Which club can this be referring to..? A glance at these quotes and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were reading yet another outburst on Liverpool’s dismal situation. These are not the quotes of Phil Thompson or Ian Rush however but a certain Ian Wright on the situation at his beloved Arsenal Football Club. In a passionate analysis, Wright went as far as to suggest that the board at the club were nothing more than a “bunch of mugs”.
Harsh words indeed.
With Cecs Fabregas making clear his desire to jump ship to Barcelona, many are now pushing the panic button, starting to point fingers to apportion the blame on what’s gone wrong. Whilst the board may have made some errors in player recruitment, of which we are likely to never hear about, the role of Arsene Wenger shouldn’t be overlooked here, nor the efforts that have been made by the board to ensure the long term stability of the club.
Peter Hill-Wood, the Chairman, as well as Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis have repeatedly stressed, on a number of occasions, the fact that money has been available for Arsene Wenger to spend…. should he have wanted to spend it. Arsene Wenger has been insistent at times that the squad is not in need of any major changes, remaining resolute and arguably stubborn in his faith with the young players, many of which now cannot even be classed as such. Young in age maybe, but not in terms of experience. It is only this summer that Wenger has appeared to change his stance, a fifth year without a trophy perhaps forcing his hand and trying his patience.
It must be remembered however that, but for a number of injuries, Arsenal may have won the league title last season. With ten games remaining, I for one can admit to predicting that they would be champions. Whilst many, including Ian Wright can argue wholesale changes are needed, perhaps only one or two additions will be required, that is in the unlikely event that Cesc Fabreags remains at the Emirates for next season. Who knows who will replace the Spaniard if he does leave though? Arsenal will still be an attractive destination for many of the world’s better players.
Whilst the departure of David Dein will have certainly been a blow to the board and to Arsene Wenger, who were close allies within the club, more pressing perhaps is the ongoing ownership struggle between American Stan Kroenke and Russian, Alisher Usmanov. As the two biggest shareholders in the club and each with designs on a majority stake, Arsene Wenger’s and the board’s hands are tied to some extent with uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of the club and thus the amount of money available to spend. This should perhaps be their immediate concern, they will certainly want the club to progress just as much as Wenger.
Also important to discuss is the impact of the club’s move to their new stadium at the Emirates. The move from Highbury, which had a capacity of only 38,000 was crucial for the future success of the club. With the loans taken out to enable the stadium to be built, being stringent in the transfer market was necessary for a while whilst the ability and structure of repayment was secured. In the long run this will pay huge dividends, as appears to be the case now, with the properties built on the old Highbury bringing in huge returns. Arsenal are now one the most financially secure clubs in the Premiership, ahead of all of their immediate rivals, ensuring their standing as one of the elite in England for a long time to come. Their recent turnover of £316 million was the highest by an English club ever, up from £225 million the previous year.
Whilst the recent lack of success for Arsenal, has edged key players close to the exit door, now is not a time for blind panic. Arsenal still remain a top-4 side, running the league champions close in two out of the last three seasons, although ultimately falling short. The club are unlucky in that Fabregas has had his head turned by his hometown club, the club he supports and currently the best club side in the world, enjoying their most successful period in their history.
Whilst undoubtedly a huge blow to lose the Spaniard, Arsenal will receive a hefty transfer fee to pay for not one, but maybe two or even three replacements. With Van Persie to return next season and the likes of Chamakh, Arshavin, Nasri and Walcott to choose from, Arsenal still possess great quality in their ranks.
Fans should perhaps wait until kick off in August before judging Wenger and particularly the board too harshly. With the move to the Emirates appearing to finally be paying off, a substantial amount of money looks like being made available, and due to increase if Fabregas does indeed leave. With Wenger appearing ready to flex his muscles in the transfer market for the first time in years, Arsenal may just be ready to deal a knockout blow to their rivals next season. Stranger things have happened..
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