I realize this is a radical question that can easily be misinterpreted as being defeatist or lacking ambition. But that doesn’t take away the fact that apart from Wenger no one has come close to winning the Premiership on Arsenal’s budget. Even then if we accept for a moment that Arsene should go, it’s important to consider who can come in and deliver the big trophies.
Obviously, the key question is what is Arsenal’s budget?
It’s impossible to get official figures on this but my guess is that Arsenal can spend a net of about £40M once. It must be noted that this kind of spending cannot be done every year but once. Subsequent years will either see much lower spending or a high degree of churn and instability.
I noticed this table on the transfer league website.
It must be noted that some numbers are clearly skewed due to freak cases. For instance, Ancelotti’s Net spending is high but that is due to the signings from this January that have not had enough time to make an impact. Similarly, Fergie’s numbers are affected by the sale of Ronaldo and the length of his tenure. That doesn’t take anything away from his abilities but it’s something to be kept in mind while analyzing these numbers.
It’s interesting to note that plenty of managers have spent a Net amount in excess of £40M without coming close to the title. Of course, it hasn’t always been spent in one year but we can see there is no shortage of managers who have tried spending money with little success.
Hughes, Houllier, Benitez, Ranieri, among others have spent a lot without winning the title. Mourinho and Ancelloti have benefitted from the spending of previous managers. They haven’t won the title with the kind of budget that Arsenal have.
Fergusson is a special case and I don’t want to bring him into the picture as it will make it unnecessarily complicated. But he has spent considerably large amounts on a consistent basis.
In fact, there are far too many managers who have spent huge sums without even making it to the top four. Hughes, Eriksson, Ramos, Jol, Keane, and O’Neill are excellent examples of good managers who have failed despite spending money. Redknapp and Mancini are flirting with the fourth spot but both have the benefit of relying on their predecessors’ spending and have forked out significant sums themselves.
Considering these numbers it seems the only managers who have competed for the title are 1)Ferguson, 2) Wenger, 3)Some managers with a few hundred million pounds of spending, 4)Benitez in one year after a high degree of churn in his initial years, eventually left the club in a mess after constant demands for more money.
It must also be noted that no club has become successful after one season of spending. Abramovich splashed his cash for two years before tasting success. City have already seen three years of spending. Tiny Totts have spent £300M over eight years for one spot in the Champions League.
Based on this background the following questions seem relevant
1) Can any manager win the ‘current’ Premiership with Arsenal’s budget?
2) Can it be done in the first year of spending?
3) If not how long will that manager be given?
4) Since there is no sugar daddy at Arsenal (Kroenke is not in the same league as Abramovic or Sheikh Mansour, and the financial fair play rules are now closer than ever), can Arsenal risk giving all their transfer budget to a new guy and hope for the best?
5) What is the contingency plan if the new manager fails to win the big trophies?
6) What is the disaster recovery plan if the new guy fails to make it to the top four despite spending all the money?
I know some fans don’t like to get into so many details. For them it’s easy to claim Arsenal just need two or three players (take your pick from Goalkeeper, central defenders, left-back, DM, winger, clinical striker) and success is guaranteed (this assumption in often implied even if not stated explicitly). Those opinions are a waste of time. So leaving aside the simplistic claims that Arsenal just need two or three proven players to win everything and be a football superpower, can someone answer the above questions?
I’m not saying it cannot be done. I’m just curious to know how it can be done and what the contingency plans are. If we blame Wenger for not having a plan B how can we propose simplistic solutions without a plan B or C?
I understand the temptation to list out a few names and claim that they will take Arsenal to the next level. But if you want to do that can you also realistically factor in how many of the new guys will adapt to the league immediately, how many will need time and if so how long, how many will suffer injuries, how many will have attitude problems, and so on.
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Anyone willing to take him on?