Cheer Up We Have made Progress! by AndersS
It is rather depressing reading most of the posts and comments here lately. The only positive thing to say about them is, they mostly say the same, so you don’t have to read all of them very carefully:
1) Kroenke is a greedy bastard ruining our club
2) Emery is a fool, who never can select the right team, and most of the time he is using the wrong tactics
3) The players are generally useless
4) We are in the worst state in modern history
I am sorry, but I don’t see it that way. In fact, I think we may have stopped the slide that we have seen in the last 2-3 years, and we may even be progressing. So if you are a Kroenke hater or Emery hater, stop reading. Your blood pressure could reach dangerous levels ?
But if you have 5 minutes, read on and let me explain my point of view.
There is no way around it; money is a very important factor in top football. Most top clubs have to be run as businesses in order to generate income for the exorbitant sums to buy and pay players, that can produce the results you desire. This is true for all the clubs we are competing against in the PL. The only exceptions to this are possibly Man City and Chelsea. Their owners don’t seem to be running a sound business. They are treating their respective clubs as personal toy’s or personal hobbies, and they seem to be willing to spend a chunk of their own personal fortune to make the clubs win titles. But they are exceptions to the rule, and in a way they make the playing field somewhat unfair. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem impossible to compete against them.
It hurts to write it, but in a way we should take it as a good sign Liverpool could become champions this year. In fact, if we can put all other things aside, we should even take it as a good sign that the Spuds are close as well. I don’t hope they win, but I appreciate they are challenging.
For years until the season of 2016/17 we more often than not finished above Liverpool in the PL and we finished in front of the Spuds every year. But we have to admit, over the last few seasons, they have made a big improvement, and we have arguably stood still or even gone backwards.
Neither Liverpool’s nor Tottenham’s progress have come about because they have owners more willing to spend than we do. I am sure our net spend on transfers over the last 5-6 years is much higher than Tottenham’s and it is possibly also higher than Liverpools. As are our salaries to players.
Instead those 2 clubs have been more clever in management off the field and possibly also on the field. Both clubs have endured selling arguably their best players in this process. Liverpool twice (Suarez & Coutinho) and Tottenham with Bale.
In general it seems they have invested cleverly in getting the right new players in the right areas, or invested in developing players with the right skills and also in getting managers that can cope with modern football, or in fact managers that shape modern football. All the time making progress.
And what have we done in the same period? Yes, we have won a couple of FA Cups, but in spite of being able to spend more (net), we have not spent on the right combination of players. We have not improved the team in the areas we needed. We have not developed and improved players that we could sell for large sums to reinvest in more players. In fact, potentially our most valuable players have almost been allowed to dictate their own terms and to run down their contracts, so they have almost been financial liabilities rather than financial assets. Finally, it has to be said, Arsene Wenger’s management of the team got outdated.
In my point of view, Liverpool and Tottenham have beaten us the last few years both on and off the field, simply by being more clever. Not by being richer or by spending more money.
It is as simple as that. There are no solid facts in our financial affairs, that suggest Kroenke is a more greedy owner than the owners of Liverpool or Spurs. Suggestions, he should be “milking” the club are not based on facts, as the financial reports tell the story. It is of course true, he doesn’t put his own money in like the owners of Man City and Chelsea. But nor do the owners of Liverpool or Spurs, or the owners of Man Utd or any other team for that matter.
So for all I know, Kroenke may be a greedy bastard. I don’t know him. But unless you actually think somewhere there is a billionaire just dying to buy us PL titles with his money, the self sustaining business model is actually the framework we have to work within. Just like most of our competitors.
Within this model Kroenke’s interests and ours/Arsenals are aligned to a certain extent. Over the last couple of years our revenue has come under pressure, among other things due to misssing out on the Champions League. This is becoming a negative spiral. Less revenue means less to reinvest in players and in player development. This in turn leads to us being less competitive, which again can lead to less revenue and so it goes on, until we break this cycle.
Kroenke has no interest in seeing this happening. It is not a better business model for him. In fact just the opposite. In theory the cycle can be broken by Kroenke throwing, say 150 millions into getting new players. But is there a guarantee of success? Not at all. There is no instant success guaranteed. And from a business point of view, it is probably not the way to go. It is the Man City and Chelsea way to go, if you like. The rest of us have to build on what we have.
I think the way we are aiming to go, is the Liverpool and Spurs way. A clever, steady progress that may take years, but eventually can succeed. Unfortunately it took much too long before we started realising we were being overtaken and many have only just begun to understand how far we had fallen. The gap is bigger than what it needed to be, but that is just the way it is. If only…. Doesn’t help us.
As I see it, we have stopped the rot, and we may even have started a slow progress. This season we actually have 5 more points from 26 games than we did last season. If we can win just 14 points from our remaining 12 games, we will have more points than last year. I am confident, this will be achieved by some margin. Our current league position is 5-6th, one point off 4th. Last year we were 6th at this stage, 4 points behind 5th and 5 points behind 4th. Meaning we are also doing better position wise.
We are also much closer to the league leaders this year, than we were last year.
Last year we won a grand total of 6 points in 10 matches against the other top 6 teams. This year we have won 8 points in 8 matches. So if we lose the remaining 2 games against Spurs and United, we still will have done better, and if we get 4 point from those 2 matches, we have doubled the points in that “internal league”. A clear improvement could be on the way here.
I know we have just had a terrible result in the Europa League. And there is still a long way to go in the league. We can still end up worse than last year. But looking at it, I think the most likely end result will be, we have done better.
So let us wait a bit with all the doom and gloom. Let us admit, that maybe, jut maybe, Emery is doing some things more right than some fans would have us believe. And maybe, just maybe, our player are able to do better than they have done before.
There are positives, and we can still end up with a season, where we have taken quite a big step towards improvement in the first season after Wenger. And this is important. Let us remind ourselves, Wenger’s age dictated, he would have to be replaced some time soon, if he hadn’t been replaced before this season. No matter if you think he should he have been replaced much earlier, or you think he should have been allowed to continue, changing a manager like that, is a challenge. And so far we seem to have done it and making progress at the same time. No mean achievement if you compare to Man U.