Arsenal drew away 2-2 in the Champions League to German outfit Schalke last night, after letting a two-goal lead slip in the process, club legend Tony Adams’ critique of the club’s transfer policy and belief couldn’t have been more accurate.

Of course, former players having a pop at an under pressure manager for this or that is all part and parcel of the game and Adams has shown himself to be rather colourful individual since his retirement from playing, but that doesn’t mean his opinions, in this instance at least, weren’t right on the money.

“If Wenger gets them into the top four he’s done brilliantly. You need to keep your best players and in recent years we’ve let them go a bit easy. I never got anywhere near the last year of my contract. You don’t let them go into their last year and run their contract down. It’s about winning, and how do you win? You have the best players, and if you keep selling your best players you’re not going to win. If you sell your best players you’re not going to challenge for titles.”

I’ve highlighted in past articles the fallacy of the Steve Bould effect on the back four while taking a look at the team’s lack of creativity in the final third this season in another but do the problems go a lot deeper than that? Is the root cause of all of Arsenal’s ills the dreaded reliance on Financial Fair Play? Or does the blame lay squarely at the door of Wenger?

There seems to be a reluctance by many to criticise Wenger, out of loyalty for his past achievements at the club. Arsenal have no entitlement to be part of the footballing elite in this country or in Europe and for quite a few years prior to his arrival, the club were drifting. However, at the same time, that is what makes it so galling that they have gradually been allowed to drift from the summit and never before have I witnessed such a slow and gradual decline.

Replacing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie with Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud will only deliver one result. While Arteta is a fine player and that I hold a personal affection for, he’s simply not on the level of the Barcelona maestro and the French striker may well turn out to be a success at the club in the future, but with Peter Hill-Wood trying to absurdly claim that van Persie was allowed to depart for ‘football reasons’, then you leave yourselves open to a downward spiral with this endless cost-cutting.

Cutting corners in such a manner can only lead to an absence of prolonged success and the playing experiment has failed and Wenger’s stubbornness has had to eventually give way. This has seen a shift in the club’s transfer policy in recent times to bringing in more experienced and seasoned internationals rather than an endless obsession with the future, but the results have largely been the same because the club has become indoctrinated into accepting second best under Wenger’s guidance in recent years.

That they have placed all their eggs in one basket, banking on FFP being a success, which only serves to highlight how poorly managed the entire situation has been and even if it does have a lasting impact, a return to their previous place as the team to beat looks unlikely. There is nothing wrong with putting your club on a financially sound footing and in a way that makes it able to stand on its own two feet for years to come, but how that transition has come about means something has been lost along the way in terms of the team’s competitiveness out on the pitch, not to mention the contradictory evidence that their exorbitant yearly wage bill provides.

Praising Wenger for achieving fourth against the odds in recent times completely ignores the fact that it’s only an achievement in the context of his own making. He’s the one that’s plied the squad with deadwood and wasted players previously considered gems of the continent such as Arshavin and Rosicky and the team still looks as if it lacks any sort of plan B. There are no new ideas and where he was once innovative, he is now simply dogmatic and increasingly zealot-like.

The seven-year trophy drought shows no signs in the near future of ending and that’s a sorry state of affairs considering their slump could have been avoided with investment at certain key junctures after the stadium move, with noises from the board that the money was always there to invest. Turning around a sinking ship, with star players routinely leaving each summer is going to prove not only difficult, but it is going to take an extremely long time.

Forsaking competitiveness for the bottom line has cost the club dearly and it’s an approach that few can see dividends from in the short-term at least. Patience is in short supply these days, as is the delusion of hope, but in an increasingly cut-throat industry, Arsenal look to be playing by their own set of rules and there’s a reason not many others are following suit.

You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1

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  • Mick G
    1 year ago

    Really good piece.

    I have written almost the same over the last couple of years. I am a 64 year old staunch Arsenal supporter and so are the rest of my family (having been brought up in Highbury it’s hardly suprising) and although i think the that Arsene has provided us with some of my best memories i now think it’s time for a change. Other than the issues you have dealt with he team selection and tactics baffle me. Am i the only one that thought Mr Santos was a liability waiting to happen against Man utd? I,ll wager that Sir Alex was ringing his hands when he saw out team sheet. I can hear him saying, now what part of the Arsenal team shall we attack. Gervinho is an absolute joke and playing him down the middle instead of Walcott is really dumb. Perhaps i’m missing something as i am only a supporter and ‘Arsene knows best’ or does he?

    Mick G

    Reply
  • anONYmouse
    1 year ago

    Whereas Man City, Chelsea and until recently Man Utd are privately held (and can lose money for all eternity), Arsenal Holdings is publicly listed.

    Yet everyone ignore this fact. The board is answerable to shareholders and no shareholder would want to see their assets depreciate ie making losses. (Would you like to see the value of your house decrease year in year out?). So it is more than just football.

    I presume you do not own shares in Arsenal Holdings. Buy some and you feeling will change.

    Reply
  • Chocolate Prince
    1 year ago

    About time someone wrote a good article…spot on and its very unfortunate to see such a great team as Arsenal in such a state. Watching Chelsea last night and United, makes you think how far behind we have really fallen alround….Its not a new thing noticing this now, just its the first time its really clicked! They have better players and seem to play the style of football that we used too, and want too play. Im not a defeatist, but Wenger needs to sort things out quick before his already tarnished name, will go down as a failure rather than the genius he really is. Dont blame Wenger, blame the GREEDY BOard, who dont give two Sh*ts about the fans, but just Money. Disgrace.

    Reply
  • LewGooner
    1 year ago

    @chocolate Prince
    I agree chelsea are good to watch, exciting with their little creators and unusually suspect at the back makes it an interesting watch.
    United are not much of a joy on, yesterday they were not a joy to watch at all. over the last year, although effective(the main priority) they have not been good to watch.

    unfortunately Wenger protects the board (we protect our bosses at work…normal practice) but he is made the scapegoat.
    I love wenger however he is responsible for the weakness in arsenals camp is keeping the wages close, rewarding players who have not achieved over a period of a few years big contracts.

    we have a massive wage bill and although we all knw the names, when you see the likes of:
    Vela, Bendtner, squalachi and chamakh all on 50g’s a week. this feels sick to type as well as read, this is where we are heomarraging (speling) money and then praying on FFP

    Reply
  • LewGooner
    1 year ago

    ps only the first paragraph was in response :)

    Reply
  • Archimedes
    1 year ago

    Spot on. FFP will be hard to police. Kroenke US evidence of his lack of glory and ambition. AW social wage structure has back fired as it attracts journeymen, retains deadwood and stars leave in disgust. The 3rd highest wage bill is wasted. Incompetent medics and worst injury record continues. No buzz no fizz.

    Reply
  • Richard
    1 year ago

    Its like the Board trying to turn back the clock, the world has moved on but we havn’t. FFP can’t save us and it will take some kind of revolution to get change. When we finish below Spurs then perhaps Mr Platini could lend us Madam Guillotine to sever our relations to those who have contrived to put us in this position. FFP wont work its liiegal in the EU.
    BRING BACK DAVID DEIN

    Reply

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