The Arsenal Lean Years: Stadium Debt or Wenger Inept?

Enough is enough. Unless it's trophies. Then it's never enough.

Enough is enough. Unless it’s trophies. Then it’s never enough.

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.

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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

Bet you didn't think you'd see this face again...

Bet you didn’t think you’d see this face again…

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.

Managerial experience/competence

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
– Mourinho
– Benitez
– Mancini
– Ancelotti
– Hiddink

Pretty successful, this guy.

Pretty successful, this guy.

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.

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3 Responses to The Arsenal Lean Years: Stadium Debt or Wenger Inept?

  1. Dammy February 3, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    I think the reason Wenger is especially hurt by the WengerOut campaign is because he gave a commitment he did not have to the Club’s bank financiers at the time to stick with the club for 5 years come what may and keep the club in the top four. The emergence of Man City and PSG in 2010/11 presented opportunities and PSG don’t deny they tapped Wenger up. Florentino Perez admitted as much. Wenger stayed loyal and expects a bit of loyalty in return. The misconception however is that the loyalty he showed was to the fans- this was to the club; and they have in return showed him loyalty back.
    The fans want more and are right to query if AW is the man to do it. He is approaching retirement anyway so we must be looking to replace him soon anyway. For me, the sooner the better. If there is going to be a period of uncertainty while we steady the ship or find the right manager even- Let us bite the bullet sooner and be better for it later.
    Coming through the financially shackled period where clubs like Chelsea and the Manchester clubs (and to an extent Liverpool) made multiple £25m plus signings every summer while we sold and shopped in the bargain basement or nurtured talent. Wenger deserves a lot of credit for this. The summer of 2016 was the first time in the clubs history we made multiple expensive signings. It remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend or just the case of the Mustafi necessity. If it is the start of a trend, I welcome it as we are playing catch up the aforementioned clubs by SIX years. The rumour mill is already in overdrive Chelsea have a £100m war chest, while United have £120. If our war chest is same as last summer circa £90m, the real question is should it be entrusted to Wenger? Or should a new manager begin a rebuild free from sentiment

    • MarblehallsTV February 3, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

      Wenger Out does go over the top, but then I don’t think getting top four then was that much, or that difficult. We only had Spurs, Liverpool, or Villa as challengers and we were better than all of them.

      I respect Wenger, but maybe it is time for him to go. It’s probably for the best now, let’s reward him with a statue or rename a stand at the ground or something.

  2. Tim Hargreaves February 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    Nice article. 07/08 was the year we were robbed of the title by Mike Dean and Martin Taylor – Adebayor scored over 20 in the league that year and Eduardo was looking like a top player until he was broken by Taylor and then Dean’s worthlessly biased officiating.

    I think Squillaci might have been better for us if he had a better defensive mid in front of him – The Crab (Denilson) was poor and Squillaci later said he felt he had no protection from midfield that left him too exposed. He has a point. The REALLY poor defender from that time was Mikael Silvestre. Not sure how he became so poor so fast – Fergie had a habit of knowing when to move players on and made very few mistakes there (Forlan the biggest one) so why did AW sign him?!

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