Why I have sympathy for Arsenal…it could have been us!

It would be so easy to laugh at Arsenal right now. In fact, I have, in the not so distance past. Financial restrictions, injuries at the most inconvenient times and your star player wanting to leave. The truth is, it could so easily be us in Arsenal’s place right now.

A couple of important things happened in 2005.

Arsenal won their last trophy and The Glazers took full control of our club, placing a massive debt on to us. Then, in 2006, Arsenal moved from Highbury to The Emirates Stadium, which also put Financial strain on them. At the time, Manchester United and Arsenal were the two teams in the league who were battling it out for the title and the trophies, year in, year out. Chelsea had just started to find their feet after the injection of Abramovich’s cash and won the league in 2005. The difference in Manchester United’s and Arsenal’s fortune since 2005 has been like night and day. While Arsenal have not won anything, Manchester United have won 4 Premier League trophies, 3 Carling Cup trophies and 1 Champions League trophy. Arsenal have not spent much since their last trophy win (if Manchester United had spent as little, I am sure we would be struggling too) They have instead decided to give their young players a chance to shine. This is an ideology shared by both Manchester United and Arsenal.

Whether the lack of spending is down to Arsene Wenger or the Arsenal board, you have to say, it is a problem. The Glazers have taken a lot of stick since they took control of our club. Personal abuse, TV documentaries and fan protests about how they run the club, have been common place over the past couple of years. However, the way they run the club since, is the difference between us and Arsenal. Well, that, and of course, the absolute brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson . Despite the huge debt we have, the Glazers have made sure that we have kept competitive, not only in the Premiership, but also in Europe. They have made a lot of money available to buy some of the best young players in the world. They allowed Ferguson to spend £30 million on Berbatov, while we still had Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez at the club. They have even allowed Ferguson to take risks in the transfer market, with the signing of Bebe being the biggest example of this.

While Arsenal still boast to have the best young team in the Premiership, they have slipped behind on this front too. They have two of the best young mid-fielders in the world in Jack Wilshere and Arron Ramsay, but beyond that, and the possible emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wojciech Szczesny, you have to say that Manchester United have the better young players. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Fabio Da Silva, Anderson, Nani, Ashley Young, Danny Wellbeck and Chicharito would each walk in to the Arsenal first team, with David De Gea and Tom Cleverley probably on a par with Arsenal’s first team. The future off the pitch also looks great for Manchester United. With the sale of a relatively small percentage of the club, it looks as though the huge debt on our club, may be cleared.

This would probably mean even greater power in the transfer market for years to come. It would also mean that the Glazers would own the majority of a club, and in the end, not paid any money. In fact, they may have even made a profit. While Arsenal have fallen behind over the past few years, Chelsea, and now Manchester City, have emerged as our main rivals. While Manchester United and Arsenal both used the money gained by their success to get by, Chelsea and Manchester City are both bankrolled by their rich owners. That is why I have a little soft spot for Arsenal. If you get past the dislike for some of their players, they are a club a bit like Manchester United. Giving youth a chance and using success as a springboard for even more success is the way football should be done.

As a Manchester United fan, I miss fighting for the title with Arsenal. I would much rather have them as our main title rivals, than Chelsea or Manchester City. I find their recent demise really sad, and, although I don’t like to admit it, I really hope they turn things round.

Article courtesy of Stockport Red from the excellent Red Flag Flying High
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