Winning is a Win/Win Situation

May 26, 2010

……….. but not at any cost!

I’m sure the supporters of Leeds, Pompey and Newcastle regret their club’s excessive spending in pursuit of trophies, but there is an argument that the powers that be at Arsenal have erred too much on the side of caution in recent years.

The benefits of winning are obvious:

Financial – prize money, increased TV revenue, boost in merchandising sales, more lucrative deals with sponsors.

Psychological – players gain valuable experience, develop a ‘winning mentality’ and are therefore more likely to be winners in the future.

Kudos – raised profile  – the chance of keeping our best players and attracting more world class players to the club is greatly enhanced if they believe they can win trophies.

Let’s just accept for the purpose of debate, that the football club is a business, the supporters are customers and the players are assets/debits on a balance sheet. Emotion, nostalgia and expectation are traits that characterise supporters but have no place in a competitive industry. All the above is true, but what about the old business tenet ‘you have to speculate in order to accumulate’?

Would a larger investment in new players over recent years have proved to be a shrewd business move? We will never know, but what we do know is that respected figures in the game including many ex-Arsenal players have repeatedly said we are only 2 to 3 players short of a winning side. We also know that the official line this summer is that we have money to spend althought the figures mentioned vary between £30-£60m and it is not known whether this takes into account any revenue from players sold.

Mourinho took a calculated risk when he bought 29 year old Diego Milito for an undisclosed but apparently hefty sum. He identified a weakness in his team and bought the best player he could to rectify the situation. He was lucky, the gamble paid off and Inter reaped rich dividends – the treble including the Champions League title.

Arsène has not been so lucky. Injuries and players not living up to expectation have been a feature of recent seasons and it is clear that he has been as disappointed as the ‘fans’ that are calling for his head. I believe he has it within his power this season to make the difference between competing valiantly and winning. The greatest test of his resolve will surely be demonstrated by his actions regarding the goalkeeper.

Should we be grateful for the level of ‘success’ we’ve enjoyed since the building of the stadium? – yes

Could any other manager have kept us in the top four under similar financial constraints? – almost certainly not

Should we just be content to pay our money for a seat at the Emirates and settle for what we’re given – NO

……..sharp intake of breath.

We’re not paid by ‘business Arsenal’, we pay them. We have a right to our opinion as paying customers, whether it be unconditional support or rank scepticism.

Many supporters suspect that if Cesc has decided he wants to leave, the club’s failure to bring in quality players with experience over recent years would be a major factor in that decision.

Success in the transfer market is about judgement, calculated risk, ambition and luck. Arsène must exercise his judgement. The club needs to show greater ambition. Ivan Gazidis should take responsibility for the calculated risk and for once, we need lady luck to smile on us and grant Arsenal a season with just average injury problems.

Ivan Gazidis is the unknown quantity. He is clearly 100% businessman so let’s hope he and Arsène are in agreement that we should take a few calculated risks and bring in the two or three players we need.

Irishgunner put it brilliantly on Monday when she  wrote ‘Wenger is a genius held back by his own stubbornness but in the end, if most coaches were as pragmatic as him, the world of football would be a far better place’

I hope his apparent ‘stubbornness’ was simply a by-product of his pursuit of financial stability and he will spend some of the money the club can now afford to reinforce the spine of the squad. If he doesn’t, even those whose ‘cup runneth over’ with positivity will begin to question his judgement.


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