This is the second in a series of Wenger-related posts by me. I am Wenger Out, but still revere him for his achievements. My intention here in this series is to highlight and correct some misconceptions or misinterpretations of his tenure, since he should be seen by ALL of us (Wenger in or out) as a definitive club legend.
So, this time I’m going to mention….was Wenger “lucky” to get top four between 06/07 and 12/13?
2006-2013 were critical times in the stadium development, where we had to pay off large amounts of the debt incurred in its financing.
Of course City had emerged, and Chelsea won a lot of trophies with Russian money. Sir Alex, with Man U’s immense resources, of course were strong too.
My point here is that Wenger wasn’t lucky, nor a genius, but top four in these seasons was par for the course.
There’s an old saying, nay cliché, in football (amongst many) – the league table never lies. A club invariably gets its “rightful” league placing as a mix of form, player quality, resources and managerial ability.
So last season, we got 2nd, above that lot who border Edmonton. But then it can be said, over the course of the season, that Leicester, ourselves and Spurs were the best teams overall that season. City were shit, as were United (bar FA Cup win). Leicester didn’t have the best players, but then were the best team, and thus the cliché fits, generally.
If we examine the players we had between 2006 and 2013, it’s a general mix of world class talent, club all-time legends, good players, wasted potential, and rubbish. Namely:
– Henry, Ljungberg, Campbell, Lehmman, Toure, Rosicky, Cesc
– Hleb, Adebayor, Nasri, Gallas, Flamini, Sagna, Almunia, Fabianski
– Denilson, Bendtner, Walcott, Diaby, Senderos, Gibbs, van Persie
– Wilshere, Ramsey, Eduardo, Song, Koscielny, Squillaci, Santos
– Monreal, Arteta, Arshavin, Mertesacker, Podolski, Cazorla
Most would agree there is a mix here of all-time legends (Henry, Campbell), good players (Flamini, Sagna, Arteta), wasted potential (Arshavin, Bendtner) and rubbish (Denilson, Squillaci). And combined these players won leagues (with us and other clubs), FA Cups, and numerous international caps. I’d think these players alone won about 500 caps collectively, and this is a conservative estimate.
So whilst we couldn’t get players Chelsea or United could, it’s wrong to say our players were shitty.
Also look at turnovers. The Deloitte Money League for the aforementioned years shows Arsenal amongst the highest English clubs, in the top four, as it were, consistently. And despite Chelsea’s better success in the period, Arsenal posted higher revenues. In 2015 and 2016, it was higher.
Yes, the debt constrained us. But then if we were earning plenty, then it showed at least our potential.
Even still, our budgets were higher than many other clubs out there, in the Premier League, at that time.
It’s self-evident. Teams with better managers have greater scope to compete and win. Whilst who is a good or great manager is subjective, in terms of longevity, success and reputation, these are the best Premier League managers between 2006-2013 (IMO at least):
– Sir Alex Ferguson
Wenger’s tenure, and legacy, is as great as any of these managers, bar Sir Alex perhaps.
So then we couldn’t say our manager was inexperienced, shitty, and had no scope for success, could we?
Considering budgets, player quality and manager quality, amongst the best in the league in most facets, our league placements were not that bad then, and frankly warranted.
We finished thus in the aforecited seasons:
So Wenger did his job, really, without any real special endeavour.
I’m not knocking Wenger at all here. I don’t really wish to.
But then to get a clear picture of how the club is now and where we want it to be, we need to be clear on this issue. My view, though others are free to differ, is that it was not a spectacular achievement to get top four in these years. Our revenues, player quality, and managerial competence, were adequate to get this task. Yes, we had some scares, namely Villa in 08/09, and Sir Harry Hotspunk in 12/13, but in all other seasons we were shoe-ins for top four at least.