Arsène And The Wages Of Sin
Ahead of the trip to Marseilles, Arsène was interviewed on French radio about the season and summer past. Most of his comments appear to have been grist to the mill but some will light the blue touch paper under those who are looking for any reason to criticise the Arsenal manager.
A regular critic of financial doping, Wenger is changing his angle of attack on the subject towards players. In doing so, he lays bare the dangers of the philosophy that Arsenal favour at present over wages. Amid the rancour, one fact is often overlooked; no-one believes that the policy of controlling wages as a reasonable percentage of turnover is wrong. The problem is the distribution of that cost line amongst the players.
Under Wenger, Arsenal has pursued an egalitarian pay structure with the manager believing that a harmonious dressing room is maintained if the earnings of star players and junior squad members is not vast. In a young squad where players have yet to forge their reputations the logic of that is unquestionable. The problem comes as the squad becomes established or as Arsenal have found this summer, vastly superior wages are on offer elsewhere.
It’s not that [players have to leave to win titles. The problem isn’t that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don’t go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal.
They are a force clearly, because they have exceptional financial clout, so it’s not surprising what they’ve done…There’s always a financial logic behind who ends up being successful in any league…When a player has the choice between two clubs who have the same ambitions, if he can earn three times as much at one club, he’ll go there. That’s logical.
In highlighting the logic behind the financial desires of the players, he highlights the folly of Arsenal’s wage structure. Surely in those circumstances, Arsenal should be using the wages as a motivator to the younger players? Play well, establish yourself in the squad and you will reap the rewards. A meritocracy which essentially football is.
However, there is a flipside of the coin; the demotivating effect. This is where Arsenal’s philosophy finds its strength. In searching for the young talents – scouting them when they are older is not the scouting system failing as is ludicrously insisted – offering a sizeable wage will play a part in enticing the youthful to the club. That cannot be overlooked although I suspect that it is now more of a draw to be at Arsenal knowing first team football on a regular basis is more of a reality than at other top clubs.
Both philosophies are fraught with a fundamental problem. Unless you are the richest of the rich, someone can always pay more than you if you so desire. Which leads to the prospect of one club amassing a plethora of quality players, giving themselves a better chance of silverware. The money becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Yet there is a ‘but’ and it is quite a big one. Spaces at the top clubs are limited. Players are notoriously fickle and as we have seen at Arsenal, confidence is transient. Joining a club where there are top quality players is fraught with dangers, form lost means a place might not be regained and that to a footballer is not the utopian ideal they were sold. Play well and you are in the side doesn’t count if those appearances are limited by someone playing better. Yes, that should be motivating but we have all seen players who give up.
Bojan Krkic gave an example of that this summer when he left Barcelona for AS Roma, despite having won all manner of medals. Krkic did not feel a fraud for accepting them yet did not make as full a contribution as he would have liked hence the move to Serie A. Competition for places is one thing but when you are trying to oust Messi, Villa or Iniesta for a place in the side, unless you are exceptionally talented, it is not going to happen unless they suffer a misfortune.
That issue is perhaps not as commonplace as is perceived and with squad rotation, more chances to perform for the first team exist than to players of another generation who were not unused to playing 65 games a season.
Fundamentally, it comes down to a baser footballing philosophy. Can you win the title through organic growth or does it have to be bought? History suggests the latter but the future? Well, that’s unwritten…
Posted on October 18, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 179 Comments.