A guest post from Muppet ( @MuppetGooner }
No sooner as we had won the FA Cup, the media narrative was being played out in the newspapers and on the radio. We were being reminded of our entitlement to the premier league. Of course, this was due to the amount of money we are all paying to support the club. Martin Samuel penned an article largely advocating that spending on Ozil and Sanchez had actually made us better. Words like “Cohesion” and “Stability” were all well and good, but we needed to continue to spend. The hacks clamoured to tell us, then ask us, what were the missing pieces of the jigsaw in order for us to win the title ? If I wasn’t so cynical, I would think it all sounds delightful. We are all over the radio. The media are chipping in and asking who we need, Martin Samuel is helping out. Hooray !
Well, not exactly. First of all, the acquisitions of Ozil and Sanchez are just two purchases that represent the first glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel. One which had a train coming the other way. There will be more. That is not to say that every signing will work out, that is not always possible. There have been some players that didn’t work out, like Gervinho and Santos, but there have been others that have. On the whole, I don’t know about you, but I am happy with our signings in the period where we had no money. As I look forward and have been enjoying the last 2 years, where we have had more money. Actually, there is a difference in my opinion and that of the media. I really really look forward. Not because we’ve got lots of money. No. It’s because we’ve got lots of money and Wenger is going to spend it. I actually believe, and will argue, that Wenger with lots of money will be the most frightning prospect in Europe. The media can print stories about Bale, and about Pogba, and valuations of £80m. But what the media forget is that Wenger created Vieira and Henry, and in their prime, they would have exceeed those valuations on today’s rates. So my question is this, if Wenger can develop a player, what is so difficult about buying a player ? The media clamour is that Wenger is famously reluctant to spend big. We know this is absolute nonsense. Wenger is actually famously reluctant to spend big on a player that he does not rate, or he cannot afford. Don’t believe that it is possible to spend over £30m on players that won’t improve the squad ? Look around you. Di Maria, Mangala, Torres to Chelsea, Andy Carroll to Liverpool, before that Juan Veron.
Samuel concedes Wenger’s point that three outstanding performers in the FA Cup final were Cazorla, Bellerin and Coquelin. The latter 2 players costing nothing, the former, criminally undervalued. So what is Samuel talking about ? Wenger knows he has to spend. This is the reason for the stadium move, the improvement in the commercial deals. This isn’t some deluded positive narrative. ! We are not going to ramp up our commercial operation to bring in £300 million a year so we can stick it in the bank ! The Chelsea fans know this, and are ringing the radio stations and telling everybody that we have lots of money, and therefore we should have won the title. But a title winning squad takes time to ferment. The Chelsea team that won the title were underpinned by at least 10 players who won the champions league. You cannot expect to win the title after two years by just spending £40 million in each year. Chelsea spent £111.3m net in 2003-04, and when that didn’t buy them the sought after trophy, they went out and spent a further £92.2m net in 2004-5, acquiring Drogba, Carvalho, Ferraira and Robben. Our purchases in the last 2 years have been nowhere near on a a comparable scale to this, but we are expected to win the title ? I can accept some of the argument that Chelsea had to spend big initially, but they went on to spend at least a further £300m net in the subsequent 8 years after 2005.
Now that the FFP regulations have been relaxed, Chelsea, Manchester United and City will all spend at least £100 million each. Even if we could match that, the only way in my view that we can hope to win the title, is to put faith in our squad and the players that we have now. Which is why Wenger’s comments about “Cohesion” resonate. He believes we are not far off. He is defensive on preferring to promote from within and not necessarily seeking solutions from outside, because those solutions don’t necessarily exist. Yes, Aguero may be an upgrade on all our strikers ? But he would cost the GDP of Sweden. It’s hard to not sound like an apologist for coming 3rd or 4th, but we can see already that there is a scramble for the best players in europe amongst all the top clubs. Which is why we need to maximise our squad development and home grown players. Ox, Bellerin, Toral, Coquelin. This is why I feel optimistic. I think we are nicely positioned, and have already shown improvement in the last 2 years. 2 FA Cups, and an average of 77 points each season. I don’t know the exact stats, but I think without the injuries, we probably average over 2 points a game. And recently, we have beaten all the big teams, save Chelsea. And I belive there is more to come, because there is surely, still, a huge amount of untapped potential in terms of players like Wilshere, Ramsey, Ox, Welbeck.. even Walcott, to develop more individually, and as a team, with the other, more experienced players. Sanchez in his 2nd season could be Henryesque, which would be sensational.
But for the half glass empty merchants, the concerns will be at the back. But what is interesting there, is we are not lacking in numbers. Gabriel and Chambers to cover for Kos and Mert. A coquelin partner/back up/replacement is where most concerns are expressed, and a goalkeeper. It will be interesting to see what AW does. But whatever happens next season, if you can’t be happy with some of the football that was served up this year, then you are probably a miserable bastard. Yes, Monaco was the nadir, but let’s console ourselves that no one else got any further than we did in the CL.