Some Stuff What I Wrote

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Post by Christopher Flanagan on Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:52 pm


http://flannyflaps.blogspot.com/2012/02/beyond-good-and-awful.html

Beyond Good and Awful
Football is a passionate game and as such will always be subject to polemic views, especially when driven by an emotive and rabid tabloid media, whose job it is, let's remember, to shift copy, which is why every club that has a few bad results are 'in crisis' and every manager that has a decent season is 'the future of football'. It's easy to get caught up in; certainly I've been guilty of that in the past (and doubtless will be guilty of the same again in the future).






Having read an excellent article by Michael 'Zonal Marking' Cox, in which he asks 'What are Arsenal actually good at?' and having taken a look at the issues raised by the Arsenal Supporters' Trust, I found myself asking some fundamental questions about the state of the club: objective speaking, how are we doing? Where do we stand on the current spectrum of Premier League football clubs? How good a job has the manager actually been performing? What should we, as fans, expect now, next season, and beyond? What is the point of Arsenal Football Club?






It needs no mention that it has been a long time since Arsenal have won anything. For a club of Arsenal's calibre (still the third most successful in English football), 7 years potless is several years too many. In this respect alone, Arsène's recent tenure has been an abject failure. It would be remiss to suggest – as many have – that Arsenal have been nowhere near winning a trophy during that period, however. Two domestic finals, a European final (and a more recent Champions League semi final, our second best ever finish in that competition, let's not forget) and a league season in 07/08 in which we pushed it all the way to the wire, all represent a fair pop in various competitions.






Regardless of the odd cup run, many feel that Arsenal, under Wenger's continued stewardship, are regressing as a club. The blame for this, they feel, lies with manager. But objectively speaking, has he done such a bad job?






Those of you who have spent more than about thirty seconds discussing football with me will doubtless have been bored by me banging on about the peerless SimonKuper and Stefan Szymanski's seminal book Why England Lose. If you haven't read it, do so (particularly if you want some evidence as to why it is preposterous for Tottenham to be granted public money for a stadium). In this book, compelling evidence is put forward that league placing is, in essence, determined by wage spend, a point reiterated by Deloitte in their Annual Football Finances Report.






At this point, of course, I would expect Arsenal fans to point out the litany of overpaid, under-performing players in the current squad. This is, of course, something I agree with. I'm no more keen to pay to watch Denilson than the next man. From a subjective standpoint, too many players have not been pulling their weight. The same can be said of practically every big club and even most small ones, though, now and in the past. There are inefficiencies in Arsenal's wage spend; the question is whether or not these are being sufficiently offset by our 'good' performers. And the evidence suggests that, perhaps counter intuitively, even since the move to the Emirates, Arsenal have performed adequately or better than their wage bill would indicate.






A quote from an anonymous AST spokesman in this BBC article (presumably Tim) that “Our wage spend is 40% higher than the payroll at another club in north London and Arsenal are in danger of being overtaken more than temporarily by those who spend their wages more efficiently” is a strange and unnecessary red herring. Tottenham are without doubt having a remarkable season on a far smaller wage budget than Arsenal's, but whether they can sustain that next season and beyond, once the sharks start circling their underpaid star performers, and without the help of a free Togolese galloping lunatic remains to be seen. It would be statistically incredible if they did; the evidence suggests that without a significant increase in wage bill, it's unlikely. Even should they do so, they are not the barometer by which Arsenal should be measured.






The AST, by comparing our performance-per-pound to Tottenham's, leave themselves open to the obvious rebuttal that Arsenal are outperforming clubs such as Liverpool, who last season at least, had a larger wage bill than Arsenal, or if you are going to base your comparisons on just this season, which the AST have done, then Arsenal are hugely outperforming Chelsea, who have vastly more resources and yet find themselves level on points with Arsenal.






This data, taken from the Guardian, based on the most recent published end-of-year accounts available at the time of writing, shows Arsenal as having the fifth largest wage bill in the league and thus anything above fifth is performance beyond that which you should expect. A similar pattern can be seen since 2005: our wage bill has fluctuated between being the third and fifth largest. We have finished third and fourth. If we want to finish higher, we will have to either a) find as yet undiscovered inefficiencies to exploit, or b) spend more money.






The AST do raise importantquestions about what money we actually have to spend, why it isn't being spent, and what we can expect in the future. I fully expect the club to answer in the most ambiguous terms possible.






Whether Wenger has had money at his disposal since 2005 remains conjecture. As Arsenal fans we've been told the money is there if he wants it, but at times that has been totally at odds with the things Arsène has said directly and the inference of his actions. My gut feeling is that the sort of money we need to be able to compete with Manchester United, Chelsea and now Manchester City, is simply not available. Wenger is a peculiar and obstinate fellow but he isn't an idiot. Prior to the stadium move, he spent relatively freely, and he did so on players that would command comparatively large wages and was richly rewarded with trophies. In the Emirates era, this immediately stopped. I do not think that this is a coincidence. The other, quite obviously unforeseen, aspect is the new ownership paradigm exemplified by Roman Abramovic and followed by Sheikh Mansour. It is very difficult for a club operating on its own resources to compete with such spending and this model has been very much to Arsenal's detriment. One can raise questions about whether leaving Highbury was wise in retrospect, but I don't think that anyone would have predicted that owners would have invested literally hundreds of millions of pounds of personal funds into football clubs at the time the move was planned, and as such a move that was supposed to enable us to compete with Europe's elite in the long run has left us much further back than expected in the short-term.






It is interesting to note the 'money put in by owners' column in the Guardian data. An ominous 'none' in the Arsenal data. Whether or not you feel this is a good thing in the long run is a matter of personal opinion and business ethics, but it certainly hasn't hurt Chelsea or Manchester City in the short-term. Then again, Manchester United have managed to avoid such hand-outs without much (obvious and immediate) harm to their footballing fortunes.






So where does that leave us? Should we look to make changes so that we can once more compete for the league or should we accept our lot in life and be pleased that we are competing at the top end of the table? We've established that Arsenal have performed better than perception suggests in recent years but that is of little consolation to most Arsenal fans. Personally, I find it hard to form an opinion on what should happen at managerial level without knowing whether we have funds to spend. If money has been available (in large quantities) and Arsène Wenger has simply chosen not to spend it, then I think we need to look for a new manager; however, as I've said above, I think that is unlikely. I think one can make a reasonable argument that even if a new manager would have no more money to spend than Wenger has had, that a change in manager may provide fresh insight and thus new ways to compete against greater resources. But equally, we could end up worse off. Any change of manager from one who, previous trophies aside, has been delivering to expectation, is a gamble. The chances are that any change in manager would see those seasons in which we have the fifth-largest wage bill with a fifth place finish in the league.






What is without question is that something needs to change somewhere. At present, we are spinning around in a subsistence vortex; not good enough to win things, not bad enough – despite the broken cannons in the papers – to warrant marching orders. We could continue on this trajectory, of course: collectively buy in to the concept of '4th as a trophy', hope for the occasional good cup run, content with continued Champions League football. It is better than most clubs could ask for. In fact, scrap that, it's what most clubs aspire to. But personally speaking – and I really only can only speak personally here – I think it's not enough. In fact, I think it's a fairly pernicious attitude that is at odds with the point of sporting endeavour. But that's just me. I'm not a man who thinks that finishing sort of kinda ish near the top of the league deserves reward per se and that football has got it's priorities all wrong. But what I believe is at odds with the commercial realities of modern football. The simple fact is that the prize is money – bigger wages for players, greater share value for owners, more money for clubs to spend on better footballers – and winning money requires top four inertia, which Arsenal have happily sustained thus far and to hope to drive up commercial revenues.






We're not a club in freefall; we're a club in stasis, waiting for changes to happen in the world around us so that we can be relevant again. One wonders how long we will be waiting.
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Post by ralph avedikian on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:26 am

Agree on everything. Good read.

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Post by Justin Chew on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:56 am

good read but nothing about our players heart and desire though .
we are on par as a club but poor players bar RvP

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Post by Ashraf Peeran on Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:08 am

Thanks for that. Agreed with everything he said.

Justin- I think he was trying to stick to facets of the club which could be measured completely objectively. Lack of heart and desire, despite how obvious it is to almost every one of us, can still be construed in different ways depending on individual opinion.
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Post by Zaid Derweesh on Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:53 am

The argument you make, in a nutshell, is that the only criteria that matters is wages, and that this backed up statistically. We have the 5th highest wage in the league, and so finishing 4th or above is a good thing, 6th or below is a bad thing.

I believe you when you say that the evidence towards this is overwhelming. It's a powerful argument, a strong statisticians argument, that cuts through all the other confusing and unquantifiable elements such as culture, tactics, mentality, injuries, etc.

I would love to look at the numbers for all of these things and see how it stacks up. Do we have more injuries, statistically, than other clubs? If so, is it a recent blip or is it a long-term thing? Etc. Putting that all aside, the wages argument is a strong one, albeit unsatisfying on an emotional level.

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Post by Zaid Derweesh on Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:58 am

To follow up, the question then becomes one of efficiency. How do you buck the trend, and get the biggest bang for your shilling? We have players who are deadwood; adding to the wage bill but contributing nothing. Do we have more or less than the average? If more, then how to shift them and replace them with more efficient, effective players?

Tottenham may be a blip, but this season makes for an interesting case study. Why their success? If, for the sake of analysis, we include Adebayor's wages (and the wages of other loanees, if any) as part of the total, are they really overperforming? If not, then that is an explanatory factor as to why they are doing so well. If not, then is there any quantifiable reason? Lack of injuries, etc. If there is no quantifiable reason after all this, then what other possible reasons are there? Superior tactics? More motivated players?

There may be lessons to be learnt from the current success of or neighbours.


I wish I had the data, I wish I had the numbers. I would love to analyze the shit out of them.

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Post by John Foxall on Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:02 am

Simon Kuper is a great writer. However, it takes more than just the financial view of our problems to explain it.

I don't think we're in 'crisis' either, just underachieving, failing to improve, even from one season to the next.

Let's not forget that Wenger instigated this current period of high transfer turnover by selling on the Invincibles one by one. He rebuilt that team but we haven't got what it takes in pressure situations (neither from this group of players or the manager in all probability) and we can't execute our game plan convincingly enough to really threaten even a consistent improvement with what we've got, let alone convincing challenges for trophies (hanging on to the coat tails of Man Utd and Chelsea like in 09/10 doesn't count imo)

What happen to clever strategies like buying cast-offs from richer clubs? There's certainly no hint of pragmatism in Wenger's style of late.

Of course we don't have perfect knowledge of the inner workings of the club but what we see in public is grounds enough for concern.

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Post by Michael Foster on Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:50 am

As usual a bang on read Mr flanagan......

We are all guilty of one thing when it comes to our club brush aside the tin pot comments of usual no more than window watcher fans and that is love...
We all love for our mighty club to stand as one of a beautiful played game amongst transfers that would make the world say we are doing well and deserve what we buy,
And to be able to say to fans of others we are sound and running under our own steam....


But boy how wrong it is right now....

We love our club,nothing will change this....
And as you said we will get caught up in a way of a beautifully game...
But what is seemingly wrong with arsenal has so many reasons

The days of henry and co handing out spankings to 99% who we came up against are gone....
Long gone....we have fallen as fans in a way that we were catapulted into this new unbeliveable way of stylish playing that Graham and co before could only dream about,I think us as fans are guilty of one thing here...

Drinking from the cup of fantastic new age football like there was never gonna be a refill,
Drinking like no tomorrow...

In a first season it was clear we had changed and big time to dizzying as it was this new manager brings us glory,not in a way of we lucked out,but in a way that it looked as though it was here to stay and for a long time...we played a new game and with new seasons coming along players coming in rivals looking and wondering how much stronger we were looking like we would get...then the unbeaten season.

This season did it for all of us...no losses in a domestic season,

If you want to win your league of any league say you have won it unbeaten...and to teams of united,Liverpool,chelsea's caliber at the time
We did it and we loved every second of it....

The problem now seams that its what we want again but we have crashed under a belief that a young team could do this or a team picked from no status and created into the next lot of Henry's and Vieira's would master this..but it has not,
A lot needs to be said about our transfer policy...letting players that hit the 30's go just simply dumping class or knowledge or even work rate because he is reaching the golden dropping age makes no sense whatsoever...none,
Just look at what we could have still had knocking around helping these younger players...be it so that now we look at them and think god this is what arsenal has become....

Our club needs a shake and we as fans need clarity...we know nothing of what happens behind the scenes,never told the rights or even wrongs...you could argue that united don't say much also...
But they are still winning cups.....

I think if more clarity is show to the fans and media everybody might if within reason that he is seen not to be doing a bad job after all and that he has been highly successful for arsenal he has brought us kicking and screaming into the future of the sport and done it in a way as we don't up up as the next rangers...show us that the transfers were not just the hand of arsen and that he had no say in some of them or show us that he has funds available....show us all clarity...

And we all might just get off his back.

Show us this and show us a way to get back to the glory days of how we were turning pages and writing our own chapters
Don't fool us fans show us there is still more left in the cup we used to drink from like there was no tomorrow..
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Post by Alex Hadjicharalampous on Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:14 am

Saw this a few minutes ago and thought I'd share:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/9099671/Arsene-Wenger-could-have-100m-available-to-rebuild-ailing-Arsenal-team.html

So we get £100m and the first thing we do is go for Sessegnon? Makes perfect sense. Hopefully the money part is true, the Sessegnon part is not, though there isn't much reason to believe either claims.
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Post by Iboro Umana on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:54 pm

Alex Hadjicharalampous wrote:Saw this a few minutes ago and thought I'd share:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/9099671/Arsene-Wenger-could-have-100m-available-to-rebuild-ailing-Arsenal-team.html

So we get £100m and the first thing we do is go for Sessegnon? Makes perfect sense. Hopefully the money part is true, the Sessegnon part is not, though there isn't much reason to believe either claims.

I actually think Sessegnon would be a good signing. Don't think he'd be enough by any means, but he'd be quality depth.
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Post by Zaid Derweesh on Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:36 pm

Not sure this is the thread for that discussion, guys!

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Post by Jonathan Prendergast on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:51 pm

Zaid Derweesh wrote:To follow up, the question then becomes one of efficiency. How do you buck the trend, and get the biggest bang for your shilling? We have players who are deadwood; adding to the wage bill but contributing nothing. Do we have more or less than the average? If more, then how to shift them and replace them with more efficient, effective players?

Tottenham may be a blip, but this season makes for an interesting case study. Why their success? If, for the sake of analysis, we include Adebayor's wages (and the wages of other loanees, if any) as part of the total, are they really overperforming? If not, then that is an explanatory factor as to why they are doing so well. If not, then is there any quantifiable reason? Lack of injuries, etc. If there is no quantifiable reason after all this, then what other possible reasons are there? Superior tactics? More motivated players?

There may be lessons to be learnt from the current success of or neighbours.


I wish I had the data, I wish I had the numbers. I would love to analyze the shit out of them.

I agree with you that injuries are extremely important. Often they are disregarded as just an 'excuse'.

However, who are all these players you refer to on high wages that are deadwood?

United have Bebe for example. Tottenham of Nelson and Huddleston. We have got rid of Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue etc. Do we have anyone that bad? Is this really the issue you are making it out to be?

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Post by Mario on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:45 pm

Jonathan Prendergast wrote:I wish I had the data, I wish I had the numbers. I would love to analyze the shit out of them.

I agree with you that injuries are extremely important. Often they are disregarded as just an 'excuse'.

However, who are all these players you refer to on high wages that are deadwood?

United have Bebe for example. Tottenham of Nelson and Huddleston. We have got rid of Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue etc. Do we have anyone that bad? Is this really the issue you are making it out to be?


Squillaci, Almunia, all those who are still on loan and not sold yet as we can't sell due to their high wages, Chamakh (3M a year), Park? Diaby has barely kicked a ball in years yet we're supposed to keep a space open for him in the squad. Djourou may not be 'deadwood' per se but he has just signed a new and improved contract until 2015 on the back of what, 3 good months last season? This is an inefficient use of funds, imo. I understand that once we moved to the stadium we had to gamble on paying youth players higher wages than most as it was the only way to attract the best youngsters in the world, and Denilson, as we couldn't compete with tier 1 players but when you look at our squad, we're not making the best of our resources. Tottenham may just be a 'blip', we will have to wait and see, but they have shown that you can attract excellent players on lower wages. Modric, for example. And they managed to keep him from under Chelsea's nose. So it can be done.

Also, don't think you can compare Huddlestone and Nelson; Nelson just joined few weeks ago (is it because he's a Kiwi you picked him out?!) and Huddlestone was 1st choice before injury this season. Not that I'm saying they don't have any wasters, just not them two. Gomes, Bassong, yeah. Bebe was a horror signing, not the only mistake United and every other top club make, but United's squad/youth players don't make half as much as ours do (According to an article today, Wellbeck is on 15k a week at Utd) and they could probably afford to take more risks and make more mistakes than we can due to a) their success and b) the income they generate and will always continue to generate.

I would also argue that when the same players keep getting injuries, or we keep losing key players for a whole season, season after season, it ceases to be just 'bad luck'. I don't know what it is in regards to the season-long injuries, maybe those are bad luck and we just don't have the squad players to compensate for their loss (Utd haven't done badly since Vidic was ruled out for the season) but certain injury prone players, they are a cause for concern and you can't bemoan always having players out, when it's the same players all the time (Gibbs, Diaby).

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Post by Zaid Derweesh on Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:36 pm

Do you know of any definitive/reliable list of player salaries?

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Post by Rima_Ikuy on Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:12 am

Mario Leontiou wrote:
Jonathan Prendergast wrote:I wish I had the data, I wish I had the numbers. I would love to analyze the shit out of them.

I agree with you that injuries are extremely important. Often they are disregarded as just an 'excuse'.

However, who are all these players you refer to on high wages that are deadwood?

United have Bebe for example. Tottenham of Nelson and Huddleston. We have got rid of Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue etc. Do we have anyone that bad? Is this really the issue you are making it out to be?


Squillaci, Almunia, all those who are still on loan and not sold yet as we can't sell due to their high wages, Chamakh (3M a year), Park? Diaby has barely kicked a ball in years yet we're supposed to keep a space open for him in the squad. Djourou may not be 'deadwood' per se but he has just signed a new and improved contract until 2015 on the back of what, 3 good months last season? This is an inefficient use of funds, imo. I understand that once we moved to the stadium we had to gamble on paying youth players higher wages than most as it was the only way to attract the best youngsters in the world, and Denilson, as we couldn't compete with tier 1 players but when you look at our squad, we're not making the best of our resources. Tottenham may just be a 'blip', we will have to wait and see, but they have shown that you can attract excellent players on lower wages. Modric, for example. And they managed to keep him from under Chelsea's nose. So it can be done.

Also, don't think you can compare Huddlestone and Nelson; Nelson just joined few weeks ago (is it because he's a Kiwi you picked him out?!) and Huddlestone was 1st choice before injury this season. Not that I'm saying they don't have any wasters, just not them two. Gomes, Bassong, yeah. Bebe was a horror signing, not the only mistake United and every other top club make, but United's squad/youth players don't make half as much as ours do (According to an article today, Wellbeck is on 15k a week at Utd) and they could probably afford to take more risks and make more mistakes than we can due to a) their success and b) the income they generate and will always continue to generate.

I would also argue that when the same players keep getting injuries, or we keep losing key players for a whole season, season after season, it ceases to be just 'bad luck'. I don't know what it is in regards to the season-long injuries, maybe those are bad luck and we just don't have the squad players to compensate for their loss (Utd haven't done badly since Vidic was ruled out for the season) but certain injury prone players, they are a cause for concern and you can't bemoan always having players out, when it's the same players all the time (Gibbs, Diaby).
.
Spot on Mario. Spot on

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Post by Michael Foster on Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:00 am

Another thing looked at was money....arsenal seam to be raking in a lot of money on no success...stadium deal,gate receipts,sponsors,emirates,02,just two to name,we have merchandise,tours,tv rites,sales abroard,players sales,pots for finishing in competitions,place finish for the league,even money brought in from all those little deals we never hear much about,.....

And yet we spend on players like park!?!? 2.5m for nothing...if we had spent more including this 50m pot that has come from nowhere on a better caliber of player that 2.5 is a year's wages for a class act...but no we instead have a player of simply put thin air...

Injuries are and have seamed to play a major part in out seasons....every team has them but as I said to a friend of mine the other day we pick up injuries to our key players because it's all we have...the key players....no back up of real potential nor class,it hits us because its all we have....and just to add I am stunned vp has not been taken out for months this season...fingers crossed it stays that way!!!
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Post by Jonathan Prendergast on Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:16 am

Zaid Derweesh wrote:Do you know of any definitive/reliable list of player salaries?

That's the key question I guess. We can only theorise unless we have proper data.

Chamahk is on a salary above what he would normally get because he ran down his contract. Not unusual. It's a shame he has gone totally off the boil.

The commentary on our wages for lower players being high, is more in relation to the likes of Ramsey and The Ox. In both cases, other clubs, top clubs, were after them. We signed them due to the high wage offer.

Do we know what Almunia is on? Probably higher than most 3rd choice keepers at other top 4/6 clubs, but he was our senior keeper for a good while. At one point playing quite decently.

A key message here, is players losing form, or not living up to expectation, can be very costly to the club. This has happened with Almunia, Eboue, Chamahk. Not only do you lose a good player, but may become unable to sell them due to wages negotiated at a time of form.

Of course I agree we should sell players that have no hope of contributing to our squad. But I am not convinced we have a higher proportion of salaries being paid for dead wood than any other club.
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Post by James Lock on Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:35 am

Looking at it from a purely off the field/long term financial point of view I think that's a very good read. However if we're looking at efficiency I think the main factor of inefficiency is with the playing staff and the tactical decisions. It is these factors alone in my opinion which have led to the supposed 'downfall' of the team/club in recent seasons and that is something that should be addressed. It probably is addressed to death by some and it's likely to have been the cause of significant frustration with constructive comments such as "Mertesacker is shit", however for me the tactical style and ethos and the evolution/lack of within the club is the only prominent problem.

Like I said though, fantastic article.

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Post by James Lock on Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:38 am

Apologies if this annoys anyone, and if so I hope the administrators remove my post asap.
However a friend of mine is doing a dissertation piece into football fans perceptions and wants a few Arsenal fans to fill out. If you're interested, could you please private message me with your email address, or give me a shout directly lock_james@hotmail.com

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Post by Marko Maksimović on Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:37 am

Hey James, I would be happy to fill it out... Let me know if you still have my email address!!
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Post by Jonathan Prendergast on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:31 am

James Lock wrote:Looking at it from a purely off the field/long term financial point of view I think that's a very good read. However if we're looking at efficiency I think the main factor of inefficiency is with the playing staff and the tactical decisions. It is these factors alone in my opinion which have led to the supposed 'downfall' of the team/club in recent seasons and that is something that should be addressed. It probably is addressed to death by some and it's likely to have been the cause of significant frustration with constructive comments such as "Mertesacker is shit", however for me the tactical style and ethos and the evolution/lack of within the club is the only prominent problem.

Like I said though, fantastic article.

So you are saying, that the experience and capability of our players we have are fine. And based on our squad, we should be achieving more? And it is the tactical style and ethos that lets us down?

I disagree. I would say that the teams above us and even below have more capable and experienced squads. I think Wenger's work, over the course of a season, once injuries are accounted for, increases the team to be greater than the sum of its parts.
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Post by Christopher Flanagan on Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:14 pm

Hi all, thanks for the responses, some really interesting points/questions raised. I can't say I particularly disagree with anything that has been brought up so far. Zaid, you are right to say that in order to properly analyse things, we need the raw data. Sadly, none of us are ever likely to be privy to specific player contracts (though I've encountered a couple through careless friends in the financial sevices sector) but what we do have is Companies House accounts, which at least provide us with holistic comparables. But yes, it would be nice to have more data.

I also think the injuries thing is significant. I know it's a 'typical arsenal excuse' but that doesn't mean it hasn't fairly significantly affected us. I don't have the data to hand but I wouldn't be surprised to discover that we have lost more key players to injuries for more months than our competitors. If anyone has that info, I'd be interested.

I also think John F raises a very good question:

"What happen to clever strategies like buying cast-offs from richer clubs?"

This is something that Arsène did incredibly effectively in the early part of his career. Kanu, whole in the heart; Overmars, banjaxed knee; Henry, failing to settle in Italy...why don't we do this any more? Especially when clubs like Real and Manchester City are stockpiling players with such reckless abandon. It seems the only market inefficiency Wenger wants to exploit is the youth market, which is becomin increasingly squeezed and expensive. 20 years ago someone like Götze or Hazard would still be a relatively cheap unknown. Globalisation has change that.
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Post by Christopher Flanagan on Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:16 pm

Jonathan Prendergast wrote:
James Lock wrote:Looking at it from a purely off the field/long term financial point of view I think that's a very good read. However if we're looking at efficiency I think the main factor of inefficiency is with the playing staff and the tactical decisions. It is these factors alone in my opinion which have led to the supposed 'downfall' of the team/club in recent seasons and that is something that should be addressed. It probably is addressed to death by some and it's likely to have been the cause of significant frustration with constructive comments such as "Mertesacker is shit", however for me the tactical style and ethos and the evolution/lack of within the club is the only prominent problem.

Like I said though, fantastic article.

So you are saying, that the experience and capability of our players we have are fine. And based on our squad, we should be achieving more? And it is the tactical style and ethos that lets us down?

I disagree. I would say that the teams above us and even below have more capable and experienced squads. I think Wenger's work, over the course of a season, once injuries are accounted for, increases the team to be greater than the sum of its parts.

I'm sure you both realise this but the point I was making is that irrespective of perceived failures in tactics/mentality/whatever, Wenger has delivered above or on expectation.
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Post by Chris Chan on Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:46 pm

Christopher Flanagan wrote:

I also think the injuries thing is significant. I know it's a 'typical arsenal excuse' but that doesn't mean it hasn't fairly significantly affected us. I don't have the data to hand but I wouldn't be surprised to discover that we have lost more key players to injuries for more months than our competitors. If anyone has that info, I'd be interested.


It has affected us without a doubt, but surely that just means either a) other teams have better squads with which to cope with their injuries or b) we have fewer 'key' players than other teams.

I would guess Utd actually have had a similar injury list to ours over the years. When Valencia broke his leg, Nani stepped up, when Ferdinand got injured, Evans helped set a new consecutive clean sheet record, Vidic has been out most of the season and Jones/Smalling have done OK, they lost Hargreaves after he was a huge factor in them winning league and CL double and Utd still won the league.

This is something that Arsène did incredibly effectively in the early part of his career. Kanu, whole in the heart; Overmars, banjaxed knee; Henry, failing to settle in Italy...why don't we do this any more? Especially when clubs like Real and Manchester City are stockpiling players with such reckless abandon. It seems the only market inefficiency Wenger wants to exploit is the youth market, which is becomin increasingly squeezed and expensive. 20 years ago someone like Götze or Hazard would still be a relatively cheap unknown. Globalisation has change that.

Agree with this, and it is not like these buys aren't around. In the same way globalisation has increased the price of young stars, surely it increases the availability of these so called 'cast offs'.

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Post by eyal.peer on Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:59 pm

Maybe it's because 'cast-offs' from upper-tier clubs are still on a salary higher than what Arsenal can afford these days, so many of them prefer to bide their time in the club, maybe get a chance, and get paid a ton regardless.

All the examples you gave happened before most of the salary inflation took place.
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