Blog by: North London Is Red
One of the things I like about blogging is it allows me to express my opinion to a wide audience. I’m just a normal bloke and am unlikely to ever have my views published by national media like ex-players do, unless of course I become a viral sensation because what I am saying has the shock and awe factor that the media lap up regardless of substance.
In a recent interview, Tony Adams has reiterated his desire to one day become Arsenal manager. I don’t think he would be the right choice but that is my opinion and if this was 1996, I would probably have said that Wenger wasn’t the right choice but that is what the board is for. If at some point in the future they deem Adams to be the right man to take the helm, he will receive my support 100%.
I am not a Wenger apologist and will elucidate my feelings on the summer once the window has closed but as I don’t know what is going on at the moment it is entirely pointless to apportion blame to Wenger or the board for the “shambles”, especially when it could turn out to be anything but. (That is not to say that blame is not deserved but certainly not to just one entity alone).
When these legends or ex-players talk about the club in a negative manner, they are putting the boot in for no other reason than their personal advancement and media exposure. These people have been around football so they know how it works at times so surely they can understand why Arsenal have not completed any transfers aside from Sanogo this summer.
Some may say that because they are ex-Arsenal and football people they know “the truth”. If they actually knew anything they would come out and say it. What do they have to lose by speaking the truth? It’s not like the club pays them anymore. Think instead about what they have to gain. Media exposure, substantiation of their knowledge and influence, and backing of the supporters.
If someone, not in the clubs employment, actually knew anything about our transfer dealings and all of these players we are supposedly missing out on or our change in focus to reported panic buys then it would be in their interests to say something.
Some say that our lack of new signings is proof that we aren’t trying to buy anyone, yet these are the same people who would deny that a lack of proof about what is going on behind closed doors means nothing and they are right to slag the club off without evidence because they “know”.
Now on to the quotes. When talking about becoming the next Arsenal manager (and Adams seems to think this could be in the near future) he said this:
Of course my heart says ‘yes, yes, yes’, but my head says ‘can I win with this current team?’ My answer is no, I can’t and I am not sure anyone can.
This really annoyed me. When Wenger took over he inherited a squad that had an average finish of 9th over the previous two seasons and a club with an average finish of 8th since the inception of the EPL and 6th since their last title win. Total 8th (7.66), ie a mid-table/top 10 team.
The team he inherited over the two previous seasons had the 8th best defence in the league in 1995 with 49 goals conceded and a marked improvement in 1996 with 32 goals conceded making them the best defence. In 1995 they had the 11th best attack and the 10th best in 1996, a small improvement despite scoring fewer goals. Between joining and lifting the league trophy Wenger brought in 6 players of note; Garde, Vieira, Anelka, Grimandi, Overmars and Petit. If you want we can throw in bit-part and back-up players Manninger, Boa Morte and Wreh.
These first team additions and squad numbers elevated Arsenal to title winners by complimenting the core group of players they already had. If Wenger left today and a new manager started immediately he would be taking over a squad with an average finish of (I’ll round up) 4th over the previous two seasons and a club with an average finish of 4th (3.619) since the inception of the EPL and (again I’ll round up) 4th (3.44) since their last title win. Total 4th, ie a Champions League/top 4 team.
A new manager would be talking over a hugely consistent club that is incredibly financially stable. They would also take over a defence that spookily finished as the 8th best with 49 goals conceded in 2012 which almost improved as much the following year as the squad Wenger took over by finishing 2nd on 37 goals. The attack is much better, consistently the 3rd best attack in the league.
So if a new manager felt he couldn’t do what Wenger did and take a team in much better shape, in a much more competitive league and elevate them to champions with just a few additions like Wenger made, which incidentally weren’t that different to what we need now, then I really wouldn’t want to give that bloke the job.
On player additions Tony said:
I would want assurances if I walk through the door, those assurances meaning I’m given the go ahead to build a new team. I would get my teeth into building a new team but to achieve that, you would need to spend.
This wouldn’t fill me with confidence as a prospective employer, however, if he said:
I feel with the right players this squad could do something. However to obtain those players you would need to spend so I’d need assurances that the money would be made available to me immediately and without hesitation.
If he said that I would be crawling all over him saying “he’s an Arsenal legend, he knows what needs to be done, give him a chance”. But he didn’t. He basically said this team needs gutting and replacing with entirely new players. He pretty much said he would need 3-4 years to move our current squad out and replace them with his own players rather than doing what Wenger did and making what exists his and adding something entirely different.
What he essentially said was “give me an open chequebook and I’ll win us the title in 4 years time”. Basically he asked for a project. I’d argue that we are coming to the end of a project. That project being, “Project stay in the top four on a shoestring whilst billions are spent around us and then try to sign players that will elevate us rather than consolidate us”.
He spoke about how he would manage the club as well:
I’ve more of a defensive eye. That’s not to say I would be defensive, but the club have bought too many players like Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky and not enough Patrick Vieira types.
A few more Vieira types would be nice but it kinda sounds like you want to manage a completely different club in red and white. Don’t worry Tony, I expect Hughes will be gone as soon as a club with more money to spend come in for him. He also said:
I know Arsene would not spend £25million on buying Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for example, no matter how much he might need a new keeper
Well that’s just bollocks isn’t it? Firstly, why would Bayern sell one of the best keepers in the world? Secondly, Arsene bid £20m for Reina a few years ago when we didn’t have “buckets of cash” so why wouldn’t he bid a fraction more for a vastly superior keeper? Thirdly, even if Bayern would entertain bids for their keeper why would they sell him for £25m when they could probably get close to double that in the crazy world of Sheikh clubs?
After that comment he went on to say:
I think that is a great policy, but the club needs to restructure its wages spend, that is a vastly different matter. The club are paying in excess of £150million on players’ wages but there have been a lot of average players on £50,000 a week when the big teams now need four or five players on a lot of money. Arsenal do not attract those big players because of their wages structure.
Where have you been Tony and was it you John W Henry smelled out the back of the Emirates?
You can’t complain we aren’t spending and then praise Wenger for not spending. Also, have you not heard of the massive clearout that Arsenal have had this summer getting those players off the wage bill? If you add it all up there’s your four or five players on top money. The only person we haven’t managed to clear out this summer is Bendtner and the window hasn’t closed yet.
But going back to signings. Some of the players we have been linked with this summer would elevate us, some would consolidate us. This summer would end with a load of consolidation signings or it could end with the spectacular. We just don’t know and won’t know until the summer is over.
I would have loved us to have all our business done already but I am willing to give the club until the last minute to prove they are trying for the right players. It could end in complete and utter failure but it hasn’t yet because there is still time on the clock.
This summer and this season could be like Rocky I. We probably wanted to go out and prove ourselves early but ended up taking a load of punches. Until at the very end we claw our way back into, show everyone what we are made of, win over the public and finish just a whisker away.
I am certain that many Gooners would be pleased with that because we would have competed and I think most level-headed Gooners accept that we are not entitled to win but would dearly like us to at least compete. And we all know what happened in Rocky II.