ARSENAL, A MASSIVE BRAND…..BUT AN ELITE CLUB AT PRESENT?…. by G.O.C.
A few days ago, an inappropriate debate, a truly insulting argument was witnessed in this very site. With all due respect to our wonderful Celtic friends and fans, I have to ask, would they honestly make that argument with Man United, Madrid, Barca, Liverpool or even Chelsea fans? I think not. I was truly aghast and perplexed. I am guessing that’s as a result of us not winning the top UEFA trophy. Still, that argument shouldn’t be had in the first instance. It’s a no brainer really.
Though we might be aeons ahead of Celtic as a football brand, the very assumption within us Arsenal fans that we are still an elite club is…well to put it mildly, debatable…
I have personal doubts about where the club is headed and activities of recent years solidifies my doubts..
Firstly, we have a nonexistent owner. Not ambitious, never bothers to watch Arsenal matches, decides not to put his money into the club (of which I don’t personally begrudge him for), but it’s the general lackadaisical and laissez-faire approach to such a huge investment that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. How envious I get when I see involved owners like the FSG group or Abramovich leading the charge for their teams. Man United and Liverpool are adopting the same self-sustaining model but they seem to be doing just fine.
Our supposedly ambitious owner left Wenger in the dugout when it was pretty clear to the rest of the world that a change was desperately needed. Our famed managerial stability was a tad overrated. We had that with Wenger and I wouldn’t particularly class it a 100% success. Clubs that chop and change managers have had unparalleled success. Chelsea, Man City, PSG, Barca, Real all change managers frequently and continue winning.
Secondly, the incompetent boardroom (of the former regime led by Gazidis and Co) and coach (Wenger), that ran the affairs of the club in recent years did us no favours. Their pile-up of amateurish inadequacies has left the new regime in a quagmire. They couldn’t seem to get anything right. Their transfer dealings and questionable contract handling, left a lot to be desired. Player sales has been a disaster. Our players are the cheapest in the market (that’s when they don’t go for free). That’s why I have a certain degree of pity for Unai Emery and will only make up my mind on him come May next year.
Players saw, and continue to see, Arsenal as a stepping stone. Henry, RVP, Nasri, Sanchez, Ox all left for rivals. One could argue their leaving was financially motivated, but that is just half the truth… We lacked ambition, we still do, they saw a greater chance at silverware with our rivals and we can’t match the wages they were being offered of course.. So we lost them on both grounds. All (Sanchez aside), went on to win major silverware (EPL or Champions league), while our drought goes on.
Our trophy haul since the Iconic Invincibles, is the polar opposite of what an elite club should be or look like. It’s appalling to say the least. No true world-class player would live and put up with such mediocrity. They will be out the door a lot quicker than it takes our defenders to clear a loose ball from our penalty area!
But the biggest issue remains the faltering commercial department. Don’t let the £300mil Adidas deal fool you, Arsenal’s commercial brand has massively underachieved and it’s not just down to on-the-pitch struggles. Arsene Wenger consistently refused to spend big in transfer windows and we were lead to believe he has been given the funds. It took intense clamouring from fans before Ozil, Sanchez, Mustafi, Xhaka, Lacazette and PEA deals were done, sparsely too. Where is all the money being saved all this while? One would think his frugality would translate to swelled up coffers.
Our new £60mil per season will be on par with what Chelsea and Manchester City are raking in from kit deals.. Liverpool’s is considerably lower (£45mil per season), yet the owners wanted a competitive team and wanted the big trophies. Hence the aggressive nature they went about closing the gap with Man City. Sure Coutinho (£106mil), plus ad ons helped but the acquisitions of Salah(£43mil), Ox(£35mil), Alisson (£65mil), Keita(£52mil), Fabinho(£43mil), Van Dijk (£75mil), Shaqiri and Robertson for a combined £336mil in just two summer transfer windows to back the ambitions of Klopp, says a lot about the intentions of the owner towards the club.
Same with Man United. The Glazers aren’t putting their money in either but the commercial side of the club is steadily driving their ailing football side in summer recruitment and transfers. Why we can’t do same, I can’t tell.
The only logical explanation would be that the incompetent bunch that run it’s affairs have seen both sides of the Arsenal brand suffer massively.. We both missed out on Champions League football, yet they are being linked with the likes of Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandez, Maguire, Ndombele, Junior Firpo etc. They are all 50mil + players and we are linked with Saliba, Claude-Maurice, Praet, Martinelli, etc. Even at that, we are still penny pinching on the said cheap players. Something is seriously askew with Arsenal’s commercial department.
And don’t give me the FFP crap please. Because I don’t see our fellow top six sides in EPL looking over their shoulders. Maybe it wouldn’t be a problem if the business guys, did their job properly and maximized the Arsenal brand to it’s full potential.
Finally, our squads quality doesn’t exactly scream elite club calibre, does it? We blast Ozil, Micki, Xhaka, Kos, Kolasinac as being below average and they are frankly speaking. But I am amazed when some of us class the likes of Sokratis, Iwobi as wonderful players. It’s appalling. They are all average. Moreover, this average squad does our chances with these multi-billion companies no good. The likes of Adidas, Umbro, Nike and the rest crave superstars. The more deals they make with these individuals, the more money the clubs gets. Their global popularity is serious money to them. Arsenal is desperately in short supply of this calibre of players bar PEA to some extent, while Ozil has lost considerable appeal and popularity.
Against fans from other clubs, I vociferously defend Arsenal passionately… But alone with my fellow gunners, we tend to tell ourselves the bitter truth… Our club’s appeal to world-class players is drastically dwindling by the day. A non-existent owner, an incompetent board, disastrous player recruitment and sales. A faltering commercial department and an ailing team.. No ambition, no money, can’t compete in the transfer market.
A massive brand?… Yes
Should the brand be able to compete fairly and favourably with other elite brands?… Yes
Are they taking that path? An emphatic NO!
Are they among the elite clubs at present?… Well, I have my doubts, but I will allow you make up your own minds..
But if your metric for measuring an elite team are just social media following and global fanbase?… Then sure, we are an elite team.