Ok the day after the loss to Man Citeh, I can rationalise that it is not the end of the world. We have won the premiership before having lost four games, but under those circumstances, we were scoring lots of goals and shutting out lower teams before half time. What really annoys me is the fact that we possess the players able to beat the likes of Man City, such as Eduardo and Jack Wilshere and yet the weekend after International fixtures we choose not to play them. I spoke in my blog yesterday of humiliation. There is something wrong when a manager of a mighty club cannot see it for what it is. We were a bit shaky defensively says Arsene Wenger, So blame the defensive coach, if we have one! AW goes on to say on Arse com,
“We looked always in control, especially in the second half, and when it became 2-1 we threw everything forward and got caught on the break. But at the end of the day, when you concede four goals and you look at the time of possession we had and the number of shots on goal they had and what we had, it’s very difficult to take. But when you make mistakes at that level you pay for it.”
But who refused to buy a striker in the transfer window? Wasn’t it Arsene Wenger who has a pathological distaste of spending the vast fortunes at his disposal? If you want to make AW the scapegoat then you will believe this theory. I happen to disagree. I am convinced that the opposite is the case and all I ask is; why don’t the Board and Gazidis finally come clean about the fact that we are skint, BROKE, we have NO Money? At least then die hard Gooners like me can understand the likelihood of further problems to come. But when you are humiliated by a mercenary outfit like Man City, IT HURTS. If there is a single Gooner out there who is not hurting after yesterday, then that person must be anaesthetised above the neck. I can rationalise pain at this early point in the season, as we have over 30 games to make a difference. Arsene Wenger will fix it, he always does. But this season there will be more of an off field distraction than usual. The pain experienced on Saturday is nothing by comparison to the pain and frustration that I feel about the perceived lack of direction of our club. A mighty supertanker whose rudder has been sabotaged leaving it to drift aimlessly.
What concerns me more is the way that the club appears to be floating towards an ownership crisis partly of its own making, totally avoidable if the likes of Danny Fiszman concentrated less upon maximising his returns from his shareholding and more about making sure that Lady Nina’s shares did not end up in the wrong hands. What of the Hill-Woods? has the all powerful dynasty come to an end with a whimper? Is that family also selling out? What else do you call standing idly by as a revived cold war conflict between the super powers threatens to engulf our club? Is there no one out there who is able to find a solution? Why have we accepted that Arsenal Football Club will now be owned by either an American or a “Russian”? Why did we as turkeys vote for Christmas by inviting our own executioner onto the Board? Where are the Custodians that we celebrated last year? Where are the defenders of the traditions of independent ownership that has made our Club great over many decades?
I have said in my previous blogs that being owned by Kroenke is better than being owned by Usmanov. The choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. But why I ask has this become the only choice? Yes we are publicly stated company in terms of shares, but that does not mean that we should facilitate the exchange or purchase of shares that would weaken the foundation of our independence. The Board are about to publish the financial results prior to the Annual General Meeting. I predict that they will not make pretty reading in terms of what can be read between the lines. I expect an increase in the amount of money spent on salaries. I expect an increase in the estate losses, but what will not be shown is the projected losses from the corporate boxes left unsold, the increasing numbers of fans who have refused to renew their season tickets for Club level and finally the reduction in gate receipts as we fail to sell out the stadium.
The competing factions will use the published “successful” sections of the results to bolster their own agenda. The Ostriches will congratulate those who successfully run our club which remains in profit with a healthy balance sheet despite the fact that in order to fund new player purchases, we have to sell our best assets. The Vultures will point to the this lack of investment in the playing squad, and how if we allow ourselves to be taken over, we would in effect be allowed an extra 10 million pounds each season. Sorry Mr Usmanov but fifty million pounds will not rebuild a squad shorn of Fabregas, van Persie and Arshavin. But there is also a crisis within the crisis looming which relates to Arsene Wenger’s position when the fall out from the takeover battle finally settles. So despite my frustration and irritation with the AW’s selection yesterday, I would ask him one thing. Before you depart our club, will you at least be honest with the fans and the shareholders and tell us if the lack of player investment over the years was been affected predominantly by the lack of disposable income rather than the overpriced players in the transfer market.
The other cause of my frustration is that that response to these results will be predictable. We will get platitudes from the conservative section of our shareholding support, we will get disrespectul abuse from the volatile section of our shareholding support, but the most worrying thing is that we get silence from the section of our club shareholders who actually know the truth, but feel that in some way our reputation in the Premier League and the transfer market will be harmed if we openly admit to not having the cash necessary to reinforce the squad. What reputation can seriously be harmed when we have agents and ex-player after ex-player queuing up to confirm that Arsenal Football Club say one thing in public about our ability to buy when they know the truth to be quite different. We cannot be consoled by the knowledge that our club is adhering to the principle of a club “living within its means”, because on that basis, as losses continue to mount effectively we are saying that we must sell even more players just to stand still.
The real crisis is not going to be on the field as I have alluded to at the start of this blog. Arsene Wenger will see to that. The real crisis is just beginning. A crisis that will mean in two seasons time Gooners will not recognise the club that they have supported for decades. The Board have become short sighted and almost impotent. If there is planning for two seasons time, it relates to financial disaster management and that alone. Ivan Gazidis has brought in extra executives to try and increase marketing revenues, but who will want to invest in a brand that has become tarnished by the sickening competing desires of rich people wanting to make a fast buck out of the company? In the city, this would be called asset stripping. Making a profit whilst allowing the assets to depreciate rapidly or be disposed of without a good return. So what hurts me more than the spectacle of our defeat at Eastlands is the paralysis that appears to have infected our Board. In the face of falling returns from our property portfolios and in the face of threats of takeover from individuals who seek only to make money out of the disposal of out great club, we appear to have no plan B.