Just a few days ago, Sergio Aguero’s completed move to Manchester City was confirmed. £38 million, a City record. Nearly exactly six months ago, Chelsea splashed a British record £50 million on Fernando Torres, whilst strengthening their defence with the near-£30 million purchase of David Luiz. Manchester United. Champions of the toughest, most competitive league in the world all but once since 2007, European finalists three times in the last four years. They only went and spent a cool £52 million on strengthening their goalkeeping department and their already strong defence and attack.
You can probably already spot the source of my angst. In fact, you have probably spotted it right from the word go. Actually, many of you will share this concern.
The concern that, all criticism of Arsène Wenger and the board aside for moment, there seems to be a common denominator across all other rival clubs. That one factor that we seemingly lack. And the one factor that each and every one of them will go flashing about to guarantee success at all costs. Money. Lots of it.
So is it just set to be a case of a rich man’s world when it comes to fighting for the Premier League title from now on?
I pose this question as I am, and I suspect many of us Gooners will be, filled with, in ascending order: 1) jealousy, 2) envy, and 3) dread as deals such as that of Aguero’s are run through in front of our very own helpless eyes.
Well, let us cast our minds back to the summer of 2003, if I may…
Smarting from chucking away the title in the final weeks of the season, Roman Abramovich arrived in west London, embarking on a spending spree never seen in football up to that point. Comfortably breaking the £100 million barrier in the space of five weeks, Chelsea were immediately installed as pre-season favourites, with then-champions United backed as the only real challenger.
Arsenal meanwhile? Well Wenger went and brought in Jens Lehmann for just under £2 million, and an unknown teenager by the name of Gaël Clichy for a nominal fee in the thousands! We handsomely fitted in the “there or thereabouts” category, with our great football but apparent lack of substance deemed not enough to win us the big prizes. Err, the Invincibles?
The point is, activity elsewhere should be no reason to press the panic button, as is indeed very tempting at first glance. Alright, times have indeed changed and competition has undoubtedly got tougher and tougher, and okay, we will win bugger all this time round with a net spending activity of £2 million (not that this will happen now thanks to the arrival of Gervinho).
But football is all about the right players, not the expensive ones, my reminiscence of 2003-2004 a case-in-point. As is United’s recent dominance over a freer-spending Chelsea. Fergie has spent, of that there is no doubt. But it is how he spent the money and who on that have kept him and his lot at the very top of the game.
After all, it is a case of 11 vs. 11 on the pitch, simple.
If it was all about just money, we would have dropped off the top four long ago one feels. We did not lose the Champions League final in 2006, miss out on the title by four points in 2008, and lose out to Championship-bound Birmingham at Wembley to go on and finish fourth in a two-horse race in 2011 due to being outspent by anyone.
And any future success will not solely rest on the millions being blasted out of club coffers in projectile fashion either.
Let us all remember this as we enter the final stage of this so far ever-frustrating transfer window, in the hope that those charged with maintaining and leading our club to success, however much we (and I) disagree on certain things, realise fully that we are so close provided we tweak the things that so desperately require tweaking.
So are we doomed whatever we do in the coming weeks, months and years? In a word, no.
In a few more words, we can control our own destiny and re-establish ourselves at the peak of the football pyramid, provided we carry out a safe, sound, and sturdy re-evaluation and strengthening where and when needed. Sleepless nights for Wenger et al in the coming days then, I hope!
Article courtesy of Asser Ghozlan from the excellent Arsenal Mania