Does it really matter if Wenger signs someone? Really?

it's a tackle from behind!

Supposedly this Arshavin saga will come to some kind of conclusion today and none too soon. The last word I read said that Arsenal made their final offer, which went to the Zenit board, who, either not well versed in English or collectively crazier than a shit house rat, made a counter final offer on Arsenal’s final offer. Zenit are also claiming that there are “other teams” who are showing an interest in Andrei, which the press are saying is Man City.

Ok, first off, if City was interested, City would have signed the player. Given the manner in which Zenit has gone about this I can’t see them being honorable about the negotiations and giving Arsenal first rights. Arsenal’s final offer was £12m plus £3m in incentives so City just need to offer say £15m all at once and they could have the player, I suspect.

Second, and this is fact, Arsenal are at their limit. This is a self imposed limit, for sure, but a limit no less. In Arsenal’s 2007/2008 annual report they listed £93m in cash reserves but the club is not going to spend that money in the current climate, and I can’t blame them: that money is a safeguard against several seasons out of the Champions League. You may not like to hear me say that but Champions League football is not a birthright and besides which buying a player like Arshavin is no guarantee we’ll overtake Aston Villa. We all know that Arsenal have more problems on the pitch than just one player can solve, no matter how good that player is.

So, the board are going to hold on to that cash and spend only profits they make from player sales and other annual profits after tax. Which brings me to the main point here: Arsenal are taking a long term view of this project and one or two or even three years out of the Champions League won’t kill the club.

You can disagree with them, and that’s all well and fine, but this conservative financial model has served the club very well up to this point, winning trophies that the older fans didn’t get but once a decade. Yes, they will lose a significant amount of potential money if they don’t make the Champions League but even finishing 4th doesn’t guarantee the numbers that I see all the time. Numbers like £40m in losses are silly, I’ve been a fan long enough to remember several early exits from the Champions League that certainly didn’t earn even £5m for this club. Arsenal didn’t collapse and the world didn’t come to an end. In fact, a quick glance at the numbers shows that Arsenal would be profitable even if they didn’t play ANY European football.

The other oft-cited argument is that Arsenal won’t be able to recruit world class talent if they don’t finish in the top four. I think Wenger doesn’t care. Arsenal are not out in the market recruiting top talent, they are too busy creating top talent. So, yes, finishing out of the top four means that Arsenal will lose their ability to recruit the David Villas of the world, but it’s not going to stop them from getting the Aaron Ramseys, Jack Wilsheres, and Jay Simpsons and as long as Wenger is the manager those are the players Arsenal are going to be recruiting.

The third argument we hear a lot of is that people will get sick of Arsenal if they don’t start winning something. Maybe, and maybe combined with the global economic slump gate receipts will be lower, television revenues will fall, and there could be a host of other problems. Maybe all that will come to transpire, but if Wenger’s project does what he keeps claiming it will do, those fans will return, gate receipts will go back up, Champions League football will come back, and everyone will hail him as a genius and we’ll all be super happy. If his project fails, the board will replace him and some other manager with a different approach will come along. But no matter what happens, Arsenal are in the financial position to weather this storm.

Wenger’s youth project is so insanely divisive that it’s not even funny anymore. I’m no wide-eyed optimist, nor am I a sheep just following Wenger’s every move. I’m not a shill for the club, nor am I a gloom and doom part time supporter. Most importantly, while I get frustrated that Alex Song is our starting DM and Emannuel Eboue is our starting RM and I write about it and analyze the club, I don’t think for a minute I know more than Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board. I’m just a supporter and while I’d love to see a player like Lorik Cana at the club, I think we all would, in the end, I support the club. Their plan is logical, responsible, and may actually produce some of the best football the world has ever seen. It could also fail miserably. We’ll have to wait and see and by wait and see I mean “where will Arsenal be in 10 years?”

In the mean time, it doesn’t really matter if he buys players or not; because all of us are right. It could be right to buy players, in the short term, and even in the long term. Having some fresh blood come in could energize the team, having some more older players could provide some leadership, having a new DM could add some steel. All of those benefits could bring Arsenal some Champions League football, which could put more buts in the seats, which could improve our transfer abilities, and could fill out coffers even more. There’s no guarantees here but it could happen. It could also be right not to spend any money and build the team from within as I have outlined above. Both positions have merit, equal merit, and what I’ve seen happening is that both sides are talking over each other.

Let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and try to enjoy Arsenal as a distraction from the insanity of the world right now. If Wenger signs Arshavin, great. If not, let’s just move on, we’re all on the same team aren’t we?


  1. yes we do need to sign some players. the team we have isnt good enough they cant win f**k all. arsene needs to learn to buy cause the players we have arent good enough. we won nothin since 2005 and with the team we have we still goin to win nothin. fuck me stoke and hull can beat r we team thats how bad we r. we are targeting 4th like how sad. arsene must buy or we wont win anything. we should be targetin 1st not 4th sort it out arsenal. or we goin to become a midtable team. im sick of winning nothin fuckin luton r better than r shitty team

  2. Maybe if we went a few more seasons without winning i wouldnt have to sit beside, in front of or behind any stupid american ‘soccer’ fans who insist in talking shit to their even less knowledgable mate throughout the whole game instead of getting off their lardy arses and singing and getting behind the team

  3. fuck the youth team. im losin my confidence in wenger he doesnt know what hes doin. he makes youth players instead of buying then sends them on loan for a season. whats the point. we r shit now days and if we dont win something this season wenger should leave.4 seasons with out a trophey is a disgrace arsenal r betta than that. so arsene please brin in players and show the manager u once were.

  4. Good article. Basically the club has long term financial stability and is following a plan which they believe will bear fruit in the future, but if it all goes tits up they will dump Wenger and try another approach. Some fans are prepared to go with that, others hate it.

    I sometimes wonder why Wenger is always going on about economics when he is meant to be winning football matches. As far as most football fans are concerned they want to watch football, talk about football and win trophies. That is what this manager should be judged on. The board can be blamed if the money goes wrong and Wenger can be blamed if we play like a bunch of school girls and continue to endure watching our once close rivals outpace us and leave us behind.

  5. yes it really does matter if we sign someone!! yes i can see partly where your coming from with what your saying but loseing out on a class player like arshavin and make no mistake he is pure class for a extra mil or two just dont wash look we aint talking about a 30 40 mil player here we are talking about a class player in the region of about 18 mil jeeeez its hardly going to break the bank!! what pisses me off is the board luv it when we bring players through and turn them into stars they rub there hands in glea thinking of the money coming the clubs way but as soon as there is talk of us buying a star player you know its never gona happen.
    what have we won since the FA cup in 2005 nothing not a thing and we wont win a thing if we carry on the way we are going!! year after year i hear these same fans saying in wenger we trust,can someone please tell me what you trust in him, dont get me wrong im a fan of the way hes got my beloved arsenal playing but come on its not all about pretty football its about winning and putting silverware on the table thats what gets the fans walking through the turnstiles year after year.
    somehow i cant see fab staying after this year the signs are beginning to show hes not happy and if he does go what does that say to the fans and yes the other players in the team and players we go to sign, what it says to me as a fan is the club board members are stubburn money grabbing arses that dont give too hoots about whats needed to win again.
    and what happens when wenger leaves what happends with this big plan?????? ask yourself that,
    look im not looking for the club to be going out and spending 30 40 mil on a player thats just stupid money but come on 18 mil is hardly gona break the club, jeeeez the club has made a profit on selling players every year and thats after the players we have paid for, and all the gate profit from the grove and merchandise profit to name but a few, wheres all the money going????????
    we havent won a thing since 2005 and i really cant see us winning anything else if it carrys on with the way its going but hey im just a fan of the club what do i know and do they really care what i think somehow i dont think so

  6. I always believe that arsenal are more concern with training young players, after maturing they are sold out or they leave for better ambitious team. My prayer is that we finish among the top four{very unlikely}, infacr we are going to experience trophyless season. I can see any serious team who have the followings as thier regulars and win any trophy, namely:Almunia, Song,Eboue,Denilson.These are players that should be send on loan to get more experience, as for almunia, he lacks self confidence. We need goalkeeper of jaskaliner or shay given caliber, goalkeepers who single handly save a team even in the face of defeat. I believe wenger prefer these young players who will not challenge his authority. Let us keep our finger cross and continue praying for taem

  7. If Cesc and Wenger leave, then we will be Arsenal minus Cesc and Wenger. No one is bigger than the club.

    I hardly think the board are grubbing money, they haven’t paid a single dime in dividends even though they are sitting on nearly £100m in cash. I think they are all interested in the long-term health of the club. Long term, the best thing for this club is to sit tight, wait for this whole fantasy football bubble to blow over and/or collapse on itself and emerge as the only fiscally healthy club in England. Long term the best thing for the club to do is not allow our salaries and transfers threaten the long term health of the club, regardless of whether they win a trophy right now.

    In their minds, the real danger is in freking out because the club haven’t won anything for a few years. Yes, fans want trophies, I want trophies, but I’d be happy with just progress
    right now.

    If Arsenal could get an FA Cup trophy or another Champions League final, I think we’d all be exctatic. So, let’s root for them to beat Cardiff tomorrow and take another step toward that cup.


  8. I haven’t seen the fiscals, but I wonder how much of the analysis is dependent upon Emirates selling out every league match. The fans are disaffected with the quality of play and the lack of acquisitions. If things aren’t corrected, we might have problems selling out the stadium in future seasons.

    What I’m afraid of is that losing 4th will snowball into something much bigger. We’ll lose Cesc in the summer, for sure. We’ll probably lose Sagna, Adebayor, Nasri and van Persie in a few years if we don’t get back the Champions league spot soon. If it takes us a few years to get back, we’ll find Aston Villa and Man City above us. Liverpool may implode, and Abramovich may sell up, but we’ll still find it difficult to get back into the game. Man City has shown us that if we don’t have the enticement of Champions League football, it’s really hard to get quality signings; and Wenger may even have problems attracting the top youth to come.

    Not saying that Arshavin is the answer (if there’s only one signing, I’d rather a defensive guy myself), but signing him would show the mentality that we’re aware of the problems on the pitch and are actively working out a solution. And anyway, Arshavin’s going to improve the team immeasurably, so why not an extra 3 million?

  9. I haven’t seen the fiscals, but I wonder how much of the analysis is dependent upon Emirates selling out every league match. The fans are disaffected with the quality of play and the lack of acquisitions. If things aren’t corrected, we might have problems selling out the stadium in future seasons.

    What I’m afraid of is that losing 4th will snowball into something much bigger. We’ll lose Cesc in the summer, for sure. We’ll probably lose Sagna, Adebayor, Nasri and van Persie in a few years if we don’t get back the Champions league spot soon. If it takes us a few years to get back, we’ll find Aston Villa and Man City above us. Liverpool may implode, and Abramovich may sell up, but we’ll still find it difficult to get back into the game. Man City has shown us that if we don’t have the enticement of Champions League football, it’s really hard to get quality signings; and Wenger may even have problems attracting the top youth to come.

    Not saying that Arshavin is the answer (if there’s only one signing, I’d rather a defensive guy myself), but signing him would show the mentality that we’re aware of the problems on the pitch and are actively working out a solution. And anyway, Arshavin’s going to improve the team immeasurably, so why not an extra 3 million?

  10. nice post. i agree that the board/arsene are definitely looking out for the teams long term future. and it is important that they do that, but not in the place of good football. i mean they have lots of reserve cash yes, and they need to hold on to it, but they need to spend it too.

    it is a known fact that we have some flaws on our team, but if we spend the right amount of money and buy useful players, not just youth, then we dont have to worry about not making it to champions league, because we will make it. if we have a solid team we will gain revenue from champions league, and more seats in the chairs, and more fans.

    look at manure for example, they do a blockbuster signing or 2 every year, and they bring in quality established players spending 30-40 million. because they have such a good team, they always sell out, they have great runs in all competitions, and they have a huge fan base. i mean they had 73,000+ show up for a carling cup game against whoever during the week. i mean that is crazy!

    it is important that our team competes every year for the title..if it requires spending 20million a season on players, great! we will probably recoup the money somehow in revenue, because we have kept a solid competing team. this means better chances in all cup situations, better chances at winning premier league, champions league. again we will sellout more games, gain more fans, etc..

    yes the future is important, but rebuilding should take 3-4 years max. we are in the 4 year, and it seems, at this pace another invincibles team is 4-5 years away.

  11. no one is bigger then the club your right im not saying they are, but what happends with this so called plan when wenger goes?????? can you seriously see another manager wanting to carry on wit the same plan cos i cant so where does that leave the club then i,ll tell you where managers coming and going because the board wont hand out money to buy half decent players the board luv wwenger cos hes on thier side but as soon as hes gone its going to be a different story.
    so your telling me we are sitting on 100 mil and doing sod all with it waiting for this fantasy bubble to burst oh do me a favour spending around 18 mil is not going along with the fantasy bubble, spending 30 or 40 mil is but not 18.
    im all for the club securing its future health and im not a fan that wants to see some russian or arab getting his grubby hands on us but to bring the silverware back you have to spend more then this club is willing to spend and yet they dont mind charging the highest ticket prices to the fans.
    roooting for the arsenal all the way tomozzz

  12. Well said Tim, bout sums it up i’d say. It’d been nice to have him but it looks as if zenit are keen to sell to a slightly higher vulture bidder out there, probably city. We can still do top four without buying, it is possible, but it’s a risk. That said, in this economic climate can we be sure of anything? They probably can’t sell a highbury flat for two quid, i mean it basically is hard times right now. I would’ve liked to see Arshavin with us as well as other additions but wenger’s rarely splashed, not quite sure it’s the way to go as xabi and arshavin could have really improved us had we spent an extra 4 mil or so, but it looks like we may never know. I think it is correct to say that we’ve got more issues than one player can solve and if we do bring in an expensive player and he gets injured straight away, well that’s a risk too, it is prudent to be cautious. I would still love to see a big name come in an reinvigorate the club on so many levels but we may just have to come to terms with we’ve got what we’ve got,and while it’s a basic good squad it may take some time.

  13. I have some stuff to go do but I wanted to leave you all with links to the three reports that will really get you all going:

    Arsenal annual report 2008

    Arsenal have £92m in cash reserves and roughly £16m in operating profits after tax.

    UEFA Disbursement report 2008 (page 6)

    Arsenal earned roughly £21m from the Champions League last year and

    £19m the year before.

    The UEFA Cup numbers are there as well for you to kick over (winners get like £5m)

    I present this just to be honest and admit that they will lose a lot of money if they don’t qualify for the CL (which I already admitted in the article) and to show where I got the numbers from.

    It doesn’t change my arguments

    1. Arsenal don’t care about recruiting top players, this is a youth project and will be a youth project until Wenger leaves.

    2. Arsenal have a ton of money but they aren’t spending it, love it or hate it, they aren’t spending it.

    3. They aren’t spending it because they believe that A) it goes against their principles and B) they need every last dime as backup in case the shit hits the fan.

    That’s what they are doing and I tend to agree with it.

  14. Guys, a final thought, can we expect zenit to be negotiating in good faith with us? Zenit appear fairly certain other clubs can come in over the top of our bid, no matter how high a bid we make. City or some megespender whatever have likely informed zenit ‘10% over any Arsenal bid’ or something like. Wenger was correct to halt a potential bidding war that we can only ultimatley lose. I, for one, do not trust zenit when they say Arsenal can have him for XX quid, no, zenit will have to earn that trust. When it comes to zenit who obviously care nothing for the player and where the player would like to end up, if city or some one like them want him, they’ll get him. What i find less appealing is that the team can improve by signing other players that may have been neglected as we deal with this.

  15. Oh, and what is this passport tosh, are not most epl players foreigners now? and is that not what makes the epl what it is – many of the world’s best players. It’s the world’s game, or haven’t you noticed?

  16. Nice article Timmy. You’ve pretty much summed up what I was trying to get across yesterday. I honestly don’t think that Alex and I are that far apart in our opinions. I’m just trying to be optimistic about the entire thing (especially since it’s completely beyond my control) and keep my transfer ideas limited to Fifa Manager.

  17. With the board not paying themselves dividends and putting the money back into the club, all they’re doing is increasing it’s value for when they sell up. How many more years will it take for Wenger’s project to work and can you see Fabregas, Van Persie etc putting up with it much longer? gooner68, great post. No one is asking for us to go out and spend stupid money but an addition each year or even just holding onto key players would have made us a lot more competitive. It seems to me that either the board are still living in the dark ages or creaming as much money as possible. If they want to take the cautious approach, fans shouldn’t be paying such high prices for season tickets (one of the highest in the country).

  18. Raz, there’s not disputing your argument, Wenger’s taking a risk here by not signing a player like Arshavin as he did with alonso, but we can’t outbid certain clubs and splashing should be reserved for players a bit younger. No doubt players like xabi and arshavin would help us a lot in the short term and I can’t argue we couldn’t really use them right now, because i’ve not doubt those types would provide a huge lift. As for the ticket prices, yeah it’s crazy but supporters are still paying, i wouldn’t expect things to change until supporters start voting with their feet and not coming in to matches as often.

  19. barnaby, agreed mate but it doesn’t look like City are going in for Arshavin yet or they would have had him by now. We also had the chance to get Ribery a while ago but again, decided against it. I agree we can’t outbid teams but if we’d held onto Hleb, Flamini and Diarra and added Nasri, we’d be a lot stronger. Just seems Wenger and or the board are intent on cashing in on our decent players and not replacing them (Silvestre is hardly adequate). I’m sure most fans wouldn’t have minded if Song or Eboue had been sold. I think the discontent will grow a lot more in a year or two if this carries on, not just with the fans but the players as well.

  20. Raz, i’m of the same view, we’ve missed out on some real players and let go too many. Had we the squad you’ve named we would be nigh unstoppable, also shaking up the side could liven things up quite a lot, as it is we’ve a fairly thin young squad that if sprinkled with some seasoned leadership types could go places. Absent new signings i’m not at all certain how we’ll fare this campaign, it’s a bit of a risk, unfortunately though, we can’t just ignore what is a horrid economic climate.

  21. The big problem here is that we did not have to wait until January to try and sign 1 player for 15 mill. Anyone with one iota of intelligence would have realized our squad was short of quality in the summer with the departure of Diarra, Hleib, Flamini, Lehman and Gilberto with our incoming replacements consisting of Ramsey (a 5 mill future star, Bischoff (an injured player whose father is a friend of Arsene and who made a single 1st team appearance for Werder Bremen) and Nasri ( bonafide star in the making). Added to our players going out we had Rosicky and Eduardo coming off injuries with no certain date of return. Oh, I forgot the Manu reject Silvestre.

    We could have acquired quality, experienced and versatile players in the summer like Corluka (7 mill), Kompany (6-7 mill), Bullard (3-4 mill), Alonso (15 mill), Freitel (3 mill) and the list goes on ad infinitum. Some of these players could have been acquired and provided us with quality and depth, and this whole bullshit over Arahavin would have been a moot point. In other words, we could have spent a maximum of 25 mill for 3 players and not have had to worry about fighting Villa for the provisional 4th spot in the CL next year and maybe could have been in contention for the CL, FAC and EPL titles.

    Hindsight is a bitch, but Arsene seems to have had his head up his ARSE for the past 2 years. Remember, he bought Walcott for 10 mill which will probably rise to 15 mill depending on his club appearances but finds it difficult to purchase Alonso for 15 or Arshavin for 18, either of whom can almost instantly make an impact.

    I’m no Arsene Wenger, but just plain old common sense would be nice to see at times.

  22. You can assess how good or how bad a team is in two ways: Who the team has beaten and who has beaten the team: Wins against Manu, Chelsea and a draw against Liverpool a true reflection of our quality than our loss to the “Cities Teams” – Hull, Stoke, Manchester, Fulham etc. I bet if Chelsea FC was Chelsea City they would have beaten us.

  23. i agree with a lot of people. wenger has had is head up his arse. we never buy anyone and we never win anything. im sick of it. arsene has too stop with this youth shit. theres too many. get some experienced players in and stop beenin a cheapy. come on people the team we have have at the minute cant win anything.

    wenger buy some decent players or get out!!!

    in wenger we trust? i dont know anymore.

  24. arsenal r useless we couldnt win a pub league

    its sad we r only goin 4 4th we should be wanting to win the league not finish 4th

    bring in 4 or 5 decent players please

    nothin since 2005

    wenger doenst know what he is doin

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