Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Arsenal are London's new Selling Club!
I found it very interesting to read that Arsene Wenger says that Arsenal need to sell a player every year to survive! That's amazing and no wonder he's thinking of heading for Real Madrid and the promise of a huge transfer budget! If it's true and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, it is a staggering fact. Today's Daily Mail reports - “Wenger, who reportedly met Perez (Real Madrid's President elect) on Tuesday, is at loggerheads with the Arsenal board over finances and they continue to clash over Danny Fiszman's claims that there is money available to spend on new players. In contrast, Wenger has consistently maintained that the club 'have to sell a player each summer to survive'.” It is an all too familiar tale that all clubs seem to allow their managers to take the wrap for boardroom decisions not to spend on transfers!
How staggering is it that a top 4 team attracting 60,000 gates every game and Champions League football every season for as long as I can remember, is in such a terrible state! Arsenal have apparently pushed themselves into debt over the building of their new stadium and it seems that Arsene is getting fed up with carrying the can for the Arsenal board's mistakes. I well remember all their chairman's assurances that the new stadium would not affect team building. It was clearly just another load of spin worthy of MP's denying their expenses are illegal!
The Arsenal board will no doubt argue that they are being prudent with over £350m in debts that must cost a massive £30+m every year just to pay off the interest! I always thought Wenger did not like signing senior players, preferring young ones he can bring through to play football his way. He was the originator of the “Project” (bringing kids through) and always looked to Europe and South America leaving West Ham scouts to cover the UK. Maybe Arsenal's lack of spending has much deeper roots and the likes of Henry, Viera, Petite, Ljungberg and all the others Arsenal have let go in recent years, were forced on Wenger as cost cutting exercises?
At West Ham our finances have never been any different to what seems to be coming out about Arsenal, only on a different scale and for different reasons. At least our excuse for not spending is we have a bankrupt board. I find it incredible that the Arsenal board has billionaires from Russia and America yet Wenger has to resort to threatening to leave, to try to get a budget that will enable him to compete with the best next season! Like Arsenal we have a good manager but Zola is just starting out in the management game and he clearly has fallen for Duxbury's “Project”. Duxbury has merely re-invented what Wenger and we have always done at West Ham - bring kids through because we do not have the resources to be a buying club.
Wenger on the other hand, has been there and done it and now realises he can no longer compete without major signings but I don't believe we can at West Ham either. Wenger looks around at his competition and sees big spending Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United joined by Manchester City and he has his “Project” and just £13m to spend this summer, to bring in established stars to supplement the kids that have come through. Is it surprising that Fabregas, Adebayor and others are looking towards clubs that can win trophies? Maybe it is for similar reasons why Green, Neill and Upson also have not signed new contracts yet?
Where does that leave West Ham? We are reportedly in debt for around £50m which is fairly manageable. Our owner is now completely bankrupt. We are about to be taken over by a bank that is currently in moratorium from bankruptcy itself but expects to be reformed into a viable going concern once it owns us! Really? We need at least two international calibre players in midfield/forward positions otherwise we will not be competing for a top 7 spot, in the same way that Arsenal will not compete for a top 2 spot if they do not spend money on established stars.
Even if Ashton, Gabbidon, Dyer, Parker and Behrami all return to full fitness next season we still need creativity in midfield and a mobile striker in the Zola mold. If Tristan and Di Michele are re-signed, then I can see some senior players wondering what they are doing in East London next year because that is not top 7 ambition. If Neill, Green and Upson decide to leave, that would be the equivalent of say Fabregas, Adebayor and Toure leaving Arsenal. Where do either club get as good, let alone better, replacements without spending big? We don't is the short answer. Both clubs need major signings to keep the existing managers, players and fans feeling they are progressing.
At least our management team have signed new contracts showing their commitment to our future but we have to wonder at why Arsene Wenger has chosen to go public about his Real Madrid interest at this stage? For us the answer is simple. We need to spend £20+m we haven't got, on a right full back, new creative midfielder and striker at least. Arsenal probably need to spend as much or more to keep Wenger and their big name players happy at The Emirates for another season. If either club do not invest now, no amount of “Project” (bringing youth through), will save either of us from a very uncertain future. I really hope we solve our problems with new owners but it's nice to know that we are not alone in having an uncertain future.
Posted by Hammersfan at 16:30