Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager, used to say immediately after the latest seasonal collapse that his side would be stronger the following season, citing youth as a reason.
The following season, Wenger would say exactly the same and this whole affair felt a bit like a scene from the film ‘Groundhog Day’, but who’s fault was the age of the inexperienced, vulnerable squad. Wenger’s of course.
He was happy to oblige a filthy rich owner and money conscious board by cutting budgets, going cheap and putting his trust in youth during a transfer window, in an effort to balance the books and save the club money.
He was once quoted as saying:
“ I treat the club’s money like my own.”
When challenged about his lack of spending, the Frenchman said:
“If I buy you tomorrow for 45 million, I’ve spent 45 million. Have I done well, yes? If I listen to you, I will have done well, because I have spent the money. But spending the money in itself is not a quality.”
“Spending the money and buying a top player, that is different. We are ready to do that. I spend 300 million if I find the player, if I have the 300 million”
This was the sort of gobbledygook that Wenger would often indulge in, having seen his best players disappear one by one, only to be replaced at the fraction of the cost by inferior replacements and young talent which didn’t always make the grade.
Of course, that was then and this is now. This time Emery is tasked with finding the missing parts of the puzzle. He isn’t trying to save Arsenal money, they simply don’t have any to spend, at least not on the scale that they need to.
The left leg of a half decent player will cost £25m in the transfer window, you can double it for two legs, stick on another 35% for their agent, then there’s the player’s cut, the add on’s via bonuses and by the time you’ve gone past the initial ‘two legs’ figure, Arsenal have to contemplate looking elsewhere.
This whole financial predicament puts unnecessary pressure on the scouts to come up with talented players who are possibly two levels below the top flight, which is like going to the casino with a tenner and expecting to buy a yacht in the morning.
The latest addition to the Emery rebuild is Ituano’s Brazilian teen starlet Gabriel Martinelli (18)
Then today, it’s reported that the Gunners are closing in on the French sensation Bilel Hassaini (18). If this is true, it’s a case of history repeating itself, but it’s also said that if Arsenal win Hassaini’s signature from Nancy, they will place the youngster in the under 23’s, so what’s the point ?
At this rate, Arsenal’s season will be exactly the same as the one just gone. The side needs so much that Emery’s second season in charge is going to feel like his first because of the necessary changes.
The expectations will increase, but the sides ability to perform may be exactly the same in a second transitional phase and I suppose, there are ready made excuses for failure that don’t have to include youth.
Kroenke has at least another season or two blowing the smoke out of his own backyard and blaming the neighbours.
He’s praying for Champions League football, bigger sponsorship deals and Emery’s ability to find the next Ronaldo for a fiver.
I’m not anti-youth, as you know, I’ve been pro Arsenal’s academy, but I am worried that Arsenal are walking in their old footsteps, with no idea where they are heading.
It seems like one endless circle of negative events which have become unbreakable and threaten to prevent Arsenal from challenging for top honours for sometime to come.