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My Vision

Written by Mean Lean on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:15

I wrote an article yesterday on the race for fourth place and I had a look at the remaining fixtures of this season using last season's results based on said fixtures. It turned out that Tottenham finished way ahead of us based on those games. Needless to say, it means very little today and I wrote it more out of curiosity than anything else.

I actually wanted to write about fourth place and what it actually means to me, I just got carried away with the remaining fixtures and it turned into a life of its own.

Many people have their own opinions on a fight for a Champions League spot, some say that there is little point in being in the Champions League if we are not going to win it, some folk say that the extra revenue doesn't really matter to the fans because it isn't invested back into the squad. Some fans even go as far as saying that they would like to be out of the Champions League just to force the owners or/and manager to wake them up and be forced into making drastic changes.

Everyone is entitled to their views and I am not writing this to tell you how wrong or right you are, I am basically just giving my own take on the CL spots and why I feel it is vitally important.

Firstly I do not buy the view that missing out on CL football will wake the management from some sort of CL spell and then cause them to run around throwing money left, right and center in a Harry Redknapp style shopping spree. Arsenal are a prudent football club, have always been so before Arsene and Stan and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Having less income is hugely unlikely to make us spend more money.

The club clearly know that there is always the chance of missing out on Champions League revenue and would have factored this into the business plan long long ago.

A familiar question posed from Gooner to Gooner is the 'win the FA Cup and miss out on the top four or finish fourth with no trophy?' Of course the two are not mutually exclusive but what kind of 'what if' question has the best of both arguments? Doesn't really invoke much discussion does it?

If that choice had to be made then I suspect that most fans would say the FA Cup. I get that, fully understand why. I have punched the air, danced drunk around Highbury with my friends on those occasions. Those victories will stick with me until the day I lose my memory. But for me, even during a time when the last trophy is hard to remember I would stick with the CL places and forfeit the joy of watching Thomas Vermaelen lifting the most prestigious domestic cup competition in world football. Ironically, the last time it happened I felt like a rather spoilt kid. I didn't enjoy it one bit, felt like a boxer who had been battered for the entire fight only for the opponent to drop down with heart failure at the end. We got battered and I didn't like watching us be utterly dominated by Manchester United for the entire match. Perhaps I would have celebrated it more now knowing our path since 2005.

So let me explain the reason why I am willing to forfeit the cup just to be amongst the elite clubs in European football, a feat the manager has achieved for 16 straight years.

I love the FA Cup, I would love the 'whatevertheydecideitscalled' trophy if we could win it also but the truth is, I want more. I want us to be top of the table once more and without Champions League revenue I am not sure that we can reach those heights. Let me explain.

I don't believe that the manager has changed since he got here, his methods are much the same it is just that everything else around him has changed. Arsene is a manager who wants to build a team piece by piece, rounding and developing his players until they all click individually and collectively. The greatest team to grace the Premier League was more of less built in that same way. The difference was that we were able to keep hold of young players until the matured because a) wages were not inflated the way that Chelsea, Man City and co have forced them to be and b) we could afford to pay competitively without the Emirates chain hanging over our necks.

Since then the Champions League money has not prevented us from losing big players so I can understand skepticism. But a quick glance around us now tells us that things are changing both internally and externally. The Emirates deal has rocketed up our sponsorship cash, the new television deal money is around the corner (unless we get relegated) and skepticism or not the enforced financial rules are making some impact. A glance over to Chelsea tells you that Drogba was not given whatever he wanted to stay and the British press are scratching their heads at why Frank Lampard isn't being offered a new £230k, 5 year deal.

Manchester City have slammed the brakes on their spending. No major names in the summer, Tevez and Nasri possibly leaving and instead plumping for younger players like Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell on much lower wages.

Is the playing field around us being gradually levelled?

A glance at our previous balance sheets have suggested that we have needed to make player sales to balance the books and pay down debts. Hopefully now with the above increased income and also chopping high earners off the bill like Arshavin and Squillaci means that we can compete financially.

More importantly is that we (hopefully) will not be losing a match winning captain for the first time in two seasons. Meaning we don't have to slide down the snake and start learning how to play again.

For the first time in a few years, we could be in a position of building rather than rebuilding and if we want to build then having Champions League football as well as revenue is vital. Even if those above us have greater resources, I believe we can challenge them if and only if we are able to keep the best players we have and keep building our squad.

It is no coincidence that Manchester United have been able to stay at the top even with lesser resources than their neighbours and Chelsea. Manchester United have had stability, they have been able to add to what they have rather than lose Rooney, replace him, lose Evra and Ferdinand and replace the two etc etc.

I want us to get to the position that Manchester United have been able to be in, dancing in the street to a cup victory will not help us get there but continuing in the Champions League might just do it. But yes before you say it, both would be even better.

So while 4th is obviously not a trophy, it is surely the only real springboard possible to getting Arsenal where we want it to be and that is the very top.


Comments (17)

  • Zama
    Totally agree with every word. I question the intelligence of the ppl who think, if we finish outside of CL places then the Board will spend some f**kin money to get us back there. One look at Liverpool will tell you how difficult it is to get back in the top 4 even if you throw money around like confetti. The money given our stadium debt situation we wont have, if we dont get CL football.
    Again I hope you are right & we build on this squad rather than rebuild. In that respect the retaining of our British core & most importantly Theo is great show of intent. God knows I've had nightmares of Theo tearing us apart in a Chelsea or Man U shirt.
  • Aziz, KL-Malaysia  - Turning vision into mission
    Much of the building has actually taken place. With the added 3 matured players bought last summer, plus our new leftback, I think time has come for the Gunners that - given our depth of players - the Cup is possible as well as the 4th place finish. The fans want it, the players should adopt it as their mission.
    Given that maybe even a 'marque' signing for next season (top notch striker please) is on the cards - who knows.
    Well, 30 years hardcore Arsenal fan hasn't made me lose my optimism (never will). Gunners - Go for it !
  • Chris
    Good article. Strong points raised. Makes me rethink what I have said, but let's just see what happens.
  • Joel
    I am tired of people saying we need a new "Top notch" striker for peak sakes we have 3 just two play on the wings. Giroud is finding his shooting boots and has shown that he is a top notch striker. Theo has shown that he can play in the middle and Podolski might be a better CF then Giroud. Why spend money on a position you have depth at? If you ask me we should be looking to buy a world class central defender and a holding midfielder so that Arteta can play as more a playmaker mid that he is better at and we dont have to hold our breaths every time Jack goes down.
  • matlee
    hi Mean Lean, i agree with you, i think fans have become frustrated and want to see change rather than the same end result season after season. Liverpool have fallen in recent times despite winning a few trophies during Arsenals drought. does that mean their fans at this moment in time are more content than ours ? in our last fixture if they had won they would have gone level on points with us but since then we have restored an 8 point gap and so i would say despite their trophy wins at present their fans are less happy than us. we have been close to winning more than once in the last few years and but for circumstances things may have been different. losing players just as we seem to be realising our potential has been the biggest hindrance to our progress. we need to remain in the champions league as a minimum because although it should not be the limit of our aims it is a great platform for us to build on and can be counted as a level of success and a standard that we have been able to maintain. of course i want much more, i want Sir Alex to receive the same answer he would give to Wenger enquiring about the availability of Rooney. it does appear that slowly but surely things are changing for the better and for now we will have to be satisfied with the race for 4th which will be a hell of ride as it was last year. the wait for a Trophy has become an obsession not helped in the least by the media and if or when it does come which i believe it will - be it the league cup or the league it will be a fantastic day of both joy and relief !
  • DTM  - Incorrect
    "The club clearly know that there is always the chance of missing out on Champions League revenue and would have factored this into the business plan long long ago. "

    Incorrect. Out business plan actually relies on CL cash, if we go without it for more than a couple of season then we are in big trouble.

    Even so, we are never going to win the bloody thing, so sod it, I want a big cup and day out at Wembley and bugger watching us lose 2-0 at home to Schalke.
  • cin
    I am an arsenal fan. I want Arsenal be out of CL next season. I want Arsenal to act and spend.
  • Archimedes
    4th or FA Cup is a rethoric question for a club with the 3rd highest wage bill, which used to punch above its weight but is no longer. An average manager should get us third place, call the manager good if he is archives 2nd or 1st, he is bad when he is 4th or 5th as we are currently. Open your eyes, never accept social wage structure and low ambition. Also don't forget that stars generates revenues such as jersey sales so they are partially paying for themselves. With RvP gone, who's replica jersey are you wearing? Surely not Squillaci's or one of the other journeymen who are enjoying AWs social wage structure?
  • Gary
    How about Arsenal finish 5th below the spuds, but win the Champion's League and the FA Cup?
  • MeanLean
    Gary, I like it. I'd take that for sure.
  • IndiGooner  - BullsEye
    I luv you ML.. You are spot on!
  • MeanLean
    Haha :D

    Thanks IndiGooner!
  • johny Nassar  - gunners
    I like your article
    kroenke and gazidis must go and bring back david dein
    we need 3 exceptional players like a CB and DM and to keep Sagna
    that's it
  • Ross Cirson  - Gunners fan thru & thru
    8) Love your article, over here in Australia it's hard to explain why I follow the Gunners like I do. However I remember when the greatest manager in EPL arrived on the scene & created something which was not only a joy to watch but a team to brag about. The way we moved the ball the way we opened great teams up and devoured them. I have faith and I know it will happen again. We will rise again.
  • paspartu  - dtm - loser
    whats the point of england playing in the world cup then ?

  • johny Nassar  - Usmanov and dein
    kroenke out
    Usmanov in
    Gazidis out
    David dein in
    we need to keep our stars like Sagna
  • Tim
    Ugh. See my long response to you in the shambolic defending comments. Apply them to this article. Players want to play for teams that win things and pay them; two things we don't do. They don't want to play for perennial also-rans. The players we need to compete are good enough to play for teams that are not only good enough to qualify for the competition but are good enough to win it. Did qualifying for the CL play a factor in keeping RvP? Of course it didn't. It only plays a factor in bringing in foreign mercenaries who use us as a stepping stone to move on to bigger better things. Then we're right back to square one. Groundhog Day; repeat ad nausea.
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