Arsenal’s Sub-Standard Squad: The Solution

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, there are a couple of articles on similar subjects in the latest issue of The Gooner, the subject being: Where has it gone wrong for Arsenal? Chris Cann listed six problems, that I talked about in my last post. Simon Hill has concentrated on one: Arsene Wenger’s ability to buy a decent player.

This is a slightly abridged version of Simon’s piece that appears in The Gooner, and I’d urge you to read the full thing in the printed edition or using the app. Simon has given me full permission to use his words. Over to him.

“Arsene Wenger has always had an eye for a calamitous signing (Richard Wright, Jeffers, Stepanovs), but in his early years at Arsenal he also unearthed real world-beating gems like Anelka, Vieira and Henry.

However, from about 2004 that seems to have changed for two reasons. Firstly, for a few years Alex Ferguson got fed up and focused his efforts abroad and on what Arsene was up to and, more significantly, Abramovich knocked him out of the water especially in France. So in 2004 Essien and Drogba went to Chelsea and Cristiano Ronaldo went to Man Utd. And so began the gradual relative decline of the Arsenal squad. Let’s review Arsenal’s ins and outs since 2005, a period where a squad size of about 70 has been maintained. Since the departure of Vieira in 2005 Arsene has persistently sold his best assets and reinvested less wisely than in his early years.

2005-06: Vieira left, Adebayor, Walcott, Diaby and Song arrived. Adebayor was unstable, Walcott and Song burned slow and left or appear to be leaving just as they are becoming useful, while Diaby has been with us for six years, is permanently injured but on a stonking £3m+ a year deal.

2006-07: Cole, Pires and Campbell left; Gallas, Sagna, Rosicky and Denilson arrived. Sagna was a good signing, Gallas was a good player but too similar to Toure. Rosicky was another hospital case and Denilson had four years in and around the first team before Arsene finally admitted he wasn’t good enough. But he still can’t be sold as his wages are so huge relative to his ability.

2007-08: Henry and Reyes departed; Eduardo, Hleb and Fabianski arrived, with ‘The Beast’ only signed on loan rather than permanently for the £12m Arsene wanted to pay! Eduardo was briefly a talent, as was Hleb who hotfooted it out of English football at the first opportunity. This was the campaign where Lassana Diarra came and went in four short months, as he was dismayed at being behind Denilson in the pecking order. Diarra ultimately went to Real Madrid for £20m; Denilson can’t be given away.

2008-09: Flamini walked and Gilberto was sold for a token amount. Nasri, Ramsey, Silvestre (!) and Arshavin arrived. Nasri played well in short bursts, Arshavin shone brightly but then plummeted. Ramsey looks to have regressed, certainly in terms of the goals he promised.

2009-10: The property crash starved Arsenal of funds, the Board refused to raise any, and only Vermaelen signed up. Toure and Adebayor were sold to raise cash and Senderos was let go. It was supposed to be Bendtner and Eduardo up front, Diaby and Denilson to save the midfield.

2010-11: The collapse. In: Chamakh, Koscielny, Wellington and Squillaci. Out: Eduardo, Gallas and Silvestre. Squillaci was out of his depth, Chamakh bombed after a bright start, Koscielny was too raw to rely on. As for Wellington, there’s £4m plus huge agent’s fees we’ve never seen kick a ball. Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy all ended the season asking to be allowed to serve their best years elsewhere.

2011-12: With those three leaving, the replacements cost £78m: Gervinho, Jenkinson, the Ox, Mertesacker, Arteta, Park, Myaichi, Santos, Joel Campbell.

In 2012-13 Arsene has perhaps done better, but let’s look at what’s left of that list of buys:
Rosicky and Diaby – in hospital
Walcott – on the verge of leaving
Ramsey – less of a player than when he came
Fabianski – in a straitjacket
TV5 – a good player having a bad time
Kos – improving, but prone to bloopers
Wellington and Campbell – never on these shores
The Ox – frustrated and in a box
Myaichi and Park – on loan/given away for a £5m hit
Gervinho – missing an open goal a game
Jenkinson – in need of playing time
Arshavin, Chamakh and Squillaci – unloanable and unsellable
Arteta and Mertesacker – playing and delivering for the team

That we now see a bench of players we can’t give away is frankly ludicrous. It’s what you’d expect of QPR, not Arsenal, and not of a manager who has had 16 years to shape his squad. At the heart of the problem is Arsene’s stubbornness and refusal to pay more than his perceived value for a player, and at he other end his refusal to sell a player for less than he thinks he’s worth. This sees Arsenal with 70 players on the books but a struggle to fill a bench competitively and a wage bill of £140m per annum and rising. It sees players like Denilson, Chamakh, Bendtner, Wellington and Squillaci still hanging round despite having ‘any offers considered’ labels around their necks for two seasons or more.

Meanwhile, other teams’ buying policies have adapted. City and Chelsea focus almost entirely on the top £20m+ bracket, while Fergie and Spurs go for proven Premier League talent, leaving only Newcastle and Everton as followers of Arsene’s second tier European league buying strategy.

The problem isn’t just that Arsene’s sub-standard buying policy has seen team weakness, but that it has led to huge numbers of highly paid players being stuck on the club’s books eating up £30m-£40m of budget.

My solution? Two things:
1 – Force Arsene to stratify his squad into three sections: ‘core’, ‘monitor’ and ‘move on’. Redraw the list every six months and place limits around the number of players he can have in ‘monitor’ so as to prevent a situation like now, where in the striker bracket you arguably have nine players – Bendtner, Chamakh, Wellington, Campbell, Arshavin, Afobe, Watt, Ansah and Chalobah! Players in monitor are either on loan or on a six-month plan and those in ‘move-on’ are passed to Gazidis and his team to get off the books at the least cost as soon as possible.

2 – Tell Arsene he must mirror the policies of SAF, City, Chelsea and Spurs, and buy either proven Premier League experience or top, top talent. There are some signs he is going that way, but he still must be forced to swallow his pride and buy players that other managers found ahead of him or all managers covet.”

(Simon Hill would like to point out that he has never worked half a day in football.)

I think that’s great stuff from Simon – the only question is who is going to force Arsene to implement the changes. And yes, changes do need to be made, however great you think Arsene Wenger is.

Follow me on twitter: @AngryOfN5


33 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Sub-Standard Squad: The Solution

  1. Wenger doesn’t care but Ref, Mark Dean gonna kick his ass should he misbehave ala Sir Alex bcos he a foreigner whose aim is 2 make money 4 himself n his employers.

    • What mate?

      ‘2011-12: With those three leaving, the replacements cost £78m: Gervinho, Jenkinson, the Ox, Mertesacker, Arteta, Park, Myaichi, Santos, Joel Campbell.’

      Although I agree with the article on the whole, this is some twisted maths mate. You’d have to completely invent some fees to get it to that number.

      • TH…why would Simple Simon bother with reality when he can BS his way at the Gunner’s blog….where reality isn’t welcome.

    • Eugene…take up cricket or some easier game to understand…Football is clearly beyond the scope of your limited intellect.

  2. To say wringer can’t find the talent anymore is to except that Chelsea are a ligitimate challenge. Simply put utd got ronaldo so what. Chelsea simply offered double what we did for every player we tries to sign. What can be done about that?

    For all his mistakes if arsene had the support fergie, and Chelsea get we would have won plenty over the last couple of years. Where would utd be selling one or two of their best players over the last 7 years? No RvP that’s for sure. And Chelsea? They need to spend to win. Last year came after Torres and mata this year hazard, Marin and Oscar. Those players are 200m. Arsene doesn’t have that money. How would he not know that falco or hazard would be better than gervinho? He can’t compete for those players.

    • Mata only earns £57k a week at Chelsea, less than Chamakh and Squillaci. We could have easily got Mata but Arsene/board didn’t want to splash out £22m on a single player

      • East london…more BS speculation again? How do you know what Chamakh and Squillaci earn you idiot…its NEVER been published or revealed, like the rest of the AFC salaries. Go take up knitting…it suits you far more, character-wise.

    • He is on loan from Chelsea to another Club…but Simple Simon couldn’t be bothered to check that, like the rest of his bullshite article.

  3. You are regurgitating from the Gooner now? A vintage convention of vile whiney clueless malcontents?
    I stopped reading that deranged twaadle time ago.

    • Absolutely true Sneckyl BUT the poor, media-medicated twits and tossers that regurgitate the AAA party line blindly and like a semi-comatose mob of mindless automatons fill this and other anti-Arsenal blogs with the same old shite rants:

      Wenger out, Spend more money, play a 4-4-4, Get everyone whose ¨reputation¨ supposedly is better than our best, etc. etc. ad nauseam.
      Articles like this only serve to increase tha augment the frenzy of these dimwits.

  4. Often Wenger has said that Arsenal have to wait to buy the “right” players. The answer lies in that statement. Has anyone picked up on the fact that Wenger is deluded and often buys the wrong players. He is always being defensive too and only works in the most autocratic fashion. He rarely admits we quite often play like “rubbish”, so how do players get a real and accurate view of their performances. Sorry, but just because Wenger has been there a long time is not congruous with keeping him. He has for a long time underachieved and the team has gone backwards rather than move forwards. Many of our players who have crashed would probably have performed better under other managers. At the moment Arsenal cannot win anything, or even play consistently well because the defensiveness and delusion of the regime cannot produce that outcome.

    • You are deluded ….You don’t know shit about what Wenger says to his players in the dressing room or on the training ground or in fact on the telephone or private individual meetings so go back to LeGrove and whine away there with the rest of the illiterates!

  5. Interesting points. The real issue is that the club needs to become braver in its decision making.

    For example, instead of continuing to pay the wages of those categorised as ‘move on’, they need to earmark funds to pay them off, i.e. form a bridge between lower wages elsewhere and those they are contracted to earn at Arsenal. Doing that for 1 or 2 players out of the transfer budget is not going to divert significant funds away from the club and frees up space in the squad for new signings without causing long term strain on the P&L.

  6. “Tell Arsene he must mirror the policies of SAF, City, Chelsea…”
    Seriously? Mirroring the policies of City and Chelsea would bankrupt the club within a year. Brilliant idea.

  7. Why do I read blogs. Just a lot of crap from an opinionated twit. If you are so clever why don’t you manage a club, any club?

  8. The problem I have with this piece (along with much of what has been said about Arsenal’s dismal decline) is the stated (or implicit) assumption that Arsene controls everything or almost everything. It’s customary to blame the manager but it’s worth reminding ourselves that when a Big Club collapes (not that AFC have reached that point yet), the cause turns out, invariably, to be the owner, the BoD, the CEO. A recent example is Glasgow Rangers where everybody knows the owner was the main culprit not the manager. Last year Blackburn fans blamed Kean: ask them now, and you’ll hear them say it was the chicken-rearing owner. And in the classic fall from grace, Leeds United, the major cause was Peter Risdale not David O’Leary. With Portsmouth, do we blame Avram Grant or the succession of dubious owners? Now I have no knowledge that Arsene has total freedom with the budget. But even if he has, it is one which is severely restricted – he has to sell before he can buy, and then not spend all of the money. Everybody takes for granted that the ‘levelling’ of wages is HIS policy. And yet he is paid (reportedly) more than any other manager. He was certainly in favour of paying Robin what he asked for. And has pleaded that Theo should be. So this backlog of overpaid second-raters might well be the result of regime fiancial policy, not his. Certainly he has bought some duds – but so have all managers, including Fergie who was allowed to shop at Harrods, not Poundland. The question we ought to ask ourselve is this: will things improve if Arsene goes? And my firm suspicion is no, they won’t, not under the current regime – if anything, they will worsen.

  9. The last paragraph hits the nail on the head perfectly for me regarding Wenger swallowing his pride and buying players that have been established by other managers.

    This is, in my opinion, why he rarely if ever buys seasoned premier league players from other clubs. Arteta is the only one that springs to mind in the last 10 years who wasn’t utterly passed it or an absolute kid.

    He just does not think that players from other prem sides are better than what he has. This is why he continually looks at the sub standard french league. I never ever believe any rumours linking us to other premier league players. Forget Ba – it will never happen. Forget any player that is established in the prem league.

    Yes we have heard he rates players like Jagielka and Cahill but the bids are utterly derisory. The maximum we will do in January will be bring back Henry. He will tell us Diaby, Rosicky etc are all back and fit and the squad is big so therefore we do not need anyone else.

    The transfer policy (if there is one) has frankly become a complete joke. We all know that Sagna and Walcott will definitely be sold/given away and not adequately replaced. Bit by bit the squad is regressing and being ripped to shreds.

  10. In the main I agree with this article, but you could go through the signings of most clubs and pick fault. To name TV5, Kos, Ox, Rambo and Theo as evidence of a flawed transfer policy is a bit far-fetched. Also, no mention is made of our reduced ability to compete financially due to the stadium move. Without the introduction of these billionaire we would have been better placed to compete for players and on the pitch. Without Abramovich, Essien would have cost 12-15m, Drogba 15-17m, at which price we would have competed. Billionaires moved the goal posts.

  11. I am beginning to understand the title of this blog and your twitter name since your ¨anger¨ is clearly dominating your common sense, but what I can’t understand is your jaundiced and unfair view of Wenger, the Board and our current team. You don’t need to quote a clown like Simple Simon and of all things, The Gloomer website – which is just another lazy, anti-Arsenal endless rant that twists and cherry-picks so-called facts to suit their spite-filled monologues against their targets: Wenger, the BOD,Kroenke and most of the Gunners.
    I am not a AKB or rose-coloured glasses type but I have a balanced view of what is happening at AFC. Here is what seems to be the reality, versus Simon’s cheaper and more pessimistic review:

    1)Calamitous signings? Truly a great start to an impartial review! How about the 90% of top class signings he’s managed to find, including Giroud, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabregas, Nasri, Szcesny, Reyes, Flamini, Hleb etc.? Just this list proves that Gooner website including Simple Simon and company.

    2) Reinvested less wisely than in his early years? That’s comparing apples and oranges, and as simple Simon states, with Chelsea,United and City’s appearance in the market, as well as Real,Barca and AC Milan’s ability to outbid any other teams, there is NO way a team with AFC’s resources could have competed for the Ronaldos, Esseins or Drogbas. He did bring in Adebayor, Walcott, Diaby, Song, Gallas, Sagna, Rosicky, Denilson, Eduardo, Hleb, Fabianski, Nasri, Ramsey, Silvestre, Arshavin, Vermaelen, Chamakh, Koscielny, Wellington, Squillaci, Gervinho, Jenkinson, the Ox, Mertesacker, Arteta, Park, Myaichi, Santos, Joel Campbell, Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla as simple Simon stated and out of those players only Chamakh, Squillaci, Denilson, Silvestre, and Park have proven to be surplus to requirements.

    3) Simple Simon’s off-handed,flippant, untruthful and lazy ¨classification¨ of the majority of other transfers and youth players neglects their injuries, their difficulties adjusting and their lack of playing time. Diaby’s compensation is unknown so it was pure BS to say he’s ¨on a stonking £3m+ a year deal. ¨ Walcott is now the flavour of the month and nobody is sure what he’ll do in the new year, particularly Simple Simon! Song is gone because Wenger said he was a problem in the dressing room AND in training….but Simple Simon loves to hit Wenger with that feeble stick. Adebayor was greedy and disloyal, Simple Simon’s perfect type of Arsenal player.

    4) Those who left were either past their prime, unable to adapt to the EPL, wanted away and showed in in their lack of commitment and effort, any adherence to Wenger or AFC. Simple Simon’s one word write-off of or generic media-inspired hyperbole about players like Eduardo, Reyes, Diaby, Gallas, Ramsey, Chamakh etc. hides his inadequate and feeble understanding of how Wenger works and AFC supports that work. Another sign of weak and poorly supported yellow cyber-journalism worthy of Le Grove et al.

    5) Simple Simon can’t even get his ¨facts and figures¨correct. The best estimates we have which are again sheer speculation, is that Wenger spent around 50K getting Giroud, Mertesacker, Podolski, and Cazorla in but nobody knows for sure. Then he cheats a little and writes clueless one-liners to demean and denigrate Wenger’s current team:

    Rosicky and Diaby – in hospital ( Nope-Rosciky is back in the team and Diaby is in training)
    Walcott – on the verge of leaving (Wrong again – he’s on the verge of signing or deciding)
    Ramsey – less of a player than when he came (a fractured leg does that-but he’s coming back and besides who made Simple Simon a judge of players?))
    Fabianski – in a straitjacket (not a bad keeper but Szcesny is better)
    TV5 – a good player having a bad time (coming back to his best)
    Kos – improving, but prone to bloopers (last year’s defender of the year but kept out by Mertesacker- nice wituation to be in -thanks to Wenger)
    Wellington and Campbell – never on these shores ( need work permits but eventually will get them -we do have some great players in camp: Eisfeld, Gnarby, Coquelin, etc.)
    The Ox – frustrated and in a box (No Simple Simon is in a box: and like a mushroom he is better off kept in the dark and covered with shite)
    Myaichi and Park – on loan/given away for a £5m hit (Miyachi is a talent, Park was a mystery buy- what’s Simple Simon’s point- that only Wenger takes risks and misses on occasion- what about Carroll at Liverpool, Torres at Chelsea, countless Spud losers, even Barca miscalculates bigtime-Henry at 1,000,000 per game wasn’t a miscalculation?)
    Gervinho – missing an open goal a game (Not at his best but way too soon to write him off.)
    Jenkinson – in need of playing time (That is true of all our bench but our first team are doing so well it is the price he has to pay in order to make it- again what is Simple Simon’s point? Wenger should play 22 players instead of 11?)
    Arshavin, Chamakh and Squillaci – unloanable and unsellable ( Nobody knows how hard AFC tried to get these players out but Simple Simon makes a generic statement that he can’t back up AGAIN.)
    Arteta and Mertesacker – playing and delivering for the team ( Wow, an actual compliment of sorts- so Walcott, Podolski, Cazorla, Szcesny, Wilshere, Arteta, Giroud, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Sagna, Ramsey and Coquelin are shite and being carried by the terrific twosome?)

    Simple Simon’s turgid, tepid, tasteless, tacky post being offered by @AngryOfN5 as ¨proof¨of his anti-Wenger diatribe is full of exaggerated, ill-thought out, poorly written and falsifications. Here is another example: Nathaniel Chalobah is currently on loan from Chelsea, and was NEVER an AFC player. His ¨solutions¨are even more amateurish and agonizingly idiotic: Force Arsene? Please Simpleton Simon, explain how anyone can ¨force¨ Arsene. I will bet that the Club already have a far better system in place (of which you have no clue Simple Simon) that does just what you suggest but more effectively.
    Mirror the policies of SAF, City, Chelsea and Spurs??????? In other words spend, get into debt, take insecure risks, spend again, get into bidding wars, spend more, buy more ¨superstars¨ whose allegiance AND interest can be bought away from AFC, and all this on a limited budget? What a twit Simple Simon is….everything to the ignorant is perpetually easy and basic, that’s why Simple Simon and @AngryOfN5 will NEVER get near a professional Football Club, and thank God for that!

    • You seem a bit angry yourself Donald, you should calm down a bit.
      So you think the likes of Reyes and Giroud are ‘top class’ signings, do you? Giroud has a lot to prove still and Reyes never made it. Take your rose tinted glasses off.

      • Reyes was excellent until he got chopped to death by Neville at Old Trafford. I saw all his games with AFC and until that barbarism, he added a considerably to Arsenal’s attack. Giroud is definitely a considerable asset for AFC as well and I am convinced, given more time, will prove it. That’s the problem with fans today, they want instant success and nothing less….they need to calm down and take their shitglasses off….by the way I am angry at fools who blog without doing any careful analysis, other than what the shite media feed them like swine at the trough.
        By the way Merry christmas and a Happy New Year Phil.

  12. I would like to know why it is that players who don’t play up to expectations should not have their contracts cancelled and be shown the door . It happens all the time with managers but micky mouse footballers seem to be immune from ” the sack ” . Harry Redknapp was perfectly correct when he suggested that his players were not good enough and were over paid. And its not just his players . The Premier league is full of them .Simon Hill makes a lot of sense , the problem is that Arsenal Inc ain’t listenin.

    • The collective legislation and organizations that ensure player contracts are enforced and their interests protected is called the players’ association, EU laws, British Labour laws and the player’s reps.
      Unlike most working stiffs, the players sign long-term contracts and once agreed to, the Club MUST respect them. Unless they are on a pay-to-play deal, which is a rarity more or less.

  13. Surely weedonald if an individual is found wanting in any job his employers have the right to review his contract ? After all his employer pays his wages. I would suggest that there is no law in the UK or at EU level that prevents a review of an employees performance after a reasonable period of time. I would also argue that no organisation has any rights that are governed by legislation either British or European that prevents an employer dispensing with an employees services if his employer considers his performance to be unsatisfactory .Professional footballers should be no different.

    • I cannot disagree with anything you’ve written and in a perfect world it would apply to Football as well, as it currently allows in the normal labour market BUT Football is a world apart and until it is mainstreamed with the other trades and careers, it will permit that players are protected well beyond any consequences we ordinary mortals are subject to. In my perspective, the majority of contracts should have a termination option for both parties and also an impartial review board, unrelated to Club or player organizations, League or Football governing bodies, which would arbitrate contract disputes, much as HRM Ministry of Labour has a mediation option available to the common citizen or management. Unfortunately Football has been classed as a business apart from other ones both by the EU and British courts…Where else could someone willingly and intentionally break an opposing player’s leg and not be charged with a criminally violent act, but rather get a meaningless suspension and a get out of goal free card?

  14. Fair points made there weedonald. There is no hope of the “spoofers” and “chancers” who run football allowing anyone who could run the game properly gate crash their party. There is too much dosh knocking around . A happy new year to you all talk again next year.

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