make big mistake”, it will be because the asking price of the player didn’t meet Wenger’s valuation. So as negative as I am with anything Arsenal related these days, I’m not letting this bother me.

    In the meantime, can we please laugh at Nasri:
    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jul/28/samir-nasri-friendlies-weight-issues-pep-guardiola-manchester-city

  10. Arsenal take risks. They love to take risks. This idea that Arsenal can’t risk the money on Higuain because they are being too conservative with their money is just wrong.

    Arsenal paid £10m for Walcott. He’s been with Arsenal for 10 years. In the last three years he has earned £17m in salary. Arsenal have taken a huge risk on this player over the last 10 years. He has been a £50m risk that has absolutely not paid back. Maybe this is his year.

    What about the risk Arsenal took last year in not signing anyone except Cech?

    Welbeck was a risk that we jumped at at the last minute.

    Playing Bellerin was a risk, one that paid off in having Bellerin but also lost money because we are going to sell Debuchy.

    Developing Song was a risk, one which paid off. Developing Cesc and Nasri and RvP was a risk, ones which didn’t really pay off like they should have.

    Building the new stadium and banking on FFP to force clubs to stick to their budgets was a risk.

    In essence, everything the club does is a risk. And I’m not sure that they are nearly as careful as they like to say that they are.

    • I would also add that it’s idiotic that the club’s reps are talking about not having money when we spent £20 mil for Chambers, £15 mil for Chamberlain, £10-15 mil for Walcott and £12 mil for Gervinho. Are they seriously claiming that we couldn’t offer £10 million more for Higuain and Suarez? And if so, then how about they take some fucking responsibility and stop blaming the oligarch clubs. It’s a nice idea, that we’re being run over by cash-rich clubs but it’s simply not true.

    • Every strategy has risks Tim. But some are riskier than others. You’ve correctly identified some of the risks of our approach. I don’t believe for a minute that arsenal are unaware of them.

  11. I strongly disagree with the idea that fans only care about winning. Fans love their clubs, they identify with them for some reason, whether it’s because of their locality or some other nebulous reason like the sun on Freddie’s red hair. Or maybe because there is some kind of character, or personality associated with the club that they identify with, like the idea of winning “the right way”, playing the best football, with class and swagger, a kind of romantic nobility. Maybe they just love the badge with the gun on it, the red shirts with white sleeves. I dunno.

    Of course fans fucking love it when their club wins, but if that’s all they cared about there would be no one reading this blog, we’d all be on some Leicester forum.

    But that said, in general I just don’t think there is much to be gained from parsing PR.

  12. Tim
    You say you read appx 1000 words each morning to stay current on news. Just out of interest, where do you go for reliable Arsenal news? I don’t mean other blogs which are not much more than comment & opinion, but proper up to date hot off the press news. The .com is a bit parsimonious and most of the UK online dailies are unreliable and just regurgitate all the rumours & gossip from previous issues. BBC is OK, but a bit sparse, and your mate Arseblog tries hard but doesn’t have access to the best stories.
    I like the new site features and the notify of replies facility.

  13. Also, would love some clarification on the relationship between the picture (salt and pepper, I assume?) and the piece?!

  14. In february Sir Chips Keswick said we had £135 million in the bank. Add to this the projected £100 million TV money and it makes us one of the wealthiest clubs in the world. I’m not suggesting that we spunk it all up on new players & wages, but surely £100 million transfer budget isn’t unreasonable. Gazidis does talk bollocks sometimes doesn’t he?

  15. There are players who we are simply not going to buy. We are not going to meet triple digit releases for certain type of players and I am fine with that. We are not that kind of club at our fundamental core and the fans accept that. What the fans do not and will not accept is failing to astutely make the necessary player purchases in areas of need and in our price range. Those players exist but we will not pull the trigger when there is a crying need to do something.

    The latest rumor now comes from Sky Sport Germany who is reporting that we have opened talks for Shkodran Mustafi. I thought he did okay when he came in for Hummels in Euro 2016. His price is reported to be €25 mil and his sale is suppose to made necessary by Valencia’s FFP problems.

    Le’ Equipe claims we are going back for Lacazette with a €40 mil bid.

    • 15′ Just watched a characteristic pathetic attempt on goal by Walcott when pretty much clean through…passed it to the goalkeeper. Oh dear.

  16. Last season, by struggling in Champions league and then losing the PL to Liecster we managed to get relegated from top team’s chart to something like a joke.
    The emotional effect of it is nothing shorter than failure in getting a CL spot.
    Top players move, because they want to win the CL, not just proceed from group stage and then nothing.

    Thank you very much for writing Tim
    without you this no football period would have made me mad!
    I’m 100% agree with you on the risk of not buying players

  17. So, a victory against the MLS all stars. Doesn’t happen often for European sides, right? Fingers crossed on Coquelin. Last thing we need is another injury.

    Walcott has done nothing so far this pre season to make me change my mind about him. Akpom, despite being a youngster is just a better centre forward. And the Ox looks like he’s hungry to claim that right wing spot. Debuchy, like Theo, looks like he should go. It’s still early in pre season and he does some good things going forward, but overall not good enough.

    Those two aside, I thought we looked good.I was pleasantly surprised by Holding and Bielik (despite BIelik’s poor pass which led to the goal) They both look like they can play and are calm on the ball. It would have been interesting to see Bielik play in the second half and adapt to facing Giovinco instead of Drogba, but Holding did that well.

    Xhaka showed off his left foot, though he looked rusty. Wilshere was pretty anonymous but ok. Elneny was his usual self, full of running. Good shot too. The youngsters coming on gave us an injection of energy after Campbell and co had tired. Iwobi’s touch was poor but was always involved. Jeff is going to be a star one day. Willock likewise looked very good, and Zelalem had a few tidy passes (and some poor ones)

    All in all, a good workout against match fit, if inferior, opponents. Chivas might be a bigger test because they aren’t a mix n match bunch.

  18. I agree with your views Tim, another excellent breakdown. I believe universally gooners are not happy about Gazidis speaking so negatively. Arseblog in their news section yesterday mentioned the same thing, why does he need to speak out so often, it really does not boost morale. Plus, he contradicts himself from a couple of seasons back when he claimed the shackles were off and Arsenal could afford the likes of Rooney.

    That said, I do feel there is tension in the camp as Wenger would want to address the striker situation (going by his press releases) as soon as possible but, there seems to be internal resistance, may be from the likes of Gazidis and others on the board.

    We may be in for a tough start to the season if we don’t sign that someone this week.
    Possible doable transfers as per me – Bonucci (Juve would want to recoup as much as possible of the transfer fee paid for Higuain), Mustafi (Valencia are not cash rich and a deal can be struck), Lacazette (Lyon seem to lobby him given the public message fiasco) & finally Jese (real madrid cannot him a chance and from what I have seen, I rate him highly).

    p.s.: excellent heading to this article 🙂

  19. gazidis is talking to big up himself.

    coming to arsenal, he’s inherited a good situation that he’s merely sustained. now, he’s taking this opportunity to express to the new york times how he’s moved up from where he was before, implying that arsenal are a cash cow due to his management. this is his endeavor to appear to be some sort of brilliant, successful trendsetter. arsenal fans know better but his contemporaries and others that will read this article don’t.

    it’s one of those things i noticed about him a few years ago. every time he talks, he’s kissing his own ass. if you think of gazidis interviews that way, they’re less infuriating.

  20. as for theo’s performance last night, i don’t blame him, i blame wenger. theo has done everything he can to look out for himself, which is his right and responsibility. he believed at one point he should play through the middle but now knows he’s not built to do that and came out and said so at the end of last season. he want’s to play out wide but wenger is essentially forcing theo to play through the middle. as a result, theo’s confidence is shot to shit; hence when clear through on goal, instead of his customary finish from years past or a fairly simple switch to campbell, theo passes the ball directly to the goal keeper.

    i would feel bad for theo but he’s making a shit-ton of money.

  21. Great article Tim! I rarely comment but read frequently, and I just wanted to say I’ve always enjoyed and appreciate your articles, and this is one of my favorite ones, everything you write here, it’s like you articulated my mind for this topic.

    I became an Arsenal fan watching the 2007-2008 team.

    I wonder how long they think they can go on like this before they start loosing passionate fans. (I guess for me it wouldn’t really be quitting being a fan, but not watching games as frequently, or reading news , if at all, etc.) Or maybe they think, and will be right, that sure the passionate people will complain but they’ll like Arsenal and keep coming anyway.

    I for one want to watch a team not as some hipster interest but because they’re a great team. Even if they are not always #1 I want to see them trying their best.

  22. I just can’t get worked up about these interviews. Whenever someone from Arsenal say stuff like this some people act like they’re saying something we don’t already know.

    Then people act like all we want is for them to be more bullish in their declarations. Arseblog even reposted part of another interview where gazidas seemed way more open to pushing the boat out on transfers as an example of what we want to hear. But the thing is even when he was more positive it didn’t seem to make much difference to those upset about our transfer strategy. When they don’t buy the players we want we complain regardless. If gazidas said we’re after everyone bar Messi and Ronaldo people would just say it’s PR spin anyway so why get upset about it.

    If Arsenal don’t buy the 1 or 2 players we need this summer I’ll be disappointed, so will everyone else regardless of what’s been said in interviews. So for my own sanity I’ll wait and see who we sign first before I get upset about our transfer strategy.

    I still think xhaka will be one of the buys of the summer. Hopefully we’ll add a few more.

  23. Tim, not sure you’ll address this, as you’re likely working on today’s post, or simply working. But why do you think Wenger won’t sign anyone else this summer? It seems highly unlikely, but given that you were right last summer, (when no one in their right mind would have suggested he’d buy only Cech,) I was wondering what your thinking was on this?

    • I think he wants to sign a forward. I don’t think he will find one. He certainly isn’t going to sign the kind of player we all want.

      That said, the injury to Per means that if we sign anyone, it will be a center back. Though now looking at the way the club are pumping up Holding I’m in doubt about that as well.

      • Gotcha. Thanks for the insight. It’s hard to believe Arsene would settle for what he has up front, but he did it last year, so it’s not like there’s no precedent.

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