Arsenal: FFP Crusaders Crash Against The Rocks

Unai Emery lit the fuse in his pre-match press conference yesterday. Asked about the club’s transfer situation, the Spaniard replied:

We cannot sign permanently. We can only loan players. Only loan players.

He did not say that we were skint, brassick or out of cash. He didn’t even allude to it. The only thing Emery did was state our current position and not why.

And we are none of those things. If we were, we couldn’t sign loan players.

However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned by the situation. And certainly, our former CEO’s reputation lies in tatters this morning. This is a situation of his making, along with the former manager whose control spread like tentacles throughout the business. The situation is new but the problem isn’t.

Fundamentally, Arsenal isn’t a profitable business. The accounts show a heavy reliance upon player profits to keep the bottom line in the black. While that might be standard in football, we’re not covering our costs.

And let’s make no mistake here. It’s player costs which are the fundamental issue. We have several players who are not delivering the salary they are paid.

Is the Ozil deal a millstone around our necks? I think he is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen but for Arsenal right now? Do we get ‘value for money’?

We have others whose abilities undermine their paypackets. Mustafi is prime among them but do we get value from Mkhitaryan? Lichtsteiner? Jenkinson? Elneny? Chambers? That is a very subjective list but I’m guessing most of those names will appear on the many we draw up.

We’re Not In The Champions League and We Need To Be

That’s not the only issue it highlights and I freely admit I am writing this with the benefit of hindsight. But the benefit of hindsight is available to everyone at the club to learn the lessons of the past.

However, the failings of the business reflect that failings on the pitch. And it is failings of the business. FFP is a fundamental part of football now, both domestically and at a European level. If we’re not delivering the financials, e.g. the commercial deals, then the business is failing to deliver the targets it needs to hit.

When the Emirates was constructed, the message came out that we would not suffer unduly if we missed out on qualification for Europe’s top table for a short while, one or two seasons. There was scope with the budget to cover it off.

A decade later and football’s financial landscape changed so dramatically that those words now carry a hollow ring. The leeway we had is gone and we’re paying for slipping from perennial fourth-place trophy winners to also-rans.

Our former CEO and manager, between them, carved up the power in the business and with the notional director of football, cocked up our transfer dealings something rotten.

Dick might have been a good lawyer but as a dealmaker, he was a busted flush. The summer chasing Joel Campbell’s agent around the Carribean typified the Keystone Kops element. All that for a player who wasn’t good enough for Arsenal when he joined or when he left.

The Cost Of Everything and The Value Of Nothing

Hindsight (once again, dagnabbit) tells us we were poor judges of values. Arsene was too conservative in assessing those he wanted to buy and we weren’t ruthless enough when it came to selling. When did Arsenal last get good value in the transfer market when we sold one of our ‘stars’?

We did well recently to get £20m for Theo and £18m for Giroud given their respective ages. However, if I mention Szczesny, Cesc, Nasri, Adebayor; I could go back to Patrick Vieira. We hold onto players too long or aren’t strong enough in negotiations when the young talent wanted to leave.

Yes, players forced our hand but they do that with other clubs too. Other clubs, it must be said, who got better value.

The examples which spring to mind are Alexis, Walcott and Ramsey. Sanchez we knew wanted to leave but it all fell apart. Had we signed Lemar in the July, the situation wouldn’t have backfired and we certainly wouldn’t have Mkhitaryan. The jury is out on Henrikh’s value for money.

Theo, we sold three years too late. After his FA Cup final performance against Aston Villa in 2015 was the time we had to cash in, not three years down the line when he was only a peripheral member of the squad. The manager and staff knew he wasn’t a central striker, so why carry on the charade?

It’s two examples which needed a ruthlessness we didn’t possess. The same with Aaron Ramsey. We knew what the situation was when Unai Emery took over. The Welshman hasn’t featured as centrally as he’d like despite Emery’s initial claims of wanting to build a side around him.

Get Plenty Of Irony In Your Diet

The deal was done and then we walked away with no fee incoming. It’s madness. Surely we knew in the summer he wasn’t part of Emery’s plans? Or did Ivan really hold that much sway?

Look, I know players in Ramsey’s situation hold the whip hand yet other clubs don’t find themselves in this situation. We do because we’re naive and too indecisive. Or we have been; let’s see if the new bosses really are like the old bosses.

The selling side of the game is important to us as I mentioned earlier. But if we’re bad at that, we were even worse at contract management.

And that’s the story of our footballing lives: jam tomorrow. Except the jam is a long time coming. And it feels like there is more chance of The Jam reforming than Arsenal winning the title.

It felt that way in the 1980s as well. That was a different time but back then we weren’t prolific in the transfer market but come the end of the decade..

FFP, the much-vaunted savour of football’s soul. Trumpeted by Arsene and Ivan as levelling the playing field as they fought a lone battle against ‘financial doping’. Now, it prevents Arsenal from investing in their squad.

Oh, the irony of it all. That which we so wanted is now killing our ambition for another season.

’til Tomorrow.

38 thoughts on “Arsenal: FFP Crusaders Crash Against The Rocks

  1. Imagine being Paul Singer this morning after this latest announcement from the Arsenal financials. That coffee won’t be smelling so good 🙂

  2. On the other hand maybe the previous regime were, so some extent still victims of the KSE control & what we are seeing now is just more of the same ?

    Guessing KSE must be making enough cash to not give a flying FFP…

  3. Paul Singer? Is he like Ronnie Pickering?

    fell:
    Imagine being Paul Singer this morning after this latest announcement from the Arsenal financials. That coffee won’t be smelling so good

  4. This has been coming for a good while now. The lack of professionalism of Wenger 2.0 is being laid bare, aided and abetted by Ivan the Terrible.

    The is plenty of money in the Arsenal business, but Raul’s either being cautious on Suarez (do we need a Barca hand-me-down on a 5 year contract?) or Kroenke is starting to eat into the cash pile that Wenger was storing up for him. The next window will make it a lot clearer.

    I read that Josh Kroenke is now heavily involved day to day. Can he do a worse job than Ivan?

  5. Sorry but what the heck has the picture of the film ‘American Warewolf in London’ got to do with this article?? It’s bonkers

  6. @Damon

    I said nothing about Ramsey and the mental money that Ozil and Mhkitaryan are on, my point was that there was offers on the table prior to Ozil signing that was turned down. Lets not also mix facts about what I have said, I have made my feelingd known about Ramsey but I have also given him his just due when he has performed.

    Now, sure he has stated that he wanted to stay and all of that but AGAIN clearly something happened for Arsenal to not only pull the offer off the table and for Emery to use Ramsey the way he has. I always make the argument for Ozil to play only to hear, ‘If Emery fancied him or he fit into the tactics then he would be playing him as he sees him on the regular.’ Or something similar, are we saying that it applies to Ozil but not Ramsey; if so then I think there is a bit Ramsey bias, or no?

    Now, as far as the big clubs coming in for him on a free….I think that is different then them spending a transfer on fee on him, would they have had he signed a new contract? I’m not completely sure and actually based on everything I highly doubt it given they have had chances and have turned elsewhere or am I mistaken? The difference between the Ramsey and Szczesny situation for me is that Szczesny not only showed that consistency but was widely regarded as one of if not the best GK in Serie A to the point that he was favored to Alisson but when the time came, Juve was willing to pay the fee and that was with Szczesny banginf the drum to want Arsenal’s #1.

    I have maintained that Ramsey is a inconsistent good player that needs a team built for him or where he can roam freely and everybody else do the defensive work to cover for him….but he is slow and labored on the ball and is best getting on the ends of things not being in the middle. Good luck to him and time will tell how it all shakes out.

  7. Great post Yogi

    Arsene and Ivan’s management of the club during this decade has been a disaster. In 2011 Chelsea had an aging squad filled with players like Drogba, Lampard, Ivanovic, Essien, etc. Between 2013 -2017 they rebuilt a squad which won the league twice while spending less then we did. Arsene spent a lot of money but his purchases were poorly thought out. We spent big money on players like Ozil, Xhaka, Mustafi, Elneny whose redeeming ability on the pitch were technical skill ball posssesion and creativity. He filled the squad with high priced technical, creative, ball possession players who came at a high cost such as Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Xhaka, Mustafii, Elneny on top of already having Ramsey and Wilshere. Arsene often used starting lineups with 4 #10’s at the same time and the results have clearly suffered and our financial situation has apparantly deteriorated. When you consider our financial situation the Ozil contract and trading for Mkhitaryan instead of taking a transfer fee both of which happened last January were perhaps 2 of the worst decisions Arsene and Ivan made. I dont’ think Ramsey has been much better then Mkhitaryan on the pitch and he had to be sacrificed because we couldn’t afford to offer another big 5 year contract with milestones contracts like Ozil and Mkhitaryan already on the roster.

  8. C:
    @Damon

    I always make the argument for Ozil to play only to hear, ‘If Emery fancied him or he fit into the tactics then he would be playing him as he sees him on the regular.’ Or something similar, are we saying that it applies to Ozil but not Ramsey; if so then I think there is a bit Ramsey bias, or no?

    Ramsey doesn’t fit into this system, and Emery is all about the system first. Ramsey makes the bench and has effected games from there.

    At £350k a week, Ozil should be at a level that commands a place in the side. Any side. Any system. He’s constantly unavailable, or deemed by the manager as not up to the physical challenge. Against Bournemouth?!?

    It always happens when a manager change occurs, that certain players no longer fit. Not because they’re a lesser player, but they just no longer fit. I wish Aaron all the best and hope someone, finally, manages to get the best out of him by giving him a role that lets him flourish.

    Sadly, another career that appears to have, somewhat, been wasted. Too long trying to do something that he can’t. Or could do something else better?

  9. C

    One of the reasons the offer was pulled was Ramsey’s agent. Rumours of a ‘falling out’ with Arsenal’s negotiators.

  10. Yogi

    Ozil and to a lesser extent Mkhitaryan are perfect examples of something we have debated for many years on the blog. Both have truly eye catching levels of technical skill but eye catching and effective are not the same thing.

  11. Damon,

    Your right, Ramsey has affected a couple matches from the bench, but he has also been inconsistent, the Fulham goal waa great but then what next. If he doesn’t fit into thr system and Emery can bring somebody in that does then Ramsey has to be sacrificed. We want Arsenal to be ruthless, well they are.

    Not even being an Ozil defender but I continue to question the whole Bournemouth is to physical especially when you consider during the 22 match run when Ozil was playing and featuring we faced Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea, Citeh, Palace and Wolves but then he plays the recent matches against Burnley..come on. I do think its interesting that a player such as Ozil fits until he doesn’t but maybe just maybe he actually was injured or he and Emery had a falling out, it happens. Will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the season with Ozil.

    Ramsey doesn’t fit BUT I think the thing that isn’t being discussed is that Ramsey needs to adapt as well. I do wish him all the best but lets not act as though he hasn’t been given loads of time in his favored deep role, because he has. Think part of all of this, and it hurts my heart to say this, but I agree with Ramsey having a superb run of form but being unable to replicate that whether its inconsistency, injury or the overall team.

    He doesn’t fit, Emery wants his players.

  12. YW,

    And its understandable, but I also wonder if there was a meeting by Emery, Mislintat and Sanllehi where they went, ‘Right, Ramsey wants big money, Emery lets go get a player you want.’

    We are all in agreement that not all the players are Emery players and he needs a couple windows, well tough decisions like this will be made. Jenks, Kos, Elneny, Chambers, Cech, Welbeck, Ramsey, hell even Lichtsteiner all need to go to help spur us on.

  13. Man Utd Cup game switched to Friday night. Great excuse to leave work early and enjoy the hostelries of North London.

  14. C:
    YW,

    And its understandable, but I also wonder if there was a meeting by Emery, Mislintat and Sanllehi where they went, ‘Right, Ramsey wants big money, Emery lets go get a player you want.’

    all need to go to help spur us on.

    Freudian slip?

  15. Damon,

    Absolutely, been down that road of a side with good players winning fuck all….could of said all need to help us liverpool on, but Emery beat Liverpool for a trophy didn’t he 🤨

  16. I think the foundations for a better sales strategy is being laid. With Josh involved in the day to day running, I imagine some of the appointments being made are key to a better operation.

    For instance the new loan manager, appointment of Sven as technical director etc. We are moving towards an efficient system of identifying talent, marketing and utilising the best talent from the academy and bringing in the best of experienced players to boost our squad.

    Ramsey’s contract is a case study, there’s Mhkitaryan and Õzil already on 550k per week and we aren’t getting value for money from them, it doesn’t make sense to offer a bumper deal to Ramsey when he doesn’t offer 100% value on current salary.

    A summer clear out of at least 5 players in this current squad is on the cards.

  17. C

    I suspect when Emery came on board he almost had to give a player with Ozils reputation and wages a chance to reinvigorate himself. However by the time of the Bournemouth game he realized that the lack of production and ineffectiveness did not justify keeping him in the regular lineup. That is the simplest and most logical explanation for the way the situation played out

  18. Bill,

    Right and this comes after the Liverpool match where he and the team played brilliantly, then the Wolves match who has shown to give trouble to all of the top 6, then Bournemouth is to physical but then you play him I think the full 90 against Sean Dyche and the new Stoke….yup makes perfect sense.

  19. C

    I suspect Emery’s suggesting it was “to physical” to play at Bournemouth was just an excuse to drop him. Since then he has said a couple of times that he pulled Ozil or dropped him for “tactical reasons” which to me suggests Emery does not think he has been effective which is probably the real reason he dropped him against Bournemouth.

  20. I think Arsene’s obscession with midfield technical skill and creativity and playing football his way along with his eagerness to overpay for that type of player is the biggest single reason for the unbalanced squad and the financial troubles we see now. When he bought Ozil in 2013 we already had Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey and we clearly needed someone like Higuain. Then a couple of years later he spends about $70M on Xhaka, Elneny and Mustafi. We already had Ozil, Wilshere, Ramsey and Cazorla and yet he buys Xhaka and Elneny who were both ball possession players and Xhaka was clearly supposed to be another playmaker and he is definitely not the defensive player we needed to balance our midfield. Then he spends big on Mustafi who quite good technically with the ball at his feet but a poor defensive player. Credit to him for finally buying Lacazette and PEA but one of Arsenes last gasps was to renew Ozil’s contract at $350K/week and then trade Sanchez who was our only consistent scorer for the last 4 years for Mkhitaryan who is another high priced technical creative midfielder.

  21. Suggesting an phantom injury is often used as the excuse to drop a player who is underperforming. That’s much easier for a manager to explain If ozil was really injured then Emery would have said he was injured instead of saying the game was to physical or he dropped him for tactical reasons.

  22. C:
    Bill,

    Didn’t he say back and knee

    Emery used the phantom injury excuse a couple times but much more telling is he used “to physical” and tactical.

    Lowe would not have dropped a healthy ozil for the second game of the World Cup if he thought ozil had been effective during qualifying or in their first game so Emery is not the only manager who thought Mesut has been underperforming

  23. Bill,

    Really, your going the Germany route given how the defense made our current defense look like World class defenders, Kroos and the rest kf that midfield was dreadful and the German strikers made Yaya Sanongo look like a 100m striker….yup, and how’d that work out for Germany?🤔

    Not for nothing but Ozil literally maybe the only player in world futbol who can’t actually have an injury. Arsene played him through a knee injury and it turned out toooooooo actually be a knee injury.

    Guess Lacazette not making the France squad means Giroud is a better striker, or Aguero being dropped by Pep and the Argentina manager at the world cup means Aguero struggled last season.

    Again, your putting the too physical thing out and referencing Bournemouth but discount the fact that he played thr full 90 against Liverpool in one of the most intense matches and then against Sto..I mean Burnley.

    Players get dropped for tactical reasons, fine it happens but you have been on the Ozil is shit narrative for quite some time only popping about when he struggles but always discounts the matches he doesn’t.

  24. I have been on his case for a couple years because other the a few scattered games he has been underperforming for that long. No matter how you slice it 2 highly experienced managers would not drop their biggest reputation, highest paid player for tactical reasons if he had been playing consistently effective football so there is certainly strong evidence to support the idea that he has not been playing anywhere near as well as you suggest

  25. Lari03

    Better sales and contract management strategy has to be based on more accurate assessment of a player past performance and future potential rather then being based on emotional attachment. For example, Aaron Ramsey had that incredible season in 13/14 and then he was distinctly average for the next 2 seasons. However, then he had the great run in Euro2016 and his value skyrocketed and most of us dismissed those 2 seasons of average form in 14/15 and 15/16 and blamed Arsene for playing him out of position rather then accepting the reality that really good players rarely have 2 full seasons of average form. The lesson is those 2 years of average form were by far the most accurate predictor of future form and sold him for a really big payday after Euro2016 and reinvested the money in the squad.

    The same thing with Mesut Ozil and his contract. Arsene and Ivan ignored 2 years of declining form and made their decision based on the hope that he would regain his best form but again almost no great players go thru a 2 year run of declining form? Same with Jack Wilshere. He had one really great season in 10/11 and even during the rare time when healthy since then his effectiveness was limited. We could have sold him for a big payday but he was such a beloved figure that everyone wanted to give him more and more chances to regain his best form but realistically that was never going to happen.

  26. Can we leave the past and Arsene and face the future? All I want to be reading and seeing are ideas on how to remedy the situation we found ourselves. Cheers!

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