Wenger has been hiding under the excuses of ‘financial doping’ and ‘FFP’, citing them as the ‘reasons’ why Arsenal finish third/fourth every season. However, Brendan Rodger’s Liverpool and Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have proven that to be incorrect this season.
Take Liverpool, for example. Without the lure and the financial advantage gained due to finishing in a Champions League spot last season, Rodgers has still managed to get them right up there. I have huge respect for Rodgers – he knows the defence is shaky and knows it can wait until the transfer window, so he’s built on his attack and centered the team around Suarez and Sturridge.
Wenger’s comments on how finishing fourth keeps you alive as a top club were also contradicted by Liverpool, who had finished seventh last season. Rodgers, however, worked out a strategy and negated his appalling defence with a deadly attack, and has thus got him right up there in an open league. Even though Liverpool have significantly less financial resources than Arsenal, they used them more wisely. Rodgers spent £48.5m in the transfer window and find themselves within a shout in the Premier League, whereas Wenger spent £42.5m on one player, has cash reserves of £140m unspent and has Yaya Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner as backup strikers.
People might argue that Rodgers, after an admittedly hilarious collapse at Selhurst Park, has effectively lost his chance of winning the title. I’d agree, but that’s not the point. As an Arsenal fan, all I’ve ever wanted from my team is not trophies, but COMPETITIVENESS. I want Arsenal FC to compete for the very top prizes i.e. the Premier League and the Champions League. Not go out meekly in the Champions League and capitulate in the Premier League. Even though Rodgers slipped at the final hurdle, that is exactly what he did. He fought off competition, retained Suarez and somehow managed to get a team, with a shockingly abysmal defence, within sniffing distance of the EPL.
Wenger’s reasoning that money is the only barrier between winning silverware and losing it, is frankly, preposterous. Rodgers didn’t lose the league because of financial constraints, on the contrary, he almost won it despite those constraints. In the end, it was his lack of defensive acumen that proved decisive in him missing out.
In an incredibly competitive league such as the Barclays Premier League, it’s not only money that guarantees you the trophy. At the very top level, it’s tactical intelligence, clever man management and motivation of players that gets you towards the finish line, something which Wenger lacks. Rodgers, to an extent, lacks defensive knowledge, maybe because he doesn’t have the players to employ his defensive ideology. However, if he gets them in the summer, Liverpool will be a force to reckon with.
Many would argue that Liverpool managed to get this far in the EPL because it was the only competition they were participating in. I say, look at Atletico Madrid. Not only have they dealt with the distraction of the Champions League, they’ve also managed to reach its final! Not to mention the fact that they dispatched money bags Barcelona and Chelsea on the road to Lisbon, and that they’re topping La Liga above Real Madrid and Barcelona at the same time.
Atletico’s lineup barely adds up to £50m, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale alone are worth around £180m for Real Madrid. Surely money isn’t everything?
Diego Costa £880k
To top it all, Atletico’s wage budget is similar to Everton’s and lesser than English second division outfit QPR, yet they’re on the verge of winning the most coveted club trophy in whole of Europe, and also the La Liga along with it!
Arsene Wenger would still be unable to compete, even if he has financial might and the FFP on his side, something which is set to happen this summer. The FFP have issued a £50m fine on Manchester City and cut down their squad size to 21 for the CL for breaking FFP rules, that’s strong and strict action. Arsenal’s official website has revealed that the club have £140m to spend on players, the result of expert negotiation done by their CEO. The money’s there to spend, a strict regulation is there to check on the oil-run clubs, the excuses for Wenger have officially run out. Everything is in place for Arsenal to win the Premier League next season, yet I’m sure they won’t.
The following season, of all, will prove without reasonable doubt that it not only takes money to win major honours, but also tactical sharpness, man management skills and keeping your players motivated at the right time. And since I know that Wenger is incapable of all of the above, I think there’s no way Arsenal will compete for the Premier League and the Champions League till the end.
-Santi (Follow my blog 'Gunning From India' and my Twitter account: @ArsenalBlogz)