Arsenal F.C- Well Run Business or Mediocre Football Team
This is a very unique situation at Arsenal. The cries from the Arsene-Out camp have never been louder and quite frankly that camp has never had as many subscribers. Some of the results this season have been absolutely shocking. 10–2 on aggregate at Bayern, 3–1 to West Brom, the defeat at home to Watford to name a few. The performances in some of the positive results also have been abject and poor. Top 4 looks highly unlikely this season and a trip to Wembley to face Man City and it might very well be a disastrous season for Arsenal. The off-field issues just compound the problems the club is currently facing. Below are the problems the club currently faces.
Who defines success for a Club and what is success for Arsenal? — It all comes down to this at the end of the day. Arsenal have not won the league for 13 years now but have consistently finished in the top 4 for 20 years and the books have always been in positive under Wenger. If you look at the business profile of Stan Kroenke who owns Arsenal football club, he is a great businessman and a sports mogul. Kroenke has no background in football and Arsenal is purely a business venture. Arsenal do not splash the cash on big players, they have a very smart wage policy for players, the money from the TV rights and the Champions league helps the club remain profitable every year, year after year. They paid off the new stadium debt in almost record time. In the eyes of the owners and the board the club is having a bad year, which they feel Wenger can fix next year. All the anger from the fans directed towards the Manager might not be completely justified, he is an employee of the club and scores a 5-star rating every year on his appraisals. The board and the ambitions of the club need to be looked at. The owners and the fans do not seem to be on the same page when it comes to defining what success is for Arsenal Football Club.
If you get a closer look at all the sports teams that Stan Kroenke owns, be it the Denver Nuggets in the NBA or the Colarado Rapids of the MLS, these are well run teams but in a sporting context they are nothing more than “Also-rans”. He is a businessman who does business with his brains and Arsenal’s stock prices have soared in the past years making Arsenal a profitable entity. Stan Kroenke is in no way obligated to relate to the fan’s frustrations that Arsenal no longer compete for the league realistically and the club is bigger than being considered “Also-rans” and a top-4 finish. The board’s stand is clear, there is a new 2-year deal on the table and it is up to Arsene Wenger to decide if he wants to sign it or walk away at the end of the season.
The Ozil & Sanchez situation –It is astonishing in the present day scenario that a club like Arsenal have let the contracts of their 2 best players run down to the final 18 months. Arsenal are not willing to meet the wage demands of both players who are demanding salaries in the region of £250,000 a week. If you look at the top players at any of the top 4 clubs in England, The top players are all on contracts in excess of £200,000 a week. Arsenal are trying to set an example that they will not cave-in to contract rebels, but Arsenal can ill afford to do that at the risk of losing their 2 best players. The Sanchez situation by the look of things is not about the wages anymore and about the ambitions of the club and he is most likely to leave at the end of the season. Ozil has and always will be a big fan of Arsene and he will decide to stay if Arsene stays. Arsenal have reportedly offered him £260,000 a week and he is waiting to sign on the dotted line after Arsene Wenger does the same. I will reserve my opinion on Ozil for another section but losing Sanchez could be catastrophic for Arsenal.
The ethos of Arsenal as a footballing team — Arsenal after the era of the invincibles of 2003 have become a team that play pretty football that is very soothing to the eye when on song, but when you go to teams like Stoke and West Ham or any team managed by the likes of Tony Pulis and Big Sam, you cannot always win playing pretty football. Even in the Champions League you have to be more resolute and ready to win ugly. Arsenal are devoid of leaders on the pitch. The signings over the years show a pattern of players who are very good with the ball at their feet but will disappear in big games when you need leaders to stand up and be counted. Ozil being a prime example, he is very silky and skillful on the ball and has scored many memorable goals but has no fight in him. Arsenal have at times this season played with Santi Cazorla and Alex Ox Chamberlin as their holding midfielders, they are technically good players but they are not Patrick Viera or Petit. Mustafi and Xhaka have not had the impact they were expected to have to Arsenal’s rearguard. The Arsenal midfield is crying out for players like William Carvalho or Kante or Bakayoko but Wenger does not seem to be interested in buying such players anymore. There was a time when the Arsenal dressing room was packed with personalities and leaders, Tony Adams, Jens Lehman, Keown, Campbell, Petit, Viera, Henry were all such towering personalities. A player with “bite” or “steel” is what Arsenal lack. On a good day you will see Arsenal score memorable goals like the one Wilshere scored against Norwich, but on bad days you will see them lose 10–2 on aggregate to Bayern.
Mediocrity seeping into the players — Mediocrity might be a strong word but it seemed appropriate for most parts. Arsenal have a rich history and have had some legends of the game represent the club. Today’s Arsenal lack the ambition to achieve those heights again. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey have been at Arsenal for a long time now and when they burst onto the scene they were touted as the next big stars. But since then their talent, contribution and standard have only stagnated. They still get a top up to their contracts each time, this in my opinion is mediocrity. Olivier Giroud is not a world-class striker by any standard, he will not start for any of the top-3 teams across Europe, but he still continues to be the main man for Arsenal for years now. They have not gone out and bought a top class striker. Arsenal have to go out and buy Morata or Lacazette in order to show ambition that they want to be title contenders. When Luis Suarez moved to Barcelona, Arsenal tried to sign him and reportedly infamously bid 1£ above his release clause to trigger the clause. Suarez finally was sold to Barca for £25 Million higher than that amount. If Arsenal had gone for it that summer and paid 15–20 million more for Suarez they would have won a league title by now.
This season, Arsenal came back from 0–3 down to draw 3–3 at Bournemouth. If anyone watched the game they will know it was a splendid come back from Arsenal considering how abject and lethargic they were in that 1st half. But if you go back to what happened when Giroud scored the equalizer to make it 3–3 shows the mentality. Bournemouth were down to 10 men and Giroud goes ahead and does his famous scorpion celebration after scoring the equalizer. There were 5 minutes of football left to play and Bournemouth were there for the taking. It was a moment and coming back to 3–3 is great but only Ox Chamberlin and Sanchez were rushing back to the half line to get the game restarted quickly. The attitude at 1–2 against Bayern too, if Viera was playing that match he would have ensured the team defends more robustly and ensure they don’t concede anymore and even 1–3 was a result that would have kept Arsenal in the tie with the away goal, but they just capitulated and at 1–5 the tie was over already.
Arsenal Football Club need some major rebuilding, and Stan Kroenke seems to have kept his faith in Wenger to do the rebuilding job. I personally do not think Arsene Wenger should stay on. He should move on and look for a new challenge, PSG or the French National Team maybe. But he seems like he has decided he wants to stay and is waiting for a string of positive results to make the announcement. If he stays I think he should try to buy Pickford or Kasper Schmeichel, Vincent Kompany, Micheal Keane, a new left-back, Bakayoko, Morata and a speedy winger to replace Sanchez!