Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Saturday May 3 2008
The fallout of our horrible capitulation continues to rumble on, it is obviously worth discussing the whys and wherefores, which I have done in a previous article. Whilst slight tinkering with the squad rather than sweeping reforms are necessary, it is worth pointing out why our infrastructure looks to positive in comparison with our competitors. It is easy to think your club is in a state of perpetual collapse, as we are given to psychoanalyse every eventuality with razor sharp focus. So let us turn our attention to those around us.
I think it's clear that right now, we do not have the financial clout of Chelsea and Manchester United. But that gap is narrowng and will continue to narrow. Peter Kenyon's ever shifting parameters for Chelsea to break even will have to see the purse strings tightened at some point. In effect, we saw this last summer, when mangerial genius Jose Mourinho, without the security of football's most significant chequebook, bought in Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim. If any of those players are still at Chelsea next year I will be amazed. Despite finishing this season very strongly and with a possible European crown in the offing, Chelsea will probably end up culling at least ten of their current squad in the summer. These players will need to be replaced and with Abramovic looking to be more frugal and less interested in Chelsea nowadays, one must question whether the replacements will be of the megabucks ilk we have become accustomed to seeing in SW5. Chelsea simply cannot continue their scattergun transfer policy of replacing entire squads every season. The pinch will come and then we will see the true quality of their manager. Whoever it may be.
Manchester United look set to enjoy another historic season having spent huge sums last summer reinforcing their title winning squad. However, under the stewardship of the Glazer's, United are servicing a £660m debt just as the US heads into a major recession. The Glazers may not be so forthcoming with funds to buy another Anderson or Carrick. Ownership at other clubs looking to chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in the shape of top four positions looks tenuous at best. City supremo Shiniwatra looks set to sack City's best manager in a generation, who will presumably be given a sack of money to spend before being sacked next summer. Shiniwatra put a five year deadline on Citeh winning the league upon assuming control last summer. He also gave himself five years to entirely banish drugs from Thailand, so unrealistic targets are par of the course for Frank. The likes of Mike Ashley have adopted scattergun managerial policies which will ensure their sides stay in the wilderness for years to come. Ironically enough, of the sides chasing the top four oasis, Everton have looked the most likely. The team that stuck with their manager, has spent seldom but wisely, and has a stable playing staff. Tottenham continue to vomit money they don't really have, yet have regressed continuously over the last three years. Whilst Pompey have had an excellent season, 'Arry was given large sums of money to spend last summer and with Gygamak looking for a return on his investment and Pompey building a new stadium, money will leave the club quicker than it enters. As for Liverpool, well, not much else needs to be said does it?
As long as Arsenal resist the lurid neon claws of Usmanov, we are in a very stable position, with our financial clout swelling year on year, as other clubs will be forced to tighten the purse strings. Our current 'war chest' is misleading as Arsenal, so long as we continue to operate soundly, will be in a position of muscle whilst others slam the wallets shut. Arsenal appear to be the only one of the big players who are thinking long term. Of course we have been aided and abetted by a genius of a manager who has been able to keep us competing on a comparitive shoestring. I guess this is why I feel quite relaxed about the prospect of finishing the season empty handed. While we are battling a troubling and unattractive zit on the end of our noses, a more panoramic view out onto the horizon suggests that we will have the last laugh.LD.
Date:Saturday May 3 2008
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