HAVE MANCHESTER’S MILLIONS PUT ARSENAL TO THE SWORD?
Posted on Thursday, 23rd February 2012 by Col
When Mark Hughes first joined forces with the new money that poured into City in August 2008 and began on his round of player purchases, one of his expressed intentions was to buy players from the Premier League – players who had the experience, and could succeed at that level. But did City also recognise that buying from competitors would be a key way to ensure the strength of their opponents would be undermined?
City’s main spending spree began during the summer of 2009. A glance at the table below shows what happened.
Player Previous Club Position 2008/9* Position 2009/10** Position 2010/11 Position Now
Gareth Barry Aston Villa 6th 6th 9th 15th
Joleon Lescott Everton 5th 8th 7th 10th
Kolo Toure Arsenal 4th 3rd 4th 4th
Emmanuel Adebayor Arsenal 4th 3rd 4th 4th
Roque Santa Cruz Blackburn 15th 10th 15th 17th
*Before City’s spending spree.
**After City’s spending spree.
In 2009 City finished 10th; in 2010 they were 5th, so the premiership experience Hughes bought paid off for them. Now all of the clubs City bought players from that summer have suffered a decline in fortune. Blackburn are in a relegation battle, both Villa and Everton have weakened significantly, and only Arsenal have maintained their Premier League position. Wenger has been the subject of a tirade of abuse and criticism, and yet he has been the most successful in maintaining his club’s position in the face of City’s aggressive programme of development at the expense of its rivals.
Not only that: City have continued to use their financial muscle to improve their own squad at the expense of Arsenal. When Adebayor signed, the Arsenal fans were glad, seeing him as a disruptive influence in the dressing room. (His head had nearly been turned a year earlier by gossip about Real Madrid and Barcelona.) But Adebayor scored 15 goals in 34 appearances for City (all competitions) – not a bad return.
The following summer no Arsenal players came to City – but in 2011 both Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri were signed – and it was clear that Wenger was extremely discomfited by the loss of Nasri, at a time when the squad was in a deep crisis, having lost Wilshire to injury. He was quoted by The Sun as saying: “I’m a realist — it’s not by coincidence that everybody suddenly lands at Man City.”
It appears not. This year it seems City will replace one of the big four teams as a Champion’s League regular – and that team could be Arsenal.
Arsenal apparently have a wage structure that does not match City’s in terms of attracting multi-million pound players – and indeed Wenger himself has too much pride, or too many principles, to adopt this approach. It seems unfair to blame Wenger for this situation, in which a business rival has risked considerable investment for the prospects of long-term competitive gain. In any case, Wenger has maintained his Premier League position – unlike the managers of the other clubs who lost key players to City. The fact that this Arsenal team looks like going out of the Champion’s League – a decline in a different competition – should be balanced against this success. Surely Wenger needs to consolidate at this level before taking his young team to Champions’ League success?
I’m all for principles – and even though I am a City fan, I know that Arsene Wenger has been, and still is, a real asset to the Premier League, and not just for the great football his teams play.
Fair comments, all of them.
Who's going to be first to disagree?!!