I am the problem with Arsenal

The problem at Arsenal isn’t Wenger or Kroenke. It’s not Gazidis or Chips. It’s not Alexis. It’s not Özil. It’s not Ramsey or Ox or the failure of the British core. The problem isn’t the agents, though they certainly haven’t ever helped anyone. It’s not defensive frailty or this chronic inability to get off to a good start in matches this season. And the problem at Arsenal isn’t just down to the fact that Arsenal can’t beat other top clubs. The problem also isn’t the other fans, no matter how embarrassing they might be with their banners, chants, scarves, bin bags, and neatly printed A4 signs. The problem isn’t the referees or the FA or even the Premier League. The problem is me. I’m the problem with Arsenal.

I picked Arsenal. I watched some games on TV and on the day that they beat Man U at Old Trafford, the day that Kanu jumped over the moon, I decided that any team who beat Man U would be my team. I picked Arsenal.

And then I did something that few others did at that time. I flew over to England for a game. I went to Highbury and sat with people I didn’t know. I was 36 years old and I went to England as a football tourist. I wasn’t a pioneer in that regard but I was certainly one of a tiny minority of Americans who took their vacation in England, to watch football, in 2006.

I paid a ridiculous amount of money to use someone’s season ticket and sat next to strange faces and heard strange chants and tried to join in with strange songs. I tried to be part of the surge of excitement when Hleb scored but I was a stranger in a strange land and didn’t have a clue when to rise or sit, when to clap, or when to sing. I took a selfie. In 2006. I guess I pioneered that crappy art form as well.

Our brave explorer, discovering new worlds!

I fell in love with Arsenal at Highbury but I had no right to fall in love with Arsenal. It turned out that I was less of a tourist and more like an old explorer. Like Gauguin, I was just another colonialist. I went to some place where they had a well established culture, passed down from generation to generation, and I planted my flag right there in the middle of the emerald green grass of Highbury fields. I claimed Arsenal as my own. And like Gauguin, I probably deserve syphilis for what I have done.

I had to fight for my right to be there. I was told to “go watch American football” and “support your local team” but I stuck to my guns. I even took up Arsenal as my topic to write about every day, despite — and let’s be boldly honest here — knowing “fuck all” about football, about Arsenal, and about English football culture and history. Christ what hubris.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. I don’t blame myself as the ruiner of your game. I didn’t intentionally fly to England and decide to globalize Arsenal. The globalization of English football, the corporatization and selling of the game to the highest bidder, was inevitable. That’s what capitalism does. Nothing beautiful and pure goes unpimped in the global marketplace.

David Dein knew this. He saw this whole thing coming. Which makes the fact that he sold his shares for so little so strange. He sold his shares in Arsenal to Usmanov for a mere £75m. Those same 9,000 shares are now worth £150m. At least £150m. Sporting Intelligence used a formula to value Arsenal at over £1bn which means that each share is probably worth closer to £19k, rather than the £17k that they were last traded for*. At 19k per share, David Dein’s 9,000 shares are worth £170m. And in five years, they will be worth £200m.

Which is entirely the point. That’s what Kroenke is here for. He’s an investor, a long term investor. This is his prize asset. A huge, brand new stadium, in the middle of the biggest city in the world, in a League which is one of the most beloved, in a sport that is the most popular sport in the world. I suspect that Arsenal could drop to Man U and Liverpool level mediocrity – we have too much money to be involved in a relegation battle – and the value of the club would continue to rise.

Sure, we would lose some sponsors but Arsenal would just rebrand and resell – we’d become the plucky team from North London, fighting to get back to where Arsene Wenger once had us. Or we would become a tragic figure, the once great club that has fallen on hard times. Players and managers would come and go. Arsenal would still be on TV, the stadium might not be nearly as full, or maybe Arsenal would keep filling the stadium, we do have a long waiting list for season tickets.

And as soon as the story at Arsenal changes from “20 years of Arsene Wenger” to “exciting new project” the fans would lap it up — no matter how poorly Arsenal did, we’d suddenly have something new to write about, something new to talk about, something for the thousands and thousands of Arsenal bloggers to blag about.

Kroenke knows this and he’s going to hold on to Arsenal with both hands, folks. He isn’t going anywhere. You know what he’s going to do instead? Insulate himself from criticism.

I laughed when I heard that Arsenal are telling all the papers that they are going to hire a Sporting Director. Ostensibly, this person is there to buy players and hire Wenger’s replacement. But what they really do is create confusion about who is to blame for when Arsenal still don’t win the League. Think about the confusion right now! Is it Wenger? Is it the players? Is it the owners? And now add a Sporting Director and you have yet another layer to blame/fire when fan unrest gets too vociferous.

And a Sporting Director will come in this summer and Wenger will get a new contract it all make perfect corporate sense. The Sporting Director isn’t going to help Arsenal organize our defense. Or make Arsenal start matches with a bang. He isn’t going to teach Arsenal how to pass the ball, which we have incredibly lost the ability to do over the last two years. But he will “take some of the burden” off Arsene Wenger and people will say “now we can really see what Arsene can do” and “this is going to be like a return to the David Dein times.” And perhaps they are right. Maybe Wenger Unleashed will prove to be the winning formula.

We don’t know what will happen with Wenger in a manager only role. It’s what he loves to do. And maybe it will be good. I hope so. I love the man. He brings me so much joy with his wit and has given me all of my favorite sporting moments in my life. I also don’t think he’s a disastrous manager or that Arsenal are in quite the crisis on the field as people think. We aren’t great, we do seem to have some chronic problems, especially with regards to recruitment, organization, and mental strenfth. Losing the League to Leicester last year was the lowest point I’ve had as an Arsenal supporter, which again just shows my colonial roots.

But again, those aren’t the real problems at Arsenal. The real problem is globalization. The game as you know it has changed. Kroenke is just a symptom. Globalization and corporatization of the game are going to continue, with or without Kroenke. With or without me. You can’t have your Arsenal back. You’re never going to have local guys owning shares in the club. You’re probably not even going to have too many kids who grew up Arsenal fans playing for the club ever again. You’re certainly not going to have a guy like Tony Adams down at the local boozer or riding the train car back to London with the fans. I’m sorry.

And I understand the desire to “burn it down.” It’s the same impulse that led to Brexit and Trump. We feel powerless in the face of globalization. We ARE powerless. What can you really do to force Arsenal to change? Stop going to games, stop watching games, stop talking about games. You could have a million fan march, every week, and Kroenke will sit in his Texas ranch, crack open his minute egg and dunk toast points all morning. If you could get half the stadium to quit going to matches for an entire year, you might, just maybe, get his attention. But I think all he has to do is change the story slightly — hire a new manager, fire the Sporting Director, buy an expensive player — and you’ll all be back at the stadium, back watching Arsenal on TV, complaining on YouTube, writing blogs, and reading newspapers. Consuming the product.

We know this inherently. So, we react by wanting to tear the system apart. Usmanov represents the “burn it down” vote, the Trump vote, the Brexit. This is a man who is good friends with Putin, a brutal dictator. This is a man who made his fortune off the privatization of public resources. Maybe he’ll win more trophies. Maybe not. But judging by what he’s said, I have a feeling that he would do a lot of firing at Arsenal. He’d drain the old swamp and put in his own new swamp. Just like Trump. And so your choice is corporate Arsenal or autocratic Arsenal. Though, I doubt Kroenke will ever let you get a chance to choose Usmanov.

It’s incredible to me that humanity is at this point but like I said at the beginning, it’s all my fault. I’m sorry I ever went to Highbury and brought my American disease with me. I’m the face of globalization. I changed your club. I’m sorry.


*I’m sure someone will quibble with this.


  1. Great piece, as usual. But I think you’re being a little hard on yourself. (More likely, you’re trolling a bit for comedic effect.)

    Your quote here says it all, “The globalization of English football, the corporatization and selling of the game to the highest bidder, was inevitable. That’s what capitalism does. Nothing beautiful and pure goes unpimped in the global marketplace.”

    Even if you’d never bought your plane ticket, or Fox Sports had never piped all the soccer into my TV for free, all of this would still have come to pass. Capitalism is an insatiable beast. For all his intelligence as a soccer analyst, I’m surprised Naveen is so into conservative economic theory, as history has proven that without a governmental counterbalance, capitalism will eat us all out of house and home.

  2. Excellent piece. I think people are underestimating Kroenke’s apathy. Even if Wenger walks I don’t trust the Board or the Owner to be proactive in leading the club into a new chapter.

    The more I think about it the more I feel that the club will have to hit rock bottom (what that is, I’m not sure) before it becomes too unattractive for Kroenke to stick around and the apathy to lift from the corridors of power at the club.

    1. Much like Trump will have to hit rock bottom before his supporters no longer see the advantages in backing him and thus abandon him.

    2. Kroenke is like Warren Buffet in that as long as the club’s fundamentals are strong and you have the cash cow that is a new TV contract, Kroenke will never be weaned off the Arsenal tit.

  3. Tim, another top class piece!

    Just want to say that I’m glad that us Gooners are blessed with such excellent writers who care so deeply about the club AND are so eloquent at conveying their thoughts to readers. We Gooners are truly blessed in some regards.

    Keep it coming, Tim!

  4. Loved the piece, Tim. I think your point might be a little lost of some people. If I’m not wrong, you’re using yourself as a representation of global capitalism and the American version in particular. It’s people like you that made it more attractive for investors to invest in Arsenal and clubs like Arsenal and make them a global brand. All the money around ruined football. Now it’s basically who spends most that wins things. I’ll always love Arsenal but I am acutely aware of how stupid this love is.

  5. Dear Tim,
    Your posts make my day. I’m not sure if that is the right term to use, but I’m always looking for the next one. The funny thing is you’ve spoken of the globalization of football, and Arsenal. Then it occurred to me that Arsenal was probably the first club to do a mini-globalization:moving from Woolwich to North London. Anyway, I’m digressing. My point is that globalization gave me something I love immensely, something I’d never had. See, I’m a Kenyan, born in East Africa, never been to England, but I’m as passionate as any guy from North London, and I hate Tottenham. I’m glad I got the chance to support Arsenal, and during the Tonny Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, Paddy Viera, Titi Henry and Arsene Wenger times.

    Guys from London will just have to share the Arsenal, our Arsenal, MY Arsenal, with the rest of us global fans

  6. Great, great piece. All of a sudden am feeling so small in the grand scheme of things and feeling better too. Thanks Tim.

  7. I’m not quibbling about anything you wrote mate. The article stabs me in my heart because many of your points really strike home. I can’t do anything about the rat Konenke but I can help solve the manager problem by chipping away at the brick wall bit by bit. Basically I don’t mind investors making money out of the system but I do object to somebody who is killing the Arsenal heritage. We used to have a great record to look back on but now the main two things that stick in my throat are the record tanking we took off United few years back and the present day record outing of the Champs league. In some of the articles in todays news I read that we are selling Alexis, Ozil, Peres and Bellerin. Is that the way Wenger is taking us forward or is it the way to make money ?

  8. Tim, are you a fan of Devin Townsend? I think you’d like Devin. I think Terria is his masterpiece; check that out, and specifically Deep Peace. As close to perfection as you’re likely to get in these troubled times.

  9. Well stated points, though you go over the top in apologizing for your love of Arsenal. That’s silly. Globalization was coming to Arsenal with or without you. Wenger himself was globalization, in fact. Here was a Frenchman who was brought in from Japan and completely changed traditional English culture at the club for the better. Players were healthier and one or two even recovered from their addictions to alcohol under his wing. He brought in foreign players and made Arsenal a club of and for outsiders. It was a growing need in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world. Your impact upon Arsenal, like mine, approaches zero. Its impact upon you, however, has already left a deep treadmark. Does it continue to make you happy to write about it? If not, it might be time to cut the cord to some extent. I’d be selfishly sad to see you go but if I were your friend, that would be my strong advice.

  10. When I red your piece I thought that surely FC values decline without sporting success, BUT, remarkably, it seems the worst they do is just stagnate… e.g. the value of Inter Milan since the treble season with all the financial issues and sporting decline did this: 10-$413M, 11-$441M, 12-$490M, 13-$401M, 14-$483M, 15-$439M, 15-$559M. What could possibly be argued is that sporting success can massively boost the value of the asset e.g in 2007 Arsenal were the 3rd most valuable team globally at $915M and Barcelona 9th at $535M. In 2016 Arsenal are 5th at $2,017M and Barcelona are 2nd at $3,549M. Off course pursuing it is a risky investment strategy so no chance for this happening at Arsenal given there’s no apparent downside for doing just what’s necessary to maintain the current state.
    Perhaps this piece can get help us accept mediocracy… http://www.espnfc.com/blog/espn-fc-united/68/post/3078909/arsenal-fans-might-be-upset-but-clubs-like-coventry-and-blackburn-have-real-woes

    love your blog BTW

    1. We are “mediocre” among the elite clubs. Although we have not maximized our financial power on the pitch, my opinion is that it’s rich to complain too much about that (pun intended).

    2. I don’t even think sporting success increases valuation. Chelsea are still valued lower than Arsenal and they have been very successful since they formed in 2005.

      1. Indirectly it does; winning teams attract more fans, more merchandise, etc. Also I must correct you, it’s Chelsea F.C. 2003, not 2005 🙂

        1. You’re talking theory, Tim is talking numbers. I’d be surprised if it didn’t, but this is definitely worth some deeper analysis. Arsenal is no benchmark; you’d want to look at whether their valuation is increasing at a higher rate than average or not.


        2. I think it’s not so simple. Winning probably helps you capture new fans, but since someone wins every year, and because sports fans don’t really switch teams (at most they have second or third teams) I doubt it makes a huge difference. Also, capturing fans isn’t the same as converting it into money.

          What makes us pick a team? I feel it’s just a sense of belonging. A feeling of being part of something bigger (without all the responsibility of it being something more important) That is different things to different people, and usually not entirely a conscious or logical choice.

      2. Sporting success is also captivating story (maybe even more than silverware?) In the same way brands are built on a captivating story. Barcelona built their brand on top of tikitaka, Guardiola and messi. While Arsenal’s brand of wengerball, AW and the invincibles was / is fading (Arsenal brand is not growing, revenues are but that’s just football appeal expanding). Can’t see what Chelsea’s story is…

  11. Great as usual!

    I’ve stopped watching, but it’s nice to know the club is still in a quagmire and I’ve not missed anything.

  12. You use the terms globalism and capitalism in an almost hyhenated manner, which I think goes to the core of the Arsenal problem.

    For one, those ideas contradict each other routinely in the Arsenal experience. Market integration, in theory, is supposed to lower the cost of goods for consumers. At Arsenal, where TV (and other types of) revenues from markets abroad could be used to subsidise matchday tickets, the opposite has happened. Why? Again in theory, the player market should be highly liquid, and club-player matches should happen more efficiently. Instead transfer and agent fees have ballooned out of all proportion. Why?

    The truth is that globalism, even in the limited sense of economic integration, should have brought benefits to the average person which haven’t materialised. This is because globalism has been co-opted by the most extreme and amoral of capitalists* while everyone else turns their nose up at it.

    Globalism can, and – to an extent – has, created a wealth of cross-cultural exchange and empathy among the middle class everywhere. The problem is that this is not captured in numbers. That’s not to say it isn’t captured – the humanities routinely use non-quantitative but rigorous methods to describe such benefits (and costs), but the humanities are considered ‘soft’ fields that don’t get anyone real work.

    This meeting of minds, while inherently desirable, is in danger unless we also recognise and act on our common economic interests as workers, consumers or fans. The AFL-CIO, for example, hammers every free trade agreement, but I think the far more important avenue they engage on is reaching out to workers in other countries to fight for their rights, an approach that is making its way into FTAs, albeit too slowly.

    In the same way, Arsenal fans are leaving even potential gains from globalism on the table if we focus on postcodes. The face of capitalist excess is not a fan from America. The same club that professed an aversion to the “payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees” in 1925 was also called the ‘Bank of England club’ later in the same era (for spending too much on transfer fees), indicating that the real ‘identity’ of this most English of clubs has always been its profitability.

    So far as the businessman does not get too greedy, the capitalism and the fans can co-exist. Mr. Kroenke is not such a businessman. The challenge before us, therefore, is to drive him out and replace him with a mixture of direct fan ownership and corporate ownership that is answerable to fans.

    As Fanshare showed, such attempts will be met with absolutely no sympathy from the owners. Not only will we have to develop a strategy for acquiring and holding rights, we will have to litigate to defend them and petition the government and other bodies to expand them. This costs money and requires organized effort from a range of individuals with diverse skills. If we set aside borders, we can draw on formidable resources. None of us have a spare billion lying around. But together…

    * Capitalism is not inherently evil and businessmen do often play a positive societal role.

  13. i had the good fortune to visit highbury a couple of times back in the late 90s. man, do i miss that stadium. unfortunately, i’ve not been to the emirates yet. we’ll see how long before i make it there.

    the globalization of arsenal is not the problem the club has. every other team has to deal with this globalization. it’s the mis-management of this global enterprise. if you’re going to sustain success, you have to evolve; change with the times. arsenal’s management team has either failed to recognize the environmental challenges in today’s game or simply failed to respect the significance of those changes. as a result, the club has fallen behind where they probably should be.

    the only way a sporting director would help is if arsenal also brought in a new manager. wenger’s had so much power for so long. it’s not natural to relinquish that power. the only way that it could possibly work is if arsenal brought in a director who wenger had profound respect for. the only man that fits that mold is david dein and his return is unlikely for obvious reasons.

    in fairness to wenger, he lost both his captain and co-captain early in the season for, essentially, the entire season. mertesacker and cazorla are the guys who provide direction to the team when they take the field. without that type of facilitator, wenger’s approach simply doesn’t work. if those players were fit, i think arsenal would be very much in the title race. however, they are not there and wenger is still doing things like those leaders are on the pitch guiding his team. he seems to have failed to recognize the significance of those true captains and has failed to evolve and find a new way to direct the team in their absence. like pony alluded to, the demise of this football club has nothing to do with you or any one else. we’re merely small fish in this big ocean.

  14. Thoughtful, heartfelt and appreciated. Thanksvalua.

    I think there is a general correlation between sporting success and valuation especially when it comes to the globalization of a sports team/brand.

    But this is hardly universal. A prime example is ice hockey here in Canada. The team that has the the largest percentage of revenue by far in the National Hockey League are not the Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins or any other perennial contenders. No, the # 1 money generator for many years running are the Toronto Maple Leafs,dead last in NHL and who last won the Stanley Cup in 1967.

  15. I can’t see anything changing. It is an endless loop. Wenger isn’t going anywhere. I have been invested in Arsenal long before Wenger got there. But I really want to turn away now. I tried to turn away a few years ago but that lasted a month. As the cliches go, I got sucked back in. And as you point out Tim, people will come back. There will be many promises that next season will be different. All the usual propaganda. Wenger will say that he should be judged in 2019. Then as the summer of 2019 will roll around, he will sign another 3 year contract. And on and on.

  16. rumor says your favorite center forward, romelu lukaku, has turned down a new contract at everton. while i was once opposed to this player, i’ve come around. he’s only 23 years old and he leads the premier league in goals, playing for everton. he’s not playing for man united, man city, or chelsea, but everton. imagine what he might do at arsenal.

    right when the transfer window opens, i would make a bid for him of £52 million and announce that the offer was non-negotiable; take it or leave it. i wouldn’t reply to any attempt by everton to negotiate. he’ll only leave to go to another champions league side where he’s likely to start. arsenal is his best bet. i’d let him and his agent work the deal and agitate from their side. if arsenal can finish in the top four and retain either alexis or ozil, i’d fancy their chances of making this deal happen. we’ll see.

    1. I hate to be cynical, but we’re not making the Champions League this year. He’s not coming to us, more likely PSG.

    2. Apparently he’s leaving because Everton have no ambition to win big trophies.

      That rules us out, I guess.

  17. “I also don’t think he’s a disastrous manager or that Arsenal are in quite the crisis on the field as people think. We aren’t great, we do seem to have some chronic problems, especially with regards to recruitment, organization, and mental strenfth.”

    I agree with this. Was the word strength purposely spelled wrong? We do tend to collapse spectacularly at times, and this is not good. I also think that other clubs do the same from time to time, and aren’t judged by the same measure. Which makes me think that we are put under more pressure too. I know that’s no excuse but it can be a reason.

    As to the rest of your post. I also agree that Brexit and Trump represented the burn it all down option. I also happen to see firing Wenger as representing that option. The difference is that the other two things truly affect people’s lives. Football is supposed to be entertainment. So I suppose you could argue burning it all down is less dangerous/consequential, but I also think it is less necessary, especially because we aren’t the club who is facing ‘demise’, is ‘mediocre’ or any of the other stuff that is thrown at us regularly.

    I will say though that what we have today is not actually capitalism. Capitalism came about to stop collusion between the kings and traders because it was undermining public interest. Who do we think the governments of today serve the interests of best? The people or big business? It’s mercantilism pumped full of steroids masquerading as capitalism, and democracy for that matter. Brexit and Trump harm globalism, but like capitalism, there has not been true globalisation. Only a way to open up markets for big corporations while keeping labour and money supply controlled. And if anything goes wrong, the public pays further to keep it afloat.

    So Arsenal. We were among those who campaigned for the formation of the Premier League in the first place. And for a while that brought about globalisation, opening up the game to people like you and me halfway around the world. To players from all over the world who could display their skills in that environment. Then it all became a money printing vessel. Maybe the best thing that can happen to the league is to go bust like Serie A did. But I suspect we are stuck with how it is because it’s entered the ‘too big to fail’ territory. (And might be fertile ground for laundering money)

    None of which changes that I get to decide how much time and money I spend on following Arsenal or the league or football. Right now, it has reduced. But that’s not because of the team, nor the owner. It is because of the climate around Arsenal, and the god awful officiating. It’s spoiling my enjoyment of the game. Maybe taking some time off won’t be the worst thing actually.

  18. It is well written and a good read,congratulations, you can get a bit morose at times (and its easy to), but the symptoms regarding your support of Arsenal are symptoms of life and society in general, globalisation and capitalism have taken over everything its not just English football,its everything you could delete the references to Arsenal and replace them with Healthcare,motor car,Aggregate production,Fizzy drink manufacturer, anything!! We are all virtually help less pawns, going along with the decisions a faceless corporation makes
    One paragraph you talk (slightly ridicule), David Dein for (only), taking £75million for his shares, well that £75M is going to take an awful lot of spending,its fairly certain if he had held on and got the £150M you say they are worth now the only difference to him would be how much was left after he dies,the soul is/has been ripped out of society, by greed and commercialism we are all helpless,don’t fight it ride it and just see the good whats left,live how you want to and be as content as you can, Arsenal has brought you some great moments and if you let it, will continue to, without worrying who owns,runs or exploits it.

  19. Shard, what other clubs of Arsenal’s stature collapse as often and as spectacularly as we do?

    1. Yeah, no. I’m not playing this game with you. I’m not going to go looking for examples of clubs collapsing and then argue about what constitutes a collapse and what clubs of Arsenal’s stature means.

      Among the other things I said, I talked about us collapsing being bad and needing to be addressed. The qualifier was that we are judged differently (implied: in the media and by referees) and that this puts more pressure on us.

      Because if you think the ‘Arsenal lack mental strength’ argument can be seen in isolation without looking at the ‘Arsenal are soft’ narrative, or ‘X years since trophy’ uniquely applied to Arsenal, then I disagree. I believe it adds more pressure on to us, which doesn’t cause, but contributes to collapses. (I also argued that we are hardly alone in having such collapses. You can disagree with that too. Whatever)

    2. PSG, Tim. More spectacularly than Arsenal when losing 6-1 to Barca.
      Imagine Arsenal losing like that.

  20. Ha ha . It’s not that complicated Shard.
    You’ve made a statement you probably know isn’t true and now you are trying to get philosophical about it and claim the high ground.

    I’m not good at philosophical debates, probably due to lack of proper education, but I’m really good at smelling bullsh#t when I see it.

    Suit yourself.

    1. It’s not true that other clubs (of Arsenal’s stature) collapse? Maybe the source of all that bullsh*t you smell is closer than you think.

  21. Any big club can have an off day and lose big to other quality opposition.
    The issue with Arsenal is the frequency of such occurrences .

    1. I never said other clubs have such issues as frequently as we do. (Though since I don’t follow them as closely, I don’t know. Maybe some do.) Nor did I deny that we have issues which need addressing (and because you obviously want it to be about blaming Wenger, I have also said in the past that a change of manager is definitely an option towards addressing this)

      You want to take one statement by me and make it your mission to denounce it, at least get what I said right without being ridiculous about it.

      All I did was agree with Tim (and you) and add a qualifier that we are also put under more pressure than other clubs. You want to argue about that?

  22. Hardly a mission , Shard.
    An obvious attempt on your part to normalize and gloss over an aspect of Arsenal make up which is undeniable, whether one thinks Wenger is at the root of it or not.
    Also ,when other big clubs find themselves on a wrong end of a collapse ,they do get slaughtered for it.
    PSG the latest example.

    1. “I also don’t think he’s a disastrous manager or that Arsenal are in quite the crisis on the field as people think. We aren’t great, we do seem to have some chronic problems, especially with regards to recruitment, organization, and mental strenfth.”

      I agree with this. Was the word strength purposely spelled wrong? We do tend to collapse spectacularly at times, and this is not good. I also think that other clubs do the same from time to time, and aren’t judged by the same measure. Which makes me think that we are put under more pressure too. I know that’s no excuse but it can be a reason.


      What part of that is obviously glossing over anything? I literally agreed with what was said FFS.

      Face it. You just don’t like that I don’t condemn Arsenal for it the way you do. That I think it goes beyond just blaming the players/manager/owner. Anything else is out of line as far as you’re concerned because it doesn’t fit your vision.

      1. I’m facing it Shard and I couldn’t care less if you condemn Arsenal in any way shape or form for anything that might be wrong with the club.
        Also, I don’t even think I have a particular vision for it myself and if Arsene wants to stay as the manager for the next five years with Kroenke’s blessing, I’m all for it – it’s their club.
        But I’m not gonna pretend we don’t get walloped more often than other clubs, or that the media make more of it – they don’t.

        If anything, Arsenal big defeats got normalized over time as part and parcel of what the club has become.

  23. I’m sorry I didn’t get to read this earlier. I wish I had. It’s probably the best piece I have seen in my six years visiting this site. It was high time someone emphasized the realities of capitalism to what seems like a huge portion of Arsenal’s fanbase that fails to grasp them. Thank you.

  24. Tim,

    I really don’t get why you need to say Putin’s a brutal dictator. How much do you really know about Russia? (Genuine question) He may not fit the US’ description of ‘democratic’, but come on, we all (should) know how much the US actually cares about that rather than the fact that Russia stands in opposition to their hegemony.

    And the reason I bring this up is not because I have special love for Putin or Russia. I am just against the demonisation by proxy that is used to delegitimise other peoples’ rights, ironically, in their name. It is what has led to countless wars with the West always claiming a higher moral ground as it topples govts/invades nations.

    Anyway. What I was going to say was what makes you think Usmanov will be different? He’s never actually said he would sink his own money into Arsenal. Their visions statement was basically Kroenke’s current statement. He might be more populist though. And you are probably correct about the firing part.

    Whoever our owner is in the future, I think our size will count against us being run via the City or Chelsea model. If someone were willing to spend a billion or so in buying players/paying managers etc, why would they add another billion to their cost by buying Arsenal, rather than buy some smaller club like say Crystal Palace or Watford? I mean I know why Arsenal are a more attractive investment, but worth a billion more? I’m not so sure.

  25. The worst thing for the winning success of a club is financial security or complacency. I grew up a Detroit Lions fan and live near Toronto and follow the Maple Leafs. Both teams – wealthy owners, financially prosperous, devoted fan base… and neither are winners. The fans gripe and complain about the lack of success, it becomes a running joke amongst themselves but they still go to watch games, buy merchandise etc. Arsenal, sadly, are headed this way. The club is not a vanity project like it is for Abramovitch, nor is it a political project like it is for the Man City or PSG owners. We’re stuck.

  26. Arsenal isn’t the only club that has become globalized. The premier league is a global product. All the big clubs have been globalized. Saying globalization is the problem at Arsenal is like Trump saying Americans are worse off now because they are losing their jobs to Mexicans and the Chinese. Globalization is only a problem If you haven’t been able to properly use the benefits you have received from it. In the case of corporations, globalization has led to lower costs of goods sold but corporate greed has seen to it that the savings are not really passed to the consumer. Instead most of it is used to improve profit margins and/or increase stock value. Moreover, increase in demand for those products have seen the prices actually go up. The government hasn’t helped either. We never foresaw the social cost to globalization and did anything to replace lost jobs or help people pick up new skills that would let them move to another industry.

    In the case of Arsenal, I just don’t agree the globalization is the reason why are the way we are (unless you were joking). We have a ton of money that we can use to build the squad carefully but our transfers don’t seem to be done in a planned way. Instead, we are happy to pick up scraps from other clubs. I love Alexis and Ozil but let’s not pretend they weren’t cast-offs. Elneny and Mustafi seemed like panic buys. Xhaka seems to be the only one who we had planned carefully – though I still remain unconvinced by him. You can’t fault these things on globalization. These are on the manager. You can’t fault these on the owner either. We would all love an owner who comes to every game and shows that he is emotionally, and not just financially, invested in the club. However this isn’t a requirement for us to be successful. To my knowledge, Kroenke hasn’t stopped Wenger from buying a player that he wanted. And I totally understand the complaint about being too passive which leads to the lack of accountability in the club but that cycle can be broken if the board can find a manager who has the hunger, will and ability to win the league. Not saying Arsene doesn’t have the hunger but definitely seems to lack the ability and his status kind of makes him beyond reproach as far as the board goes.

    The only real negative from the globalization of Arsenal that I can think of is the cost of attending a match – both financially and timewise. That is a direct function of supply and demand; and demand has sky rocketed due to the club’s popularity so yes, we are helpless to do anything about that. However, I will add that everything comes at a cost. Now whether you think the cost outweighs the benefits is a different argument. The fact is the board can lower ticket prices and still have a profitable year but the only thing that’s stopping them is greed. That’s not on globalization but on the people who run the club.

    1. I don’t think the article was about the reasons for Arsenal’s “failure” such as it may be. The point is bigger. It’s about how it’s been swept up in an unstoppable worldwide shift. Can we talk about something other than who to blame, for once? That would be super.

      1. “The real problem is globalization”

        I thought the point of the article was how we have been negatively affected by globalization since it’s titled “I am the problem with Arsenal” and then Tim links himself with globalization. In any case, doesn’t being “swept up in an unstoppable worldwide shift” mean just that? Otherwise it’s a very general comment. Yes, we have all been affected by globalization. My point was globalization is not the problem at our club, the people who run it are.

        1. I see it as a different argument because “the problem” as referenced above is more to do with the sweeping changes of following Arsenal football club in the last 20 years; the transformation from a parochial white collar suburban London football club to a massive global brand. Tim seems to be saying because he was part of that movement that he is to blame, in part, for how things have changed. I think that’s silly, and many things that have changed have changed for the better. Still, that discussion to me is separate from the whole tiresome and at times sickening debate (we’ll call it that to be kind) about resources on and off the pitch, how they are being used, and by extension how the club is being run which is what you address. They are inter-related but not the same.

  27. Monaco’s thrilling mugging of Manchester City shows us what we are missing. I love Arsene Wenger, but he is washed up. A has been. I’d like to see him stop tarnishing his legacy, and do what Kroenke is not incentivised to do – that is, replace the nurturer and carer of the golden calf.

    Im not saying hire Jardim tomorrow (he has two third place finishes in France in his first two seasons), but man., there’s a rich crop of younger, more imaginative managers than Wenger.

      1. I do not believe that Arsene Wenger will not have some say in who his successor will be.

        That said, he will never approve of Jardim. The two do not like each other. Just go back to the Champions League a few years ago and the trash talking.

    1. The thrilling mugging was a 6-6 aggregate score and they went through on away goals. By the way, apparently City started slowly in the first half. Why does that sound familiar? Sure, Jardim takes the accolades on this day but it’s a thin line between genius and failure in football.

      This means Leicester City are left to fly the flag for England in the CL. And why not? They are the champions.

      1. I’m so proud of plucky Leicester and the way Vardy heroically baited Nasri into his trap. Who says the level of English football went down with Suarez’s departure?

        I blame Wenger for not bringing proven winners like Suarez and Vardy into our club. Wenger is altogether too soft and moralistic. We need a an owner with a true commitment to winning like Tapie or Marinakis or at the very least, a visionary director of sport like Moggi.

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