On Wages & The Price Of Fear

Football’s traditions are continually under threat and Arsenal matches at 3pm on a Saturday are a dying breed. No game this weekend until Monday night, when Sky demands supporters schlep to the furthest away game of the season at Middlesbrough. For an evening kick-off. Bravo.

Despite the turmoil, the club is already planning for next season. The first signing is done and dusted, reportedly, with Schalke’s “highly rated” left back, Sead Kolasinac, arriving on Bowman this summer. If true, this suggests Kieran Gibbs will be moved on in the next transfer window.

The former England international is one of those whose contracts is in ‘renew or sell’ phase. It’s no surprise that he is on his way with Nacho Monreal retaining the manager’s trust through consistency.

In a time when ‘good news’ is in short supply, it will be a surprise if the club don’t try to capitalise on the signing now. If they can allegedly spend time briefing the press against certain players, is it beyond their wit to build a story of strengthening the squad for next season?

But that would mean announcing something in the future and Arsenal backed themselves into a corner on that one a few weeks back. Bravo.

Two bucks an hour and working weekends

The headlines this morning all claim Arsène fears meeting Alexis’ wage demands would destabilise the dressing room. I can’t find he actually said that so it’s an interesting collective mood of the sub-editors.

Wage inflation struck the Chilean’s ‘demands’ and £300k per week is now £384k per week. At some point, the figure will reach a level which brings a majority reaction of “He’s not worth it. Sell him!”, and the club will use it as justification for selling him. “But we listened to what you said…”

No matter the walk of life, wages are an emotive subject. I’m sure Arsène is protective of the rumoured £200k per week he is being offered in the New but unsigned deal. Or is it? Unsigned, I mean. Has the ink already dried but the season declined so it’s not a good time to announce? It’s never going to be a good time beyond the board not suffering the opprobrium of the masses.

Some will argue that the manager should be paid more, it’s what happens in business. Not always is the answer, and definitely not in football. Arsène made a very reasonable point about living within your means:

“I understand as well that top players is a big priority, but at the end of the day even for important players you can only pay as much as you can afford.”

Very true. However, if your wage structure is set up incorrectly, where you reward mediocrity too well, you compound the problem by not rewarding the key players with the market rate.

Arsène never hides his disdain for grotesque demands from players but his view of football economics has always been out of kilter with reality. The ‘socialist wage structure’ arguably cost him he finest young talent he had because it didn’t allow him to sign the experienced and exceptional lest they upset the dynamic of the group. Wages are important but so is winning.

The Reward For Fear

Wenger’s language is alarmist. He stopped short of telling us we’re all doomed but not by much:

“Players earn so much money now that the cases have become much more individual than global. You have many different opinions there.

“Some people tell me: ‘Just give his what he wants’. But then you cannot respect anymore any wage structure and you put the club in trouble as well.

“You have to make the decision in an objective way. Always the club has to be the priority.”

However, the club has to balance its priorities of money with challenging for trophies. Arsenal sit sixth this morning through poor form. If we don’t attract the best players, we won’t return to challenging for the title.

Would Arsène’s legacy, already in danger of becoming tarnished, disintegrate if he left the club further away from the title than when he joined?

All flippancy aside, a stand-off with the two prodigiously talented members of the squad do undermine Ivan Gazidis’ position. Remember the claims that we could compete with the likes of Bayern Munich? Already hollow thanks to repeated drubbings at their – and others – hands, failing to pay the wages of key players is pressing the self-destruct button.

While that may not sit comfortably with the manager, that is the reality of the world he lives in. Sometimes, he can come across as King Canute, unable to stem the tide against which he rails.

An already bad atmosphere will only worsen if we lose Alexis. I think Özil departing would meet with less resistance at present  but with the commercial money’s Arsenal receive and broadcast income, questions would rightly be asked why we can’t keep both. If the wage bill needs to be trimmed, there are quite a few candidates to put ahead of them in the queue for the exit.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your Saturday off.

’til Tomorrow.

51 thoughts on “On Wages & The Price Of Fear

  1. “Arsène never hides his disdain for grotesque demands from players”…..but funnily enough is not so forensic about his own renumeration.
    If he truly ‘loved’ the club he’d take a salary cut and use the difference on squad wages, if money were so tight. It isn’t, he’s just sandbagging as usual. He’s got some chutzpah. Sad there are not more probing journalists, all too comfortable these days. How he gets away unchallenged with the drivel he talks in press conferences is remarkable. And embarrassing if you happen to be a football ‘reporter’.
    Oh well, still be discussing all this rubbish in a years time, clearly he is going nowhere. Fingers crossed Middlesborough put on a strong show, i’ve got no wish personally for this to be easy for him, or the players at this stage. It is quite ridiculous that we are once again in this mess at this stage of the season…..management ? There is a distinct lack of it.

  2. Wages of mediocrity. That is what we are suffering. All except the mediocre players.

    More interestingly, does this look like another example of AW undermining a story put out by the club execs? Someone leaks the 300k/week Alexis contract offer and then AW responds in this manner? Of course is there any doubt now that he is leaving this summer or next?!

    Also what manager publicly comes out and discusses wages/contracts like this? Leave that for the chairman/board/execs–a manager should want to keep the best players. This is just another symbol of how strange and unhealthy is the unique situation of our club.

  3. Bufallo,

    for someone who claims to live and breathe arsenal, i don’t see why he feels he has exclusive rights to a wage increase, if he really was introspective and realistic he would know that he hasn’t done enough to earn a new contract let alone remain on his current pay package, yea, ozil and sanchez haven’t done enough to deserve such wages, what spectacular feat has wenger acheived to deserve his job in the past 5 seasons.
    we’ll keep on reaching new depths of low if the b.o.d insists on having misplaced priorities and mediocre ambitions.

  4. Limestonegunner,

    Well, yesterday he did say that he left these matters to the Board and that he ‘focuses’ on performances on the pitch.

    Nothing contradictory there then.

  5. Spuds up 3-0 atm, churlish to deny they look good…us however, can’t remember looking worse…the football tourists certainly have their work cut out choosing who to go and see. Can’t think why we don’t put the prices up.

  6. A stroll in the Sun for Spuds today, 3 – 0 up with twenty minutes to go and only the ‘keepers excellence keeping the score down but there could well be more for our North London rivals.

    Horrible, for an Arsenal supporter, to watch.

  7. I try to to pinpoint the causes of vexatious problems in today’s professional game.
    Bosman turned the game on its head and player power took over.
    And purely from the financial side, the gradual development of global television coupled with associated advertising, has resulted in quite obscene rises in wages, then ticket prices and ancillary costs ( the latter two mainly falling on loyal supporters). 😉

  8. Harry Kane has now hit twenty league goals for Spurs in each of the last three seasons. Giroud’s best tally is sixteen. That’s why he isn’t ‘World Class’ as Wenger has called him and why he’s on the bench more often than not. The mystery is why we failed to find a decent alternative for so long (I use the word ‘mystery’ even though the answer to ‘why’ can be answered by simply saying ‘Wenger’).

    Just another example of settling for mediocrity.

  9. nicky,

    Personally Nicky I agree that money flooding into the game has been a bad thing for your average match-going supporter. The Bosman ruling was inevitable though, absolute contractual control over workers could never be acceptable in the modern era. The biggest parasites though are the agents who add nothing to the game and manipulate immature young men to sometimes behave in a way that they otherwise would find unacceptable.

    Unfortunately AFC just have to deal with the reality which we are well able to do in all honesty and it’s that which attracted another leech to the feeding table in the form of our absentee owner.

  10. …and of course the club’s are innocent of exploiting, not only immature young men but children as young as nine years old.

    Somebody has to look after their interests and many agents do a good job of it. Without them acting on behalf of these children and their parents the clubs would have a field day ripping off the kids while stuffing their nurseries and academies with the best young talent around.

    When players get to the higher echelons of football’s money leagues some of them, who may not be the sharpest chisel in the box, have even more need of guidance, again it is the agent who takes care of them and rightfully deserve to be paid for their skill and advice.

    To blackguard all agents is entirely unfair and to blame them for the greed of those players they represent in every case is just plain wrong.

  11. Orson Kaert,

    Fair comment, thoughts always turn the greedy minority but that’s not the whole picture. Shame we cannot find a happy medium but I guess where there’s big money the greedy be they clubs or agents (and players) will always find a way to line their own nests at the expense of the supporter who just has to suck it up.

  12. ” Arsenal sit sixth this morning through poor form. If we don’t attract the best players, we won’t return to challenging for the title.”

    Whether we have finished 2nd 3rd or 4th in recent seasons, we haven’t challenged for the title,
    If a DoF is appointed would he/she be Arsene’s or Ivan’s ally in either case would it change anything, it looks as if we are stuck with Arsene and his permanent civil service.

  13. andy1886,

    We constantly hear how much the players, and in some cases managers, “love” their clubs yet they are happy to demand ever higher wages and bonuses. With the Premiership absolutely awash with money it is a pity that clubs, players and agents do not respect the fans a little more and demand a little less money which could be used to bring down the price of tickets.

  14. Of course in Arsenal’s case any money saved would more than likely go towards buying more real estate in Texas.

  15. Cricket was fine, thank you lsg.

    Two sweater day in the field. I am always fine while playing but the joints ache a bit in the evening these days.

    An excellent tea put on by Consolslel.

  16. Orson
    He also owns big tracts of land in Montana and Wyoming, in the top 10 US land owners…poor devil

  17. michael,

    I couldn’t care less about the real estate he owns in Texas, Montana, Wyoming or on the Moon, it’s his ownership of the tiny plot in North London that I resent.

  18. @Andy 1886,
    Your 2.33 rightly draws attention to a blight I omitted. The leeches that are agents. They stir up envy and dissatisfaction in order to line their own pockets. Why top level footballers really need agents defeats me. 😉

  19. I come back from the happiest place Disney to fins out we have signed Sead Kolasinac on a free to play LB at Arsenal according to Sky. Guess those reports of Nacho heading back to Spain might have some truth to them.

  20. @consolsbob,
    Whatever your age, there’s nothing to compare with the anticipation of the opening of the cricket season (if you are a player, of course). Football doesn’t seem to compare.
    Just the smell of freshly laundered whites and sweaters in April. And liniment……. 😉

  21. I ageee with orson. Most players would have no idea how to negotiate for themselves or how to structure contracts or handle tax implications etc. Without agents the players and their families would be at the mercy of ownership who would certainly not have the best interest of the players in mind.

  22. Happy Easter,

    Hope you’re all well and thank you Yogi for your work as always and in this rather dark hour of being an Arsenal fan.

    There’s definitely something in this “dark moment” being Easter and all. Maybe we’re about to turn a corner and there’s lights ahead?

    Wouldn’t really bet on it seeing that the spuds look formidable and the feature list is horrendous. But weird things are known to happen at Easter and this may yet to prove to be an exception🙂.

  23. Bill,

    I know this, should I be fortunate enough to have an income of around £10 million a year I would certainly consult an expert or two before investing the money. We consult medical professionals over our physical wellbeing, and trained mechanics to service our cars. Why would a professional footballer not seek the best advice as to how to manage his career and his money.

  24. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    A happy Easter to you Boyo! At the risk of committing blasphemy, after being crucified at Selhurst Park last week could Arsenal resurrect themselves at the Riverside on Monday?

  25. If you were a regular away fan, what would you think of a Monday night match away to Middlesbrough?! Awful schedule. It’s fine for the professional celebrity fans with AFTV contracts but a normal job holding supporter would probably just want to give it a pass.

  26. Limestonegunner,

    It’s the price the travelling fan has to pay so the rest of us can watch so many live games from the comfort of our armchairs.

    And don’t forget television pays are large proportion of our players wages, wherether they earn them or not.

  27. Orson Kaert,

    Everton are three points ahead of us – they are ahead of Man United on goal difference.

    We have three games in hand against them but two against Liverpool who are unfortunately nine points ahead of us.

    With Chelsea, Spurs and City I think top three is set…then its a scramble.

  28. Orson Kaert,

    It shouldn’t have done but that made me laugh!

    It will be interesting to watch how we, Liverpool, United and Everton all handle the last handful of games – a lot of pressure.

    I have little idea as to how things will pan out beyond third….

  29. DFS-,

    Out of us, United and Everton, our form is the worst, United seem to be capable of drawing more games than losing whilst Everton’s form looks ominously good. Even with games in hand in hand I don’t rate highly our chances of making the top four, although I do think that Liverpool are the likeliest to blow up.

  30. Orson Kaert,

    All very true that TV rules football. But this also assumes that anyone in their right mind wants to watch Middlesborough v Arsenal on Monday. And I very much doubt there is a large constituency excited to tune into it!

  31. I know we have 2 games in hand (but what is that actually worth right now?!), however the table looks downright freaky to see Spurs 17 points ahead in 2nd while we are in 7th. That is some kind of indictment.

  32. Orson Kaert,

    Yeah, pretty much as I see it.

    We should make up some ground this weekend, with Liverpool at West Brom and United against Chelsea but I’m not sure that will give us a long term confidence boost.

  33. hearing rumours of Arsenal signing sead kolasinac, if true, it will be great as Monreal is getting old and Gibbs is useless

  34. Limestonegunner,

    Thats exactly the thought I had (talking of indictment). Who the hell will be interested in watching the Monday game? I bet the figures will be dire.

    And from those watching, how many might tune in hoping Arsenal stumble again just to add to the soap opera?

    By the same token, it also occured Spurs have currently presented as the nations team of the moment.

    Not just their form but the fact they played the first/early game two weeks in a row and produced emphatic performances. I’ll be a lot of people are being won over.

  35. Is Arsene trying to say that if Arsenal end up in the toilet this season it will be because he has taken a stand against parasitical and greedy players for the good game. Well, Arsene, let me give you a very slow hand-clap.

  36. Morning all,

    Happy Easter.

    The Mirror has a story claiming Josh Kroenke wants to bring Henry on to give a boost to the dressing room until the end of the season, but Wenger is blocking it. No surprise really, as bringing someone in now would mean Wenger was accepting that something was wrong with his coaching and his relationship with the players. That would never happen.

    The disturbing thing about the current table is how far backwards we have gone this season. Spurs haven’t overtaken us, they’ve zoomed by as if we weren’t even there.

  37. Arsene is like a drama Queen, who does not like being upstaged by new faces, wether they be top class players or coaching staff that would actually add some value

  38. Just what would Henry bring to the table? Apart from a few weeks at the Academy, while working towards his coaching qualification, he has zero experience of working with any team. I rather suspect that his style of coaching would be similar to that of Glen Hoddle, showing his players how much a better footballer he was than they are.

    If the board feel that Wenger is in need of help or back-up, they should grasp the nettle and sack him forthwith. Not fart around tinkering with the system while the points flow steadily out the door and the season disappears down the toilet.

  39. Orson – It’s not this season that matters (it’s gone). It’s next season. Arsene will, undoubtedly, have a worse team next year than this year and be an even worse manager. Bottom half of the table? Very much on the cards. I’ve ceased being a fan. Now I’m an anthropologist.

  40. Orson Kaert,

    The article reads as if Henry would be coming in more for his motivational potential rather than coaching abilities. Given that Wenger will not be sacked, it wouldn’t do any harm at all to bring someone in to help boost the dressing room. I don’t know if it would work or not, but if it’s true it indicates that the BoD isn’t convinced that Wenger can motivate the players for a final push. It could have been handled as Wenger’s idea, but if true it sounds like someone is pissed off that Wenger blocked it. Of course it could be a load of BS.

  41. It’s amazing, really. Arsene has spent his whole career giving players the chop. Over the years, he’s told hundreds (no thousands) that they didn’t make the grade and given them the boot. It’s a totally Darwinian game with almost zero sentiment. Yet he can’t apply that same analysis to himself. He thinks he is sacrosanct. What an unbelievable egomaniac.

  42. Orson Kaert,

    “If the board feel that Wenger is in need of help or back-up, they should grasp the nettle and sack him forthwith. Not fart around tinkering with the system while the points flow steadily out the door and the season disappears down the toilet”.

    Could not be put better.

Comments are closed.