Wenger’s real legacy

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Feb 21st, 2012

Have you ever tried being a WOB? It seems popular at the moment so here is my attempt….

Forget the invincibles. Forget the two double winning seasons. Forget the Emirates. Wenger’s real legacy is being threatened to be leaving Arsenal as a mid-table club with massive debts and a mid-table playing squad on title winning wages.

Arsenal are currently a club in crisis.

If Arsenal do not make the Champions League this season then they are, for want of a better word, screwed. Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in 7 seasons and rely solely on player sales to make a profit. These ‘profits’ have seen large bonuses being paid out to our commercial staff despite them not increasing the commercial side of the business and practically doing sod all other than rest on their laurels waiting for a player to be sold so they can pocket their bonus.

It makes me sick to think that a club as great as Arsenal could be struggling for the top 6 in a couple of years. Liverpool haven’t won the league in over 20 years yet they are a more valuable brand for commercial deals than Arsenal. Why? Because they have a large global fan base that they built and consolidated whilst they were still considered title challengers with overseas tours and the like. Arsenal in comparison, with the most infuriatingly stubborn manager ever, spent year after year going to Austria behind closed doors as it supposedly benefited the preparation of the team. 7 trophyless seasons proves that isn’t the case. (For a bit of amusing but extremely saddening entertainment start Googling ‘trophyless’. Google anticipates that you will type Arsenal next but even if you don’t most of the first 2 pages are all about Arsenal).

Imagine if Arsenal had taken advantage of their large overseas fan base and marketed themselves better, signed more deals for more money, had more sponsors etc. Imagine if they had done this how they wouldn’t have had to rely on selling players to make a profit or to pay stadium debt. Imagine if the board weren’t so stupid and arrogant and had gone for the Ashburton Grove site when it was originally offered to them in 2000/01 that we could have been in the Emirates 2 years earlier and made hundreds of millions of pounds of profit from the Highbury development selling in an up market.

There are so many ifs buts and maybes in football and sure none of this would guarantee that Arsenal would have won a trophy but would we have sold Adebayor who in my opinion is still a fantastic player and one that Arsenal could do with now? Would we have sold Nasri? Diarra? Flamini? Possibly not.

Interestingly there is a player that we sold that I believe may have played a part in my biggest gripe about the situation Arsenal are in and how Wenger has been running the club and that is Ashley Cole.

According to old Cashley he pushed a move through from Arsenal over £5k a week. He believes he was promised £60k and Arsenal offered £55k. He saw this as a sign that Arsenal didn’t want or value him as much as Chelsea did and he left and consequently has won more trophies with Chelsea than he did with Arsenal. Now Arsenal have one of the highest wage bills in the league yet we have arguably a squad which is the weakest we’ve had for years. We have 71 players on the wage bill, some of them not even playing for the club and many of them are on high wages, for example Bendtner on £52k a week which may go some way to explaining his odd choice of shirt number when he changed to 52. Wenger’s excuse for such extravagance is that there is a less likely chance of us losing those players. Maybe Wenger thinks that if he pays them loads whilst they are young that he is avoiding another Cole scenario. If he does think that then he is sorely mistaken.

There has been so much fanfare about how great Wenger is at buying players but I personally do not rate him much better than many other managers in recent years as he has shown an aptitude for buying crap players and giving them big wages or developing great young players and selling them on because he can’t afford their market worth in wages.

Here is a list of players on Arsenal’s books that I know of. There are 8 more players on the wage book.

These are the players that Wenger should keep in my opinion with the exception of Yossi who will return to Chelsea.

First Team Youth
DF Bacary Sagna FW Zak Ansah
DF Per Mertesacker DF Daniel Boateng (L)
DF Thomas Vermaelen DF George Brislen-Hall
DF Laurent Koscielny MF Francis Coquelin
MF Tomáš Rosický DF Sead Hajrović (L)
MF Mikel Arteta GK Sean McDermott
FW Robin van Persie MF Jernade Meade
DF André Santos FW Nigel Neita
GK Wojciech Szczęsny MF Oğuzhan Özyakup
FW Theo Walcott DF Martin Angha
FW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain MF Kyle Ebecilio
MF Aaron Ramsey GK Damian Martinez
MF Alex Song DF Elton Monteiro
MF Jack Wilshere GK James Shea
GK Łukasz Fabiański MF Josh Rees
DF Carl Jenkinson MF Samuel Galindo
FW Gervinho
DF Kieran Gibbs
MF Yossi Benayoun (OL)

These are the players that Wenger should sell in my opinion.

Players & their reported wages
GK Manuel Almunia £50,000 MF Henri Lansbury (L) £20,000
FW Park Chu-Young £40,000 FW Rhys Murphy (L) £15,000
DF Sébastien Squillaci £50,000 FW Nicklas Bendtner (L) £52,000
DF Johan Djourou £50,000 MF Sanchez Watt (L) £20,000
MF Andrei Arshavin £80,000 DF Kyle Bartley (L) £20,000
GK Vito Mannone (L) £20,000 MF Denílson (L) £60,000
FW Marouane Chamakh £60,000 FW Carlos Vela (L) £50,000
MF Craig Eastmond (L) £20,000 FW Wellington (L) Unknown
DF Gavin Hoyte (L) £15,000 DF Pedro Botelho (L) Unknown

These are the players that Wenger should consider selling in my opinion.

MF Abou Diaby
MF Emmanuel Frimpong

These are the players that Wenger should loan out to a premiership or championship challenging team in my opinion.

FW Benik Afobe
MF Chuks Aneke (L)
MF Conor Henderson
DF Ignasi Miquel
DF Nico Yennaris

These are the players that Wenger should give a shot in the first team to in my opinion.

FW Ryo Miyaichi (L)
FW Joel Campbell (L)
MF Thomas Eisfeld

I’m pretty sure that most of you will agree with the people who I believe we should sell. There might be a couple of youth names that you aren’t sure why I’ve included them like Hoyte, Botelho, Murphy etc. Well the reason is that they are all over 20 and have not made any impact whatsoever on the first team, have hardly seen at game at Carling Cup level and in my opinion aren’t going to make it at the club so therefore are a drain on wages.

The weekly total of the players we really shouldn’t have in the squad is over £600k. Arsenal spend £2.5m a week on player wages and almost a quarter of it is going on dead wood. Essentially that is 4 players on £150k a week that we supposedly cannot afford. If you add those 4 class players to the squad I think we should keep that is 23 players, plus the three I think should be given a shot in the first team and we have 26 players. That is a reasonably sized squad and I haven’t included Diaby and Frimpong in that as I think we should consider selling. Diaby is always injured and has never really impressed for me and Frimpong I don’t think has the quality of Coquelin who is competing with him for Songs spot.

There is probably a maximum potential of £50m in transfer fees for the people we need to clear out but even if we only got half of that and put that with our £55m we would easily afford a few decent players and their wages.

Our youth and reserve players should have a low wage cap of around £5k a week with high appearance bonuses for making a few first team games. The ones that don’t like it are obviously motivated purely by money and aren’t right for the team and they can be moved on. Paying £15-20k a week to 10+ reserve players that will never make it into the first team is bonkers. Paying £50k a week to Denilson/Diaby/Almunia is bonkers. Maybe our contracts teams should work harder in create contracts that actually incentivise our players. Nothing for a loss, nothing for a draw and big bonus for a win. Maybe then Arshavin might run a bit.

I give Arshavin a hard time because we all know what he is capable of but he just doesn’t seem to be up for it any more. I don’t want the player to leave but I do want his current attitude out and sadly unless he changes quite quickly that means the talent goes too. Arshavin hasn’t always been a lazy git. He put in a lot of shifts when he was playing upfront when we had no strikers but in the last 18 months he just hasn’t had any fire in his belly aside from a few simple assists and that goal against Barca. The only way to save Arshavin’s career at Arsenal is to play him in the hold behind RVP instead of Ramsey or with Ramsey but that means dropping Arteta as I don’t think Song can be dropped. Sadly I can’t see Wenger playing him there so he has to go.

It is clear that Arsenal’s problem is a high wage bill, too many players and not enough talent. This alone is the reason that Arsenal are struggling to make the top 4 and can’t win trophies. Wenger’s tactics aren’t off as we all know that on our day we can beat anyone regardless of the starting line up because Wenger has instilled an ethos into the team, the problem is that we don’t have enough quality to execute this on a regular basis.

I really hope that we can finish 4th or higher this season and that we can finally clear out the crap and get in a few decent players and try to push on next season. I don’t want Wenger’s legacy to be a memory of team with no spirit, no fight, no skill and no trophies and mounting debts because guff like Bendtner are on long-term high wage deals but it’s heading that way.

….. I tried my best. Why don’t you have a go too?

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About "" - 506 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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