Arsene Wenger is principled:
“We do not want to sell our players – so all the players who have contracts will stay here unless we decide otherwise. We want to keep our best players. We have answered that in nearly 80% of our press conferences and at some stage it has to stop, because the past has shown that this question is useless.” (April, 2011)
Not when it comes to doing business apparently. Giving up any pretense of plugging the yawning gap between Utd and Arsenal and selling them the team’s captain and top goalscorer. Wenger became even divorced from those principles when he shipped his most improved midfielder without much fight to a club that has become notorious for strong arming Arsenal for four years now. There were less lucrative options. He could have held RVP’s feet to the fire and told him to honour his last year on his contract. There are reports that Song was a disruptive presence but Wenger could have reminded him that he had two years left in his contract. But that might endangered Song’s price tag. A less reported consequence of financial doping while the focus is on clubs who are its principal drivers are players who are actively abet this phenomenon. Wenger is an activist when it comes to financial fair play rules but when it came to passing up £40m of business as a matter of principle, he blinked.
Arsenal are a youthful club:
Not anymore. The average age of the starting 11 yesterday was 25 years. Two years go it was 22 years. Age creep has begun and this is the first time in five years that it has hit a quarter century. If you look at the new additions, Wenger has been going in for more experience bringing in Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla, and Lukas Podolski, to the mix possibly as a way to combat the perception of a talented but naive Arsenal squad that self combusts.There is still an obvious emphasis on developing players but Arsenal’s success in that front has been measured in their selling price and not actual silverware. For a self sustaining model to work, Champions League participation is even more important, which in light of Arsenal’s lowered expectations is probably as good as a title. But to assure participation, self immediacy and self protection not predictions are the order of the day.
Arsenal have a cutting edge in creativity:
It was Mark Hughes who famously said Arsenal practised the dark arts a few years ago in another prickly side-line encounter. A dog whistle to not English enough and full of unwanted foreign creativity. At this point, at least on paper, Chelsea wear that mantle. Juan Mata, Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, and Oscar. The Blues have taken over the odds in tearing apart the opposition in a moment of genius. The Toons show that edge too with Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheikh Tiote, and Yohan Cabaye, all providing some nifty highlights to a growing reputation. City have David Silva and Yaya Toure for some silky smooth touches of their own. United will do it through the wings in the form of Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa. The Gunners have some fine talent in Santi Cazorla and should pick up even more if Nuri Sahin joins but they are not the only kids on the block anymore. Yesterday, we kept up the possession stats but Sunderland provided other less accomplished teams with a template for future frustration.
The self sustaining model is efficient or sustaining:
There is now a lacunae in the generation of players sold to make substantial profit and the next. With Song gone, there are no players left who Arsenal can point to for a great return of investment. A business model such as Arsenal without investor money relies heavily on match day receipts (the most expensive ticket prices), TV and appearance money, commercial and merchandising revenue, wage demands, and player sales. The last part might get even tougher with financial fair play rules kicking in at least till clubs come up with ways to cook the books. Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin have yet to prove themselves and it might take a number of years till Arsenal get their hands on the amounts of money they’ve been used to getting each summer. This adds pressure on developing commercial and merchandising streams which Arsenal have been notoriously slow in developing (barring that one time Highbury real estate windfall) and the few that are active are mired in less lucrative, long term deals. Hopefully, Ivan Gazidis can generate more by exploring tie ups in developing markets in Africa, Asia, and even S. America and negotiating better paying sponsorship deals. A longer pre-season tour might become an inevitability. Arsenal re-started this strategy after 12 years last season and more fixtures and more countries might be added.
Alisher Usmanov will never get a seat in the Arsenal boardroom
How long will one keep the barbarians at the gate? RVP’s statement of a club that had a divergent vision from his lifted the lid on the Pandora’s box of seething resentment of the non-seated bloc of investors at the seated bloc of boardroom members. Basically, after blasting the boardroom for the RVP debacle, Alisher Usmanov then launched into a laundry list of accusations all documented in a letter where Peter Hill Wood and other shareholders were guilty of artificially inflating the stock prices of their holdings and selling them to Stan Kroenke for handsome profit. They were further accused of not using that money to bring down the club’s debt obligations incurred through building the Emirates. It put Peter Hill Wood on the defensive and his explanations were rather weak tea. With Kroenke, a majority owner in virtual absentia, not willing to bolster the club with his own money for transfers or even to lighten the debt, these line of attacks will continue and there might come a time, (see fourth point), when Usmanov’s money could prove to be irresistible ins supplementing a self sustaining model under pressure and he could be placated by giving him or his representative a place at the table.