Pounds Don’t Mean Prizes

Originally featured on Goonersphere.

It would appear that the F.A have put into movement a major change in the regulations of the Premier League. These changes have presumably been pushed through with the utmost haste as fans up and down the length of the country are completely unaware of the altered framework.

From this season, it seems that points are no longer the de-facto barometer of domestic success. Oh no, according to the media and pundits – transfer spend is now used to identify what team has performed and what team has failed.

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The prolific showing of the spending table of all the teams in the Premier League highlights the agenda of TV channels and scribes for newspapers – they are keen to pour fuel on the wildfire of emotion within the Arsenal fans. This fire can be seen from a huge distance due to the trail of cyber-destruction it leaves and the sheer volume of people who are part of it.

Clicks are the modern-day currency for journalists. With an attention grabbing headline or a story which is constructed to whip up a lather within a large section of fans, the clicks will mount up. It matters not if the article itself is pure garbage and has no tether on the realms of reality. All that matters is if the bait is strong enough to lure thousands to place their cursor or thumb on the link they’ve created.

Seeing as our beloved club has once more adorned their uncompromising corset of saving, we have been left behind this season in terms of the new ‘League of Spending’. We are indeed bottom of the pile and languishing, awaiting relegation with no hope of saviour. The one salient point that the majority are missing amidst the misery of budgets and ‘net spends’ is that while money was available to throw at a player, we have never had the money that Manchester City have spent this season, or that Chelsea have in the past. The teams at the top of this ludicrous spending League have used their chequebook with such flagrancy that it wouldn’t matter what the fee was. The man was their target, never mind if the fee is three times what the actual player is worth.

FFP was something that Arsene Wenger wrongly relied on. He placed his faith on a system put in place by UEFA that would reward the correct running of a club. It would finally highlight what Wenger had been pointing out for many a year regarding ‘financial doping’ – That a club must run within its means and should not spend more than what they bring in.

Unfortunately, thanks to the pliable spine of Platini and company, the FFP dream has died and teams with benefactors who have yachts in Monaco can once more pollute the waters with their lucre.

We will never be able to keep up with what they can maintain whilst the rich are at the helm of these clubs. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t want to. What we can do, is have an excellent network of scouts and when a target is identified, go all out to get them.

The problem with this is, nearly all top flight clubs have a competent scouting network, which means if we have placed a reticule on a player, no doubt teams like City and Chelsea will have too. Evidence of this is in Chelsea’s long list of loaned players – 33 to be exact.

If a player goes into negotiations with one of our representatives and then someone from Chelsea, City etc, we have to pray that monetary gain is not their sole ambition. If this is the case and they want to further their playing career, then we have a chance.

This season, Arsene saw that we needed a goalkeeper. He identified a No.1 that would benefit the team and despite the location of his target, he achieved his goal. The reason that a majority of fans aren’t happy with our transfer business is that we never went out of our way to sign a striker.

Firstly, our primary concern should have been cover for Coquelin should his hot-headed ways get the better of him and he gets suspended/injured.

Secondly, we scored two goals less than the champions did last season with our current attacking options. From those options, Theo missed the majority of the season and Giroud missed three months. How can anyone say we need Benzema?

Benzema is a classy player, but would he have added a significant amount to our goal tally? What some fans want is a mega signing with a brass band and bells on, like Sanchez and Ozil. It doesn’t matter if the player strengthens what was previously a weakness. All that matters is that we spend some money on a big name player.

What has exacerbated the situation is our stuttering form in the opening month. If we had hit the ground running and kept pace with City, would the caterwauling have been as vociferous? Some of the more vocal fans have said that promises made in the past have been reneged on. We aren’t utilising our wealth in the right way and will never win the title if we don’t become a little more liberal in the spending stakes.

Sanchez and Ozil being recruited are testimony that we will spend. If our manager has identified the men he wants to sign, but their clubs won’t allow talks to take place, should Wenger then shift his attentions to a back-up?

It is all hearsay ultimately regarding Wenger and his plans as none of us have the faintest idea what he had planned during the infernal transfer window. What we can say is that he was never going to spend more than City and rise like a bankrupt phoenix to the top of the spending league.

Concept or not, the fact we have a ‘spending league’ evidences exactly what this transfer system has brought into football – a circus. Signings should be done through the league hiatus, with minor adjustments for international tournaments. The excitement of a new man holding up your shirt for photos is now akin to a high being chased. The lack of new blood can now hamper your chances for the title, if hacks are to be believed. Transfer junkies then click on links in a vain search for a delicious nugget of truth regarding a new signing.

Spending is not parallel to success. Of course we all want to see the superstars signing for us, but if these signings don’t improve us, then we are simply buying deadwood – the very same deadwood that we were all imploring Wenger to clear out 18 months ago.

Wenger surely would have had targets that he was willing to spend on. If those men are not available, then he of course trusts his squad to get us through to January and remain in contention for the League title. If we aren’t, then the blame is on Wenger’s doorstep alone.

The only league that matters is the Premier League. We are still very much in contention for that.

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