Arsenal Transfer Window
Arsenal and transfer windows are a recurring annual feature. And just like last year, this summer window too, was full of ups and downs. With no deadline day signings, some Arsenal fans were left a little disappointed, perhaps rightly, and time will tell whether this summer’s business had any benefits for the club or not, however it has not exactly been a disaster this time around.
So after having sold Robin van Persie (last year’s PFA player of the year), Alex Song (highest assists + so called Defensive MF), and having failed to sign up Theo Walcott to a new deal, how did Arsene Wenger still manage to keep the team completive ? For a change, Wenger bought early and he bought experienced Internationals. With the new signings of Podolski, Giroud and most importantly Santi Cazorla, Wenger and lots of Arsenal fans believe that the team will be able to cope with the two big name exits. Further, with a good start to the season from the perennially crocked Abou Diaby and the expected return of Jack Wilshere, Wenger already has his like new signings ready. So, while the squad could have done with at least a couple of more additions – a wide forward, who could provide something different to Gervinho and Theo; and a versatile defender who can play across the back line; at least Arsenal are not worse off than last season. And this despite the enormous hole left by the departure of van Persie !
So what to make of it all, the ins and outs and what does it mean for Arsenal. Well, what it means to Arsenal is a relative thing because you have to compare it with what Arsenal’s rivals have been up to.
Transfer Business Of Rivals
Manchester City did not do much – they did not need to, but they still splashed around the cash bringing the likes of Rodwell and more curiously Maicon, add the fact that Tevez will be available throughout the season and an already very strong team just became stronger.
Manchester United added Arsenal’s captain and Shinji Kagawa and will have Vidic back. That makes them quite formidable. While they did not quite get the midfielder their fans are waiting for, a fit RvP in the team and they are ready to challenge on all fronts.
Chelsea have added loads of exciting midfield talent – Hazard, Oscar, Marin and so on, but have lost Drogba. Overall they are a much better team and should Torres click, they are bound to be much closer to the Manchester clubs this year. Early season form indicates that they are genuine title contenders.
Tottenham and Liverpool have a new manager and with some ins and outs – they will be competitive for sure, and so will Newcastle. All this means that overall, Arsenal’s rivals (with one or two exceptions) have largely had good summer transfer business and have improved their teams. Given, that Arsenal finished behind the league champions by almost 20 points last season, have they done enough to claw back the gap. Evidently not.
Arsenal Football Club run a self-sufficient business model and does not rely on benefactors. This means that there is no external investment or funding into the business – they spend what they earn. But if you were to imagine that say tomorrow, some billionaire who was not averse to putting his money where his mouth is, take charge of the club, how much investment would it take to bring Arsenal back in line with the big spenders. Well, 7amkickoff has done this research here and the answer appears to be a whooping 215 Mn Pounds ! For those of you interested in football AND finance, it is a fascinating read. Here is a quick excerpt:
“But still, I was curious, so I asked the question of Zach. What would it take for Arsenal to have a similar percent chance (95%) of winning the League that the three big spenders (Chelsea, Man U, and Man City) currently enjoy?
The quick answer was £215m. That’s the amount of money it would take in transfers and salaries to get into that 95th percentile. That’s if Arsene Wenger didn’t add anything to the team, which we know he does – 16 points per season over his career which has dipped to 14 points lately, which is around £100m in value. That means that if Arsenal wanted to get into the 95th percent, in the Total Team Value model, with Arsene Wenger at the helm, they would have to spend somewhere around £120m.”
So, even taking Wenger’s undoubted brilliance into the equation, Arsenal would require nearly 120 million additional investments in salaries and transfer spend to get Arsenal a fair chance at winning the Premier League. Phew !
It is fair to say from just an observant fan’s point of view that at this moment, with the stadium debt still to be paid, some deadwood still on the books and some long term commercial contracts with sponsors still in place which are not maximising Arsenal brand’s true value – it would not be possible to compete with the big boys just yet. But then the question is are we doing the best we possibly can ? Are we maximising whatever resources that we have at our disposal ? Or to turn the question on its head as the wonderful Ginger4Limpars asks eloquently here: Does Arsenal’s latest transfer window show a “lack of ambition”? It is a quite brilliant blog post which echoes so many of the sentiments of Arsenal fans as he states here:
“Who are we to demand glory every season? How can we expect the Arsenal to simply brush aside rivals who spend tens of millions more on their squads each season than we do?
Well the truth is that we don’t. But much like my Brighton-supporting pal, what we do expect is for the club to try. To make a go of it. To show ambition!”
He ends it superbly with these lines:
The result, alas, is the feeling that the club isn’t really competing for the league anymore. This doesn’t mean that we should lessen our support for the XI players that take to pitch each week – some of them, at least, will be genuinely trying to win every match. But it does explain the frustration felt by many Gooners last night.
Whether ambitious – or not – in our own lives, we look to Arsenal to show some ambition each season. We want them to make us dream, but increasingly the dream is broken by a groundhog day-style awakening where everything is the same as it was last time around.
This isn’t by any means a disaster, but also isn’t great for our morale. After yet another disappointing transfer window, the board’s report again reads: “Must try harder.”
So, while Arsenal may be slightly better than last season, they are no closer to the top than last season, perhaps because they did not do enough. They bought three experienced players, but then let go off a couple of big names and possibly did not substantively improve the squad, when the opportunity was there. And that is slight frustration that some fans have.
The most worrying sentiment was from the noted football journalist Raphael Honigstein who believes that there is a very worrying thought process behind why Arsenal do not spend all the money they have available. He states here :
“Maybe the manager, who is so fiercely optimistic in his declarations every season, has in fact realised that other teams will have better squads come what may. Breaking the bank to finish second rather than fourth makes little sense.”
So, is it all doom and gloom? Are Arsenal fans resigned to yet another season of underachievement and disappointment? No, wait because there just might be an X factor at play here. Last season, Arsenal conceded a massive 49 goals across 38 games. That is quite shocking for a top team. Well, this season the team has started with 3 clean sheets. Admittedly the sample size is low, but with 3 regulars in Sagna, Koscielny and Szczesny missing most of the start of the campaign the turnaround in defence is extremely heart warming. Steve Bould, part of Arsenal’s legendary back Four under George Graham is now the new Assistant Coach. And if he has his way, Arsenal could be reducing their goals conceded by more than half and that by itself is worth plenty of points. Steve Bould could quite possibly be Arsenal’s signing of the summer!
– Article written by Guest Author Abhishek Paul [Twitter - @Abhility]
– Read previously written articles by the same author on the site