Football Moves In Cycles

And Arsenal are on the wrong end of this phenomenon now?

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Ah, remember the good days? When Arsene did know? Or for that matter the George Graham years. Arsenal were top dogs in London, no question about that. Spurs and Chelsea might have won the odd cup, but the league table told you who was London’s finest. The Gunners were competing for the title and every game mattered. On the back of this they moved stadium so they could make more income from Arsenal hospitality and anticipated that the increased income would allow them to continue to compete with Manchester United.

Where did it all go wrong? Well, the arrival of Roman Abramovich certainly didn't help matters, and by the time of Sheikh Mansour buying Manchester City, Arsenal were starting to slip off the radar as far as title challenges were concerned. So, face the facts, Chelsea became the most successful side in London after the Invincibles campaign, and have remained as such up until now.

But football is cyclical. Manchester United’s last title was won in 2013, and their local rivals across town have won three since then. And the tides may be shifting in London too, although it isn’t good news for Gooners. You'd think that the estimated £1 billion cost of Spurs’ new stadium might have set them back years, but the reality is that new stadiums mean more income, more than enough to cover repayments. It’s a myth that moving to the Emirates hampered Arsenal financially. Sure they were paying £18 million a year to pay off the stadium, but increase in gate money alone covered that comfortably. They made over £90 million in 2006/07, more than double the final season at Highbury. So a comfortable extra £30 million to the bottom line there. What did for Arsenal was two things – the over hasty break-up of the Invincibles and being usurped by Chelsea’s spending power.

Granted, the cost to Spurs of their new home is more than double what Arsenal had to shell out. And yet, the income from the game has risen dramatically since 2006. Spurs have been very astute, building a team from the funds made by selling the likes of Luca Modric and Gareth Bale, with good use of the transfer market and developing players from their own ranks. Critically, the work of Mauricio Pochettino has allowed them to reach a stage where they may soon enjoy their day in the sun as London’s top team, even if they still have work to do to catch Manchester City and the revived Liverpool.

The reality is that, in terms of income, reaching the Champions League final is a major boost to the club’s bank balance, and even if they were to lose to Liverpool, the season can only be regarded as one of progression. It appears as if the manager will remain to continue his work, as will most of the players with the possible exceptions of Christian Erikssen and Toby Alderweireld, who are both down to the final year of their contracts. Daniel Levy’s financial savvy will surely mean that these players either extend or are sold before next season kicks off. Were they to sell the stadium naming rights now, the asking price would certainly be greater than before they had moved in.

Chelsea are struggling now because their owner has lost interest, they face a transfer ban until next summer, Eden Hazard’s departure seems inevitable, plans to expand Stamford Bridge are currently on ice and there seem to be problems between Mauritzio Sarri and his playing staff. Granted, they might win the Europa League, but after fourteen years of success which has seen them as unquestionably London’s most successful side, their turn to take a dip seems to be close. Of course changing managers has worked for them in the past, so there is certainly no guarantee Sarri will be around next season, even though Champions League football has been secured.

And what of Arsenal? It should be remembered that Jurgen Klopp had a similarly mixed start to his Liverpool tenure. He arrived in October 2015, and his team finished that season eighth in the Premier League, whilst losing the Europa League final to, ironically, the Unai Emery managed Sevilla. A rebuilding job was necessary, and it’s taken time. It should be remembered that Klopp has yet to win silverware with the club although the culmination of his fourth season could well see him lift the trophy that has twice eluded him in finals at both Dortmund and Liverpool. To win 97 points in the Premier League and not win the title still seems unreal.

Emery has done better in the league than Klopp in his first campaign, and if he wins in Baku, then he will have returned the club to the Champions League at the first attempt. Liverpool though, were able to fund their rebuild with a supportive owner focused on footballing success, combined with the funds from the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona. The funds made from their run to the Champions League final last season would have done them no harm either.

The question for Arsenal is how much Stan Kroenke wants the team to succeed. The signs are that he seems happy for them simply to remain in the cash cow that is the Premier League, rather than invest the necessary funds to allow them to push on and become a force once more. He could easily cover the £18 million annual debt repayment without having any impact on FFP regulations, and even pay off the entire debt to release many millions in the Arsenal bank account that have to remain there as security for the loan until the final repayment is made at some time in the distant future.

Arsenal’s turn in the London football cycle will probably come again, but given their current situation, the sooner they can get back into the Champions League, and the better their recruitment and internal player development policy, the more likely it is to happen. Whether or not Unai Emery is the man to oversee the renaissance is a debate for another time, but there seems little doubt that, in comparison to Liverpool and Spurs, the club are currently hampered by an unmotivated owner.

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  1. TonyEvans

    May 15, 2019, 07:45 #113851

    I agree with most of the article but, much as I do not want to rake over old ground, the pivotal role Arsene Wenger played, ably supported by a cowardly, unambitious and spineless board can not be ignored when it comes to arguing the toss about why it all went wrong post 2006 - and still the legacy Wenger left of calamitous capitulations and inept defending continues to haunt us to this day.

  2. John F

    May 14, 2019, 19:38 #113850

    Chelsea also have a few promising young players coming through and with the transfer ban it looks like they will have to use them.If Spurs win the champions League then they will become an attractive club for players if not I can see a slow decline similar to us.As for Arsenal a lot depends on whether Emery trusts the young players coming through and if he can get rid of the cash drain Ozil( made me laugh and cry that his agent told Arsenal fans not to panic he is staying).As for outside contenders for top four I wouldn't rule out two clubs with very ambitious owners Everton and Wolves.What could be interesting is City are in danger of being kicked out of the champions league not next season but the season after due to FFP rules being Broken.

  3. Pauljames

    May 14, 2019, 19:34 #113849

    The two euro finals are pivotal in deciding where the power lies in London in the medium term . We have to win and then pray that Tottenham get stuffed , simple as that. If that comes to pass I don’t think they’ll be much between the two in the near future, and you get the impression Pochettino is not gonna be around for too much longer either . Another 2 seasons maximum I reckon.


    May 14, 2019, 18:44 #113848

    Unless Stanley decides to sell up, forget any more PL titles. We have no inherited rights to anything & the clubs that are succeeding have something we don't - driven committed owners ( although this Government are doing their best to demotivate Abromovich). And another thing, people are banging on about not spending on defenders last summer but we brought in 4 which still wasn't enough & shows how bad was the squad that Dick inherited. Finally, from yesterday's posts I went back down memory lane with SKG & Ron mentioning John Sneddon. Now there's a name of a bloke who was going to be our greatest central defender with one newspaper calling one performance "immense". Where did that go wrong - injuries or poor coaching by Wenger's dad?

  5. markymark

    May 14, 2019, 18:34 #113847

    Sorry meant I agree with “It’s Ron again” - sorry Ron and Ron

  6. markymark

    May 14, 2019, 18:32 #113846

    Spurs lost 13 Times this season and we came very close to taking 6 points off them . If Potch goes they could very well be stuffed as they’d have to consider an Alegri type figure with big transfer demands or fish lower down with continued risk of winning nothing. Chelsea can’t buy for a season and have a fanbase who hate the manager . UTD are still on a downward cycle. We in comparison have a clinical forward line and excellent young prospects. The chief concern is our defense is out of whack. I agree with Gooner Ron in its green shoots time. Unai said he will turn to the youth ( he obviously saw my last post lol ) I think it’s actually rebalancing itself and starting to look quite good again after the terrible disappointment of the previous 6 games

  7. itsRonagain2

    May 14, 2019, 16:42 #113845

    I think there are green shoots of recovery at Arsenal despite the away form horror show. I still class them as Londons top club too. Trophies to SW6 are one thing but theres more to being a top club in an area than just that. I also think that Spurs could be in a stadium costing 50 billion and holding 15000 souls and yet they ll not win any PL titles soon. Some things in some towns and Cities just 'are' . Yes, the might nick the CL i accept that but foret titles. There barely ahead of Arsenal in reality league wise. Once they've won another 7-8 titles and 3 or 4 more FACs while we remain docile and win nothing i ll start to give credence to the fabled 'power shift' but not until. Based on past history it ll take about another 1000 yrs at their prsent rate of title and FAC success. Tottenham are a product of media wishful thinking and no more. Its always been the same. In these dats of wall to wall footie coverage the media hacks are pressing home their forlorn message about Tottenham. Only those who dont look closely at that club are buying it and long may it last. For a City as big as London, its following for football and the money each club has or has had historically, the record in football across all the clubs is utter sh--te in truth. Take Arsenal away from the Citys honours list and theres little left save for Chelseas contribution this last 15 years and thats ended. The saddest thing is that many of our own fans are buying the Tottenham myth they're being fed.

  8. Nos89

    May 14, 2019, 16:09 #113844

    On average Arsenal have won a league title every 17 years, so we are due one in the next couple of seasons. There is of course the "new" reality of unprecedented amounts of money being pumped into an underachieving club, Chelsea and Man City to bring them to the top. Spurs do have a good three-four seasons every 20 years or so, meaning this is their peak. Like 1984 was their peak with the team that won the UEFA Cup. Whilst the quality of players is no doubt a major factor so is the manager/ coach of the club. Pep, Klopp and Poch are proving coaches that consistently improve a team. Emery has shown signs of improving through coaching. He did at Valencia, was consistent at Seville where he relied on loan signngs, but at Arsenal he has the only opportunity he will get to prove his coaching ability. In Chelski's case the players Hazard and Luiz have stepped up when it has mattered. Has Sarri improved them? League table suggests yes, but I don't think he has at all. Next season, if he gets one, will find him out, especially without Hazard. If the players that need to move on, get moved on then I think we will put a decent challenge in and move above both spurs and chelski We need 4 players, 3 defensive, and one midfielder to improve the squad. But they need to have the desire and want to play for the shirt first, manager second. I'd still bring Fabregas back if available. He is still capable and better player than we currently have, with the added feeling of unfinished business at Arsenal. Just think had wenger re-signed him we would've been Champions ahead of Chelski and definitely Leicester. Our time is coming round much sooner than any pundits realise.

  9. Don Howe

    May 14, 2019, 13:07 #113842

    The blame game is as uninteresting as it is futile. What is more interesting is to LEARN from mistakes. Good sense and decision making are essentials and they can go a long way in improving the picture. One of the great advantages that we now have is that a man who was incapable of making a sensible decision has disappeared. This gives us hope. Mr Emery has his flaws but at least he is a sentient being, and whether Stan and Son give him any money to spend, he will hopefully take some sensible decisions. We need Ozil out ditto Xhaka and Mustafi. We need, as many have said , to use our young players. We need a change of emphasis towards a more defensive balance and we need a proper defensive coach. All of these are do able. Lets hope that the management team gets on and does sensible things. Spurs have spent much less money than we have in transfers and wages, yet there they are. Good sense. We need to see some.