Positivity speaks: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

By PositiveAdi
In Guest Bloggers
Nov 12th, 2012
40 Comments

Today I am delighted to welcome Adithya V, better known as  as a guest blogger to North London Is Red. Adi recently wrote a fantastic article on his site The Positive Gunner that I thought was so brilliant I wanted to share it with everyone and have agreed to re-post it on NLIR. In true NLIR style this is an epic post so as usual here is your pre-post warning to get a cup of tea and settle down for some quality reading. Take it away Adi…..

I’m not a perfect fan but I consider myself a supporter in every sense of the word. I live and study in London and go to games, home and away, when I can afford to. I have followed the Arsenal since 1998 and having read about dark times such as finishing 17th in the 70s I do not consider this current period to be a bad time in Arsenal’s long history and I do not consider us a “laughing-stock” as some would ridiculously like to portray us.

I believe that even now, being an Arsenal fan is easy when you don’t take things for granted. Every year we get a top 4 place, knock out stages of the Champions League, beautiful football, amazing stadium, classy players and a genius manager — I can think of a few hundred football clubs that would LOVE to be in our position and that we consider this situation to be a “tough” time is a clear indication of how good we have it as fans.

I see a lot of arguments being made about how the badly the club is run, how profit is our only motive and how we prefer to leave money sitting in the bank instead of buying players. I see people declaring “something is very wrong with our club” and while I don’t think things are perfect, I do honestly think we’re a very responsibly run club in an irresponsible world and that seems to be a bit hard to understand by many for some strange reason. The contribution of the media doesn’t help either as they actively seem to castigate Arsenal for running their club prudently while praising the ones who have spent millions from oil money without consequence. It’s almost like they exist in a parallel world where spending so much without any fallout is possible for them and seeing that makes fans want similar without realizing, the consequences here would be dire. Also, there are a few others among us fans resorting to rather silly and disrespectful name calling about “the Yank” or “Ivan the terrible” that only serves to show how far away from classy they are and how startlingly little the ones doing the name calling actually know about running a club.

I further believe that while a lot of people think our club is riddled with problems everywhere, there is no quick fix for it because in truth it doesn’t need too much fixing when you really think about it. Yet somehow every minor slip up leads to people revelling in the explosion of reactionary “sack X, protest and stroll, board is shit, buy Y, Z is unfit to wear the jersey, play 4-4-2″. This sort of urge for instant fixes and immediate change is characteristic of the day and age we live in and there is nothing we can do about a society where instantaneous gratification reigns supreme but at the same time as someone wrote in the Evening Standard last season, this is sadly becoming a part of “the club’s blame culture”. It is the easiest thing in the world to lay the blame at obvious scapegoats which is what 90% of people end up doing. It is easier to find someone to appropriate the blame to and slate them and choose to get rid of them as though that is the quickest way to fix things. It is in truth harder to actually find out what is wrong and even harder to realize that there isn’t much wrong besides the complete lack of patience on our part. People act like 7 years has been a lifetime when in the larger picture, for a club that is 125 years young and has many more years to come to add to its illustrious history, 7 years is but a minor blip.

I believe a lot of the arguments that end up happening between fans on some of the above issues (or even at AGMs) for one reason or another are down to assumptions that are made that I don’t think are anywhere near accurate. Some of the assumptions that are made that I find rather silly and my rebuttals to these assumptions are as follows.

One of the largest clubs in the world, doesn’t actively look for players that would improve it and instead chooses to leave money in the bank
It would be a massive dereliction of duty by all involved (management, board, staff, coaches), if players were not being scouted through the year to determine who would fit the team best and could improve it while being cognizant of whether they would be available at a price range that we could afford.

The club doesn’t buy players but every other club seems to be buying more
United, City and the rest all made at most 3-4 purchases this summer, which is roughly the same as ours, surely if there were so many good players available out there, other teams that have money to spend would be buying too right? If you look at last summer and this one combined, we have purchased – Cazorla, Arteta, Mertesacker, Giroud, Podolski, Santos, Gervinho, Oxlade Chamberlain, Eisfeld and more, so I would actually say this is a myth that we don’t buy players. What would be true is that we don’t spend huge money on players but the bottom line is that we never have (though in recent years we have been rumoured to make offers that break our transfer record but have missed out due to wages or signing fees like what happened with Hazard)

We don’t buy players?

The club scouts aren’t doing their job finding the right players
I don’t understand how people can make this comment about arguably the best scouting team and identifiers of talent in the world? The issue isn’t that we can’t find talent, we can find talent but buying a player requires a lot more things to fall into place, namely –

  1. Is the player going to fit into our system with the players we have around?
  2. Is the player going to command a transfer fee that we can afford?
  3. Are the player’s wages going to be within a range that we can afford to pay? (this one is huge and is one of the big reasons why we missed Mata and Hazard)
  4. Is the player available for sale from his club?
  5. Is the player willing to move even if the club has agreed to sell?
  6. Is the agent and signing fee demanded going to be at a reasonable level? (again I point to Mata and Hazard where this really tripped us up)

Only if all these things fall into place can a transfer go through.

I can already sense some cogs turning in people’s heads about names that are firmly placed in the “shit” category regarding players like Santos, Chamakh or even for some of you, Giroud. My rebuttal to that is as simple as you are ignoring the player’s ability at the time of signing or you’re judging his total ability on the basis of a bad run of form. It is testament to Chamakh that when he was signed, people rejoiced and for the first few months, everyone knew that we had a real player on our hands until burnout, confidence loss and a lack of playing time left him as a shadow of the player he was when he joined us. It is testament to Santos that he started off shakily but improved quickly in his very first season to be quite a good player prior to his injury. A current dip in form, does not a bad player make, otherwise what would you call Koscielny on current form?

The club prefers to keep money in the bank than to spend or Wenger doesn’t want to or is too stubborn to spend
Or have you considered the possibility that as a club, we consider it better and more prudent to spend on the right player who would definitely improve us and fit in, rather than spending on the wrong player just because we have money. Eg. getting quoted 25m for Tiote this summer was ludicrous and I am glad we didn’t go for that.

Not lost, just only seen for the right reasons

The board lied to us when they said the stadium move will make us more competitive, we should have stayed at Highbury
It’s easy to come to this conclusion and scream yourself hoarse but again, you’re not looking at the complete picture. When the idea of the stadium was first mooted and work got underway, we were among the top 2 teams in England with United having a large lead on the commercial side of things compared to us and we were being restricted by the smaller sized stadium. The move should have signalled a massive boost in revenue and despite a few years of fiscal prudence, we would’ve been able to continue to compete for the top 2 consistently. However, we were unfortunate with our timing as our need for fiscal prudence coincided with both the entrance of oil money and a global recession. This wasn’t something that could have been foreseen and the bottom line here is, if we hadn’t moved from Highbury, right now we’d be languishing way further behind oil money than we are now.

An under-appreciated lifesaver

Arsenal like to wait until the last year of a players contract before they start talks

From everything I’ve heard in this regard, this is false. We offer our players new contracts anywhere between 24 to 18 months left on their contract. For example, Nasri was supposed to have been offered a contract by us in December 2010 which he chose to turn down. Similarly for Van Persie, talks were initiated in September 2011 but he refused. A club does the right thing when it offers a contract early in the player’s penultimate season on the current contract and in the recent past, both Koscielny and Vermaelen have signed new contracts in such a way. But the likes of Nasri and Van Persie CHOSE to leave their talks until later and then opted to leave for more money than our club could afford to pay (allegedly £170k per week and £250-300k per week respectively). You can only offer a contract but you cannot force them to sign it.

Everyone at the club and everyone who supports its results both aim for and are happy with fourth place for the past 7 years
The fact that we end up around this spot, doesn’t mean it is our primary goal, it is coincidence. At the same time, being supportive and understanding of why we finished 4th (something that is immensely valuable to us financially and more so than the FA Cup or League Cup) doesn’t mean we’re thrilled and only aiming for that either. I honestly do believe we aim for the very top each year and the two most recent times when we’ve fallen off or fallen short (07/08 and 10/11) we were challenging until very late in the season (I think both years in April we were barely 4-6 points off the top). Falling short is when our failures are evaluated ad nauseam while our merits go ignored and the sad tendency to only be hypercritical of the club doesn’t lead to a pretty image.

We choose to sell our best players and don’t want to replace them and instead prefer to keep the money in the bank
Do you honestly think Arsène or anyone at the club WANTED to sell these players before they forced their way out? Look at the last 4 big names to leave us. Nasri – huge wages that we couldn’t match and by his own admission, indirectly tapped up. Cesc – wanted to go home, went on strike to force the move. RVP – huge wages we couldn’t match and tried to dictate how the manager should run the club and reportedly was in touch with clubs from as far back as January. Song – created a ruckus in training and through his agent tried doubling his wages despite having 3 years left on his contract and now he’s moved to a club where he’s actually earning the double wages he wanted (considering taxation). Did we WANT to sell any of these players? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the case until it got to a point where there was no way we could keep them but I still struggle to understand why fans are so unreasonable when the club has little choice in these matters when a player is forcing the move.

As for replacing these players, I have already talked about this above.

We charge the highest ticket prices in the world but don’t spend the money.
I will not argue against the fact that ticket prices are high, they undeniably are, but at the same time, claiming they are the highest priced is just an extension of media fueled hyperbole that fails to look any deeper than the price tag. If you look purely at the price tag, yes, we are the most expensive. But what this ignores is that unlike other clubs, we offer 7 cup games as part of the ticket so while most teams get 19 games on their tickets, we get 26. Furthermore, when you look at the cost of ticket per game, be it our highest priced season ticket or the lowest price one, we are roughly on par with other big London teams and the per game cost of our tickets is actually cheaper than Spurs. They are the ones who technically should be constantly lambasted for having the highest season ticket prices per game, not just in an old stadium but for a team that seems to offer the Europa league at best and whose tickets don’t even include tickets to cup games.

That is one part of the argument, the other part being we don’t spend the money. Now, I’m not exactly sure how this happened but it seems there are a bunch of fans who feel they have bankrolled the wages of every player and staff member when in truth, all of our ticket income combined covers only about 70% of our wages. Over and above that, you have other expenses which make it abundantly clear that any claims that your money you spend on tickets isn’t spent is again, little more than an unsubstantiated myth. Just like the theory that because we’re the 5th richest in the Deloitte money league or the top 4 in club value, we should have a lot more money to spend than we should but we don’t. In fact, the mention of the Forbes club value list where our club is the 4th or 5th most valuable in the world simply does not mean that we have that much cash to spend but it is ridiculous the number of times one has to repeat this clarification.

Arsenal’s season ticket range – £985 to £1955
Cost per game – £37.88 to £75.19
Spurs season ticket range – £730 to £1845
Cost per game – £38.42 to £97.11
Are we really the most expensive?

We overpay average or sub par squad players who deserve nothing and this is why we can’t pay the highest wages
Some of the arguments I see about squad wages are hilarious and sometimes it honestly feels like people believe every starter should be paid 200k for weeks they play and nothing in weeks that they don’t. Firstly, compared to teams all around us, our wage structure for squad players and youth players is roughly on par with other top clubs and far less than the clubs ahead of us. Secondly, the wages we can afford to pay for our top players (our wage cap) is an issue but one needs to consider the imbalance in squad harmony this would cause when one member earns so much more than the rest of the team. The best example of this can be found at Manchester United, where Rooney’s massive wages (200-300k per week depending on what your source is) have led to squad players demanding their own large share of the pie which in their case means that Welbeck and Hernandez both earn from 75-80k per week which is what our highest earners currently manage. People make a big issue of squad players here earning between 40 and 60k as though these are too high but in the same breath demand that our highest earners earn as much as players at other big clubs. That there is the fine line that a club has to tread between offering a reasonable wage to quality squad players (if you don’t pay them even the wages we pay now, we won’t have much of a squad) and offering a huge wage to top players (we are rumoured to have offered 150k to RVP but he’s earning much more after leaving).

Furthermore, there are many who make the judgement on hindsight and like to make a hue and cry about something that looks bad in hindsight. Take for example, Diaby’s contract. People accuse him of being overpaid due to being injured so often but they fail to look at the important details which would tell them that when the contract was signed, he was at peak fitness and walked into France’s 2010 World Cup squad after a 40 appearance season for Arsenal. You cannot predict things like a recurrence of injury, a drastic drop in form or another player being in hot form and not being rotated thus rendering playing time minimal. You can only offer a contract based on the current situation. Considering all these factors should be a minimum when it comes to understanding contracts.

The above arguments are just a few and there are many more that come up ranging from the assumption that FFP will fail, to the assumption that the board is lining its pockets (when our club figures clearly indicate otherwise) to the rather odd assumption that all of the money in our cash reserve is ready to spend on transfers and lastly the assumption that our debt has been paid off. Most of these assumptions arise from the fact that the understanding of each “issue” is simplistic and doesn’t look into the deeper reasons and causes for an issue. It would take me a while to list each one and debunk the assumptions so I will stop here for now as I have some very basic questions to ask:

Does lack of transfer activity imply that we are not looking for players?
Does a lack of secondary commercial deals or public updates regarding primary commercial deal renewals mean that we are not working on either of these?
Does making a mistake on the pitch mean that a certain aspect of the game is not being practiced in training?
Does a player getting injured on the pitch mean that the team responsible for treating these injuries is at fault?
Does a bad game mean that the team is useless, doesn’t care and isn’t motivated?
Does a bad run of form mean that a player is shit, just wants to earn money, and not good enough to wear the shirt?
Does a player forcing a move to a team that can afford to pay way better than us, mean that the club is at fault and wants to sell its best players?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO and that is the reason for the title of this blog. The absence of evidence of activity or any of the above questions I’ve asked does NOT imply that it is evidence of an absence.

To think otherwise is an assumption made under simplistic preconceived notions that everyone at the club is incompetent or doesn’t care as much about winning as you, or both. That perception rises from complete and utter arrogance in thinking that you are the only one who cares and that the ones who are meant to do this don’t care at all and don’t know how to do their jobs as well as you do. If you’re truly arrogant and foolish enough to think that somehow you know better because you believe that as a club, the staff spends its year twiddling its thumbs and earning money instead of doing their job that they’re paid to do, then that probably explains why you’re in an uproar thinking the club is being mismanaged and you want everyone out. I also believe this arrogance is combined with a certain level of hypocrisy where it is ok to chant songs about rape and heckle at an AGM but someone who dishes it back in kind at the AGM (PHW) and someone who swapped a shirt, deserve to be crucified. Furthermore, this arrogance that “we are Arsenal” and somehow we have this divine right to win trophies and because we don’t, everyone involved is doing something wrong is something, reeks of being spoiled and being unable to see the very real challenges the club is up against or worse, an assumption that no matter the difficulty, somehow these odds should be overcome and because you pay for tickets, you have every right to demand for it.

If the endless arguments that take place on twitter, blog comments or even in the stadium are entirely down to a bunch of assumptions about things that for the most part are completely beyond our control and furthermore in an area that we can never truly know the complete picture for, then why waste so much of our lives arguing and fretting and mudslinging about these things? Why can’t we do what we are supposed to do as fans and that is get behind the team on the pitch and support it and the players in it no matter what happens? Why do we have to resort to disgraceful “we want our arsenal back” chants when the team is down instead of actually supporting?  Why do we have to abuse and berate every misplaced pass, every on pitch mistake, every tactical change (or lack of it)? Why do all this and build up so much negativity and infighting about something you have no control over especially when what the team needs the most on the pitch is support at full throttle to inspire them to get out of a funk and do better? Why can’t we go out there, scream our hearts out every single minute, live up to the club motto of Victoria Concordia Crescit and just enjoy watching the team we love, and probably always will?

Rousing stuff Adi. I agree with almost all of it and think many fans could take a leaf out of your book and become “supporters” once again. I hope to have you back as a guest in the future.

Thanks for reading guys and helping me support my fellow Gooner bloggers. Please do leave your comments and don’t forget to click that follow button!

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Positive Gooner. 'Nuff said.

40 Responses to “Positivity speaks: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

  1. ArsenalinLinares says:

    Great article mate, all points well thought out and justified, especially about the distribution of club funds. I still think, though, that we could see a little more variability when it comes to tactics. Sometimes it really feels like certain games/opposition would suit different tactics to the ones we see put forward (the whole 4-4-2 hoopla is, i think, justified even if the system appears outdated).

    • Tom says:

      Did I write this post?! Exactly the way I feel. Maybe we’re just a bit more educated and open minded? There is only one team that can win the premier league, so 19 ‘losers’. Only 1 out of Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham (we can ignore the last two for sure!) can win the Premier League. Think of how much all those teams have spent over the last few years? I’m sure they’ve all spent more than us. We ideally would love to challenge more, but we’re not as far off as everyone says. Have some faith, and be a supporter and support!

  2. ArsenalinLinares says:

    Oh and one more point in regard to support, imagine if everyone actually cheered players like Santos on instead of ridiculing them! I’m certainly guilty of yelling and cursing at mistakes, but there comes a point when you need to give the players a confidence boost, not tear them down.

  3. Duke Fama says:

    Are you being paid to write this ? Or you are deluded! And yeah stop making noise too! WTF!

  4. Enkuneh holds the gun says:

    No arsenal fan will conform your feeling. you must be either a rat hired by those stinky boards or a voyeur. arsenal fan’s won’t give you a chance to see them suffering. sorry! I even didn’t finished your post to put my comment. WE NEED OUR ARSENAL BACK!!!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      You’re right, no Arsenal fan will agree with Adi but this is a site for SUPPORTERS so plenty will agree.

    • weedonald says:

      Enkuneh….back to your mud hut…the witch doctor is going to arrive soon to exorcize your demons. I think x-lax would be begtter as you are so full of shite!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Not right mate, that sort of comment isn’t welcome. Please keep it civil.

  5. Murry says:

    This is the most Rubbish i’v ever read, Arsenal are all about money am not an arsenal fan BUT if i explained to my friend and he’s blind the going’s on at Arsenal, Highest tickets, high wage bill, wenger on 7 mill annually, poor squad, never finishes higher than 3rd in 7 years
    and i can go on.
    even my blind friend would say that arsenal are cheating the fans and whether you fail to see or refuse to see and make excuse that ‘s you BUt its no coincidence that arsenal have not won anything these last 7 years

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      You clearly lack the insight into the goings on that Adi referred to in order to make a coherent statement regarding Arsenal.

    • Joeos says:

      You are to be pitied rather than scolded. You must have a very sad life if you are not an Arsenal fan but read an Arsenal blog and then make comments that affirm the validity of the guest post.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Haha, brilliant

    • weedonald says:

      Have you graduated from kindergarten yet Murry? Your blind friend would have enough intelligence to see through you and your hypocrisy very quickly you moronic cretin. As well he could spell better than you and do better research-you got it wrong…they finished 2nd in 2005 you idiotic simpleton! I would like you to go on to LeGrove website where they welcome retards like you, even if you don’t follow Arsenal…and I thank God you don’t! as Joeos said below, you are to be pitied ….. its a pity you have access to the internet!

    • Jeffer says:

      u are a big BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARSENAL is the best CLUB in the WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! U like it or not arsenal is still the third most achieved club in england even dore they have not win trophies in the last 7 years.!!!!!!!

  6. Shadi says:

    Why defending this board?? can you just tell me what Stan Has brought to the table since he joined ? Wenger got us glory in the past. what did Stan actually add to arsenal other than sanctioning selling our best players..

    This Board will get us no where.. Mata shoulda been signed last year, Van persie should been kept or at least used his money to reinvestment

    Almost all arsenal fans were calling for Yann M’Vila to be signed, instead they opted to depend on Diaby who cant complete 2 games per season ?? are we all stupid or blind ?? this only small sample of many mistakes done. We seem to sell our best players and never replace them in the same year.

    Can you give me one season in the last 5 years where you could say, oh this team is better than last year ????

    I have no issue with wenger, with all his faults. i always know he only got love for this club…. but can you say the same for those 2 Americans ?

    Arsenal never been about making money for the board, its one thing to live within your means, but its not to fool all those fans…

  7. Admir says:

    1.”The contribution of the media doesn’t help either as they actively seem to castigate Arsenal for running their club prudently while praising the ones who have spent millions from oil money without consequence. It’s almost like they exist in a parallel world where spending so much without any fallout is possible for them and seeing that makes fans want similar without realizing, the consequences here would be dire. Also, there are a few others among us fans resorting to rather silly and disrespectful name calling about “the Yank” or “Ivan the terrible” that only serves to show how far away from classy they are and how startlingly little the ones doing the name calling actually know about running a club.”

    So, you are one of those people who actually believe FFP will stop Chelsea and Manchester City from destroying footballing market? Few years ago Arsene Wenger was spilling sarcasm over sponsorship deal Manchester City signed that gave them 10 times more money then we got from Emirates. Meanwhile, Chelsea recorded profit last year so they are finding their own self-sustainable model while winning trophies. Real Madrid, Barcelona, FAnchester United…all these clubs went through hard financial moments but they’ve kept investing in their players because only presentation that football fans care about is the one made by those 11 blokes on the field wearing Arsenal shirts. If it wasn’t the case, Nike would pay millions for accountances of the clubs to make commercials wearing Nike-suits.

    Also, you are mixing different sort of thing – while “the Yank” is a xenophobic insult, “Ivan the Terrible” is aimed at the man that managed to give himself a raise and tried to justify sale of our best player, captain, goalscorer and assistant to our biggest rival in the last 20 years for, and I quote, “footballing reasons”. Can you, please, explain what kind of footballing reasons is Ivan the Terrible talking about?

    2.”One of the largest clubs in the world, doesn’t actively look for players that would improve it and instead chooses to leave money in the bank
    It would be a massive dereliction of duty by all involved (management, board, staff, coaches), if players were not being scouted through the year to determine who would fit the team best and could improve it while being cognizant of whether they would be available at a price range that we could afford.”

    Well, then it is a massive dereliction of duty. Let me remind you what Arsenal did last season with Chu Young Park: we signed a player that seemed to score goals in every other club he played, a player that was given only three chances to play (he scored nice goal against Bolton in League Cup), a player that Lille, previous club of our target Eden Hazard, was interested in. Of course that Lille was reluctant to sell him to us! That was a result of a massive dereliction of duty during summer transfer window and it’s not like we didn’t know we will lose Nasri and Fabregas. If we didn’t took that thrashing at Old Trafford, we would not sign Arteta, Mertesacker and Benayoun.

    Speaking of improving, our team needs steel in the midfield for at least four years, ever since Flamini departed on Bosman rule. We didn’t sign a classy defensive midfielder in that period. Instead, Wenger opted for putting that burden on the back of young player that didn’t show anything exceptional so far (Coquelin), player that spend more time on treatment table than on the field (Diaby) and creative midfielders that feels more comfortable in attacking duties (Arteta now, Song yesterday).

    Speaking of dereliction of duty, what the hell is our medical staff doing? Last season Wilshere was supposed to be out only for a month. This season Diaby was supposed to be back after three weeks and now we are talking about Christmas-return. And that is only tip of the iceberg of injuries and prolonged returns.

    3.”United, City and the rest all made at most 3-4 purchases this summer, which is roughly the same as ours, surely if there were so many good players available out there, other teams that have money to spend would be buying too right? If you look at last summer and this one combined, we have purchased – Cazorla, Arteta, Mertesacker, Giroud, Podolski, Santos, Gervinho, Oxlade Chamberlain, Eisfeld and more, so I would actually say this is a myth that we don’t buy players. What would be true is that we don’t spend huge money on players but the bottom line is that we never have (though in recent years we have been rumoured to make offers that break our transfer record but have missed out due to wages or signing fees like what happened with Hazard).”

    Another spin. None of aforementioned teams don’t sell their best players, especially not to the clubs they were supposed to be their rivals in fight for the title. None of aforementioned teams didn’t sell as many captains as we did.

    Not to mention you forgot Park. But then again, Wenger did too.

    4.”I can already sense some cogs turning in people’s heads about names that are firmly placed in the “shit” category regarding players like Santos, Chamakh or even for some of you, Giroud. My rebuttal to that is as simple as you are ignoring the player’s ability at the time of signing or you’re judging his total ability on the basis of a bad run of form. It is testament to Chamakh that when he was signed, people rejoiced and for the first few months, everyone knew that we had a real player on our hands until burnout, confidence loss and a lack of playing time left him as a shadow of the player he was when he joined us. It is testament to Santos that he started off shakily but improved quickly in his very first season to be quite a good player prior to his injury. A current dip in form, does not a bad player make, otherwise what would you call Koscielny on current form?”

    Santos was another panic buy by Wenger or, to give it a tone you like, result of a massive dereliction of duty that allowed us putting all hopes regarding left-side of the defense on the back of injury prone Kieran Gibbs. Santos was always an attacking minded player who could score goals, especially from set-pieces. The only problem is, we never used his abilities when it comes to set-pieces.

    5.”The club prefers to keep money in the bank than to spend or Wenger doesn’t want to or is too stubborn to spend
    Or have you considered the possibility that as a club, we consider it better and more prudent to spend on the right player who would definitely improve us and fit in, rather than spending on the wrong player just because we have money. Eg. getting quoted 25m for Tiote this summer was ludicrous and I am glad we didn’t go for that.”

    I agree, Tiote isn’t worth of 25 millions of anything. But, Tiote isn’t the only defensive midfielder in the world. It’s not just that department. If Wenger was old Wenger, the one that could find perfect player before anyone else, we could’ve snatched Papiss Cisse from Freiburg or Cabaye from Lille.

    6.”I honestly do believe we aim for the very top each year and the two most recent times when we’ve fallen off or fallen short (07/08 and 10/11) we were challenging until very late in the season (I think both years in April we were barely 4-6 points off the top).”

    Exactly. But both times we suffered psychological meltdown. We didn’t have anyone like Adams, Vieira, Bergkamp or Henry to encourage troops (remember how Henry’s presence last season lifted everybody on the field despite the fact Henry is 35 and past his prime for years).

    7.”We choose to sell our best players and don’t want to replace them and instead prefer to keep the money in the bank
    Do you honestly think Arsène or anyone at the club WANTED to sell these players before they forced their way out? Look at the last 4 big names to leave us. Nasri – huge wages that we couldn’t match and by his own admission, indirectly tapped up. Cesc – wanted to go home, went on strike to force the move. RVP – huge wages we couldn’t match and tried to dictate how the manager should run the club and reportedly was in touch with clubs from as far back as January. Song – created a ruckus in training and through his agent tried doubling his wages despite having 3 years left on his contract and now he’s moved to a club where he’s actually earning the double wages he wanted (considering taxation). Did we WANT to sell any of these players? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the case until it got to a point where there was no way we could keep them but I still struggle to understand why fans are so unreasonable when the club has little choice in these matters when a player is forcing the move.

    As for replacing these players, I have already talked about this above.”

    Fabregas’ story was going on and on for years. I agree, he is a player that is very hard to replace but if we knew he is going to leave, why didn’t we look after his replacement on time? Why did we wait until very last day of the transfer window to sign new midfielder (Arteta)? Van Persie’s replacements played only one match in pre-season and it happened while RvP was still at the club. Pre-season was done in a horrible way and we pay for that right now.

    8.”We overpay average or sub par squad players who deserve nothing and this is why we can’t pay the highest wages”

    How would you call paying Sebastien Squillaci 3,12 million pounds per year? Since you like math, here is one for you: Squillaci was paid 312.000 pounds for every minute he played last season in Premiership.

    9.”Does a player forcing a move to a team that can afford to pay way better than us, mean that the club is at fault and wants to sell its best players?”

    Arsenal sold Fabregas to Barcelona because player wanted to leave. In order to help that transfer happens, Arsenal accepted 29 million pounds. For instance, Lille sold Eden Hazard, fantastic player but with smaller reputation than Fabregas, to Chelsea for 35,2 millions.

    Conclusion: I don’t want to divide Arsenal fans like you people who think that running into abyss should be supported as long as it is official policy of the club but, please, don’t tell me or anyone else that doesn’t buy crap for chocolate that Arsenal fans should be happy with the fact only trophies that we lift since 2005 are the one for balanced books.

    • Dark Hei says:

      In reply to your post.
      1. That is a long paragraph but you seem to confuse FFP with clubs like Man United, Real Madrid and Barcelona who are not in anyway hampered by FFP. You are also unable to make a distinction between oil money and football money. Maybe if you actually bother to do the math, you will come to the conclusion that we do not have cash to compete with oil money despite being top 5 Forbes whatever.
      2. Chu Park Young signing was a dud. But for every 3 million flop there is an 8 million one (Bebe) or a 35 million one (Carrol). Everyone makes mistakes and duds happen to every club. I thing I do agree is the medical aspect, the club has pumped millions into the medical facility and hired more physios with good CVs (check the official site), so we should be getting better results.
      3. We are forced to sell our best players because they do not want to sign for us. You are speaking from hindsight. Will a rebellious and unhappy RVP be good for the club this season?
      4. I don’t see how Santos can score goals from set pieces. That is utter rubbish. He is a goal scoring LB that can combine especially well with a wide man like Benayoun and Gervinho. Less so with Podolski. AND he came to us after we qualified for CL which explains that late nature of the purchase.
      5. It is your opinion that we need another DM. It is my opinion that we need a striker that is more comfortable in recieving the ball at his feet in the final third than Giroud. But those are just opinions. Fact is we were ready to blow a large chunk of that 70M on Hazard speaks for itself.
      6. We didn’t have experience back then. But we do have experience and guys who have won lots of stuff with us now; with the same results. I think this is a coaching problem more than a spending problem.
      7. Arteta isn’t the successor to Fabregas. Carzola is the successor and we were only able to pry him away from oil-fueled Malaga because somehow the owner when bonkas and stopped bank rolling the club. Not sure why, since the world hasn’t ran out of oil.
      8. Squillaci is a LaLiga verteran with CL experience from his time in France. He looks very good on paper and TV prior to Arsenal, which is all you get when you sign somebody.
      9. Fabregas wanted to leave badly. He took a paycut to leave. I think the message is either let me go or I will mess up pretty badly from here on.

      Conclusion: It is one thing to feel frustrated. It is quite another to think that being successful in CManager (which is all about transfers and finding that magic formula to beat the AI etc) means you can quite cut it in real life. In real life, managers, coach, manage and relate to players. My opinion? I think the club can do better. I think the players we have are great and capable of challenging for the title.

    • Admir says:

      1.If you read again what I wrote in my previous reply, you will notice that I made certain disctinction between the espresso-champions and the clubs you mentioned. Investing money in strengthening your squad is a way of investing in footballing money. For instance, Champions’ League represents a big chunk of revenues. If you spare 10 million pounds by not signing proper striker that can score enough goals to get you there, your loss will be bigger than those 10 millions that you saved at the first place. At certain extent, Wenger had a point when he said playing in the Champions’ League is much more important to possible recruits (Arteta is a good example) than winning League Cup (or even FA Cup for that matter). If you are title contender, your players won’t leave unless substantial amount is paid.

      2.If you want to point out there are clubs that paid more for even greater flops than Chu Young Park (only, Park didn’t exactly had a chance to prove otherwise unless you count his cameo against FAnchester United as enough time to do it), be my guest but 2.1.it’s not exactly that we can eternally gloat on the fact we are not Liverpool or 2.2.that Ferguson signed a flop given that he (Ferguson, not Bebe) won some trophies anyway.

      3.I honestly believe that Arsenal with Verrader in the team would currently sit on the top with 4-5 points ahead of other clubs. If we had team that faced Koeln in the only pre-season match with all newbies in the squad (including reserves like Verrader), we wouldn’t spill points against teams like Sunderland, Norwich, Fulham or even Chelsea. If Song wasn’t sold (he had long-term contract), Diaby’s injuries wouldn’t hurt us this much.

      4.Andre Santos can score from free-kicks, he has powerful left-foot and is supposed to be someone who can cross.

      5.When it comes to Giroud, I was (and still am) excited by Giroud’s signing for us. Yes, he had hard time at the start of the season and he is too slow when he gets the ball to his feet but there is a way for him to succeed – both fans and Wenger must forget an idea that Giroud is anywhere near like-for-like replacement for Verrader. Giroud is a central forward that dominates in the air and that is a quality we can use in both boxes (his defending against Stoke was one of the reasons we came back from Britannia with clean sheet). He can distribute the ball with both his head and his feet and he never stops working for the team. And there is where that story about us going back to 4-4-2 with Giroud and Walcott in attack starts looking reasonable.
      Now, if I was the one who would be asked which attacker we should buy last summer, I’d go for Benzema since I believe he would be good old Wenger signing like Vieira and Henry, with few different things (Benzema had fantastic 2011-12 and he wouldn’t come cheap). Maybe we should try to sign him at January.

      Regarding DM – we need someone who is capable of providing decent shield to our defenders. That is a main reason why I’m sad that Frimpong will leave without leaving any significant trace apart from “DENCH” and his twitter-updates.

      6.I have to mention Giroud again. He is the only player that won some silverware with his club last season (apart from Arshavin) and that is something that you can see on the field. Giroud might have been a sloppy finisher in several occasions but he never ever gave up. I like Cazorla a lot, his signing made me being over the moon, but his previous clubs considered reaching Top 4 finish as ultimate success. Arsenal is a club of much, much bigger stature and ambitions than Malaga and Villarreal will ever be. Podolski was relegated with Koeln and his time in Bayern Muenchen wasn’t exactly his favourite memory.

      7.I mentioned Arteta because he was the only midfielder we signed despite we lost two best midfielders from 2010-11 (Nasri and Fabregas) and Wilshere got injured.
      Cazorla (I really hope people will learn to spell his name since it is not like Sczszesny-type-of-hard) is a player that I enjoy watching and that signing was something that reminded me of good old Wenger from 1997 or from the start of the last decade.

      8.Scouting players via TV would mean whole scouting service should be sacked.

      9.Maybe, but then Wenger could make things harder to Barcelona and ask for either more money or some player we could use instead.

      CM is out-dated, it’s Football Manager these days. ;)

  8. Dave A says:

    I know you your on the board,seriously come on,there have been many failings.Any way I think sometimes we should just accept we are gonna have to pay an over inflared price sometimes.We have missed out on some good players by aparently not valueing them at he prices bieng offered,so Im led to believe,perhaps we should sell our players at the current value.Lets be honest I think we sold RVP a bit cheap didnt we,what makes it worse to a team that is even stronger than what it was last year.Or am I an idiot for not getting the football reasons why he was sold.

  9. weedonald says:

    Superb post ……True Gooners feel exactly the same….Gloomers don’t, to their eternal loss….

  10. Sav from Australia says:

    Brilliant post. There cannot be a rebuttal. You already ‘lawyered!’ those of small wit who would attempt to contradict you. I salute your prose, sir!

  11. Kay says:

    I dont have much to say to this epistle of a story cos what can i say to a fan of just 4 years you have no right to say anything about arsenal barring freedom of expression. Go and watch the invincible tapes and you ll see many matches we were on the verge of losing until the last minute, is only in recent arsenal team that will be 1-0 down few minutes to end of a game and u see a player strolling to take a throw in- COMMITMENT is the word. We want our arsenal back.

  12. Nilesh Bhagat says:

    I was at Old Trafford for the recent league game and the team got all the support it could ever wish for from the Arsenal away support and yet they were abject in every single aspect of the game. Where is the correlation?

    • Sagi says:

      so what you’re saying is that if you actually went through the trouble of supporting the club you love there is no way they can lose?
      and if they do lose does that mean we should stop supporting them?

    • Nilesh Bhagat says:

      I don’t really understand what you are saying. The fact is that unconditional positive reinforcement of underperformance by the team from the fans is not necessarily any heathier than deserved criticism.

      Blind support is not always helpful as sometimes people need a strong and salutary reminder of what level of performance is required.

  13. benjyshow says:

    Good one mate, in as much as i wanna agree with you; i still believe Wenger should revisit his tactics too and a review of policy that conscern players on recurrence injury too…KEEP IT UP!

  14. I will not shoot blanks says:

    Adi, ur argument is valid but I feel there is still much left out here. Iv been an Arsenal supporter/fan since 1998 too, I remember watching the sweet flowing football and Overmars making runs, Anelka, Bergkamp, Kanu. Etc. In Nigeria for example, We have Arsenal loyalists who sit together and watch each game with a couple of beers and scream and shout at the bloody tv like it helps anyone’s blood pressure but we do it for the love. Now we know there were dark days in our history, but does that allow for dark days in the present? Arsenal supporters expect to see performance, and trophies, not because we have a priviledge to this, but because we have a manager who has proven he can do this, and over the years have developed players who are very capable of doing so too. Let’s neglect the whole bullshit with the board and ticket prices and talk raw football. The problem with Arsenal was exposed blatantly in the match against Man-U, no contingencies, bringing in one midfielder (Carzola) when we have 1 returning injury prone midfielder(Diaby forget the talent) another recovering midfielder(rocisky) then Wilshere yes there’s talent, converting Arteta is Brilliant, but where’s the back-up, Coqelin has promise but its hard to take a team seriously when at the beginning of the season, we look forward to returning players when it has become very obvious to the Arsenal medical team that November is never November, (Wilshere, Diaby, Rocisky, Etc). Furthermore, we have 2 pointmen, that cannot beat defenders head on(Chamakh and Giroud) both good talent, but in the games we’ve played recently, we can see clearly that defences will not wait for the striker to comfortably get the ball. So why is it that we sell Van Persie, Park, Carlos Vela(in all his flaws) and not get the type of striker that can battle defenders on the ground and in the air. The 4-4-2 story has its validity because every once in a while, there’s a need to change things on the pitch, but its until the 75th minute when the shit is about to blow in our faces that we hurriedly throw in Chamakh to support Giroud, I can go on and on but I’m burning time at work so I must continue pretending to be busy while I dream of lunch. My point remains, the depth of the squad is as shallow as my beer bottle considering I never know how the bottle empties itself

  15. Nilesh Bhagat says:

    I think you are quite correct in saying that we are not in a good position to judge things like the competence of the board or how devoted everyone at the club is to producing a winning team because we are not in full possession of the facts. Moreover it would be ludicrous for any Arsenal fan to say they know more about football than the coaching staff do.

    However what you can judge is the results, these are our points totals for the last 5 full seasons,

    08 – 83 points
    09 – 72 points
    10 – 75 points
    11 – 68 points
    12 – 70 points

    Given that we have just made our worst league start for 30 years then even matching last years points haul will be difficult this season.

    I don’t think that anyone can make a case that the team is improving. For sure there are some important mitigating factors and I actually do think that FFP might make a difference but given the stagnation over quite a lengthy period it is neither arrogant nor misconceived to at least start posing the question whether the current set up is the best to arrest our relative and gradual decline.

  16. Dragan says:

    I agree with the most of the facts in defence, but there are some facts, who speak contrary. Arsenal is the only negative spender in the market, in last 10 years, among ten best clubs. It is partially due to wisdom policy of Wenger, who was finding talents on cheap, and then sell them for big money, when they past their prime. Toure, Adebayor, Overmars, even Henry, didn`t make much impact in the new clubs. But still, they were too prudent in spending.
    The repercution is the current standing, eighth, with no chance for the title, and fighting hard for place in the CL.They should not spend as crazy, as MC or Chelsea, but much more money should be invested, at least to replace RVP, Nasri and Fabregas, with same quality players.
    Anyway, if I should pick between Stan and Usmanov, as owner, I pick the second, as counterweight of rich oil tycoons.

  17. americangooner says:

    spurs bought 6 players before the transfer window closed, chelsea bought 6, man city bought 6, man utd bought 5. i’m not arguing against letting players go because of their greed or lack of commitment….but you can not deny that we’ve let some major talent go over the last few years, to epl rivals at that! which, to me, is just plain stupid. arteta and mertesacker were rush buys after we got killed by 6 goals and ox was a player for the future but just so happened to progress rapidly. i agree with you on one thing; the self-mutilation of Arsenal supporters has got to stop….don’t believe everything these stupid pundits say. but deserved criticism does in no way imply that we are less of a supporter. it’s because we care so much.

  18. I agree with most of the pointsin the article but a significant omission is ARSENAL’S OVER 30 POLICY ,this I believe is the reason why The G unners haven’t won any trophies since 2005! For example, players, conidered ,as legends, for instance ROBERT PIRES & FREDDY LUNGBERG, to name just a few, weren’t allowed to stay longer than a year’s contract after 30! Pires wanted to stay for a few years but couldn’t ,so went successfully to play in the Spanish Prima Liga! Players like him could have helped the young Arsenal Players to develop & give them the experience they need! This was a big mistake on Arsenal’s part!

    Look at Mancheter United! RYAN GIGGS & PAUL SCHOLES at past 37 still have an important role to play in the First team! Berbatov, who they let go at 31 for only 5 million pounds ( he couild have replaced RVP for the Gunners), ran rings round the Gunners last weekend ,also with 2 fine goals for Fulham!

    Wenger, only ever allowed Thierry Henri at 35 to come back on a short term deal, but at that age he was still able to get important goals for the First team & show leadership & experience to the younger players!

    ARSENAL certainly needs to rethink its OVER 30 Age policy!

    NICK KREIENBRING.

  19. Red Delight says:

    A waste of cyber space and 10 minutes. Dan, please dont litter this site by allowing such unsubstantiated tripe. Quite clearly, the author has no clue about the way football clubs operate.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I think that is a bit harsh and it’s a very similar piece to my “Arsenal’s Defence & Defending Arsenal” post in July.

  20. Damie says:

    I do agree with most of your points but the fans are welcomed to feel frustrated…I began watching the premier league as a Man u fan and there used to be about a dozen of us on match days by the time Dwight Yorke was playing for them as he came from Trinidad and Tobago where I’m from but what got me with Arsenal was the way they fought to play the pass and move football and the referees always gave them a hard time…My love began to grow although we didn’t always win in those days…I moved to London in 1999 and rented a flat in Islington,spent most of my weekends at the famous cock tavern looking at the games…we didnt always win but we played attractive stuff as our players seemed dedicated to the cause…the only real change I can think about was that players were very sad to be sold in that era…they played with a passion we dont see anymore as a lot of our players use the club to develop their careers….I for one loved RVP but he and the fabregas and the Nasris,,no matter how talented they are have let me down..thats why I love Asharvin and Chamackh because we all get on about how we should sell them and pay bigger wages to bring in better players but Arsenal fans should realize that we had the world class talent but won nothing because of lack of application to the cause..RVP MIGHT win a trophy as did Nasri but I love the club not for trophies but the fact that against all odds and against all referees,,media houses,,and trophy hunting supporters we manage to excell where others with more money have failed…that being said…The chairman,,”the Yank” has got to be rubbish cuz if he loved the club it would have shown…that is who I have an issue with…It’s been all down hill since He took over.He could have at least helped out with an injection of money even if it’s just in wage packets to help us save face..Finally I pose the question with all the fans who is calling for Wenger to quit…his contract is up after next season,,,wonder if you all realistically believe we will get pep to take over or anyone else half decent for that matter???

  21. LoyalGooner says:

    Listen, not gonna lie, I didnt read ALL of that. But from what I read, this is mainly positive stuff. As good as it is to point at positive stuff, there is a lot of negativity. Simple as. We have our own opinions of what is wrong. Good post. BUT, as much as I hate to say this on a post like this, some people NEED to express their negativity. If we all stay positive, the club basically won’t understand the fans’ opinion, although I don’t think the club does now.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      There’s a lot to be said for expressing negative opinions though. Check out the last guest post from James Stokes and my post in March I believe titled “It’s in our hands”

  22. Matt says:

    I am a frustrated Arsenal fan but I agree with what you have said. We have to be able to beat Fulham at home. Gutted!

  23. Excellent post, ties in very nicely with a post I wrote yesterday ‘Ivan and Wenger – Fiszmans Visionary Disciples’ Although I have to admit yours in significantly better and more eloquent.

  24. Rashad says:

    Thanks for post. obviously, some points are correct. BUT I do not agree with majority of arguments.
    1. it is good to spend money responsibly, but you mentioned “players that we could not afford”, “wages that we could not afford”. Who says that we could not afford increasing RvP’s sallary? or Song’s? or others? we have money, and those players were WORTH increasing sallary. look what RvP is doing in MU!
    we simply CANT keep our players. 2. you say players CHOOSE to leave. yes, i agree. BUT BECAUSE, WE DO NOT MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS.
    a little example: several years ago

    3. you say we buy a lot of players, as many as MU or chelsea or city. some of the guys argued above that they bought more. i dont want to talk about quantity. lets imagine that ok, we bought the same amount of players as they did. now, compare the productivity. how could you compare RvP’s performance to Poldi? Mata’s performance to Arteta’s? HAZARD’s performance to Cazorla? Mertesacker to Luiz? they are simply BETTER than our guys.
    4. You say we have the best scouts in the world. ok, that may be the truth. BUT again, scouts are good, they find talents. but those talents are good if they PLAY AT ARSENAL WHEN THEY GROW UP! look what we did. we brought up cesc. and when he reached the peak he left the club. we brought up RvP and sold him RIGHT AFTER his best season, while keeping him injured on the bench for almost 10 years! in fact SAF said “we had spotted RvP at Feyenord, but he was not mature enough for MU”. This is INSULT FOR US< DEDICATED ARSENAL fans! it means, we let him grow up in Arsenal and then got him. Look at Nasri. he was ok when he came, then he became better and left! the same goes to Clichy. I am afraid we will loose Theo soon. why the hell do I need scouts, if players leave the club when they are at their peak?!
    5. you and Arsene mention we have been in top 4 all years etc. Thats cute. BUT NOT FOR ARSENAL! I understand that sometimes things might go wrong. and I will be ready to support Arsenal even if we finish 10th for 7 successive years. thats not a deal. BUT TRAGEDY IS THAT YOU GUYS ACCEPT FINISHING THE FOURTH! YOU CANT! WE ARE BIG CLUB! WE ARE NOT SPURS OR EVERTON! let them be happy with 4th spot. for Arsenal 2nd or 3rd place should be tragedy. AGAIN, I UNDERSTAND THAT FOOTBALL CLUB MIGHT FINIHS 2ND OR EVEN 12TH. BUT PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS AND DO NOT SAY "WELL, WE REACHED SECOND ROUND OF UCL". guys, I feel ashamed when I saw how we were beaten by Barca (twice) or Milan at san siro. we should reach final, not second round. we are not olimpiakos or spartak to be happy with this!

    and I stopped reading the rest, I am sure I would have counter arguments as well.
    we need a fresh air, fresh brain. I love our Boss. he is the man. but sometimes you need to go on time, like Pep did, like Henry did, Raul did. Bergkamp, Henry or someone from those invincibles would be good substitute I think.

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