Arsenal Transfers: A Protest against the ‘Everything was Bad under Wenger’ PoV

Arsenal: Transfer woes to transfer wow

Recently, I wrote a comment on how this transfer window was being celebrated in contrast to TWs past, by writing an alternate world where Wenger was manager and we made the same transfers in the same time frame, saying it would be viewed very differently.

Many seemed to like the post even as they disagreed that Wenger being in charge would have changed their perception of it. That might be true, but I am certain the overall narrative would not be as positive.

As far as I’m concerned, our transfer woes were always overplayed, and our achievements underplayed. This was true of the football and results as well.

Some people went back to as far as 10 years ago for how they were frustrated by obvious needs not being filled. The overall context of where we were as a club seems forgotten, or at least not as important.

Just to reiterate what it was, we had to make money from the transfer market. Everyone knows this, even if they choose to ignore it. But I think one aspect that is forgotten is how difficult it was to replace players.

We tried to buy players who were clearly better and would have taken us up a notch. We matched Hazard’s transfer price. Likewise with Gotze and Phil Jones.  We saw something in these players that would have taken us up a level and were willing to pay a huge (at the time) fee for them. But we couldn’t match the offer on wages, and we were less attractive as a club than the likes of Chelsea, ManU and Bayern.

This willingness to spend was drowned out by the shouts of spend some money mob (egged on by the media) calling Wenger and the club misers.

But another aspect which is, to my mind, less acknowledged, is that we also went for players a rung below. Players like Kevin Mirallas, Phil Jagielka and Jan Vertonghen. These guys filled a need for us and we represented a step up for them in terms of money and prestige. But they chose to not join us because they felt we were too good for them to be able to play regularly, and not enough of a step up to justify being backup. Or they just didn’t want to move.

In this situation we would often decide not to buy anyone. (Wenger’s top top top quality comments which seemed to infuriate people) unless it was absolutely essential (Like when we bought Gervinho) Why?

The answer comes 2013 onwards. The summer of Ozil. We could buy the best playmaker in the world because:

  1. We signed a new major sponsorship deal as the old one expired
  2. We hadn’t wasted our money on very tiny marginal gains by players who would not have elevated us from top 4 to top 2 or champions

(and if anyone says Ozil wasn’t needed they weren’t paying attention)

Hence those needs not being fulfilled was not a disaster, but a combination of necessity and wise planning.

Since then, we’ve had some great signings like Alexis and Xhaka. And some shrewd pickups like Chambers, Welbeck, Cech, Elneny , Holding and I would argue, Debuchy. Moving on from the likes of Djourou, Vermaelen, Fabianski, Chamakh, Gervinho, Podolski and an aging Sagna.

By most measures, we were being constantly upgraded. With one exception. The summer window of 2015/16. The summer of Cech. It was very obviously a gamble to not add a midfielder and a striker. I think there were rumours of our interest in Lacazette even then. Maybe he wasn’t ready to move at this stage, but I was surprised and disappointed that we didn’t buy anyone else. I think Wenger looked at his squad vs the rest and believed we were good enough to win. And you know what, he wasn’t wrong. We were good enough. We finished above the major powerhouses, and despite Leicester’s unexpected performance, we really should have won the league. Except our finishing was just terrible. Ozil was well on his way to easily surpassing the assist record but, somewhere along the way, we just couldn’t find the goals. Also, despite beating Leicester with a last minute Welbz header to get within 2 points of them, we then couldn’t keep pace.

I think that was the beginning of the end for Wenger. The team fell apart. Alexis started to play Alexis-ball instead of Wengerball or Arsenalball. Elneny, Xhaka, Mustafi represented a new direction which would take time to develop and this was incompatible with an Alexis dominated team, who was seemingly incompatible with Giroud and had issues with Ramsey too. Our play suffered, and we no longer looked slick. We also ended up missing out on the top 4 two years in a row. Maybe if we had managed to sell Alexis and buy Lemar last season, we would have done better.

I don’t mean to blame Alexis. (Maybe a little). He was clearly a hugely talented player. But for whatever reason, we were no longer a good fit and we suffered for it. And so, a new transfer team were brought in and halfway through the season we decided on a new rebuild, starting from the attack. This summer we’ve completed the job. And fans are happy. Which is good.

I like that we operate with a GM/DoF type model now. I am happy that we are buying the sort of players we have bought. I hope we will still see young players coming through and given chances, and it seems we will. The reason I brought up the parallel universe was to protest against this ‘everything was bad’ implication, because I believe that nothing has fundamentally changed at Arsenal in terms of our transfer philosophy. These are exactly the sort of signings we would have expected under Wenger too. So, if and when it doesn’t all go swimmingly, I would hope fans don’t turn on Emery or the club in a way that they did on Wenger. We need to keep the positivity going.

By Shard

55 thoughts on “Arsenal Transfers: A Protest against the ‘Everything was Bad under Wenger’ PoV

  • *Chirp chirp* Crickets

    Love the photos of the cosmos though. Just needs weird Star Trek/Twilight Zone music in the background.

  • Shardo, I have added some suitable planets of universe kind of music to your post…. Bruckner’s brilliant Symphony nr.9. 🙂

  • Last Winter I spoke of there ‘being a plan in place’ at Arsenal. One that would take at least the January TW, likely this Summer’s TW — with a possibility that next January’s TW too. With this length of time needed to perform a rebuild of the club’s roster. Including a passing of the torch from the Wenger dynasty– to a new ‘head coach’ in the Summer (who, in December I predicted, would be Mikel Arteta). Between disparaging remarks and muffled laughter, I insisted– it was all in the details.

    As things progressed through the January TW, into March? Between the toxicity of the news media, as well as negativity on most of the more-well-heeled Arsenal blogsites (BK an exception, h/t to TA)? Became apparent to me that pressure on the Arsenal Board would accelerate the wait-and-see game they had been playing. The Arsenal brand value neared a tipping point. Recovery from which would be much more arduous and costly, than forcing an early change. Wenger’s head-on-a-pike in the nicest-possible-manner — was the only way out. Early-March, considering the evidence as laid out, I’d stated (here on BK) that if it were I (in Arsenal’s position)? I’d have Arsene make his announcement on Friday, April 27th. To allow for the last home match versus Burnley as the supporter’s opportunity for a fond farewell and send-off.

    Missed it, but not by much.

    Le Prof announced his intentions on Friday, April 20th. In light of the fine ceremonial show of respect by Manchester United and their fans– happy to have misjudged.

    And yeah, I (and David Ornstein) was wrong about Mikel Arteta. Again, not by much. Much as everyone is juiced about Unai Emery’s ascension as Arsenal’s new man? No one– not even the bookmakers– saw it coming.

    I am (as) pleased with the choice (as TA is relieved 😉 ).

    For all of the transfer action that was done so rapidly– I’m thrilled. TBH? I think it happens almost this way even if Arsene had managed to stay on. The players we’ve brought in since last January’s TW are almost all Sven’s Men (though he got oh, so lucky, with Mkhitaryan). All players the SIR braintrust had targeted before becoming SIRE (likely Emery influence on Torreira; moreso on Guendouzi IMO).

    Contend the remake continues. We’ve invested short-term in older players to be competitive for a top-4 spot this season IMO. Longer-term, our top youth prospects are coming mature this year and next. The club is working toward a synchroncity, a pattern of replacement.

    And yeah. Still looks like the plan.


  • I think what we really like is the speed of it all, the focus on the defensive positions and the strong focus on adding experience to the squad. Would it have happened like this if Wenger was still in charge? I doubt it, really do. But I agree with Shard’s assessment of Wenger’s transfer dealings and the circumstances he had to deal with initially. Since the ‘summer of Ozil’ – sounds great! – we have indeed made progress and Wenger was able to attract some very fine talent. This summer saw five swift signing of a predominantly defensive nature, with lots of experience added to the team as well. We all felt this was needed and maybe it would all also have happened on Planet AW8888888888888888888888! But I believe that the new combo of SIR with E made this really possible.

    #Loved Wenger, was time for a change, Unai is seemingly doing all the right things, give him time/keep expectations mid-low, support him, and the journey to Gunners’ Galaxy will be a pleasant one. Unai to, Unai to be, Unai to be A Gooner.

  • Wow.. Move over Nostradamus. Outta the way Ornacle.. Here comes Jw1..

    I didn’t know you’d made those predictions. (One of these days you’re going to have to explain your reasons for believing the statsDNA model is almost ready to deliver..In layman’s terms please)

    But I am glad that you agree that this is just a continuation of the plan (or policy as I put it) that we had under Wenger. I’d hoped the club could withstand the storm (if nothing else, I don’t like bullying and in many cases I felt that’s what it was amounting to) but I understand why they couldn’t and had to let Wenger go.

    As I said, nothing fundamental has changed. But we should be better than last season (It would be difficult to not be considering our away form) In addition to the personnel we’ve added, a change can refresh and refocus the mind sometimes. I think, the early signs suggest that to be the case. We’ll only be able to really get a sense by the new year, but I hope regardless of how it goes, the fans stay patient and positive.

  • Thanks TA!

    As a former-typesetter back in the ’80s– we’d always leave one typo in the galley of type. To be sure the proofreaders were earning their pay.
    Those ?s are for you! 😉


  • Well, SIR + Sir Wenger made the sales of Coquelin, Giroud, Walcott and Alexis, and the purchases of Auba and Miki happen for zero net spend in the course of a month..

    Wenger alone may not have been able to make it happen. Wenger also would have retained final authority on the transfers. But Gazidis said Emery had input too as they wouldn’t want to give the coach players (or profiles) that he doesn’t want.

    It’s not THAT different a way of doing things TA. But it is a more modern, corporate structure, It has its advantages. But it also has its disadvantages. We’ll see that over some time too. But what I like is that our philosophy towards transfers is the same.

  • I can confirm that JW1 indeed announced the possibility of Arteta taking over from AW on this blog. At first I called him bonkers and then gradually the panic started to set in, followed by unabating violent nightmares that the Lego-haired one would indeed take over at The Arsenal. Luckily, the sirK saw sense (just in time?) and got us the right man for the job. 😛

  • It depends on who scouted/recommended him. If it was Emery as was suggested in his press release, or it was Sven and co. Wilshere would have stayed, so one of Torreira or Guendouzi would definitely not have been signed. I did get the sense that Wenger wanted to upgrade his midfield and especially his defense.

  • I was excited about Arteta if I’m honest. And less so about Emery. (Even as I was surprised that he wasn’t even being mentioned) Why I was not excited about Emery was that he seemed to me to be no different to Wenger, and in such a scenario I saw no reason to make the change. Like, what’s the point. But when he was announced I dug around a bit more, and I recall you homing on the line that he might be different in just the right ways, I began to think it was the perfect blend of our philosophy, new ideas, and experience (latter is what Arteta lacked)

  • True. It’s hypothetical until we can go to Wengerworld (someone should start a theme park)

  • Big a fan of AW as anyone.
    Where I’ve seen similar managerial dynasties come to an end in other sports? Most were internal, organizational struggles. Didn’t get that impression here. All of the acrimony in this case seemed external.

    Arsene created his own issues. He raised the bar so high, it could never be leapt again. What he did for the 8 years post-Invincibles was put his managerial aspirations on-hold– to try to fulfill a promise. It didn’t pan-out as planned– but he’s not at fault for how football and the PL changed in that interim. Perhaps only failing– in that there was no Plan B.

    Am proud that the club is still on solid footing in almost all respects. The last two seasons, while frustrating, will have a sobering effect on Arsenal’s fans. Particularly those who partied on Wenger’s successes– then bitched loudest when the buzz wore off.

    Time now then, for all of us who love this club to strike a pose of resolve.
    Emery will energize us to rebound. Only? How soon and high the bounce.


  • Yes that one line said it all succinctly, Shard.

    I best keep quiet re Arteta now as I don’t want to upset? my friend JW1 again. 😉

    I love the seriousness and focus of Unai, from what I have seen from the training sessions. Players will have to work hard, and keep working hard, to be in the good books, I reckon; but he will also look after them like they are his only son as long as they give their all.

  • Sorry to make you sad but Jw1, I didn’t feel that Arteta or even Emery would save the day for Arsenal. Had felt that a manager who is less outspoken would come in…

    Back to Shardo.. we had a different game plan under Wenger, and if Alexis never came in we would have played things like what Wenger wanted and our fourth place finish would have been secured for 2 seasons. But it wasn’t meant to be.

    I am more critical of Alexis for causing us so much problems on and off the pitch, and in the end caused Wenger’s end. However we cannot turn back time and instead look ahead at how Emery can inject new methods into the players. Currently they are doing good, not yet at hulk-like levels, but better than the laziness we see last season.

    Saturday wasn’t a real test for us, and i hope to see the lads in hulk mode when they play in Singapore.

    TA, i will be attending the match next Thursday, so i will be taking notes.

  • Shard great post that needed to be written. I loved Kevs post a few days ago, because it described the feelings of many of us “reasonable fans” – meaning people who know about click bait and sports news headlines that are often complete fiction. Even clowns on Twitter starting wildfire rumours actually caught on to a degree.

    But my comment to Kev took into account the stifling constraints on Arsene, and how he masterfully kept us relevant.

    Shard today reminds us of something that many forget, but I dont…. That is, when Wenger finally was able to get some money after the new deals and large debt relief, he tried to use it well. Ozil, Sanchez, some others. He did what he thought was right to improve us.

    I was completely for giving him a few years with some of the spending money, to try to lead us to glory. We did. He got us to second tier trophies. Good job. But we all became impatient finally, when we sadly underperformed in the league when Leicester city ran away from us… The other top teams, big clubs were not up to their normal level that year, and many rightly said they would reload.

    After the team, (players and Wenger) missed out, Mourinho was a factor coming on, Liverpool wisely jumped on Klopp by quickly dumping Brenda Rodgers, and man city are always throwing everything at players and coaches.

    As I’ve always mentioned, about 2 January’s back, I sensed the whole team no longer performing for Arsene Any more, that, along with players refusing to extend, made the atmosphere even worse.

    We kept trying, with Xhaka, Mustafi, but it even seemed the Arsene was not getting the quality out of them that I think they have… of course, that’s more their fault than his, but if you add all these things together, with Pep catching up to speed, and Liverpool and spurs outperforming us, it felt like a malaise setting in, and even players desperate to get out, like Chamberlain, Alexis.

    For now, I like the hard and defensive nature of our signings under our new regime. But let’s give credit to Wenger to leaving us with substantial attacking talent.

    I think that we are extremely lucky Emery became available. I was ready for a Allegri, Enrique type, I would have been very disheartened but optimisticly hopeful with Arteta.

    The coaching energy and emphasis on video analysis is exactly what I felt we need. I love the descriptions of the assistants that he brought with him too.

  • Hi Shard et al,

    Great post. I can make a few statements and thoughts in this order I think:

    1. JW was clear he thought it was a 1.5-2 year plan some time back

    2. I think the older buys (not sure who’s comment) now are perhaps experience (definitely) but also more importantly, transfer of that experience to younger heads and allow them time to mature into full time players. That is a 1-2 years from now to see the complete Bellerin, Chambers and Holding (for examples)…. So, I think that is smart. They also bought not just older but winners which helps in expectations. In this I think we really missed Per last year and Koz with other injuries etc.

    3. Speed of buys is the key for me. Instead of scrambling to get continuity and flow together in the first 8 games we are on the front foot. Perhaps as he got older AW got hesitant, or looked behind too many other bushes to ensure the best value (best being the enemy of really good enough)?

    4. The buys this year were areas we needed strength, experience and depth, and we got that. Thus, I think people were happier

    5. I think Shard is quite right about the summer of Ozil and Xhaka et al are also earlier career high fliers who were always going to be a few years in the making.

    6. Thus, I think where AW caught flak was people being more eager to win *now* despite FA Cups rather than later, thus…

    7. Imagine a year where Leicester does *not* have “the magic year it all goes right before never being the same again” (I see your “Summer of Ozil” and raise you that!) 🙂 … And we win the league, would there have been more patience for things to play out with Xhaka et al?

    8. I think Alexis was bad luck, hard to call that coming. Equally, I think Cech, along with your post, was a year we didnt get what we wanted/needed and that put us back a place or two perhaps?

    Just my thoughts, I think #7 is the key one though.

    cheers — jgc

  • JNYC,

    Another way to look at defenders and what you get out of them is that defense is a team game. It thus takes awhile to gel, build and construct a good defense. A fantastic attacker can be a bit more self sufficient, IMO. Thus, what we have seen I think was this, lack/loss of experience perhaps, and even perhaps playing a style of defense (interception) not as well suited to our cohort and the modern game as various forms of pressing and space denial.

    Just some thoughts… I think AW had the right pieces, but not the timing on his side…

    my further 2p — jgc

  • Thanks guys. Some great comments. A little short of time right now. Will respond later.

    Just wondering if you’re seeing the reports over the last week or so that AC Milan want Ivan Gazidis to take over. Reports in Italy seem to suggest it’s close to happening. Would the band break up so soon after they got the limelight? Would they all travel together to Milan? Or is this just a rumour with no substance?

    Back later 🙂

  • Love your post, Shard.

    Would we have been as excited had it been Wenger that made these 5 signings? No way!
    Man can only see things through his prejudices. The “evil” that Wenger did in his 22 yrs had formed a hard crust in the eyes of many and his “good” had long since been swept away. He was being seen through that prism.

    Please understand that this is not a critisism of him, but there is something to overstaying a welcome. A time does come when change for the sake of change becomes necessary. Wenger admitted as much when asked by the French Radio RTL what was his biggest mistake. “Perhaps staying at the same club for 22 yrs” was his answer.

    One thing in favour of Emery is that he is stepping in at a time we have downgraded our status. We would be so happy if he could get us back into the top four, a status that was used to ridicule Asene with.

    It is left for Emery to take advantage of all these positivity in the air to get out graph upwards again.

  • geoff

    3. Speed of buys is the key for me.

    Don’t you think that to some extent this is driven by the transfer window closing before the start of the season? So even selling clubs need to decide earlier? Like Wenger always wanted for precisely the reason of a settled squad. If the window ran till 31st August, I don’t think we’d have been able to move so swiftly for some of these guys.

    Although, the sort of players we bought are not the ones who are likely to have a ‘saga’ surrounding them. Licht was free (and has Xhaka to talk to about life at Arsenal). Leno wanted to leave (and Napoli and he couldn’t reach an agreement) Sokratis was being sold, and has his friends Auba and Miki here (and Sven’s ties to Dortmund) Torreira is the only one who might have become a saga, but it’s not like we’ve never signed players early before. Xhaka was signed before the window opened (as was Podolski) Alexis was bought during/after the World Cup like Torreira. (and he was a bigger fish) And we bought a player from ligue 2, after being ‘rejected’ by a 17 y/o. Want a bet this would have been portrayed as a failure if it were with Wenger as manager? Now? No one cares. Which is how it should be.

  • njk

    I’m not sure why you think the players were ‘lazy’ earlier? Wenger didn’t even want to go for pre-season tours and instead prefer to work on physical training in the Alps. (We always used to go to Austria) but he gave in because he understood the commercial value of tours. There is no direct commercial value to putting out videos of players huffing and puffing, and Wenger preferred to keep training private. This is another case of everything was bad earlier. Arsenal would often be the fittest team in terms of running distances and even visibly, late in games. This didn’t happen because the players were lazy. Lack of effort was never our problem as a team.

  • PE

    Great point about top 4. Suddenly it is acceptable to celebrate it as an achievement. Even rival managers give it more importance than the lesser trophies. And those trophies are now lesser trophies because Arsenal won 3 of them in 4 years. Yup, it’s all about perception.

    I also don’t think Wenger lacked tactics or didn’t analyse or give players instruction through video. But Wenger’s method of instruction was purposely less heavy on ‘facts’ and more on ‘theory’. He’s like a teacher who wanted you to figure out the answers yourself because that way you would really LEARN instead of just know the answers through rote learning.

    The thing is, without this, we would never have elevated to the heights we did. But likely, we would have been more stable and had less ‘lows’. Whether it’s that modern players need more instruction, or that our current batch of players don’t have the same collective mentality and (group) intelligence as in the past, something needed to change as evidenced by the last season’s away form. It didn’t necessarily have to be a managerial change, but it’s certainly something that can help. And Emery’s style of instruction might help raise us up from the lows. Hopefully, combined with Wenger’s teachings they can even lift us to new highs, just as Wenger’s methods initially built on Graham’s teachings elevated us to previously unseen levels.

  • I read sometime ago that Wenger started his managerial career by micro-managing his players. From experience it evolved to what he eventually became. If you’ve ever tried your hand at changing somebody else’s habit (adult) you would have recognized how frustrating, even destructive, it can become. But like everything else there is a point of balance that yields the best. Of course I can’t say where Wenger was or where Emery is.

    Emery apparently has lost part of his touch line animation. Is that a sign of growing maturity?

  • Hey, Shard. Great post and brilliant responses to all the fine comments. There’s nothing more to add (the precursor to adding something, anyway 😄), as you already know I am in your corner on the subject of the recent “everything was bad (and so much better now, therefore) under Arsene Wenger” sentiments the fans and media are pushing.

    For me, very little has changed with the way we approach transfer windows, as you and a few have alluded to above; it’s not as if we have not brought in players early in the past or that we will suddenly be in a position to challenge Man City and United when crazy money is mentioned. Wenger always worked with a chief scout and always will have the final say about any find.

    As for the subject of addressing “areas we have had need for years”, it’s been argued repeatedly, that Arsene had a different approach to defending in the midfield (intercept and make incisive pass or pass to a better placed player who can) which only a deep lying playmaking DM (rather than a beastly one) could give clear expression to. For him, defending was to be a collective job. Now, there’s no way of knowing if he may have changed his mind about that philosophy, after seeing us get 6th place, had he remained manager this season and gone for Nzonzi, assuming Torreira was indeed, Emery’s find (we all saw him at the WC anyway). Of all the players we have brought under Emery, the only one that Wenger may have passed on will be Sokratis, because we have similar players; besides, he is getting on and isn’t very pacey, as we shall soon find out (in case we missed how one of the Boreham Wood strikers showed him a clean pair of heels on two occasions and had him struggling to keep up). Wenger will probably rather give Chambers/Holding/Mavropanos their opportunities, while awaiting the return of Koscielny, if he doesn’t go out to get us a younger, proper CB in reaction to that 6th placing. He was already thinking about Leno and would have added in midfield with Santi unsure, and as one of Ramsey and Wilshere was leaving. The fact he brought in Debuchy to hand-hold Bellerin/Jenkinson says Xhaka may have been able to convince him about Lichtsteiner anyway.

    There’s also the issue of touchline antics, training intensity or whether Wenger is aggressive towards players in the dressing room. Shard addressed the matter of pre-season training well. Arsene didn’t wish for the tours and did prefer training in Austria, but for the commercials. PE pointed out the fact he also seemed to change with age, regarding touchline displays. And there is the issue of viral videos of players sweating in training. Sorry, but that’s a show and I do hope it doesn’t continue when real business starts. Wenger’s recent interview (alluded to by PE) is a must-read for our fans, just to get some of his unguarded view of life, plus the humour.
    Christine Kelly: “And which player would you like to have slapped?”

    Wenger: “Oh there’s quite a few. All the big mistakes, in big games, I won’t name names; they’re stronger than me.”.

    It’s all a load of conjecture now, but I agree with jw1 in saying the club had a plan outlined to build the team up, gradually and you cannot say Wenger would not have been part of that discussion before he had to accept the decision to leave.

    I am happy with the new team and the fact they’ve not dropped the ball. Plus, a new face is bound to give the players new push as some who were not favoured by Wenger will want to audition for the new man. Win-win for the club. We mus not underestimate the enormity of the task at hand for Emery and what has got himself into. Wenger knew the club, players (moods, board idiosyncrasies, strengths, psyche) and could handle the press. Turns out what he couldn’t deal with was the hate from his once adoring fans. Emery is on probation here and that’s hard for the man. How he stands up to that will be important; the reason we need to unite behind him and support, rather than go into comparing how much better or worse off we are.

  • That was long (not 17ht long though, but long); possibly, a few typos. Pardon me.

  • Geoff, Eris–
    In my mind Ivan and the Kroenke’s have been hip-deep in attempting to untie football’s Gordian Knot of video-driven/data analysis– since 2012. Every other major sport have been using performance-measuring algorithms for the better part of a decade or more. Football has long had a baseline methodology that is widespread– but still rudimentary. Superficial to the depth that Arsenal wish to adapt and modify data. The club’s target– refining their methods for advantage– for a period, however long.

    This changeover in club management has allowed for application of the results to guide decision-making as opposed to being employed as a reference tool. The speed with which the club moved in January to obtain Mkhi (from Alexit), then Auba– and even the mysterious transfer of Marcus McGuane– were, to me, exciting signals that Mislintat had been given the keys to the vehicle.

    From that point forward, I figured, another 12-24 months for the metamorphosis to complete. Dependent, obviously, upon successful signing of targets. Torreira, if he is all that we think he can be? Could be a keystone signing IMHO– accelerating that timeline.

    Ever an optimist! 🙂


  • Geoff, Eris–
    In my mind Ivan and the Kroenke’s have been hip-deep in attempting to untie football’s Gordian Knot of video-driven/data analysis– since 2012. Every other major sport have been using performance-measuring algorithms for the better part of a decade or more. Football has long had a baseline methodology that is widespread– but still rudimentary. Superficial to the depth that Arsenal wish to adapt and modify data. The club’s target– refining their methods for advantage– for a period, however long.

    This changeover in club management has allowed for application of the results to guide decision-making as opposed to being employed as a reference tool. The speed with which the club moved in January to obtain Mkhi (from Alexit), then Auba– and even the mysterious transfer of Marcus McGuane– were, to me, exciting signals that Mislintat had been given the keys to the vehicle.

    From that point forward, I figured, another 12-24 months for the metamorphosis to complete. Dependent, obviously, upon successful signing of targets. Torreira, if he is all that we think he can be? Could be a keystone signing IMO– accelerating that timeline.

    Ever an optimist! 🙂


  • JW

    Good points.. related to Torreira, I was excited by what Kante / Pogba and Witsel / others were able to do to opposition attacks. I am hopeful for Torreira / Xhaka to be similarly good, making defense everywhere else easier

    Cheers — jgc

  • Johnnie, been busy doing some decorating, but your opinion is fine with me mate, Arsene lowered all our expectations, Arsenal are a huge club but I’m afraid that we often failed to act like one.
    The finance was the oft trotted out reason why we couldn’t compete, that was until Leicester blew that excuse out of the water.

    What about the summer of 2013, it began with Arsenal chasing Higuain, that stalled, then we had the Suarez saga, again that stalled and after a stuttering start to the season we signed Ozil.
    How do you start a transfer window chasing two top quality strikers only to sign a midfielder?
    Joined up thinking, a clear plan or a panic signing?

    And who could forget the summer of 2011, 1 point from 2 games going into a visit to Old Trafford, and after a humiliating 8-2 defeat Arsenal signed 5 players on deadline day.
    Now please don’t tell me that that was planning and not panic.

    Anyway Johnnie, if you’re at a loose end I’ve got some sandpapering you can do…. 😉

  • Hi kev

    Leicester didn’t blow that ‘excuse’ out of the water. The reason they were treated as exceptional is because they are an exception. Do you think ManCity spending all those hundreds of millions has nothing to do with the titles they’ve won? Nor Chelsea? No reason why Bayern massively dominate in Germany? Or Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain? All Leicester proved is that it CAN be done. Which is something Wenger has always maintained.

    So, about Higuain, Suarez and Ozil. You realise we were coming out of a period of zero net spend over nearly a decade? We had several weaknesses in the squad. All 3 of those filled an attacking need with their quality. We can talk about the individual cases, but that micro analysis does not invalidate the larger philosophy or plan of the club.

    And the 8-2 and panic signings really annoy me. Like sorry, but it really does. Something else happened a few days prior to that game. Something rather significant. We scraped past Udinese in the qualifying round of the CL, ensuring we had at least another 30m to spend. Per Mertesacker had mentioned that we were in touch with him sometime before that ManU game. There would have been other targets. The only one that was a ‘panic’ was Arteta, and not because we hadn’t planned for him before, but because Everton weren’t keen on letting him go and we were asking him to take a paycut.. FROM EVERTON..That’s how skint we were. He pushed through the move towards the end and some reports said we didn’t have time to conduct a medical.

    Again, it says nothing about the plan. Unless you really believe the plan was to sell Cesc and Nasri and not buy anyone else. We’d already bought an 18 year old Ox for big money. That was part of the plan too. As was the fact that we bought players like Arteta and Per, who would have no resale value.(Remember the ‘we only buy kids’ accusation?) It was the beginning of the easing of severe financial constraints.

  • Shard, if you see the normal PL games and the first game the lads played under Emery, you will see the massive difference in the willingness to pass the ball. Previously we were too cautious, and maybe we will see something better when we play against Atletico Madrid, and the upcoming top drawer matches.

    If we bought the quality players for a bargain price (during Wenger’s time, the quality players, except for Ozil and Alexis, who were available on the cheap), we would have reached the heights of the Vieira and Henry days. No one wanted to sell their players to us on the cheap due to our haggling and unwillingness to spend a cent more than the valuation of the player.

    Now that we split the management team to 3+1, 3 being I, R and S, the plus 1 being Emery, we had better chances to get better haggling done with Emery focusing on bringing the best out of the team. We might see Wenger staying in the head coach role, but does he want this? That’s the keyword that I was talking about. A team is better with more brains, and it works better than one.

    I agree that Wenger had done very well due to the constraints given to him by the board, and how he tries to get things done with the youngsters definitely made me want to stay as a Gooner forever. For now, it is not to say what Wenger had not done, or what he could have done, but we move on and see what Emery and IRS can do for the good of our future. That should be the mindset.

  • Agree njk, and like I said. I am happy with the GM model, the 3+1 model as you accurately refer to it. I think Emery will be a good fit at the club, tactically, and in terms of the philosophy and values of the club. I am very excited for the season ahead.

  • Hi Total, and hi to you too, Shard.
    Spoken like a true Wenger disciple, Shard!
    I completely agree with Kev, Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in world football, and even during the stadium move Arsenal never tell out of Forbes top five/six richest clubs in the world.
    I posted elsewhere a while ago that during his time at Highbury, Wenger was fantastic, even better than the legendary Herbert Chapman.
    When we moved to the Emirates, the goalposts shifted.
    Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in 2004, two years before Arsenal moved.
    Just a quick point on Chapman and Wenger’s Arsenal, they worked under totally contrasting philosophies. Pre WWII, Arsenal wanted to be the best and showed the world we were the best.
    Post WWII the philosophy changed and it became all about frugality and shopping on a shoestring budget. The club owners decided that their own personal fortunes were far more important than whether or not the club won trophies, you only have to look at successive managerial appointments up to and including Wenger to see this.
    No other big club with any real ambition operates the same restraining model that Arsenal use.
    You mention Chelsea, City, Bayern and the two Spanish giants as if they’re rivals, but we’ll only be their rivals if and when the club get back to their level. What about Liverpool and Tottenham?
    Financially, they are smaller, and ok, Tottenham haven’t won anything, but on a significantly lower spend than Arsenal, they easily qualified for the CL we languished a good distance behind in sixth.
    After moving to the Emirates, Wenger developed a habit of seriously under-preparing Arsenal for the new season ahead, a lesson he never learned, even after the embarrassment at Old Trafford.
    At Highbury, Wenger was a footballing God, at the Emirates he visibly shrunk and relinquished his footballing philosophy to follow the corporate line.
    Where once people championed our rigid self-sustaining model, over time it has proven to be a massive achilles heel because the money the club have spent hasn’t been done intelligently enough.
    Unai Emery won the Europa League three times in succession with Sevilla, a significantly smaller club than Arsenal, and I’m genuinely excited that we finally have a genuine football coach in charge.

  • Hi Herb. Long time no see.

    Wenger disciple. Sure. I am. It does not mean I was blind to his faults. I didn’t think they were really that big, that’s all.

    For instance, you say Arsenal were in the top 5 or 6 richest clubs in the Forbes list. That is a misrepresentation and if you do not understand what the ‘rich list’ signifies then likely that is a cause of your frustration. So, do you? It’s not really about being rich, as it is about being ‘valuable’.

    Emirates stadium increased Arsenal’s valuation immensely. It’s like they built a new mansion. But they couldn’t afford a new Bugatti Veyron in the driveway that Mr Abramovich could bring over on some weekends. Because Arsenal were still paying the mortgage on their stadium. So they had to be content with some Ferraris and Porsches.

    Unfortunately Wenger’s Arsenal couldn’t win the Europa League even once in one year of trying. Getting to the semi final and losing it. Maybe because those Ferraris were so much better than the Hondas of Sevilla that it was a competition we never even had to play in. Wenger kept us fighting against the Pagani Zondas and Bugatti Veyrons with older Ferraris and in some cases even BMWs. That was Wenger’s genius. I’m sorry you missed out on appreciating it because the fine edifice and Mr Forbes newsletter blinded you to it.

    Liverpool and Tottenham? Your point is that Arsenal aren’t good enough to win and we should be more like Liverpool and Tottenham? Wow ok. (Btw, one thing we should learn from Liverpool is selling our best players for high prices. I’m serious)

    No other club operates this way. Not sure that’s true. But yes, we are risk averse. Very. We have huge cash deposits, the largest in the world (still doesn’t make us ‘the richest’ because City, Chelsea and PSG have essentially unlimited money) We didn’t spend those reserves under Wenger and we haven’t spent them now.

    You know, I believe we tried to sign Mbappe even last season. We were said to be involved in it till the price was around 90-100m. At which point it became impossible. I don’t know what else the money is for, but I think we will spend it only on a generational talent like Mbappe. And as the term suggests, we might have to wait for a generation for another. Till then, it’s to get back to top 4 with a real football coach, as opposed to an unreal football manager who brought Arsenal to the very position you think counts against him.

    Have a good day.

  • Hard to disagree with complaints– when compared to desires.
    Considering what we wanted the club to be these past 5 years– after breaking the financial constraints of the eight years previous.

    From 2013 on? We’ve loathed the rise to quality of Tottenham– and the climb from-good-to-great that Liverpool looks to be achieving. Chelsea’s roller-coaster titles. City’s dominance– assured (insured?). Even Leicester made us look bad.

    Sigh. 2015-16 was the year. Leicester did what Arsenal could not that year. Which was basically beat or draw everyone. Well, except Arsenal. Of Leicester’s 3 losses we levied two of them 5-2 and 2-1. So, by all means let’s blame Arsenal for Leicester’s amazing run of beating or drawing every other team aside a 1-0 loss to Pool in December.

    In the past 5 seasons? You can damn the club. Damn Arsene Wenger. Certainly have that right.

    So. I had to look to be sure. But was correct. No PL club have won the Champions League since Chelsea in 2011-12. Only United the Europa League these past 5 years.

    Now, I don’t deny I’ve wanted the club to –achieve more– in the last five years.
    Can’t deny there were times we didn’t play well– or were infuriating or frustrating.

    But I have a standing mental note. To circle back around to one inevitable, known fact. That there can only be –1 winner– in every competition, each season. Each season there are just 5 trophies to be won. The PL, CL, EL, FA, and CS.

    The last 5 years? At no time could I ever– with a straight face– claim that Arsenal were the best team in the Premier League. A shame, really. Arsenal just never seem to measure up.
    Considering the glories other clubs have racked-up in that time.
    All silverware claimed between 2013-2018:

    Leicester 1
    Chelsea 1111
    City 11111
    United 11111
    Arsenal 111111

    Even when the discounters move the stack of embarrassing shields into the attic?
    There are 3 finals won in four attempts in five seasons.

    Arsene Wenger’s epitaph from 2013-2018?
    “A manager who did little right– but win trophies– with dysfunctional teams.”


  • Haha Jw1. You made me think.. If we enter ANOTHER parallel world where Wenger left in 2013, and we had the exact same seasons, would they be considered a success? I think so 🙂

  • Hi Kev,
    I loved your post of the other day, I really identified with those drawn out, tortured summer feelings you described.
    To be clear, I was referring to the hardcore Wenger haters as unreasonable, including big signing rumour chasers. ….
    But I was disappointed that Arsene took that last extension, and was relieved finally when he called it quits.
    I will always think of him when we have successes in the future. I just wanted to remind people how limited that I believe we were as a club financially, and what frustrating job he had trying to find values in the transfer market, as big money oil clubs were hurting the market and less rich teams, even luring our developed talent.

    In the end I love our new executives and coaches, right down to the assistants.
    My gooner friends and I haven’t been this excited to start a season in a long time.

  • Shard am with you all the way. We have this complex about selling a top player. Am always quoting the Napoli manager who said he would sell the whole team if the price is good. The Tots got good price for Modric and Bale, bought well and became a consistent top 4 team. Liv got good price for Suarz and Coutinho, bought well and turned into a formidable team. Mind you, formidable while working on their stadiums. Our fan base were ready to rip Wenger and co into shreds had they dared sell Sanchez and Ozil early in the day. The key must always be “if the price is good”. The price was good and Barca sold Nemar, arguably the biggest player around. Sell good, buy well and you stand to gain.

    The. Ozil/Sanchez contract saga definitely set us back and believe it or not the toxic atmosphere played a negative role.

  • A beautiful mixture of world and Wenger views today. I reckon we owe Arsene a lot and he did very well, also in recent years. But it really was time for change as we can do better than we did over the last few years (and JW surely you should weighted your ‘trophy count’ …. PL x3 FA Cup x2 rest x1 or x0.5). If we win 10 PLs/FAcups over the next twenty years – as Arsene did – I will be a happy man. 🙂

  • At the moment, the press are manipulating many into opposing any attempt to sign Andre Gomes, assuming there is truth in his rumour. Most don’t know a thing about him except that he doesn’t get into the Barca MF manned by institutions like Busquets, Rakitic and Iniesta. Hey, Emery is the pilot. Let him press the buttons and pull the levers, please.

  • Shard–
    Unless the money-spigot is ‘always on’? Everything runs in cycles.
    I’ll liken it– to a mid-level poker player. You keep two bankrolls. One is a playing roll, the other a living roll. You never tap into the living roll to play. But you contribute to the living roll from winnings. It’s not unlike what Arsenal (and AW) had to do once the financial constraints were loosened in 2012.

    Here’s the net spend from 2012-2018 (thus far):
    18/19 79,00 M€ 1,00 M€
    17/18 118,85 M€ 122,20 M€ +3,35 M€
    16/17 107,00 M€ 10,35 M€
    15/16 26,50 M€ 2,50 M€
    14/15 118,98 M€ 27,80 M €
    13/14 49,25 M€ 12,15 M€
    12/13 56,00 M€ 65,85 M€ +9,15 M€
    2012-2018 Arsenal Net Spend

    After ‘winnings’– all told– what you have left in the ‘living roll’
    From the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust site
    Profit before tax by year:
    17/18 85M€
    16/17 63M€
    15/16 24M€
    14/15 33M€
    13/14 1M€
    12/13 49M€
    Total 265M€

    Since 2012– when the the shackles came off?
    The club has been able to net spend (or lose) over (playing roll)
    While contributing +265M€ to keep the foundation solid (living roll).

    Arsenal in a league with 6 good-to-great club? Look presently to be in and out of the top-4 for the forseeable future. If the foundation remains solid, and we catch the cycle correctly– we might find ourselves in a year to compete for the title– akin 2015-16. If things break well, more often.


  • HTML has robbed me of some numbers!
    Using the ‘tag’ brackets to indicate ‘minus/negative’ numbers made some invisible. How funny.

    18/19 79,00 Mill. € 1,00 Mill. € -78,00 Mill. €
    17/18 118,85 Mill. € 122,20 Mill. € +3,35 Mill. €
    16/17 107,00 Mill. € 10,35 Mill. € -96,65 Mill. €
    15/16 26,50 Mill. € 2,50 Mill. € -24,00 Mill. €
    14/15 118,98 Mill. € 27,80 Mill. € -90,82 Mill. €
    13/14 49,25 Mill. € 12,15 Mill. € -37,10 Mill. €
    12/13 56,00 Mill. € 65,85 Mill. € +9,15 Mill. €


  • Yikes.
    Evidence of the problem with multi-tasking– typo:
    Profit before tax (per AST website):
    13/14 13M€


  • We have a post from Retsub but I cannot post it till Friday. In the meantime, here is a new post for you from yours truly. 🙂

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