Kroenke is dragging us down! Or is he? by AndersS
It is obvious many of us debating on Just Arsenal have a noticeably clear and maybe even unmovable opinion on this. And we are of course all entitled to our own opinion. That is one of the benefits of living in free democracies.
In all honesty, many of us may even like to think we have a qualified opinion on the matter, and that people with another opinion must “have missed something” to put it mildly. But there is a problem if we look at it that way. The problem is, when you look at the people arguing for and against, there are clearly intelligent and thoughtful people on both sides.
I also think the debate is very frustrating as it, most of the time, is a bit like a religious debate. These can be very frustrating, because opinions are simply based on belief, or rather faith, and not on solid facts or evidence.
But is there any way to debate the question of Kroenke on a more fact-based foundation? To some extent, I think there is…
Personally, I see mainly 2 arguments supporting the view that Kroenke is the reason for our demise:
1) He is not investing enough money in improving the squad
2) He doesn’t care how Arsenal and his other sports teams are performing. He only cares about money.
Let us look at the 2.
1) Investment in the squad
If we go back 5 years to when the season 14/15 had finished, with Chelsea as Champions, Man Utd as runner-up and Arsenal as third, they were rosier times for us. The season was incidentally the first season for Pochettino at Spurs, and it was just before Klopp came to Liverpool. We were always finishing ahead of Spurs in the league, and more often than not, we were finishing ahead of Liverpool. I mention this because it is part of the picture for me.
If we then go forward to the present, we are now looking at the 4th season in a row, where we might finish behind Spurs, and Liverpool have simply moved so far ahead of us, they almost seem out of sight to be honest.
Can this then be mainly because Spurs and Liverpool, contrary to us, have owners that have invested much more in improving their squads?
I think, there can be a consensus between most of us, that the main key indicator for how much is invested in improving the squad is the nett spend on transfers. If anyone is in doubt, what the nett spend on transfers is, it is the difference between how much you spend on buying new players and the amount you make on selling players. If you spend more than you sell, you are investing in improving the squad, and if you make more on selling than you spend on new players, you are in principle devaluing the squad.
According to Transfermarkt.com, which is a website that closely follows transfer activity around Europe, the nett spend “table” on transfers in the PL over the last 5 years look like this:
1) Man City – 667 m spent
2) Man Utd. – 538 m spent
3) Arsenal – 297 m spent
4) Everton – 250 m spent
13) Chelsea – 128 m spent
14) Liverpool – 119 m spent
15) Tottenham – 118 m spent
Now, those figures were actually so surprising to me, that I had a hard time believing them. But if you look at the website Transferleague.co.uk they how the same picture. Not the exact same amounts but the general picture is very much the same. Only City and Utd. have invested more than Arsenal in improving their squads over the last 5 years, and we have spent much more than the double of the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs. Yet, those 3 have arguably performed much better than us in the PL in the period.
This shows several things:
1) There is in no way a clear correlation alone between investment in the squad and the results.
2) It is possible not only to make huge improvements with less investment than we have done, but it is in fact possible to become the best in England, if not Europe.
3) Our investments in the squad have not been limited by the owner to a degree that should prevent us from performing much better than we are.
It is my conclusion, that those facts tell us that other clubs have outperformed us in other ways. I also believe it is fact based to make that statement.
What is more uncertain, is exactly what those other ways are. I think they are a mix of several things, i.e.:
– Other clubs have been better at finding and buying the right players for their needs (the positions, the right skills etc.)
– Other clubs have been better at developing their players
– Other clubs have been better at developing youth players not only into more valuable players but also to strengthen their teams in the right positions.
– Other teams have been managed better.
All this leads to my conclusion. It is in fact the management of the club, the manager(s) in the period and the players that haven’t been as good as our competitors have. Quite simply, it is not the unwillingness to spend by our owner.
Does this then completely absolve Kroenke from any responsibility for our demise? Not necessarily.
We still have to look at the other point.
2) Does Kroenke actually care how we perform? And more importantly, does it matter to our performance?
I think, it is a bit more difficult to answer this, as it is clearly not something where you can point to many hard facts to support the answer.
Apart from Arsenal, Kroenke owns 3 other sports teams; Colorado Avalanche (ice hockey), Denver Nuggets (basketball) and LA Rams (American football), and as it has rightly been pointed out that they are not top of the table teams in their respective leagues. Although, in all fairness, LA Rams is a much-improved team and nearly won the Super Bowl last year.
As we can’t look inside Kroenke’s head, we can to some extent jump to the conclusion, that since his teams aren’t winning anything spectacular, he is a person not concerned with the sport results, only with the financial results. Whether that is fair and correct, is clearly debatable.
But, does it actually matter, if he in fact sees there is a correlation between how much money he can make, and the results a club like Arsenal produce? Let’s at least give him the credit to be shrewd enough to acknowledge that the better we are ranked in the PL, and the better we perform in Europe and in domestic cups, the more revenue the club actually will make.
I am sure this is clear to all. What is the problem then?
I will contend there is, or at least has been, a problem with Kroenke. He has simply not been on top of things in Arsenal. For too long, he allowed the earlier described situation, that we were simply not doing well enough in a sporting sense, despite the finances that were actually there. In hindsight, I think he should have done several things much earlier:
– Changed the management responsible for Arsenal overall.
– Changed our once successful manger with a manager with more modern football philosophies and with a clear desire to win.
– Made sure the whole club had a “winning culture”, a desire to win, which would show in everything the club does.
This is what our competitors have tried doing. Abramovich is ruthless in his desire to win. The manager goes out the door the moment they aren’t progressing. Levy sacked Pochettino just a few months after he had taken Spurs to the Champions League final. Liverpool sacked Brendan Rogers, after 3 years although he was arguably the manager who had brought them closest to winning the league for many years.
Man City and United’s attitudes are clear for all to see. Although it sometimes seems unfair how quickly some of the managers have been sacked, it states a desire and invokes respect right through the club and through the team. If you don’t perform, you are out. The ambition is clear.
So, in conclusion, I find it unsubstantiated, when Kroenke is accused of having dragged us down by lack of willingness to invest. This can be shown by the facts.
But he may have failed in not being more active in demanding results. This cannot be shown by facts. It is a mere matter of opinion. But, hopefully the change in this has now come.