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AST / Arsenal's HUGE wage bill / Hindsight Management
Posted by: eduardo
Date: 21/02/2012 20:37
My Vision
AST / Arsenal's HUGE wage bill / Hindsight Management
Written by Mean Lean on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 20:04

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I think I must have been Shawcrossed by some sort of illness dressed up as a thuggish center half. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been sick in the past 12 months, getting a little fed up of it now. I keep coming back as a new healthy person and then I only go and get sick again.

The AST meeting yesterday has got everyone talking, has got people speculating about how we are running the club. It has been understood that Arsenal have got somewhere in the region of £45m cash tucked away in Arsene Wenger's bottom sock draw in his home, I can imagine a crowd of people standing up and shouting until slowly sitting back down in silence as the news filters through that roughly the same amount of money will be lost if the club do not make that oh so desirable top four position in the league.

I would like to think that the notion that Arsene refuses to spend the truck loads of loose £50 notes lying around his London Colny office will be knocked on the head but somehow I doubt that very much. Opinions have been formed and it is difficult to knock those down even when presented with evidence that support the opposite view.

Ever since the move to the new, well the old new stadium, the club have been consistent in having confidence that the club can cope without Champions League football. It would be suicide to run a club based on a competition that you never have any guarantees in being a part of, even if our manager has spoilt us rotten with continuous season's at [insert new popular cliche] Europe's top table [close new popular cliche]

As the hoarding of cash has been all but dismissed, attentions now turn once again to our wage policy. A case of tucking the tight Wenger stick away in the broom cupboard and pulling out the Wenger spends too much stick to beat the manager with.

For those who read my tweets last night, apologies for repeating myself but talk of high wages needs a little bit of context applied.

A popular recent comparison of the Arsenal wage bill which is often portrayed as astronomical by some is to compare it with that of high flying Tottenham who have a much tighter wage structure and yet are soaring above us in the league table. Why do we pay our players so much and they have the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric on a packet of skips and diet Pepsi a week.

Then you can unfold some more popular vocabulary like 'dross, dead wood, reward failure, over paid' etc etc. It is actually quite amazing how the human brain works, we soak in the same lines and then puke those lines up everywhere at record speeds.

The comparison to Tottenham is very selective and I assume is used to add credence to the over paid argument.

The reason why we are the fourth highest wage payers in the league, yep I know that astronomical wage bill puts us a massive four places below teams that pay more. As I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself is that Arsenal are a club who under Wenger have played in the Champions League every single year, we have been at the top end of the table every season (UNTIL NOW!!!! get that in before you say it) while Tottenham have managed to get into the Champions League a massive once in that time, cue more lauding of the magical Harry Redknapp.

Arsenal have been regularly getting the financial benefits of Champions League football and that reflects in the wages of the players in our squad. We have had richer clubs swooping over our players for years because of the work by Arsene Wenger in the transfer market, regularly finding gems that other clubs want to snatch from our grasp. During this time Tottenham haven't had to cling onto the feet of Noe Pamarot and Andy Reid to stop Real Madrid from adding them to their collection of Galácticos.

If Tottenham are in the Champions League to stay, even less than half of Wenger's successive time in that competition then let us see if they can keep that wage structure as it is.

It would be a much fairer comparison to compare our wage structure with other teams who have been consistently in the Champions League like Manchester United and Chelsea. Our wage bill would then be the lowest. Is that spin? or is that just plain fact? Depends on which side of the fence you strut your fancy stuff I guess.

Before I get accused of erm not criticising the club, a modern day crime if ever I saw one. We clearly need to make changes to our wage structure. We cannot compete with the flash your cash mob and allegedly are having issues shifting players who are surplus to requirements.

I think the reason for Arsene's policy came from Japan, don't quote me on that but I am sure I read that somewhere. He wanted a harmonious squad who all saw each other as equals and would then fight for each other and not resent each other. Far too many each other's in that paragraph but lets run with it.

A good idea in theory, especially given the fact that many of them (Bendtner, van Persie, Denilson, Diaby etc) were all youngsters when they started their Arsenal careers. The plan was for them all to grow together and develop into an equal winning team. Now this hasn't happened and certain players have earned their money more than others. In van Persie's case his performances could be that of a £200k per week player.

Rather than use the term rewarding failure, I rather call it rewarding potential. Obviously for one reason or another this hasn't worked out. Some of those players have lost their way and are not playing at the level that we would have wanted. Although rewarding potential wasn't much of a problem for the likes of Cesc, van Persie, Toure, Song, Vieira, Cole, Anelka, Henry and many other youngsters who were given the chance to make a career for themselves at Arsenal and made the grade.

We have players in the squad that haven't turned out how we wanted or indeed how the manager would have wanted. Football managers have to make decisions, they are paid to make decisions in the here and now and do not have the benefit of hindsight.

Football fans are the hindsight manager kings with added selective amnesia. One moment we are crying about the absence of Johan Djourou in our run in and then 12 months later we are going ballistic that he has signed an extension.

One minute we are deriding Flamini as a player that just isn't good enough to a player that deserves to be the highest paid player at the club.

One minute we are lauding the ambition of Chelsea and Liverpool for buying 'big name' strikers then next we are laughing about a loan ex player scoring more goals in a few weeks.

I could write an entire blog on fan contradictions. We tend to dump these contradictions into a part of our mind that we forget to access when our predictions. The point of this ramble is that managers make mistakes, sometimes they get it right, sometimes players do not settle and do not work out.

As seen by the collection of players we have playing for the reserves today, some of those players will be moving on during the summer and once that happens then hopefully we can continue to strengthen this squad.

I am bricking it at the prospect of not getting into the top four. I would be lying if I said I wasn't. As I have said before, not because of the competition itself but the potential halt to our rebuild. I think the AST results may also show why many of our deals where done once CL football was guaranteed. I have said this before and believe it to be the case even more so now. Having to wait until we were certain to get that load of cash from the CL stopped Arsene from bringing in players earlier during the summer. If that is the case then I blame the collapse at the end of last season. Had we finished third then who knows what position we would have been in today.

Park has scored for Arsenal reserves. That's a hat trick off the bench against Spurs then.

I had some other points to make but I have the movie The Blind Side on in the background and it is distracting me. So I am off to watch it.

Please note: I suspect that plenty will disagree with the above, all I ask if for your view to be respectable, if not it doesn't get through. Simples.

Earlier article: Your Vision - An epiphany plus some thoughts

Back tomorrow.

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