Is All Money Silverware? Arsène Waits To Prove That A Lie
I feel that this morning’s post should begin with some rousing wartime music; something to get the pulses racing – or the paces rulsing as I typed in a Scooby Doo style first time around – or to signify the donning of Arsène’s tin hat ahead of what is preposterously being called a “D-Day”. I suppose technically it is, the manager has to announce the squad going to Asia this weekend but to believe he does not already know who is going to make the journey is daft.
If Robin stays and works on his training, is it a sign that he is leaving or that he let himself go on holiday and is not match fit? If he goes, will he play his last match for Arsenal against Manchester City in ten days or so time, the first half a farewell performance, the second for his new employers? And that answers the only question for which there is an answer: Do we know what is going on? No. So much conjecture, so little time.
And there’s still room for more. Yesterday was supposedly the day when the squad would be announced. It wasn’t, why not? What shenanigans are concealed. You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth. In some cases, you can’t even handle the lies. But it’s the not knowing that kills you.
Talking to the media, Arsène‘s grabbed the horns of the modern football dilemma and in doing so, set a kitten amongst a flock of birds. It might only be a small cat but by September, it will be a big one whose existence will be hard to ignore,
I believe that to lose £150million a year, you don’t deserve a lot of credit to win a competition
Indeed you don’t but in answering that criticism, the Manchester City’s and Chelsea’s of the world will argue that winning is all that matters. In the Premier League era, money has overridden sporting endeavour. It is little wonder that managerial longevity is a thing of the past. Ferguson and Wenger are throwbacks to a bygone era, one where managing meant building a squad rather than a fight between the biggest cheque book.
That shift in balance raises uncomfortable questions about the basis of professional sport. The Corinthian spirit died long ago and this era of wealth (or debt, depending on your viewpoint) underlines that. At the heart of the matter is what is the point of a football club in the professional game if there is no chance of winning? It isn’t profitable, the Premier League underlines that. If it is for the sport, that is against the ethos of professional sport since we are continually told that it is to win at all costs. It’s a vacuous argument but it reflects the world we live in today.
Arsène invoked the title wins of Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa but they were not sustained success. Derby were champions twice in five years, Forest fared little better in terms of longevity whilst Villa arguably capitalised on Ipswich’s overriding desire to finish second rather than top the table. The team that finished top in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and this century has invariably been one of the big spenders. Liverpool did not construct a squad from the reserves, most players were bought. Neither did Arsenal or Manchester United. Big money just got bigger and the gap to the rest, considerably wider in the financial sense.
You wonder what now for Abramovich. The Champions League is now secured and I guess he wants to see Chelsea win the World Club Cup or whatever Fifa call it these days. But what then, what if they do? Go out and win it again? Despite protestations to the contrary, I am not convinced of this. How long does his ego need assuaging in that sense? Diminishing returns is about to set in, each trophy lifted with a lessening sense of fulfilment. That is not to say he will sell immediately but once was a long-term project may need redefining.
In that sense, FFP may yet help the owners of the richest clubs in the world. Looking at football now, to buy a club is not enough any more, the financial structure has to be there to sustain it as well. FFP may make that infinitely more manageable and football clubs will become more saleable assets.
It is somewhat perturbing though to read of his continued faith in Uefa’s regulations,
If the rules are well introduced, it will be a massive advantage to Arsenal Football Club, of course, and we will be well positioned for that.
They won’t be and his contract ends at around the time that will become proven. Will it be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the end of a managerial reign that has transformed the club in the same way that Herbert Chapman did in the previous century?
Back to the coming season. The squad for Arsenal will be all; Laurent Koscielny is on the verge of signing a new deal according to reports which a promising start. The manager does not want to wait until August 31st again before finishing his transfer business – I hope he kept his diary clear for August 8th when Yann M’vila has another medical pencilled in – and that is a good start although now he will find the crescendo for more signings is unstoppable; an unyielding and unforgiving cacophony.
The season starts in less than one month. That is a lot of time in football but as it gets closer, that time will seem to pass more quickly.