The below is a response to a comment on Victor’s last piece. The responded suggested business decisions in football should be based on analysis and statistics…
Thank you Insideright, I appreciate your contribution. I fear that you have missed the main point of my article. I am not an accountant or a bean counter, nor have I professed either of those things. You are right, I do shy away from statistics and I did not go into any statistical analysis of Wenger`s last years. With respect, you appear to be the direct opposite of me and I do not say that with any intention of disparaging you.
The last 10 years have been self evidentially poor and I do not go into a long list of examples of his weaknesses. I have done that consistently in my articles and I produced examples of his failures and from where they originated. For the purposes of the above article, I dwelt simply on the fact that I have been a supporter for nearly sixty years without ever having produced a set of facts which would get me excited or set my adrenaline rising, and I readily concede that those attributes do not make me a manager. There is no urgent need to expel me from The Emirates just to ensure that this fan does not become manager of this club. I find such a notion bizarre.
I applaud your loyalty to Arsenal and even to Wenger. My son shares those traits. Nevertheless, from the perception of a fan (which obviously you are) tell me honestly if Ivan Gazidis came through the door with a set of figures, which showed that we are eminently sound financially or with a signed contract for Lionel Messi, which of those two items would set your heart pounding?
I appreciate that Messi is at the extreme of the spectrum but even Ronaldo or Aguero; I wager it would not be the accounts, which would “rock your boat”. I`m afraid that the picture you conjure up of Scrooge Wenger, poring over the accounts to ensure that we do not take a chance now and then to go for a star player is depressing. It is well established that players of the calibre of Messi, Ronaldo etc. pay for themselves in almost their first season in copyrights on merchandise with their names or images, which are printed and sold, to millions of fans all over the world.
Players of that stature attract more fans, and I am aware that fans are not that important as far as revenue is concerned, but they also increase the image of the club and the persona of its players. What the right manager has to do in those circumstances is mould them to play in his vision of the game and how they need to perform. At the beginning of last year, many pundits said that Arsenal had the best strength in depth in the League, yet once again, we underperformed.
I did not need a table of statistics to tell me we underperformed. I just had to look at results like W.Brom, Watford, again and Crystal Palace or Bayern Munich once again. etc. etc. to tell me that.
One highlight of our year was the destruction of Chelsea in the FA cup and I readily admit that that performance had my adrenaline going all right. I do take comfort in knowing that Arsenal are once again economically sound. We hear that every year and if I were to put all those years in one bundle and tell myself we have been economically sound for 20 years, I would not jump up and down. That final gave me more joy than all of them put together.
For the price of a ticket, a fan is not a shareholder or a member of the board. He accepts that. He has no right to insist that the manager`s tactics need to be changed, nor has he any influence on the purchases of players. No, for his ticket he expects to wear the colours of the club and share the ups and downs with kindred spirits around him. At half time if we are winning he is celebrating with the rest of the fans, but if we are losing and badly, he does not want to see Gazidis coming out and telling “us our accounts are sound, have no fear”.
If the team comes out and still shows no spirit for the fight, than the fan is entitled to show his displeasure. Unfortunately, those times have been so regular and so repetitive that the fan believes that he is not getting a fair deal. Don`t try to say “If you don`t like it, go somewhere else”. For me and many others like me, this is not an option. Arsenal is my club even though I have no legal claim to own a square cm. of it. Nevertheless, it would be like leaving home. I can`t do it.
How do I put that into a statistic?
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.