This is not going to be easy for any Arsenal and Manchester United supporter to read, but I think it’s probably time to stop sticking our heads in the sand and stop being completely delusional.
When Arsenal were arguably at the peak of their powers in the late 90’s under Arsene Wenger, it was generally accepted by everyone in the premiership that the Gunners and Manchester United had first pick of any available talent across the globe.
Players were attracted by the power and status of both clubs, arriving in the UK to be part of something special at two of the biggest clubs in the sport and hardly anyone turned down either. Given how fierce the rivalries where back then, bookmakers in the UK including some of the best online sports betting sites would struggle to offer favourable odds to one at the cost of other, such was the intensity and unpredictability of their clashes.
Today it’s a different story. With the decline of both clubs domestically and on the European stage, with fluctuating attendances and complicated finance issues, they struggle to attract the calibre of player that once graced their respective squads.
Looking back over the years, there has been a distinct drop off in the overall quality with the departures of Henry, Pires, Bergkamp, Ronaldo, Beckham and Van Nistlerooy, all of whom were followed by high priced, low grade replacements. For those that are going to name Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, Aubameyang and Van Persie, they genuinely need to accept that none of them are at the same level.
Supporters appear to be somewhat confused as to why these two giants of the English game are struggling like never before. Arsenal’s strategy of moving stadiums left them in financial handcuffs, meaning that they had to shop for cheaper alternatives.
As a result, Wenger never replaced his Invincibles’ defence and paid the price for acquiring mediocre stop gap players. Arsenal literally went from Sol Campbell to Laurent Koscielny and that’s a drastic drop in level and consistency in my opinion.
Many will point out the big money transfers of Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe but to those, I just say ‘too little, too late !’ Arsenal are languishing behind Liverpool and Manchester City and it will take some time before they are remotely back on terms.
Manchester United’s issues are even worse to some degree because it’s a situation of complacency and poor recruitment. Those targeting the Glazer family might be surprised to learn that they have heavily invested in playing staff to the tune of an estimated £840m since Alex Ferguson left
So their particular incompetence is in their choice of managers and that they were allowed free reign to waste so much on so many average players. Which is worse ?
They may have just snapped up Bruno Fernandez for £46.6m plus add ons (add that to the Bill) but they have missed out on a host of other targets because they just aren’t attractive anymore.
We’ve discussed this problem on many occasions and in a great many blogs, which basically highlight clubs who feel they have a divine right to continued success because of their illustrious history and Arsenal and United are definitely guilty of this.
Liverpool had to suffer a similar fate after ruling in the domestic league and European competitions, and anyone who thinks they don’t deserve their recent success needs to remember their fall from grace, how long it lasted and what it took to get them back into contention.
It’s been almost thirty years since Liverpool won the league but at this stage of the season they appear unstoppable and who would deny them the accolade to go with the Champions League trophy and Club World Cup.
This serves as a reminder that if the fundamental structure at the club isn’t good, then success will continue to be a stranger. Arsenal and Manchester United have failed for different reasons in different areas and the road back looks a long one, especially with the strong financial potential of Manchester City, Chelsea, Spurs, Leicester and Everton.
There is a danger that both clubs could fall further behind in years to come if they don’t understand and eradicate their mistakes.