(Whilst Stan and Wenger remain…) by AOT
This Tuesday we face Barcelona FC in the Champions League and anyone but the most blind faithed wouldn’t give us much hope of getting past them (especially based on our past performances in the UCL, bar one instance against them).
Yes, it’s only a team and yes they are beatable but why are the odds stacked against us and why is there such a gulf between our two clubs? After all, we have been around for much longer, most specifically in top flight football.
Perhaps it’s their youth system La Masia that has cultivated numerous exceptionally talented footballers?, Or the fact they are one of the few clubs that are ‘not’ a limited entity but a club where it’s the members who own the club and have the power to vote in and out the manager? Here success is rewarded and failure is not, thus baron years without top success are not entertained. Motivation enough to be the best!
Or perhaps it is because they are not solely money motivated?; shown by the fact that they refuse corporate sponsorship on their shirts to instead promote and benefit UNICEF and their many great causes. What’s more they donate yearly to the charity.
Maybe it is because their motto is ‘more than a club’ or that over the years they have steadily invested in the best players to make themselves the best ‘on’ the football field and as a consequence have reaped financial rewards from this strategy. They have ‘footballing’ ambition as their driver and not ‘financial’ security and growth as their strategy as they know one results in the other (and yes, they have built stadiums too; a 90,000 one).
Perhaps this is why Messi will never leave Barcelona (unless it’s for Argentina) as it is spiritual home? He is not motivated by money alone but success on the field and in many ways reflects the spirit of the club.
I for one wish AFC were more like them. With Stan Kroenke seeing our club as no more than one of several sound business investments amongst his portfolio, this mediocrity and ‘plan’ has filtered down the ranks through to management and players (both playing and in terms of what is acquired or not acquired) and in what is expected in terms of success ‘on’ the football field.
Don’t get me wrong, I want AFC to spank BFC as I love the club (and support Real Madrid as a second team : as does my Spanish wife and all her family) but I just cannot see it happening. There is too bigger gulf in class on the field and beside it and this is due to the ambition or lack of it, off it.
While this stays true, AFC will never wake from being the sleeping giant I believe them to be.