Before I go into anything today, please understand that this article is not a defence of Arsene Wenger. It has nothing to do with him, nothing ! OK?
I am going to lay out, in the most simple of terms, why Arsenal should not be expected to win the PL and ECL, and using very basic figures and analogies.
First off, no one is yet to give me one logical reason why the fourth richest club in England should be beating the three that are, even now, considerably richer.
There have been studies done that show an 85% direct correlation between spend and success, across all major leagues. This isn’t my opinion, it is fact. It may be a sad fact and one we wish didn’t exist, but a fact it is and being a fact, we have to acknowledge it and until it changes, accept it. In simple terms that leaves you a 15% chance of beating the odds. So yes, it can be done. Again I ask though, not why Arsenal ‘could’ be the team to do it, but why they ‘should’ be the club to do it?
People will point to Atlético Madrid as an example of how it can be done. Yes, but they are the 3rd biggest club in Spain and have done it once in 20 years. That is 5% of the time and within the previously mentioned 15% window.However that simply proves the maths, it does not mean they (or anyone else) should be expected to do it. Just that its possible. No one is saying its impossible.
But what about MUFC this year ? They had the most expensive squad and the highest wages, and we finished above them, I hear people say. Again, this is true, but lets consider why. They have had to pay massively inflated transfer fees and wages to attract players. So their wages are not actually a true reflection of the worth of their players. Lets say £250 k pw each for Falcao and RVP. That distorts things considerably. However, as a rule, given half decent management, the wages are a reflection of quality. MCFC came into huge funds and wanted to join the party. In order to attract better players they had to massively over pay, in terms of fees and wages, in order to attract better players like Ade (coughs). So for that period the spend was not a true reflection of quality. And yet once they were in the ECL they bought truly top class players, their spend became a reflection of quality and they won the title, twice.
Chelsea in the early days went on the biggest spending spree (in real terms) that football has ever seen. Their spend became a reflection of their quality and they won the league twice. Then they stopped spending at those levels , the team got older and the wages were no longer a real reflection. What happened is they came 5th. What happens next? Yes, they went on another spending spree and they won it again. That they finished above MUFC and MCFC with a slightly lower wage bill is because of where they are in the buying cycle. City are heading towards the point where Chelsea were before the second spending spree. Make no mistake, another spree is coming.
The ECL is even more of a challenge. Not only do we have to try and overcome the odds against the three other richer English clubs, but there is Barca, Real, Bayern and PSG. Its no coincidence that in Europe the winners are also the biggest spending clubs.
That’s the bad news. The good news is the 15%. That means winning is a possibility.We should be doing everything we can to get nearer the spending of these clubs and exploit the advantages Arsenal have. Like stability and a long term plan. We should hope to overcome the odds. But when hope and desire become expectations and demands that is when logic flies out the window. That is when we become unreasonable entitled halfwits.
We have to accept the reality of the new football world. Despite the additional income from the stadium,we are not one of the elite clubs. We are getting there, but as of yet we are the level below. Since the move was planned Oil money and revenue from TV and commercial deals have reduced the advantage we could have expected when the plan was hatched. Its sad for Arsenal , but the fact is the landscape has changed. What we were doing in the early part of the century is as irrelevant as what Liverpool were doing in the eighties. But just imagine where we would have been without the move?
We have to hope that Arsene and the club can and do find a way to overcome the odds (and I do) but it will be against the odds. If we do it , it will be an incredible achievement. Its not something we should expect or demand.
Tomorrow I might write a blog on why I believe we will challenge and the reasons I believe we can, but it would be from a position of understanding the difficulties and accepting the realities. If I back a ten to one shot in a race, I do so because I hope and think it can win, but I understand that its ten to one for a reason. I won’t call the jockey and the trainer useless if it doesn’t come in.