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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Arsenal, Wenger And Arshavin – Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Written by on June 10, 2013 | 39 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” So said Winston Churchill in 1939.

Arsenal fans and observers may have thought something similar this week as Russia international Andrei Arshavin’s time at the Emirates came to an end. When Arshavin signed for Arsenal in January 2009 it seemed as the two had been destined for each other.

Arshavin had first come to the notice of a wider audience during the 2007/08 season. Zenit St Petersburg won the UEFA Cup and Arshavin was central to Zenit’s success. A performance at Goodison Park in a 1-0 group loss away to Everton illustrated Arshavin’s….t o read more please click on link.

39 responses to “Arsenal, Wenger And Arshavin – Where Did It All Go Wrong?”

  1. Alberta Gooner says:

    Hi Bobby,

    A very well-written and insightful piece. Arshavin appeared short on both fitness and confidence at various times during his stay in north London. I know the former was a frustration with supporters (particularly later on in his tenure, when his doughy appearance stood out as much as his reported 90k/week wages on the club’s payroll) and he did become a target of the boo boys, which affected the latter (something that’s also affected Gervinho).

    Wenger probably didn’t get the best out of him given where he played him and I don’t know if either of those factors played a role in his thinking or whether he thought he possessed better options in that area of the field.

    Arshavin, Jose Antonio Reyes and Sylvan Wiltord are Wenger’s three most expensive signings (not adjusting for inflation) at Arsenal and all three failed to fire. In a summer where the club has promised to hand big dollars to Wenger, Arshavin’s career at Arsenal should serve as a cautionary tale that spending big doesn’t always work out.

  2. Smiley says:

    “Wenger probably didn’t get the best out of him given where he played him…”

    yet it’s

    “a cautionary tale that spending big doesn’t always work out.”


    I do not think that 10M/Reyes and 15M/ArseShaven constitutes “spending big” (for the richest teams) when the likes of Kaka, Ibra, Crespo, Sheva, Mendietta and others were going for 40M-60M in the same transfer windows.

  3. John Bladen says:


    Very true. I never understood the Wenger fascination with Arshavin, much less why he courted him (and Zenit) so long and so expensively.

    When he finally got him, he didn’t use him in the same role he’d found success at Zenit (didn’t see much of them, but as I recall he played a more central role slightly withdrawn).

    People often gripe about Wenger not hanging on to his better players (something he has little control over). If they want to criticize him, look no further than some of the players he has brought in. Obviously, no manager can go on an endless win streak as far as transfers go, and Wenger’s early tremendous success no doubt set up unrealistic expectations for some.

    But his recent purchases have not been good value.

  4. Alberta Gooner says:

    @John Bladen

    My guess is Wenger likely saw value in Zenit’s asking price given Arshavin’s pedigree and skill set. He figured he’d be able to coax out performances from him into a different position based on what he already had in the middle of the park. Wenger does have form in converting players to new positions — Lauren was a winger turned fullback, Kolo Toure was a midfielder converted to centre half and Thierry Henry moved from the wing to striker.

    As Bobby pointed out, Arshavin brought some unique gifts in his vision to see passes and then having the skill to execute them. His lack of commitment in training could have had as much to do with his inability to apply that talent consistently in matches as where Wenger played him. Many, many gooners — myself included — felt his fitness was never at the required standard to play at the pace of the Premier League.

    Some of Wenger’s recent buys have not provided good ROI but there have been some astute buys (Carzola, Arteta, Koscielny and Mertesacker to name four). The jury remains very much out on Giroud, Monreal, Jenkinson, the Ox and Podolski but it’s a little early to deem them as failures. But it’s hard to argue that Gervinho, Park and Andre Santos have flopped.

  5. John Bladen says:


    I can’t argue that he looked out of shape at times. But training or reserve play is no substitute for competitive matches in regard to match fitness.

    The EPL is a more demanding and physical league than most (though the RPL, I’m told, is fairly boisterous as well). And he was moved out of position for much of his Arsenal stint.

    Did you get the feeling he lost interest a couple of years ago? It seemed apparent to me that he had sort of given up around Christmas 2011… Who knows why. Maybe he felt he hadn’t been used properly, hadn’t had the support (of an admittedly diminished Arsenal side) or just wasn’t up to the increased demands of the EPL.

    We’ll likely never know.

  6. Alberta Gooner says:

    @John Bladen

    Respectfully disagree with the physical demands of playing in England versus Russia as Arshavin himself admitted he struggled with the pace of play when he first arrived in England.

    I also agree playing out wide wound up hurting him. Whenever I did travel over to Old Blighty to watch, his failure to track back — which wasn’t such a big deal when he played in the middle for Zenit or Mother Russia — was the source of constant bitching by the boo boys in the stands. And I do think that barracking affected his confidence and saw his performances erode. He certainly wasn’t the same player in the final two years that he showed at the start of his career.

    Totally agree with you that he appeared to lose interest a couple of seasons ago. He does remind me of both Wiltord and Reyes, big-money signings who both showed early promise and subsequently fizzled out.

    Hopefully Wenger is able to get it right this summer. I really feel the foundation is in place to challenge for the league if we bring in three quality signings in the right areas.

  7. Lost interest Christmas 2011? Might be a year before as in Jan 2012 he went to Zenit on loan.
    Arshavin’s reduction in playing time coincided with the return on RVP. Different positions so it somewhat curious.

  8. Smiley says:

    ” I really feel the foundation is in place to challenge for the league if we bring in three quality signings in the right areas.”

    Where exactly is this foundation which will enable us to challenge for the league? Are you referring to the young GK who is low on confidence, an aging CB and MC in Per and Arteta, an injury prone and still developing Wilshere or the inconsistent Ox and Theo… oh yes and our RB dilemma?

    Manciteh, Manyoo and Chelsea have the proper foundation in place… NOT Arsenal.

    Next season the league title will go to either MC or CHE.

    Pelligrini (who has an Engineering degree) speaks excellent English, is tactically astute and gets the best outta world class players. Mourinho will get Roman to buy a few players needed to fight on all fronts.

    Moyes may experience growing pains in his first season fighting on all fronts so Wenger may actually get a treat and win a 3rd place trophy!

  9. 52 points from last 23 games would suggest a solid foundation. Who generated more over that run?
    Aged centre back? 28 is hardly aged – PM and LK were the best centre back partnership in the PL bar none over the second half of the season.

  10. Smiley says:

    Bobby – So we are disregarding the fact that they had no other distractions due to getting knocked out of all other competitions while the likes of Chelsea, Manciteh, Manyoo and even Tottenham were involved in various cups?

    I wasn’t aware that we are taking it as a given that the fourth richest team will ONLY be concentrating on the league title… my bad.

    Not to mention an easy run in the end against teams that were either safe from relegation or tired from playing mid week or decimated by injury.

    * Are we really using the cliche of “if you go by team X’s performances in the second half of season” they would either be clear of relegation or in Europe? Come on Bobby you are better than that! You really think Arsenal will be title contenders with 3 key “Wenger signings” if they really intend to fight on all fronts? They will need at least 2 tops CFs (Higuain/Jovetc + 1, not to mention another top OMC/winger when Santi gets cold or injured. And that’s just for starters. Sagna seems on his way and Fabianski/Sczesny need a seasoned GK for competition… and then let’s talk about a proper mid with steel and leadership shall we?

  11. Ed Gomes says:

    Once again, I am not an Arsenal fan and actually enjoy seeing them fall apart. Having said that, to me Arsenal is just a strange bird.

    They had a great squad that should have gone on and done more than what they ultimately accomplished.

    Can’t that sentence be for many of Arsenal’s campaigns? What’s troubling is that they’ve become a selling club. Buy low and sell high, which will allow them to maintain stature. The only problem with that is that they aren’t very good as a selling club.
    ’12/’13: +3.5 million pounds in transfer, even after selling RvP
    ’11/’12: +11.5 after Cesc, Nasri and Clichy
    ’10/’11: -12 spent on Koscielny and Squillaci (?)
    ’09/’10: +31.5 is a biggie due to City. Ade and Toure
    ’08/’09: -12.5 spent on Nasri, Arshavin and Ramsey
    That’s a +4.4 million pound average in the last five years

    I’ll listed until there due to Arshavin. He like many others became a forgotten man. People forget that Chamakh came for free. I know that not everyone will always pan out, but Arsenal has been riding a fine line. They brought in 9 players under 20 years of age last summer. Eleven player under 20 in ’11/’12. Six players under 20 in ’10/’11. Eight under 20 players in ’09/’10. Five under 20 in ’08/09.

    I know that’s what Wenger is know for, and sometimes you only need two or three of those youngsters to pan out, in order to improve a ton. The problem I see is that all these transfers come in with such promise and then just fall through the cracks. What exactly is the difference between Gervinho, Podolski and Giroud?

    Arshavin fell into the same trap. You can say that the player got fat and lazy, but isn’t the club, including manager, responsible for that? Where’s the leadership that gets everyone in line and gets them to perform the “Arsenal way”, whatever that may be. Isn’t the club responsible for bringing in a bad commodity.
    I’m not on the training field, and yes I’m a fan doing analysis, but leadership has to come into question. Arsenal lost to Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final. It’s a “coffee cup” but their starters played. City lost to Wigan in the FA Cup and it cost their manager his job. Full disclosure, I think that Mancini has wanted to get fired for a while now.

    It wouldn’t looks a bad if Arsenal hadn’t sold their best players. On paper, Arsenal could/should be dominant, if they built on their stars instead of selling them off. There’s no reason for a club with that much revenue coming in, to be a selling club. Big difference in being seen as a title contender or stepping stone. Arsenal is becoming a stepping stone.

  12. Alberta Gooner says:


    You can argue Arsenal should have accomplished more than they did. You can argue they’ve been a selling club. That’s pretty much conventional wisdom among some supporters and media.

    Here’s what’s usually missed and I noticed it wasn’t in your post, either. Look at the net transfer spend of Arsenal’s rivals over the same period where they should have accomplished more. Oh and tell me which of their rivals — or any club in world football — that self-financed a project such as Ashburton Grove. Having donned the fiscal hairshirt through this period, Arsenal have emerged in a very strong financial position, well ahead of Spurs and Liverpool (who are muddling through new stadium and/or redevelopment plans) as well as Chelsea and City (who need to be mindful of looming FFP sanctions if they don’t make serious changes to their business model). As a bonus, they appear to have figured out how to develop young players who are now starting to make an impact in the first team.

    The issue for me, as a longtime supporter of the club, is seeing the club secure it’s long-term financial sustainability. The sacrifices made during this period will allow us to compete in the long-term going forward. That’s one hell of a lot different than when I first starting following Arsenal in the late 1980s.

  13. Smiley says:

    ED – I think one of the many reasons why Wenger has been unsuccessful in getting optimal bloom and development outta his “youngen buys” is lack of top world class talent to take the youth under their wing and assist in training.

    Henry and Pires had the likes of Bergkamp and Overmars while RvP had Henry, etc.

    We haven’t a Vieira type to help out Wilshere and there is no Pires/Ljungberg to help out Oxe.

    Obviously this among other reasons are all a result of the manger’s “policies”.

    re:Mancini /FA Cup Final
    I believe that he knew his time was up before the match and intentionally replaced Tevez with a defensive player knowing very well it would hurt his team in the final stages of the match against Wigan. He is known to have that type of character.
    “Here’s what’s usually missed and I noticed it wasn’t in your post, either. Look at the net transfer spend of Arsenal’s rivals over the same period where they should have accomplished more. Oh and tell me which of their rivals — or any club in world football — that self-financed a project such as Ashburton Grove. Having donned the fiscal hairshirt through this period, Arsenal have emerged in a very strong financial position, well ahead of Spurs and Liverpool “

    1) Chelsea have won 10 trophies in the last decade while Madrid won nothing this season, etc.

    2) With 2 Billionaire shareholders (one who volunteered to pay off stadium debt in exchange for board issuing him more shares), we could have been more competitive and had the new stadium as opposed to this “lost decade”.

    3) We all know there are many loopholes within FFP which makes its bark much worse than its bite. And if you think big spending doesn’t always help then I simply direct your attention to Bayern signing Javi Martinez for 40M.

  14. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, I don’t disagree with you in terms of Financial success, and meeting the FFP standards.
    The problem I have with your comments is that you mention other clubs spending sprees. Who cares?
    The point I was trying to make was that Arsenal, could and should have been able to keep its stars and make runs at Silverware, and still be fiscally responsible. Yes players asked to leave, but don’t you think if a plan was in place that showed Silverware on the horizon was demonstrated, these players wouldn’t have stayed?
    Why wasn’t this conveyed effectively to their stars?

    For me, the fact is that Arsenal should have been building on the stars they had, and not off them. They are a big club with a very good manager.

  15. Alberta Gooner says:


    Who cares about spending sprees? Ask Leeds, Portsmouth or Rangers fans that question today and see what they say.

    The fact is Arsenal — as a club — decided to bite the bullet and build a new stadium. In order to do that, the board decided to sign long-term sponsorship deals that have now ended and have been renewed at much higher rates. In order to ensure the bills were paid, we were forced to become a selling club and rely on young players. That Wenger kept us competitive through that period given our transfer spend is nothing short of astonishing and speaks to the improvements in Arsenal’s player development when you see how they are starting to bring through players from the reserves and youth sides to the first team (Cesc, Song, Gibbs, Wilshere).

    The goal has been to run the club like Bayern — both in terms of revenue and youth development — and we’re now arriving in that neighbourhood financially.

    Arsenal were never going to keep a hold of Fabregas, RvP, Nasri , Song or Adebayor, all of whom were agitating for moves away. Sure Wenger could have made them see out their deals and disrupt the harmony in the dressing room but they all would have left in the end so it would have been a damaging and pointless risk to take. Any other club in that situation would have sold on, too. It’s OK to criticize the club — many of our newer “supporters” do that regularly — and there’s some legitimate criticisms to be made. Suggesting Arsenal should have held on its stars is wishful thinking along the same lines as the starry-eye gullibility of supporters who beleive the promises of Uzbek sugar daddies.

  16. Smiley says:

    Ed – You must understand that you can’t debate this matter with ultra loyalist Wenger fans who are delusional about it NOT being necessary to “bite the bullet and build a new stadium”.

    They will provide every unrelated and illogical excuse in the book. They bring up scenarios of clubs who were in totally different financial tiers, leagues, divisions and then insist spending big doesn’t always guarantee success when no one is saying to spend 40M on a CB. However, Wenger’s hubris and transfer policy which is saving 5-10M by searching for worldwide bargains in this new BPL environment has been proven futile and a greater waste of funds in terms of wages and transfer fees.

    God help them! 🙂

  17. Alberta Gooner says:

    I guess everybody else will have to decide for themselves who is being realistic and who is the gullible fanboy peddling fairy tales based on Usmanov’s spin in the press. Oh and their own intensive research based on playing manager at FIFA 13 or some other manager simulation because it’s ever so easy to write cheques and bring in players in those games, isn’t it? It couldn’t possibly be difficult with real live human beings, especially given Wenger’s famously cordial relationship with the like of Nasri’s agent Jean-Pierre Bernes, right?

    Those of us who’ve supported the club before Wenger’s arrival understood (even if everybody didn’t necessarily agree) why the board backed these decisions regarding the sustainability model and self-financing the stadium. And there’s some legitimate criticisms to be made about the current board, but their decision not to pimp out the club to a Uzbek billionaire convicted of racketeering is certainly not one of them.

    Gloryhunters who arrived during the Invincibles area have turned into quite the flock of Chicken Littles in recent years without silverwear and it’s tough to stomach criticisms from “fans” with that sense of entitlement when their investment in the team only extends to the time taken to unearth YouTube compilations to tout their “scouting” job to fix what ails the club or Wikipedia citations for “facts” to continue the same tiresome arguments. They’ve not used these resources to learn the history of the club or even visit Highbury or the Emirates but they know better than Wenger, the board or longtime supporters.

    At the risk of having this devolve into another flame war, I’m done posting in this thread. I’ve made my points. Have a good weekend.

  18. Smiley – tread carefully because we all know who you are.

  19. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, I’m not a Wenger basher. I think that he’s done a tremendous job. But I do feel that he never really had or designated a leader on the club.
    Cesc always wanted to go back to Barca, but it didn’t have to be now. You don’t think that he would have stayed if he felt that the team was going to contend?
    The same could be said of RvP.
    Nasri could have been convinced to stay if he didn’t see everyone jump ship.
    Song was a money grab, and Ade could of left.

    What I was trying to say was that you didn’t have to go on a spending spree to be a contender. You had the pieces.

    Lastly, how do you let these guys contracts run to the end before selling. The players had all the leverage. I don’t care how much money Arsenal made, I still think they should have gotten more.
    RvP to rival Man United? That’s crazy. How about shopping him before he shops himself?

  20. Alberta Gooner says:


    It’s a very fair criticism to suggest Arsenal mismanaged the contract renewals of key personnel in this period. Obviously there’s always a risk of providing a long-term extension given RvP’s injury problems but let’s look at the particulars of each player we’ve mentioned.

    We don’t have all the facts on Cesc’s move but it’s clear he wanted to return to Barca. There’s plenty of rumours he was promised a move one year after they first made a bid to bring him back to Catalonia. There was also apparently some deep resentment between Cesc’s people and the Arsenal medical staff over how his hamstring injuries were diagnosed and treated that led to his agitation for a move. Criticizing the Arsenal physios and medical staff’s track record — by the way — is very legitimate. Bobby has made this point in the past.

    RvP had a year to run on his deal (a state of affairs which is owned by the club). At that point, he publicly trashed both the club and manager on his personal website as the club captain and asked for a move. That ended any hope of keeping him around. And that’s on RvP’s head. Full stop. Now the club could have done more to find a foreign suitor but neither PSG nor Juventus were willing to meet Arsenal’s asking price. I suspect they would have taken less money if either club would have come close to what Manchester United offered after some haggling but you need to make sensible decisions about what’s best for the club, not emotional ones.

    Nasri wasn’t staying at Arsenal. Read the Sports Illustrated story about his agent and Wenger’s relationship that I linked. As soon as Bernes was appointed, he was off. Arsenal erred in letting his contract run down. It’s important to note that Arsenal have also been castigated for signing Bendtner, Chamakh and Denilson to long-term deals, which has been it very difficult to offload them so there’s always a risk in locking down a promising young player. Nasri’s performances in a City shirt suggest he’s not been value for his 25m transfer fee

    The only difference between Song and Nasri (or RvP) is his agent Darren Dein (who also represented Cesc) approached the club after renegotiating his deal when it had three years left to run. When the club refused, the player apparently began to act up in training and reportedly enraged Steve Bould to the point that he ordered him off the pitch during a pre-season training session in Austria. Dein already had lined up the move to Barca and Arsenal did a good bit of business, even if it really hurt them in not getting a direct replacement and relying on Diaby as a fill-in midfield pivot.

    Adebayor was a magnificent bit of business whose sale helped us through a lean period financially. He was reportedly part of a clique that included Kolo Toure (who, like Cesc, would be welcomed back because he departed with some dignity) that Wenger sold off to preserve the harmony in the room.

    All of these players were malcontents who were agitating for moves though one (Cesc) left the club with some class and would be welcomed back by supporters. The others didn’t burn that bridge so much as dynamite in the manner of their departures.

    You’ve made some valid criticism about Arsenal’s strategy in negotiating contract extensions with key players and it’s important to note the club appears to have learned from this in the case of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, all of whom have signed extensions to their deals. These players will form the core of the new Arsenal side that Bobby pointed out began to hit its stride in the second half of last season. Even with this progress, they will need three top signings. Even Gary Neville recognizes this and thinks Wenger knows this is the summer to build on that foundation by spending big.

  21. John Bladen says:

    Bobby: Fair point. Arshavin may have given up sooner than I recall… but his first full season for the club seemed to hold some promise (if also revealling he was, unsurprisingly, a bit small to be playing that far forward/wide in the EPL).

    AG/Ed: There are certainly criticisms that can rightly be levelled at Wenger’s performance in the transfer market in recent years. We all know the names… but as noted in past posts, the departures have forced Wenger to play more of his mistakes than other managers have had to, and to play young players in the first team a lot earlier than he would have liked. It’s not an excuse as the Manager is supposed to plan for such things and be ready, but it is what has happened.

    Arsenal (like other clubs) cannot change a player’s mind if he’s already decided to go elsewhere. Often it isn’t a matter of money, either.

    While players wanting out has happened more often than many of us would have liked in the last 3 seasons, the fact is it happens to other better funded and higher spending clubs too. When Ferguson came to the conclusion Ronaldo didn’t want to be a Man Utd player anymore, he sold him. It’s not that Man U wouldn’t have been better if he’d kept him, but he knew that an unhappy superstar is unlikely to give full value for the money he’s paid – and more importantly tends to disrupt the environment within the team. When a top earner decides he’s had enough, regardless of contract situation, a wise manager makes the best deal he can and reinvests that money in the future.

    Speaking of Ferguson, I’m a little surprised he didn’t move Rooney on when WR threw his toys out of the pram 18 months ago. Hairplug boy would have been worth more then than he will now, and United have little choice but to move him somewhere, somehow.

    Given his present weekly wage packet, that won’t be an easy sell for a number of potential buyers.

  22. Alberta Gooner says:


    The odds on Rooney joining Arsenal have been slashed in the past week. PaddtyPower has it at 6/4.

  23. Fergie could not have afforded to lose Rooney at that stage. It was a pivotal moment in the battle of Manchester and losing him to City could have seriously undermined United. As it was Fergie bought time and given that United rebounded to win the league last season you would have to say that it was a move that paid off. Any loss in transfer fee pales into insignificance when compared to the larger picture.

  24. John Bladen says:


    Disagree (possibly for the first time!)

    Rooney’s role in this years title was????? MU win the 2013 title with or without him (consider the relative performance of Rooney v Berbatov in the past season… I know who I’d rather have leading my attack, style be damned… And DB was cheaper, IIRC).

    I do concur that shipping him to City (that “mob”… classic SAF double entendre) would have been unacceptable, but SAF had many other options… all of which would have gladly paid idiotic “City-like” money for the chance.

    Stupid is as stupid does. I’m not saying hairplug boy isn’t a solid EPL forward, just that he isn’t nearly as good as his press (much like the majority of the England side…. hence their tragic international performances in the last five years+)

    “Oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok…. I sleep all night….”

  25. Rob says:

    Well its a shame he didn’t stop trying earlier. After seeing him score 4 at Anfield and making sure Liverpool weren’t going to get that title in 08/09, I expected great things from him.

  26. Alberta Gooner says:

    Further to the question about who cares about spending sprees, Hearts fans probably would answer that question a little differently.

  27. Smiley says:

    Because obviously Hearts had the same ROI from selling its world class players over the past decade, various multimillion sponsorship deals, 2 Billionaire shareholders and the same TV revenue as Arsenal right?

    Boy spending an extra 5 million for a proper LB as opposed to Santos or an extra 10M on a world class CF or winger as opposed to Gervinho or Giroud would have put Arsenal in the exact predicament as Hearts et al huh?

    DENIAL ain’t just a river in Egypt mate!

  28. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, there’s plenty of clubs that have made stupid decisions. SPL is a league full of them. La Liga is full of mid and lower table clubs that spend idiotic amounts of money they don’t have. There was a Spanish club president that said footballers shouldn’t expect clubs to pay out the contracts they offered. Incredible, since nothing happened to him. At least he was honest.

    The “big” clubs will always get there’s. Arsenal makes a ton of money, stadium builds or not. They have had CL money coming in and attendance seems fine even with the prices.
    What I was trying to say is that the supposed financial strain doesn’t excuse the horrific management of players contracts.
    You mentioned Man United and CR7. Yes he wanted to go and everyone knew it, yet they got record transfer fee. How didn’t Arsenal set up a deal with Barca & Cesc ahead of time (year prior) and get more? By the way I still feel Cesc would have stayed longer if at the very least you won an FA Cup and seen silverware in the future.
    Arsenal had to count on Arteta. Really? Yoummean they couldn’t grab one of the Mata, Oscar or Hazard trio. They should have grabbed William out of Russia.
    By Arsenals own accounts, one of those would not have sunk them. Now that they are perceived as sellers it will be more difficult to nab talent. It will actually cost them more.

    On a side note;
    By the way anyone who thinks Higuain is anything like Suarez, they’re crazy. He’s more of a goal poacher, not creator. Somebody will be greatly disappointed.

  29. Smiley says:

    Agree with the Higuain assessment but he is still better than Giroud and can create more than the Frenchman.

    The problem is that if Arsenal plan to fight on all fronts they will need another more creative CF (and I don’t mean Walcott) because by the end of the transfer window the likes of Manciteh, Chelsea, Manyoo (and perhaps even TOT) will have 2-3 Higuains each with 2 proper OMCs as opposed to Arsenal who are screwed should Santi or Higuain go down or get cold.

  30. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed Gomes

    It’s not just little clubs that get themselves in trouble. Big clubs have spent themselves into trouble, too. Anybody who brackets Leeds or Rangers as small clubs is parading their youth, ignorance or both.

    In more recent times, Borussia Dortmund teetered close to bankruptcy and needed an emergency loan from Bayern to pay their players.

    Both Milan and Inter have been forced to sell off high-priced players after running their clubs at a loss for years.

    Hell, even Real Madrid needed a sweetheart property deal to sell their training ground at above-market rates in order to get them out of a spot of bother at the turn of the century, a deal that’s now being investigated by the European Union.

    The fact is Arsenal decided to go about things differently than most football clubs and be prudent while they built a stadium that could help generate revenues as a platform to compete with the big clubs in Europe. I don’t think more recent fans understand how far the club has come from being a slightly more parochial outfit in the Heysel era. Nobody, and I mean nobody, who sat in the Clock End in Highbury in the late 80s would have ever imagined Arsenal as a global brand they’ve become 25 years later.

    The new stadium was a big key to this and that meant making some sacrifices over the short term. Anybody who has closely looked at the club’s most recent financial statements knows Arsenal did not make a “ton” of money when you take away profits on property development and player trading. Given the debt they carry on the stadium, they actually started out every fiscal year about 15m pounds in the hole until their new commercials deals began to kick in this summer.The old deals were necessary to finance the stadium.

    Now some supporters have argued they should have taken on extra debt or run at a loss in order to better compete with the United, Chelseas and Citys by investing more in the squad. And that’s natural, particularly for this generation of fans weaned on fantasy football Football Manager, where computer simulations make it ever so easy to transform the fortunes on clubs. It doesn’t work that way in real life. When they decided to go ahead with the new stadium, the board of the day committed the club to run on a self-supporting model. They made that decision understanding they might face some heat in the short term but knew would put the club on a footing to compete with the Real Madrids, Bayerns, etc.

    After listening to the uninformed whining and moaning about Wenger’s “parsimony” over the past few years from “supporters” who’ve never trod on the Seven Sisters Road, I’m looking forward to a summer where we appear to have a significant transfer budget to supplement the Wilsheres, Gibbses and other homegrown talents with top talent. I suppose we won’t be spared bitching from trolls who’ve spent the zero sum of FA in the actual game about Wenger’s signings based on their own thorough research of YouTube highlights and FIFA 13 ratings. They know better because they won the league running Arsenal on Football Manager. loll

  31. Smiley says:

    A long rant which has absolutely nothing to do with Arsenal’s predicament.

    Not to mention the only other teams mentioned who are even close to Arsenal’s financial tier are Inter and Milan. Both have been much more successful in the past decade with Milan buying Balotelli (with more to come) and finishing 3rd and Inter about to give Mazzarri a substantial transfer kitty to rebuild.

    And what the heck is “loll”… pinch a nerve? LOL

  32. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, in my opinion if Arsenal would have brought one quality top tier player they could have still had RvP, Cesc and others. What you’re saying is that they couldn’t afford it. I beg to differ.

    By the way there’s a huge difference between the Rangers and the other clubs mentioned. Rangers don’t have anywhere near the revenue. They don’t have the tv deals or European money. Rangers and Celtic are very big fish in very small pond. Not disparaging Celtic, because they turn up in futebol financial reports. For me the SPL should be run like the Portuguese, Dutch, etc leagues. Develop and sell for growth of club and league.

    As for the Milan’s, Real’s, etc’s of the world, they might have cut back but that’s a relative term. For the most part they always have a very large revenue stream coming in due to largeness/magnitude/brand of the club. Mistakes and over reaches are made, but if collapse happens its more due to pilfering of funds.
    By the way, Real made back all the money spent on CR7 within six months of purchase. New lucrative Adidas deal, merchandise, etc…
    Serie A is in a bit of trouble. Has soon as they became a three club CL league, it totally changed the game. The loss of a CL spot, third is a playoff spot by the way, it really hurt clubs. The Old Lady is fine due to owning its stadium, but the drastic drop in attendance and revenue has turned powerhouses into sellers. The facilities in Italy are beyond poor and the Ultras make it almost impossible to feel safe at any match.
    The BundesLiga is a one club league with interchangeable clubs for the remaining spots. Yes Bayern has failed to win the league but they’re the mainstay. Dortmund has learned and is now a feeder club that wins. If they run it well, they could be like Porto and Benfica in Portugal. By the way Benfica is in the top twenty financially due to brand and transfers. Although they have a nice tv deal it doesn’t compare to bigger leagues. Attendance is also good, but revenue limited due to lower pricing. Benfica has it tough due to needing to do good of not great business.

    When the Pompey’s of the world go off the rails its due to ignorance. They were a mid to lower league club that had no business pretending to be a CL qualifier. The same goes for Everton, who by the way, could become that. It takes years of steady improvement and once you earn a CL spot, make sure to take advantage without destroying your plan/vision.
    I’m not knocking Everton, but they should be contending for the FA Cup and a CL spot every year, and hopefully get there. A nice run in Europa helps the growth, as long as it doesn’t destroy the other two goals.
    I just thought Arsenal wasn’t a Everton that just made it and are just hanging on.

  33. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, by the way, I’m far from being young or ignorant.

  34. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed Gomes

    Your are entitled to your opinion and you seem to have many of them when it comes to Arsenal, a club you claim not to care about. That’s one difference between you and I. The other is I’ve actually provided some facts and context to support my arguments in this thread. You haven’t and need to come up with something better than “if Arsenal did this” or “Usmanov would do this” or any kind of hypothetical to convince me otherwise.

    There wasn’t a huge difference between Rangers and the other clubs I’ve mentioned a decade ago, when spending stupid money on the likes of Tor Andre Flo created their current predicament with debt. Perhaps you weren’t following football back then. I guess that doesn’t necessarily make you young but if you don’t realize how big Rangers were in the late 1990s, I guess we have different perspectives. I do agree with your assessment about the Scottish clubs being big fish in little ponds in the current circumstances a la Ajax, PSV, Benfica, Porto etc. That doesn’t change the history of how Rangers got themselves into trouble by spending on top-tier players when they didn’t have the money for it.

    If you bracket Milan and Inter with Real Madrid, it’s obvious you didn’t bother read the links I provided of the Swiss Ramble’s detailed look at their recent accounts, which highlight those clubs’ changing circumstances. Milan and Inter face serious issues, particularly with FFP coming into play. Either you recognize that or you don’t. They cannot continue operate as they have in the past and, to their credit, both Moratti and Berlusconi recognize that, which is why you’ve seen them sell off high-priced stars and bring in youngsters.

    As far as Real Madrid goes, the club is now on solid financial footing. It wasn’t 10 years ago and they needed help that they would never get today in order to bail themselves out of a mess created by the “Galatico” business model. Spain is effectively broke and there’s widespread unemployment. It will be interesting to see how their revenue streams hold up given the gloomy long-term outlook as well as whether they will be able to justify the transfer fees and salaries spent on top players. The Spanish government has already changed the tax code, which has unsettled many top stars in La Liga and I suspect the investigation by tax auditors of Lionel Messi will be repeated often and be applauded by the public.

    Juventus did built a new stadium and that should help them even though Italy is just behind Spain in terms of wrestling with its public debts, unemployment and long-term look. Hell, the Agnellis have even taken the extraordintary step of applying to re-flag part of their Fiat empire in Great Britian but that’s another story.

    Anyway, it’s important to point out Juventus went through a period similar to Arsenal in terms of fiscal prudence in order to build the stadium, with the major difference being Juventus only paid 100m euros for the construction of its stadium, a cost that reflects the difference in real estate in London and the outer boroughs of Torino. Arsenal also had no sugar daddies on its board at the time it decided to build its stadium while the Agnellis could bankroll that project on their own. Again, just some facts and context for you, Ed. Whether you want to absorb them or not is your choice.

    If the Bundesliga is a “one-team league”, it’s interesting to see the list of champions over the past decade, where the likes of Werder Bremen, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg have all won the league. While it’s true Bayern has a big financial advantage, it doesn’t always play out that way in real life. Again, I’ve got no idea how long you’ve followed football but anybody who suggests to Dortmund fans that they should become a feeder club after winning back-to-back Bundeliga titles and reaching the Champions League finals is, at the very best, naive. I wouldn’t be spouting that line in Westphalia, that’s for sure, even if I had a gold-plated dental plan.

    Arsenal are not Everton because they’ve spent 390m (in 2006 pounds) on a new stadium that would be the envy of Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham or pretty much any club not named Manchester United in England. Oh and most clubs in Europe given the matchday income generated at the Emirates. They decided to take the extraoridinary step of living within their means to pay it off, which marks them as different than most of their football clubs or, indeed, a lot of Americans who saw their homes go “underwater” during the last financial crisis. This kind of widespread financial illiteracy isn’t just confined to football clubs and may explain why some “supporters” don’t grasp why the Arsenal board made the decisions it did. They are free to live in their bubble. I’m free to dismiss their views as childish burblings.

    As I stated earlier in the thread, I’m looking forward to seeing what Arsenal do in their current circumstances rather than debating the past, particularly if nobody else wants to bring facts along with their very strong opinions about my club. You are free to continue revising history with Arsneal “supporters” who haven’t been around long enough to realize Robert Pires and Marc Overmars didn’t turn out for the club at the same time. I’m moving on because we look to have tied up Higuain as our record signing and more are promised. It’s shaping up to be a great summer for Arsenal supporters. Well the ones who haven’t invested so much of themselves in bitching about the club’s past decisions that they can’t enjoy the successes. I sort of feel sorry for them.

  35. Smiley says:

    Ed – It’s useless to debate this matter with someone who doesn’t comprehend the expression “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”.

    Where we keep bringing up crucial facts about Arsenal’s situation, he keeps bringing up hypothetical or unrelated scenarios of club’s in totally different predicaments and financial situations.

    I fully appreciate all Wenger has done for the club but not to criticize his decisions over the past few years is delusional.

    * In sports, the majority of fans are so biased towards their favorite team that they are unable to look objectively at the sport which they claim to love. Constantly posting the same unrelated tangents and trolling by calling people ignorant is simply anger and denial.

  36. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, you’re missing the point. I’m of the belief that Arsenal wouldn’t have gone into heavy or damaging debt if they made smart purchases.
    What exactly was the point of bringing in Gervinho and later Podolski (Giroud could be mentione as well) instead of getting a bonafide scorer/creater?
    Why fall in love with a goalie that has as much Almunia in him as the original?
    Why not set up Cesc’s deal like Man United dud with CR7?
    Why didn’t they look prepared for eventual losses? Arteta became a main cog, when he should be filler on an “Arsenal” squad.
    That, for me, were just bad footballing decisions. I thought of Arsenal as being greater. They’ve gone from competing with the worlds best to the BPL’s mid table clubs.
    Just because I say and feel those things, doesn’t mean I disrespect Wenger. He’s done an incredible job for Arsenal and continues to. Last campaign might have been his best managerial job, due to the squad available. But if he’s going to take the credit he’s got to take some lumps as well

  37. Alberta Gooner says:


    And you’ve missed my point. Wenger brought in players that fit within a wage structure and transfer policy that could accomodate the debt incurred on the stadium. Some of his buys have not worked out to plan, though I’m prepared to give Monreal, Podolski and Giroud the benefit of the doubt as some players need time to acclimatize to the English game. As Bobby pointed out, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have come good.

    Wenger has also attempted to purchase players and been rebuffed. As just one example, Liverpool publicly admitted Arsenal had approached them about buying Pepe Reina. Some of our “supporters” and neutrals such as yourself either missed that story or forget about it, which is fine. Just understand that those of us who choose to be better informed about the club and its dealings are probably going to dismiss opinions like “Why fall in love with a goalie that as much Almunia in him as the original?” as clueless.

    Speaking of which, Arsenal HAVE set up a buy-back deal with Barca on Cesc. The club has first option on Cesc at a fixed price OR they can take a percentage of the fee if they refuse and Cesc is sold to another club. Again, Ed, one of us actually knows what’s going on at Arsenal. So are you guessing or do you have a source where you read this kind of stuff? Either way, you aren’t being very well served.

    Oh and if you aren’t taking the piss by dismissing Arteta as filler, you either haven’t watched enough Arsenal games to comment intelligently on his play or you don’t understand what he’s been asked to do because he does it very well. If you don’t believe me, feel free to ask Bobby.

    And on the subject of piss takes, Arsenal is a mid-table club, are they? Thanks. I won’t waste any more time on you. Have fun with the other troll.

  38. Smiley says:

    The guy instigates by posting irrelevant links of a lower tier club such as Hearts facing financial hardship due to “big spending” (trying to compare them to Arsenal’s predicament) and then gets his panties in a twist when actual FACHTS prove him wrong. What an angry man in denial.

    This is the same person who last season believed Arsenal would have a better season than Chelsea and finish higher in the league.You would think he would show more humility after being proven wrong season after season.

    Oh well, ignorance is bliss as they say.

    Ed – I’m more worried that as this may be Wenger’s last year before he jumps ship for PSG, a new manager may have/want to make wholesale changes which will take more time till the 4th richest club is able to compete with the big boyz.

    As much as I admire Wenger for always honoring his contract, it would be better for Arsenal if he left for PSG this season with a year left on his contract if there is already an agreement for him to go to Paris the following season. I’m sure the likes of Laudrup are capable of taking the side to the next level with a less stubborn transfer policy.

  39. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, I never thought or compared Arsenal to mid table clubs. I’ve always thought of Arsenal as a world class club with world class support and revenue.
    You compared him to the alsorans.

    Arteta would have come off the bench in Arsenals not too distant past. It’s not that he didn’t do a great job, its that Arsenal actually had to depend on him that’s the problem.

    Just an opinion, that’s all. I didn’t make any condencending remarks. I just made observations. I don’t sit on the training ground or board room at Arsenal. Never claimed too.
    All I was trying to point out that your and the clubs premise is flawed. Again, just my opinion.

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