Arsenal were slammed for doing it. Spurs do it and it’s sexy.

Gunners Town is delighted to host the following guest post from Brad Smith @ArsenalFCView

I’ve spent the last few days considering the praise that Spurs are getting from all sides of the media. “Best starting XI”, “Best Kids”, “Best Negotiators”. It all seems a little strange to me. So I started out writing a ranting letter to F365 (which has been published). But it turned out a little longer than I expected so thought it might be an idea to get it published on a blog site.

Been a few years since I’ve done this, apologies for the stilted writing style and overuse of brackets. I hope this resonates with a few non-Arsenal fans as well as Gooners.

A bold move

For years and years (about 8 in total), Arsenal adopted a policy of relative austerity when it came to squad investments. There were 5 players in particular that were allowed to leave and not replaced (Vieira, Henry, Fabregas, Nasri and van Persie). We were told that the club was paying off the stadium and for the long term benefit of the club we as fans may have to suffer a few barren years. We did. No trophy from 2006-2013 (though we would have arguably won the league in 2008 without Eduardo’s leg break).

This divided (and still does) Arsenal fans into the remarkably tedious AKB and WOB brigades. But it appears now that Arsenal are leaving that phase of the club’s life behind them. Now, some argue that we always had the money but chose not to spend it. Which is perfectly possible, but seems like an entirely sensible approach for any company to take regardless of its business. Consolidation is a valid and worthwhile business strategy, especially if you have embarked on a medium- to long-term high-finance project and have just enjoyed the most successful 5-year period in your company’s life.

This trophy doesn’t count. Three times. In the last four years.

However, during this period Arsenal were widely castigated by the press and fans of other clubs alike. “No ambition!” they cried, “X years without a trophy!” they scoffed. And even now, after the club has won 3 FA Cups in 4 years, we discover that ‘trophy’ only actually means the League title or Champions League. Strangely though, other clubs count the Europa shield and League Cup as trophies (and Mourniho counts that Charity Cup thing).

In 2017, Spurs are mirroring Arsenal from 2006. New stadium to pay for after arguably their best team in decades. Do I see Pocchetino and Levy slated for lacking ambition in the press? Has anyone ever mentioned that they haven’t won a trophy in over ten years and no FA Cup since 1991 and no “Arsenal level” major trophy for over 55 years? No. I see praise. Praise for operating differently to the ‘oil money clubs’. The oil money clubs which – amazingly – Arsenal are now being bracketed with.

This guy was inaugurated the year Spurs last won the league.

As a side note, since Spurs last won the league, Arsenal have won 6 leagues. Since Spurs last won the FA Cup Arsenal have won it 8 times. And here Spurs are, being praised for something which Arsenal were abused for 24 months after going an entire league season unbeaten. They’d earned the right to tighten things up.

And if one club on earth has earned the right to spend big on players, it’s Arsenal and in particular Wenger. So, the stick that was used to beat the club for 10 years and counting is now being used to beat the drum of Sense and Sensibility in favour of Spurs. I find it astonishing.

I applaud Spurs for their approach. Just as I applauded Arsenal. There is absolutely nothing wrong or incorrect about running a football team as a going concern. If anything it should be illegal not to. I’m more annoyed about the double standards of those paid to report on the sport we love.

Fool and his money…

Hearing José saying how other clubs are ‘ruining the game by over spending’ (there is actual footage) was simply the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard. He’s spent £164m on Pogba and Lukaku and paid £40m to ONE agent in the last 12 months. People lap up his “fake news” though and it drives the agenda for the season ahead.

We need impartial reporting and websites that can provide a beacon of reality in a sea of agenda-driven quasi-journalists. Otherwise I feel that the fake news will seep into the real news, and the likes of José once again get away with absolute murder.

Just so I’m clear, can anyone tell me whether austerity is lack of ambition or something which should be applauded in the face of massive spending?

Have a good day, team.

Brad Smith


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25 Responses to Arsenal were slammed for doing it. Spurs do it and it’s sexy.

  1. DB10 July 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Awesome piece! Amazing, but true. The most lambasted club in history versus the most loved by all! Incredible that we survived that journey against the barrage of castigation and abuse. Good luck Tiny Totts – maybe in seven or eight years time they can look back and say how much they have won – or not. One thing is for certain, where Arsenal are concerned, there will always be double standards.

  2. BERNARD July 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    but spurs are gods own perhaps your dodgy history of bribes i.e move from woolwich and never winning the right to play in the top division has come back to bite you in the arse

  3. Tg July 27, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    The obsession continues

  4. CM July 27, 2017 at 4:49 pm #

    Funny you should mention that because in last 24 hours, I’ve seen a dozen or so headlines all quoting the same comment by Conte on exactly this criticism regarding Spurs’ ambition given their lack luster summer transfer activity this far. Here’s but one example:

  5. Yorkspur July 27, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    i think the lack of ambition claims levelled against you have been more down to lack of spending while you could ie even since the mortgage was paid, and wenger lost his touch with the youth as well, leading to undoubtedly a downward trajectory in the quality of your team.. we on the other hand have improved considerably (admittedly not winning anything but even a gooner couldnt deny we were streets ahead of you last season) and done so while turning a profit on transfers. in short, we’ve made austerity look good

  6. Steve F July 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

    I am a Tottenham supporter and feel that this is a generally sound and reasoned article.

    Most of the criticism about lack of signings comes from critics envious of your success, or from your own support because of the success of others.

    Having seen our club almost go out of existence because of mismanagement, I applaud any club applying sound finance and look forward to a smaller league with clubs who have followed that path.

    But DB is wrong to suggest we are the most Loved by all. Far from it. Sometimes even from within but we all have idiots following us.

    The one point that was not elaborated on is the “Best Kids”. This is really the area for Chelsea with their success in FA Youth Cup, but few make the grade. Spurs – through better control management – have followed the Arsenal in developing a state of the art training facility, and allowing kids to come through. And we have probably more ( subjective argument only) than you at this time, and that is a criticism that maybe Arsenal need to take on the chin. The days of Brady, Stapleton, O’Leary along with Parlour, Adams & Campbell seem a distant memory with the current crop maybe too spoilt too early – again, can be levelled at most clubs.
    And our renaissance in this area is still limited BUT is more current.

    More quality coming through the ranks with a love of the club means the inflated wage increases even for the likes of Ozil and Sanchez could be ignored. Same for all clubs.

    Spotting a bargain and developing them has not been that evident in recent years and a long time since Anelka level of sell on. Have Walcott and Ramsey really progressed as much as they should or would have done elsewhere? Yet for our failures, we have a Walker, a Dele or a Dier.
    Again, current.

    Everything is cyclical, and may the day come soon where you get the plaudits and we get the trophies.
    We live in hope!

  7. Rob July 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    I’m a Spurs fan and read this with interest. Some valid points made but I would like to offer a bit of weight from an alternative perspective. First of all, not all media have been glowing about Spurs transfer policy. This week Martin Samuel wrote a fairly scathing piece in the Daily Mail suggesting an underlying arrogance about Spurs approach and yet at the same time giving support to Man City and Chelseas recent purchases.

    Secondly, to compare Spurs with Arsenal 2006, I think is a bit misleading. Yes we have got our best squad in ages,but some perspective. Spurs last won a trophy in 2008. The League Cup. We have only won 2 trophies since that 1991 FA Cup victory. IN 2006, Arsenal had 2 spells of fantastic success in the Graham era and then Wenger 98-05. We are are a long way off that even now, though progress is being made.

    The point I’m making is that Arsenal fans had expectations. They had been consistently successful over 15 year period. Spurs while improving, have won nothing. So actually for Arsenal the impact of the stadium and the sale of stars not being as competitive hit arsenal fans hard. Spurs fans in general we are optiisitc the future is looking good but I wouldn’t say we are the stage where we expect to win things. I think our evolution is ongoing but were heading in the right direction. The other difference I would suggest is that Spurs have a core group of English talent which is rare these days. Arsenal were in the main, a team made up foreign stars. Perhaps that explains the positive narrative towards Spurs.

  8. Insideright July 27, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more – in fact I said the same some days ago on Untold.
    The problem is, of course, the management of expectation. Wenger himself has said that he created his own problem by being ‘too successful, too quickly’. Even continued qualification for the Champions League wasn’t enough for the critics who would much rather see money being spent (and likely wasted) in the vain pursuit of dominance against those who became suddenly wealthy under dubious circumstances.
    Spurs get the praise because Arsenal have proved that it’s the correct way to go when you take on stadium debt; being pretty much the only club not to be subsequently relegated.
    Hearing Daniel Levy using words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘custodianship’ sounds to me like someone who would quite like to sell the club by giving it a new, much more stable image.
    Being first in any market or to adopt a particular strategy will always draw the ire of the ignorant but the fact is that for Spurs to adopt the Arsenal way is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Where it will be interesting is to see if they also adopt the strategy of building cash reserves to pay off future debts when income is hit by (e.g.) non-qualification for the Champions League. The competitive situation they find themselves in now is much more difficult that that which Arsenal thought they would face. The pressures of short-termism might prove too great.

    • yolo July 27, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

      “Being first in any market or to adopt a particular strategy will always draw the ire of the ignorant but the fact is that for Spurs to adopt the Arsenal way is the sincerest form of flattery.”

      You mean like how Spurs were always known as the flair team, who played with style, whereas Arsenal were always considered workhorses who had to hack and foul in order to win, by comparison? One nil to the Arsenal, that sort of thing.

      It’s good that Arsenal did so well when they copied Spurs; after all, Spurs showed everyone how to do it the right way.

  9. B July 27, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Another spurs fan. Good article, yeah Conte went and ruined that for you lol. Tbh I suspect what you are saying will all come soon enough for us if we don’t get some silverware. Just so you know I do count the fa cup. With the history of the cup I think it is insane how more people don’t seem to care about it.

  10. 3J July 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m a Spurs fan, I hope that doesn’t cause too much consternation. I’m not about to throw jibes your way. My brother’s Arsenal, I’m used to it. I would say, though, that where this isn’t the same is that austerity for us is keeping our team together and hoping that our excellent manager can continue to develop these players, as well as promoting younger additions from the academy. I think that is worth praising. If it works next year, of course. Were they to flog Kane, Alli and Eriksen, in the mould of what the author mentions Arsenal did with Van Persie, Vieira, Fabregas etc, then I think it would be a more appropriate comparison, and the media would certainly slam Spurs for doing it. I agree with a few things in this piece, but the connection between the two situations is tenuous. If you didn’t make any new blockbuster signings back when you last won the league, but retained your best players and relied more heavily on your academy, that would be a like-for-like (and sexy). To me, the situation isn’t the same.

  11. jw1 July 27, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

    Excellent article (and post/reply from Steve F too).
    Started out with my own (lengthy) response– but decided to simplify with a marketing perspective.

    Ad-clicks. Nothing more.

    When one of the more major ‘news outlets’ tosses out a story– the minor ones replicate and source it– to shave off what ever measure of ad-click revenue can be had.

    The talent lies in having headline writers who can draw the most eyeballs.

    That Arsenal is the easiest target– did start in the era following their glory years.
    Because? Gossip sells. Nothing more gossip-y that reporting on someone’s/something’s failure.

    Now? Just a matter of revenue.
    And I can almost assure you that many of the newer pop-up blogettas that populate my Arsenal NewsNow feed– are likely run by the same larger ‘news outlets’ to double-dip on their own creation.

    So– in reality? Arsenal is a target. Only it’s not personal. Just highly profitable.


    • yolo July 27, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

      That might have had more to do with the fact that Arsenal fans themselves had been acting as though Wenger had created the Temple of Football, and were intensely arrogant. Like, all the time.

      Maybe that’s why until Chelsea took the crown, Arsenal were the most hated club in the country.

      But you can blame it on ‘gossip’ if you like. Whatever helps.

  12. Raj July 27, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    I would disagree that Spurs have gone nothing but praise…especially if you start looking at some of the fan blogs…there’s a fair amount of consternation at the lack of building upon the best finish in ridiculous number of years that we just had.
    We for sure need a backup striker.
    A creative midfielder to push and complement eriksen would be great.
    A new attackig winger would also do nicely.
    A backup for trippier at right back would round it off nicely.
    We’ll get at least 2 on deadline day based on previous levy antics.
    But the other criticism is always that last minute business saves you money but puts your season preparation back, and again this is quite a common complaint.
    Don’t worry, Spurs are just on an upswing overall which is why the praise is justified.

  13. Ben July 27, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

    Tottenham have recouped more money than spent in the last seven seasons and made excellent progress. Arsenal spend lots more on wages and have gone backwards.

    When have Arsenal produced a Harry Kane? Alex Iwobi is the best probably in the last 10 years while Spurs have Winks, Carter-Vickers, Walker-Peters and Onoma all on the verge of first team plus lots more prospects.

    When have Arsenal invested in the right young players? Bale vs Walcott, Dier vs Chambers, Ox vs Dele. Add Walker, Rose and more established players like Alderweireld, Eriksen and Wanyama and Spurs paid in total not much more than Arsenal paid for Lacazette.

    It should be stated for the record that Spurs have had some transfer disasters like Sissoko, Soldado and a few others in the post Bale era.

    Finally, contracts are a massive part of Spurs’ success. Player after player has signed long-term contract which is why Bale cost £85m, Walker cost £50m and quotes for the likes of Dier and Rose are in the region of £50m. Arsenal have three of their best players in the last year of their contract and may have to sell the likes of Sanchez for £35m even though he is one of the best players in the league.

    Both clubs have and/or will be in times of austerity, but Tottenham have proved that they are a much better run club on a business front. This said, it has not been converted to trophies yet.

  14. Rob July 27, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

    What separates the two scenarios may be the fact that during this ‘austerity’ period, Spurs had already prepared for this moment by developing an Academy that would produce young talent so when the stadium spending was top priority the team itself had players ready to push up into first team PL competition. The foundations of an outstanding plan that appears to be coming into fruition. Arsenal had no plan to compensate team development without spending in the transfer market. Without having an academy to groom first team players the Arsenal had to buy what turned out to be slightly less than adequate players, less than adequate as determined by their own standards previously set by past successes. Thus the term “sustainability ” as explained by Daniel Levy. More chance of building a successful team ethic than buying one. If you can’t learn from someone else’s mistakes what’s the point?

  15. JimB July 27, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    Grow up. Stop whining. Tedious victim mentality. Childish persecution complex. “Waah, waah….it’s not fair”.

    Truth is that both Arsenal and Tottenham, like most other clubs, sometimes attract more praise than they should; sometimes attract more criticism than they should; and sometimes attract exactly the amount of either that they deserve.

  16. Brad July 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    I think the thing that I connected with most here was the ad-click comment. Arsenal are hugely active on the internet with a massive presence. It makes sense to engage them. And the best way to engage football fans is to enrage them. As I have quite pointedly proven here.

    So as a vocal fan base, we have to put up with BS reporting. It’s just a shame that journalism is now more about chasing sponsorship than professional integrity.

    Another point I agreed with was that about Arsenal not preparing for the austerity with its youth programme. I feel maybe Wenger became complacent here. Though I will say that I believe that youth development is more about luck than anything else. Look at Man United. 1992 era aside, there aren’t that many.

    Thanks for all the comments guys. Enjoyed reading them.

    • Dave Seager July 27, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

      And thanks to you Brad for an evocative article.


    • 3J July 28, 2017 at 10:34 am #

      What was the reason for the drop off in the youth team? There was once a period when your youth team would get into the Worthington Cup latter stages. The likes of Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Fran Merida, Carlos Vela… I thought the train would never end. Then it dropped off completely. Is this a result of Wenger’s increased control over all matters and marginalising of specialist coached?

  17. Victor Thompson July 28, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    One thing about Batmandela`s articles is that even if you don`t agree with them, you can`t help yourself from enjoying them. This one is no exception and it has provoked reactions from Gooners and Spurs supporters alike. Some of the Spurs comments are quite flattering to Arsenal.

    If you take the issue of loyalty from the players to the club they play for, Arsenal are open to criticism in comparison to the “family” culture, Spurs have nurtured with their current crop of players, Harry Kane being the most obvious one. The fact that Spurs have so many top class young players with such a passion for the club is partly due to luck, Just as the Man Utd. squad of Beckham, Scholes Neville etc. who all came through together but also from the “Everybody hates us, we don`t care” philosophy developed by Ferguson and later copied by Mourinho. It ingrained a siege mentality in their players and a determination to be top dog.

    I note that comparisons are being made between Arsenal in their austerity programme and the current Spurs situation. It is not quite the same for various reasons, The “Invincibles” were our last super team pre – Austerity and we have since then flattered to deceive at times but during those barren times, the fans were generally complacent until Gazidis and Wenger declared that we were now able to compete with the top clubs in pursuit of signings. It should also be noted that throughout those years we were in a different league to Spurs as far as income was concerned, and we still are.

    Some of the comments from Spurs are that we were always the most hated club in the country because we were arrogant, dull and dirty particular under Graham. In comparison, Spurs were regarded as the team who did things “the right way” and played good football. Well even if that were true, Arsenal under Wenger from 1996 on played arguably the best football ever played by a UK team. Even now, when we are not doing well, even Grudging Pundits like Alan Shearer, Hanson, Neville and Murphy agree that even though we are not going to be champions; on our day, nobody plays better football than Arsenal. Interestingly, Wenger often states that “we do things the Arsenal way” and by that he is referring to his blueprint for the football they play.

    There is a temptation which no Gooner can resist and that is that we love to measure our achievements against Spurs because it is a one way street, until now and remarkably, even in what has generally been regarded as our worst season of the Wenger era, and conversely, Spurs best, still resulted in no trophies for Spurs whilst we achieved winning the F.A. Cup for a record number of times.

    It is sad that the Spurs fans still hark back to Victorian times to when we moved from Woolwich to N. London and immediately displaced them as the “Cock O The Walk” despite their cockerel emblem. That particular cock has not crowed for over 50 years. It may be about to find it`s voice again, but it is a work in progress. In the meantime, I wonder why Sky`s viewing figures were always higher when Arsenal were playing, than they were when other clubs played. It was neutrals who bolstered the figures because we played the best football for at least 10 years.

    • Batmandela July 30, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

      Sorry Victor – I wish I’d written it – but credit goes to Brad Smith. (As mentioned in the actual article!) I forgot to set “author” to Guest Writer. Fixed now.

  18. BERNARD July 28, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

    no victor i think they tuned in to see the arse get beaten

  19. Brad Smith July 30, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    Victor this was my article 🙂

    • Batmandela July 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Sorry about that, Brad. I forgot to attribute to Guest Writer when I edited and posted. (In my defence, I did credit you a couple of times in the post.)

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