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Wenger – The Grinch Who Stole The Transfer Window

The Grinch

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

24 days to…the closing of the window.
Everything about the transfer window reminds me of the commercialization of Christmas:
• The countdown.
• The massive price inflation. This window last year’s 30 million pound player is now 40 million (25%), 20 million is now 30 million (50%), 10 million is 20 million(100%). It’s evident from those percentages that, like Christmas, the higher margin is on lower end product. Always the poor pay more, eh.
• The wall-to-wall media hype allied with the selling of massive amounts of expensive advertizing best exemplified by that 24-hour Jim White-SkySport frenzy on deadline day.
• The widescale brainwashing of football fans into believing that the only way owners and managers can show their love for the fans is by engaging in massive transfer spending. Arsenal fans are arguably under the most psychological pressure because Papa Wenger and Uncle Ivan refuse to join the madness, avoid the pressure to keep up with the Jones, by hardly ever spending a fortune during the summer transfer window.

Predictably Arsenal’s twitterati and the big bloggers are up in arms, defaming the club’s greatest ever manager for refusing to bend to the pressure to spend for spending sake. Many are like children at Christmas who can’t understand why Momma and Poppa refuse to buy them the most expensive plaything.

The BBC tactic is to wheel out out an ex-player to attack the club’s transfer spending:

On transfer inflation one tweeter dismissed the club’s prudence.

This fellow has seemingly given up:

One podcaster puts the boot in:

To be fair not all of Arsenal twitter have given in to the pressure.

As usual it is the data which has the final say. Most of you readers are familiar with my mantra:

“Unlike the media [and Twitter], which thrives on emotion, in the silent statistical world, there are no headlines.  There are no narratives.  No excuses.  No hope and no despair. Just data.”

I did my research and not surprisingly, it is Arsenal’s prudence and Arsene’s discipline in the transfer market which stands out like a shining light.

Nett Spend 92/03 – 13/14 Purchased Gross Sold Nett Per Season
Manchester City £1,145,480,000 £316,903,000 £828,577,000 £33,143,080
Chelsea £1,195,199,000 £484,125,000 £711,074,000 £28,442,960
Manchester United £922,950,000 £435,490,000 £487,460,000 £19,498,400
Liverpool £917,805,000 £539,300,000 £378,505,000 £15,140,200
Middlesbrough £237,910,000 £57,680,000 £180,230,000 £7,209,200
Arsenal £587,365,000 £407,674,000 £179,691,000 £7,187,640
Tottenham £686,700,000 £525,167,500 £161,532,500 £6,461,300
Sunderland £327,745,000 £170,580,000 £157,165,000 £6,286,600
Stoke City £149,065,000 £47,630,000 £101,435,000 £4,057,400
Crystal Palace £156,760,000 £59,990,000 £96,770,000 £3,870,800
Everton £349,045,500 £254,586,000 £94,459,500 £3,778,380
West Bromwich Albion £178,650,000 £86,376,501 £92,273,499 £3,690,940
West Ham £303,282,000 £216,782,000 £86,500,000 £3,460,000
Hull City £108,445,000 £57,680,000 £50,765,000 £2,030,600
AFC Bournemouth £78,085,000 £28,595,000 £49,490,000 £1,979,600
Leicester City £123,895,000 £94,195,000 £29,700,000 £1,188,000
Watford £89,345,000 £60,000,000 £29,345,000 £1,173,800
Swansea City £99,427,500 £87,560,000 £11,867,500 £474,700
Southampton £279,687,500 £280,845,000 -£1,157,500 -£46,300
Burnley £53,300,000 £87,560,000 -£34,260,000 -£1,370,400

Publicly available data on transfer spending demonstrate in no uncertain fashion that despite the billions spent by City and Chelsea with United and Liverpool breathing down their necks, none have had sustainable to success, unlike Arsenal. City came 4th last year and had to ditch their manager. Chelsea came 8th and has had three managers since last season. United continue to show ambition at a mouth-watering cost.  None other than Fabio Capello was forced to remark:

‘They have spent €500million (£424m) in three years to win the FA Cup and twice they did not qualify for the Champions League,

 ‘Money is not always enough’.

Despite Liverpool’s willingness to spend whatever the market charged for average players (something Arseblog would no doubt approve) they have never won the Premier League in its 24 years of existence. This appetite for the transfer market doesn’t seem to have changed under Herr Klopp.

What was astonishing to me was how per season transfer spending club by Middlesborough exceeded Arsenal’s during the period under reference. This is the classic yo-yo club which enjoys a spell in the Prem only to be relegated to the Championship. I nearly fell out of my seat when it hit me that they have spent the last 10 years trying to get promoted.

What the data above ignores are the clubs whose owners spent lavishly, like Santa Claus, temporarily endearing themselves to the fans, only to conveniently fall out of sight out of mind to the bloggers and tweeters who demonize Wenger for not “showing ambition”. One such club is Aston Villa who between 92/93-13/14 were not afraid to spend.

Purchased Gross Sold Nett Per Season
$401,890,000.00 $228,575,000.00 $173,315,000.00 $7,290,600.00

Despite their per season average spending also exceeding Arsenal’s, last campaign Villa was finally relegated to the Championship after two-three years of flirting with disaster. American billionaire owner Randy Lerner has had to sell out to the Chinese, after a reported 50% hit to his net worth. One wonders what he now thinks of the advice of the mainstream media and his many spendthrift managers who demanded he spend big every transfer window to strengthen the squad.

In closing let me remind you of something Arsene said about transfers recently:

“I buy players that I feel can strengthen our team. Today, you have to be very strong inside the club when you are responsible, not to just buy to buy.

“There is always a wave of opinions, and people are better informed today than all the players. They always tell you to buy but when you ask who to buy, they become much shorter, because if you look at the market in Europe there is a lot of money available, but not many players that really strengthen the teams.

“And if you look at who is spending the most in Europe, they are not the teams that won the leagues. The global investment of all the clubs around us didn’t stop Leicester winning the league. So we have to focus on our quality, and try to strengthen our team.

“If you analyse well our season, we finished top of the top-four. We lost maximum points against the teams between five and nine. Maybe the games we were expected to win, we did, but against teams like Southampton and Swansea, we dropped too many points.

“On the other hand, we had a good defensive record, overall, but we can still strengthen that. And we were a bit short of goals scored. We didn’t convert enough chances we created. We created the most in the league but our finishing was not as good as the season before. 

“You say we should have won the league, but Leicester lost only three games during the season and won the league. You have to respect their performance. It’s not the name that wins the league, it’s the quality of the performances.”

I would advise well thinking fans to heed the words and deeds of Arsene and just like at Christmas, avoid the hype and psychological pressure. As most of us try teach our kids, in the words of Dr Seuss:

What if Christmas….doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

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305 comments on “Wenger – The Grinch Who Stole The Transfer Window

  1. This is clearly ridiculous as I have never met him but Per Mertersacker is one of the few human beings I really respect and as such I am delighted he is the captain of the club I have come to love so much.

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  2. I just always liked Per straight from the german team… him and Klose so was delighted he joined and sad Klose did not…. Much like DB10 for me from the dutch team… Also glad he is captain cos he does lead and organize so it is clearly not a decision that was taken lightly!

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  3. Arsenal had club captains many time in our history, even as short a time ago as the 80’s, with David O’Leary as club captain, while Kenny Sansom was team captain.

    I do laugh when people talk about Adams or Vieira being some sort of inspirational leader of men, does anyone think that Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Lauren, Petit, Gilberto, Keown, Bould etc etc etc, had to have their hands held, or be led, do me a favor.
    Guys, I’m sure many of you have played on teams, all be it at a much lower level than the BPL, maybe even other sports, tell me, did you ever need anyone old else to inspire you or lead you, for you to play well, or in fact, try to play your best. For me all this inspirational captain is the greatest load of bollocks spouted, normally spouted by those looking for simple answers to complex questions. I played on teams, captained teams, managed teams, appointed captains, and I can honestly say it never mattered one iota who the captain was, or even how they performed on the pitch, and the captains role was always more to do with off field matters, leading by example off the pitch, being dedicated to training, etc, and keeping pranks and horseplay among the squad down. Also helping team mates to sort out differences before it caused a problem. Also the captains biggest role is being a buffer between the manager and players and a go between the two as well. If the players want something with training or tactics etc changed, it is often up to the captain to have a word with the manager or one of the coaches to see what the thinking on it is.
    Now having said that, its my understanding that in top level football and top level sport in general over the last decade an awful lot of that is far more open between players and management, and a lot of mangers are less dictatorial and players are far more willing to say what is on their mind. There is now so much analytical work done, and this gives players a far greater chance to speak up and raise concerns. So a captain is more of a figure head, yeah he might be seen as inspirational, but only cos a lot of the time your captain is one of your better players, and so he is more likely to do something that effects the game. Bergkamp and Pires were never our captain, but I’d say either of them done things that inspired or drove us to victory, far more often than anything Adams done. Tell me, if you were an AFC player and your captain turned up to play a league game still drunk, or clearly the worst for wear, how inspired would you have been.
    The whole captain debate is very much like the – not a good team cos they did not win the league – just cos a team wins the league it does not mean the captain was inspirational.

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  4. New post up.

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  5. I had a rather long fruitless argument for suggesting all the “leader” rhetoric concerning new signings was just fans calling for something to make /themselves/ feel better, without any real consideration to the practical effect on the team.
    Some rather assume the current team is incapable and directionless than admit that they have no idea what should be done in practical sense. Or they rather wish, like Ed said, for the mythical one singing solution, it takes many names and tropes, and this incarnation it’s the word “leader” . They obsess over being ‘inspired’ by the warm feeling of a shiny new acquisition with being ‘inspired’ by the hard work or inventiveness on the field – which can ( should, does and will ) come from any player at any time.
    I forgive confusing the entertainment factor with innate footballing, but some people are too far gone to be able to appreciate a great footballing performance over their own gratification as a fan- a purely subjective thing.

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