If you haven't read part one please do before ruining your breakfast
Let's look at who will probably be in Arsenal's path to domestic success. Tottenham have one of the best midfields around in Bale, Lennon, Modric, Huddlestone, Sandro and VdV and plenty of good players elsewhere. Tottenham being at the top end isn't a surprise anymore and Redknapp needs to progress with the squad this season, use it effectively and not hide how talented it really is. Redknapp really wants the England job after Euro 2012, is the clear favourite for it but knows a poor season may harm his chances. They just need a couple of players and Redknapp will do his best to impress the wise old FA. As long as he has better luck with the courts than Ryan Giggs had then he should get the gig performance permitting.
What about Liverpool? Firstly, avoid bumping into Roy Hodgson on a train and listen to him tell you "there's nothing there" in the Liverpool academy and reserves. He's a pleasant fellow but Liverpool are a good side, with talent coming through and the management team are spending some money (not yet as much as you think: look at the balance sheet for 2011) with a determination and unity to get back into the top 4. Dalglish is back and assisted by the capable Steve Clarke; has been getting results but better players are needed to bridge the gap from sixth to fourth. Chelsea? Solid players and roubles. Possible return of the influential Hiddink but need to get the best out of their poacher Torres with more creative players who can play through balls. Plus, they need to rejuvenate the squad a bit because it's getting on a tad. Roubles will sort that out. Man City. Solid manager, solid team. Will challenge for the title. Oil. Period. Man United are the champions. They're the team to beat. Legendary manager whose ambition is never sated. Not a patch on Barcelona but who is? Mental strength and plenty of winning experience.
There's been talk of a new "top six" which makes the league sound competitive at the top until United or Chelsea win it. Predictably. Just like Real Madrid and Barcelona. But I actually think there is a top six now and Arsene Wenger doesn't look like a stupid man to me. A bit stubborn maybe. Myopic at times? Yes. He realises these clubs are all dangerous and have ambitions to get into the top four or win the league. He has said Arsenal will have an "active transfer window." Why? "We need to improve the size of our squad,'' Wenger said. ''We need a bigger variety in the height of our players. We need to be more capable of fighting against some characteristics than we have been this season." Yes, he said that. Then again, managers say a lot of things that don't come to fruition and such failure cannot be ignored no matter how fond you are of them. Like guaranteeing to finish in the top 4.
|"Backlines win you titles or something like that. So not youngsters then?"|
How many managers regularly make a profit on transfers? Not the kind of profit we're used to reading about but a profit that works in the real world. When people say their club signed player X for £2 million in 2008 and sold him for £10 million in 2010, it is usually assumed they made an £8 million profit right? The profit on the transfer fee itself and the profit on the total investment in the player are two different things. I would ask "when that particular club sold that player for 10 million how much did the club invest in that player?" Purchase price, signing on fee, wages and bonuses all have to be looked at. I know a lot of figures are undisclosed and unavailable but despite Arsenal being generous with their wages, Arsenal would probably be one of the few teams who could claim sustained financial success according to this model. A real life profit and Wenger has been absolutely vital to that success as has David Dein. Other clubs such as FC Porto and Udinese could claim that accolade too but not many sides of Arsenal's stature could claim that. That's why Arsenal could move into a new stadium. They were a successful, profitable club with a fan base to exploit in moving to a bigger stadium. That's why increased ticket prices are essential to this model and in the future, we'll all see the same with Liverpool and FSG. Wenger was integral to this and added to changing the culture of the football club itself, his achievements are impressive.
Despite all this, Wenger won't be wise in my eyes if he fails to address Arsenal's weaknesses properly but has indicated he would do so. Arsenal can no longer mention Jedi-like younglings in a plea for patience and hope for the future, that's Liverpool's thing now. Do Arsenal play pretty football? Yes. Is it as good as Barcelona's? No, but name a side which is as close in entertainment and style as Arsenal. No, not Barcelona because they're out on their own around Jupiter or Saturn. Maybe Udinese or Porto come close in terms of an attractive style of play and perhaps Shakhtar on their day too. If Arsenal do lose some of the aforementioned players, they'll have to replace them. If they don't lose them, they'll have to add to them anyway. Yes, Fabregas' recent comments don't inspire hope nor does Nasri's refusal to dismiss United's interest in a similar manner to his manager but there is time for Wenger to show his hand. So why not wait and see what happens in the transfer window? That goes for all clubs too. Let's take a leaf out of Roberto Martinez's book and look at the long game in the transfer window.
What about the other possible players heading for the exit? Bendtner wouldn't be a loss neither would Denilson as they're just expendable squad players. Arsene would probably philosophically agree. Arshavin and Rosicky? Talented but when you're around thirty years-old and performances are tailing off; you know what that means when Arsene's around. It would be a big job for Arsene to rebuild if Nasri and Fabregas both left in this window because both are intelligent, technical and quality footballers with many years ahead of them. Such qualities aren't easy to find. Gervinho and Chamberlain have those some of the qualities needed to make an impact and are pencilled in to arrive at Arsenal. Those two will not be enough to improve Arsenal in the way the supporters desire and more players will be needed who are a step above Eboue, Denilson and Squillaci. But Arsene won't have time because the transfer window's closing tomorrow so Arsenal are finished. It's already December 21st 2012 and the Mayans are right. The world's going to end for Arsenal.
This is the question hovering over Arsene Wenger in 2011. Crackpot or Le Professeur? It seems amazing that this is even being debated at this time...