A lesson lived is a lesson learned
The saying a lesson lived is a lesson learned fundamentally means real life experiences and mistakes are what teach us best.
The one criticism I have of Arsene Wenger is that he has lived 30 years of managerial lessons yet his stubbornness refuses to allow him to learn or at the very least learn quickly.
There are lots of reports in the press that Arsenal are finally going to have the summer clear out that we desperately need to free up some wages for our existing stars. This is good and bad news.
It is excellent news that we are finally going to try to sell Bendtner, Denilson and Chamakh as well as releasing Squillaci and Almunia on free transfers. It is good news that we are going to offer new and improved deals to Van Persie, Song and Walcott and hopefully enough money to satisfy Robin’s financial requirements assuming we can convince him that we can satisfy his ambitions but I’ve already voiced my belief that he will stay.
It is not so good news that we are looking to sell on Arshavin. Don’t get me wrong, if we can get a decent sum for him then I won’t really miss him but I do feel that if we let him go we will be back in the situation of being a bit light on experience. Arshavin is a great player and maybe this loan will rejuvenate him and he’ll come back and be the player he was in his first 12 months. I’d prefer to keep him but will accept a reasonable fee for him.
It is also not so good news that Arsenal are looking at making the same mistakes as they have for many years with the report that we are going to double The Ox’s wages.
For far too long Arsenal and to a greater extent Arsene Wenger have offered big wages to young players or players with average talent. I’m not for one second saying that AOC is average, far from it and I’m not saying that he isn’t worth £50k a week or to put it into perspective just as much as we’ve been paying Denilson and Almunia. What I am saying is firstly Denilson and Almunia were never worth £50k a week and secondly but more importantly it is a big mistake to pay a player so young such great wages because what happens is that by the time he has 2-3 years of first team experience under his belt and is setting the EPL alight his agents will feel he is worth double again and he’ll only be 21-22, by the time he is 24 his agents and maybe by then he himself will feel he is worth another £50k a week. Then we are talking £150-200k a week. Arsenal won’t pay this or more importantly won’t be able to pay that for 10+ players which we will probably need to do. So what happens? We end up selling him when he has a year left on his contract to a Man City or the next club with a sugar daddy willing to offer him £250k a week.
There were three things I always felt were missing from Wenger’s CV that Alex Ferguson has and is the key reason he has been vastly more successful than Wenger (not owning ref’s or anything like that because the stats show that Arsenal actually get more decisions, maybe not as many big or controversial decisions but they do get more than Utd on average). The first was paying for experience. The second is paying wages comparative to the players ability, potential and impact. The third is not letting contracts run down without cause.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed reason 1 is in the past tense and 2 and 3 are in the present tense. I feel that this year Wenger has learned a bit of a lesson and has finally paid for some experience and although it came a bit too late for the team to gel and perform across the season as they are now I think we’ll see the benefit of it next season and against Wenger’s usual protestations for buying senior players it hasn’t ‘killed’ any young players because young players of real quality are still forcing their way into the team, like Szczesny and AOC.
Letting player contracts run down is a massive failing of Wenger and the entire Arsenal board. Why was Nasri allowed to run down his contract? Why does RVP only have a year left? If Wenger knew RVP had the last 14 months in him why didn’t he offer him a new contract in December 2010 when he was just coming back to fitness? Surely RVP would have signed then having had 2 years of injury troubles and feeling it was a vote of confidence in his ability? Now we have the world’s hottest striker with only 15 months left on his contract. I still think he will stay but that shouldn’t mask the ineptness of the people who handle player contracts. It should be club policy that no player will have less that 24 months left on his contract without being offered a new deal. If the player doesn’t sign by the next transfer window you sell him whilst he still has 18 months left or ideally sell him whilst he has 24 months left.
More importantly is the inability of Wenger and the contracts team to offer fair deals to the players we have. AOC is an 18 year old lad with about 4-5 months of real top flight experience under his belt and a year and a bit of lower division football to his name who is earning £20-25k a week according to various reports. That is mental. There are players at premier league clubs who earn the same and are the top earners at their club. Alex is not a great player. Alex is a player with great potential. Chamakh was on fire for 6 months, now look at him. The club, the press and we the fans need to realise the difference between potential and actual greatness. Jack Wilshere is considered the best English midfielder after one great break through season. He is still under 20. He also is a player with great potential as is Ryo, Wojciech, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Ramsey and to an extent Theo and Gervinho.
It’s too late to do anything about the players we want to keep who are already on big wages other than to try to slow down the increase in wages but we can do something about the next generation of players like AOC, Jenks, Ryo, Coquelin and hopefully Afobe and Campbell.
Ox should stay on £20k a week but have his appearance fee doubled or tripled and given a target of getting 20 starts next season across our usual 50+ fixtures and 20 goals/assists and if he hits that target then we will renegotiate his basic salary.
Over paying young players with potential can be quite damaging, not just to them but also to the club as we are by default putting ourselves in a position where we have to sell in 4-5 years time because we can’t keep up with their demands. AOC, Jack and Jenks are all still very young and still highly influenced by the opinions of their parents instead of their agents so why not build up their wages slowly until they are truly established stars and reward them with game time. At their age the game is their primary motivator and as time goes and they are corrupted by their agents and money becomes more important we can retain the upper hand by offering contracts that are affordable but still a massive hike to them.
Just because you are at a big club it doesn’t mean you deserve big wages. We have one of the highest wage bills in the league with one of the youngest squads and an empty silverware cabinet and no sugar daddy to cover any loses we make.
It’s time for Wenger and the board to learn the lessons they’ve lived and start paying for performance not potential.
Until next time.
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