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From The Outside, Something Doesn't Ring True

From The Outside, Something Doesn't Ring True

Firstly let me say I don't like Arsenal. It's not been a lifelong thing and I think it probably has more to do with the post Wenger era fans than some of the old stagers who are generally quite reasonable. Those fans who seem to think that Arsenal are some divine gift to wonderful football and should therefore not be judged like others.

The older fans remember 'Boring Boring Arsenal' and tend to be more reasoned about where you are now. (Indecently I remember watching Arsenal beat Chelsea 0-2 at Stamford Bridge about 10-15 years ago (Alan Smith was the player that stood out that day) and thinking men against boys then so last Sunday was especially sweet)

A big surprise on reading the programme on Sunday was your squad list. It seemed to go on for ages. Who are all these people? How many of them are genuinely good enough to start in the premiership for a top 4 team? At a guess, of the 30 plus names on that list only about half are genuine contenders for a starting place. You are rumoured not to pay the highest wages in the league but your total wage bill is still one of the largest, I presume therefore that this long line of people are all picking up a decent wage.

I know this is based on supposition but get rid of 15 of them, replace them with 6 or 7 experienced players and your squad is more balanced with probably not much more on the overheads.

Personally I think someone at your club is not playing fair with the supporters. Either there is a real cash crisis and Wenger has to balance the books and take profits where he can, in which case he is brilliant (but you are being lied to) or he has lost the plot and is being given an easy ride by the board, not having to win trophies. Either everyone at a high level has actually written this period off whilst the stadium is paid for (a valid strategy but you should at least be told in order to lessen expectations) thus setting up a base for the future or there really is money to spend which should not be lavished (no matter how good Arshavin is) on another identikit player when the actual requirements are glaringly obvious to all.

A couple of years ago we beat your kids 2-1 at Cardiff. Sitting on the bench or in the stands that day were half a dozen senior pros (Henry - Pires etc). Last year we beat you in the semi final. Your team was just as inexperienced but that was your first team, no better players sitting it out.

In my view you have not progressed but actually gone backwards which is a bit poor for a manager 10 years into his role with some kind of supposed grand plan. If this gets published I am sure some of you will resent it and slag me off for coming here giving my views but from the outside something just doesn't ring true

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Mr Reasonable (Chelsea Fan)
Date:Wednesday December 2 2009
Time: 1:09PM


The first team squad has 29 players, one less than Chelski's. Realistically at least 4 or 5 of them are just reserves/ youths getting to train with the first team to gain some experience. The average PL squad size is 26. Chelski's wage bill is 40% higher than ours. Last season we beat your first team 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. So far this season we have more points than at the same stage last season and have picked up 4 points more than from the corresponding fixtures last season so not too far backwards then. The financial position is strong and getting better. We can invest consistently over the future. Your financial future is wholely dependent on the largesse of one man. He won't break even this year as he intended to but it isn't possible for anyone to make losses forever. If I were you I would be far more concerned how long or if you can continue to go forwards in the future than whether we are truly going backwards. (Though nothing has yet been won this season)
02/12/2009 13:30:00
You're just repeating what many Arsenal fans have been saying for at least three years.
Professor Calculus
02/12/2009 13:33:00
Yes - and with the same degree of insight.
02/12/2009 13:34:00
People can have various opinions about the situation, some are positive others negative, but the one comment which for me has some credibility is the "Something doesn't ring true" one. Some of the decisions made by the club are very strange if we are to assume they are focused on winning, which is what we are told. If however, the club is very carefully treading water whilst dealing with the new stadium and still managing to finish in the top four, then the current scenario makes much more sense and they are doing very well. To tell the Arsenal fans that the new stadium was the start of a new golden transfer era, was not the right tone or tactic in my opinion, in hindsight I think the board would have made it a priority not to build up expectations.
Professor Calculus
02/12/2009 13:41:00
02/12/2009 13:43:00
Something most certainly doesn't ring true. The board in my opinion without a doubt care more about the running of the football club than the history books, or the success that could come on the pitch, some of Wenger's interviews and theories on where we are right now are infuriating, but i really feel he's wrestling with the gods on this one.
02/12/2009 13:45:00
And...the amount of players in the squad, a lot of those players are seen as commodities, no real hope of really making the first team, but with a decent transfer fee and subsequent sell on clauses they make us a tidy little sum further down the line.
02/12/2009 13:50:00
Amos I am not trying to compare against Chelsea and somehow say we are better - honest - I know there are many things people hate about us and our structure. It may be just that you like to include everyone but the Arsenal squad list in Sundays programme was huge in comparison. Unfortunately I dont have it to hand. You say you are going forwards - perhaps you are from last year when you only finished 4th because Villa blew a gasket. But compared to 3 years ago? 5years? 10 years? I saw a table on one of the Arsenal fan sites. Out of 5 games played against teams 1-9 in the premiership you have 3 points (Spurs), in games against teams 10-20 you have only dropped 2 (West Ham). To me there is evidence of a problem Wenger seems too stubbon to address.
Mr Reasonable
02/12/2009 13:51:00
Undeniably the new stadium was the start of a new era for the club. Financially the club is on a wholely other level now than 4 or 5 years ago. The test is not how much we can spend in one season or one transfer window but how much we can generate to spend consistently to secure enduring success. The club didn't build expectations our success did that but if you want sustained success don't pin your hopes on the Chelsea model no matter how tantalising it might appear in the short term.
02/12/2009 13:51:00
As I have tried to point out Mr Reasonable our first team squad is smaller than yours. Check it out on the official website of both clubs. Check out the average squad sizes in the major European leagues at the Professioanl Football Players Observatory. There really is nothing at all peculiar about our squad size. The stats about points picked up against the top half of the table against the bottom half meaningless at this stage especially as the points dropped apart from against Chelsea were away fixtures. look at it at the end of the season rather than draw conclusions one third of the way through - but do remember that ManU won the title having only won once against the top four clubs last season. There's no stubborness just frustrating pragmatism. The teams that have topped us have done so spending £500m more over the last 10 years in the case of ManU and £500m in 5 years in the case of Chelsea. That gap is going to be different over the coming 10 years.
02/12/2009 14:05:00
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