“We are that good” — plus “don’t forget the poll”

Arsenal won the league by 25 points, losing only twice, and last night defeated Liverpool 4-1 in the First leg of the FA Cup final. It was a masterful performance, from what I hear, and though it was broadcast on Setanta in England the match wasn’t available here in the states so, I didn’t get a chance to watch. You’ll have to be satisfied with Gunnerblog’s description above.

Of course, I’m talking about the future and the present all at the same time: I’m talking about the Arsenal Youth team. You’ve seen some of them already, young Jack Wilshere was electrifying in the Carling Cup wins against Sheffield United and Wigan, on the backs of those performances a few folks asked why he wasn’t being brought in to the first team when we were missing some creativity during the depths of darkest winter.

And after putting Liverpool’s youth to the sword with a 4-1 win young Jack Wilshere agreed with those fans saying

I think any of us can break into the first team because we are all that good. We’ve all got talent and we know we can push into the first team.

I, for one, can’t wait to see them play in next year’s Carling Cup. Hell, we might even see some in league play, if they as good as young Wilshere thinks they are.

As the youth team were running Liverpool off the pitch Arsene Wenger gave what I thought was his most defensive pre-match presser of the season.


The truth is that Wenger is kind of a complicated guy and you’re probably seeing a lot of weird quotes this morning, like “Wenger tells board to Shut-Up” but reading the interviews in the press and watching them on Arsenal TV are two different things. I highly recommend the latter, you get a sense of the man, and how sometimes he says things with a glint in his eye and you just know he’s being cheeky. Of course, the press then de-contextualize it and plaster headlines like the one above (actual headline) but the truth is more complicated than just a one-liner.

This press conference was pretty much dominated by the question of transfers. How much do we have, why doesn’t he spend it, will we have to sell to buy, who is he targeting, and many other questions. The boss responded to the ‘how much’ question with my favorite quote of the night

If I tell you I have £250million, every player I call will cost three times more. When I am manager of a club I do with what I have available and you have never heard me complain about the money that was available. But as well I do not accept people to think that I am stupid enough to have £100million at my disposal and put it in the bank because I am scared to spend it.

He said £100m!! That’s like, like, the magic number!

On it’s face, this is one of those statements that confuse a lot of supporters. It looks like he’s saying that Arsenal don’t have £100m when the financial statements that the club released last season clearly show that they do. This is one of those statements that make Arsenal supporters shake their head and ask if Wenger has lost the plot? Doesn’t he read the financial statements?

Of course he does! Please note that if you parse the statement he says “at my disposal” which, not to put too fine a point on it is exactly what I’ve been saying since I found out they have the money: they are reserving that cash for an emergency. What if they can’t make 4th place next year due to Swine Plague ravaging the team at a critical juncture? What if newly re-promoted Birmingham and Martin Taylor break 4 player’s legs this year?

What if the housing market takes a turn for the worse, the banks call in their loan on the Highbury development, the economy goes further south, fans stop showing up to matches, people don’t buy that stupid blue kit, and injuries prevent us from taking 4th place?

It would be nice to have £130m (my estimate of this year’s year end financials) in the bank if that happened, in fact, it would be crucial for a self sustaining club like Arsenal to have a large amount of cash around just in case something like that happened. The only other option is to go to scum like Usmanov with our hat in our hand.

No one wants that.

So, I think Wenger’s being coy, watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. There’s money to spend, he just doesn’t want to say how much or it will adversely effect the cost of transfer targets and I feel like he cheekily threw out the £100m figure to get the ire of people not paying close attention.

I, for one, hope he gets cracking on spending what he’s got, Fulham’s already offered Hangeland more Brede to stay and we don’t want to let one of the few players out there who has the experience and size to truly help this team slip through our fingers.

That’s about it for today, tomorrow’s match is on Setanta at like noon or something and some of us are going down to Doyle’s to watch it after the morning kickaround. Before I go, I want to remind you all that you have just two more days to vote for the Gooner of the Year so get over there and get stuck in you lot!

Until tomorrow!


Highlights of the FA Youth Cup here.


16 Responses to ““We are that good” — plus “don’t forget the poll””

  1. 1 Aris
    May 23, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Once again, I admire your style of writing. Fun and easy to understand. Nice post Tim!

  2. 4 WC
    May 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Anyone who looks at the financial statments and think everything we make as profit is able to go into a transfer kitty either is a complete moron or has no idea how to run a business. A Large number of profits probably go to paying dividends to shareholders and quite possibly to repay the debt on the stadium plus other costs. Furthermore it could well be gross profits and we know gross profits count for nothing because it doesn’t factor in overhead costs, salaries etc so only net profits can show what we truly make each financial year.

    In any case the youth team demolished Pool al la Wilshere playing in the deep Cesc role. Who knows maybe if Barca come calling again some day we can make super profits on Cesc because we have Jack.

    • 5 CaribKid
      May 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm

      Before you start calling people morons WC, maybe you should take a look at the financial statements. An unallocated cash reserve account is very self explanatory. It is a CASH account after taxes which is not allocated for any other purpose. In other words, it’s MONEY IN THE BANK.

      Secondly, Arsenal do not pay dividends.

      Thirdly, repayment of debt is allocated from receipts and are not included the cash reserves.

      Fourthly, it has nothing to do with gross profits. Gross profits are profits, less operating expenditure, and is taxable income.

      How do I know all this WC? My major is Finance, and as an Operations Manager for Fortune 100 companies during my career, I have had to prepare and ratify multi-billion $ budgets.

      • 6 Tim
        May 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

        And given all that, they are clearly keeping the manager on a budget. Which means that we should look at the board, rather than the manager, for blame (if we want to blame) when it comes to Arsenal’s spendthrift ways.

        • 7 Tim
          May 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

          Actually, come to think of it, I hardly doubt Wenger is blameless (again, if we want to blame) because he’s involved so closely with so much. I rather think they have worked together to make a budget and Wenger is just sticking to it.

          I think.

          • 8 CaribKid
            May 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

            I have no idea who to blame for these crap budget restraints. Any combination of Arsene and Board members all have to take the blame.

          • 9 CaribKid
            May 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm

            Budgeting is wise Tim and you do want to keep some available cash reserves for unexpected income down turns. Typically, a 30-40% margin is more than acceptable, so that still leaves at least 60M available.

            Also, the Real Estate company is totally separate to arsenal, so even if they went bankrupt it would would have no financial effect on Arsenal FC. On the other hand, if they make a profit they can close the company and move the assets over to Arsenal FC. The way they have it structured is a win, win situation and was beautifully devised by Edelman.

  3. 10 viva los gooners
    May 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I think I mentioned a while ago the stata on the youth team, they are awesome, I also believe there are even younger players on the books with equal potential.

    This is planning and team development at it’s best, top marks to Steve Bould the youth manager, who may, in his own quiet way be Le Boss’s natural successor, in due course; of course.

    Le Boss is not only a great football manager, but he has the broader business skills, which so many managers lack. Of course he isn’t going to disclose the amount he has available, or for that matter who he may be interested in. He uses inuendo, and disinformation, in the nicest possible way. If he came straight out and said whatever I tell the press writes is tosh and red herrings, you can be sure some reporter would write ‘Aresenal to sign commie Norwegian fisherman?

    We supporters can throw suggestions in the air, like jugglers balls, (tears to your eyes Mr Juggler), one or two may eventually be right, but that is just luck and the scattergun.

    Whilst there are those that bemoan the lack of success in recent years, this is ignoring the bigger picture. Repeating what I have said before, all eventualites need to be covered, and as you so rightly observe, who can predict an outbreak of Laotian Noodle Syndrome, or worse.

    Top football year after year both in England and Europe is success in itself, and allows the club, a permanent launch pad for honours every season. They may not achieve the very pinnacle of success, but they are there challenging. It is a matter of a smooth upward trend not a series of peaks and troughs, and knee-jerk management.

    Take a look at the fallout from the CC Championship, Charlton, Southampton, Norwich, this season, all in the topflight at one time, and those that have been previously mentioned, Leeds United for one. Ask yourself this question what would happen to the other three top clubs, if the creditors called in their paper, and cut off the money supply?

    As for quick turnover management, there are very few examples of success with that policy. For every short term success there are most probably ten to twenty failures.

    We could also look at a scenario where, top players do leave, Ade, RvP, Cesc, Gallas, Clichy, would this destroy the team. I say no, there is a developing core of talent in the club to fill those places, and with the money available ‘Le Boss’ would have an awful large treasure chest to buy-in compatible experience.

    Anyway be of good cheer, particularly tomorrow.


  4. 11 Travis The Septopus
    May 23, 2009 at 11:47 am

    This may not be the best place for this but i have to brag a bit. Last night i became a father again to my beautiful baby girl Thierry LeClerc Tremblay.

    • May 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      Congrats Trav!

      I suppose you won’t be at Football on Sunday!

    • 13 T-Town
      May 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      Congrats Trav!!! Send out some pictures when you can. You should come out on Sunday and kick around a little. You may not have the time (or energy) to do it for a while :-)

  5. 14 Travis The Septopus
    May 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    No can do Last week i tore my acl (remember when i fell like a lump of mud after missing a goal then hobbled off) and may have to get surgery. I cant even walk or drive cuase im in a knee immobilizer. May be a while but pics will come.

    Travis the Proud Papa

  6. 15 CaribKid
    May 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    After following “Young Guns” blog for a couple of years and watching a few youth games I have come to the conclusion that Wishire, Thomas and Coquelin are sure fire stars of the future barring injury or teenageitis. Not to say that guys like Nordveit, Bartley, Watt, Frimpong and others won’t make it, or even become stars, it’s just that these 3 kids stand out so much in their on the field performance football arrogance.

    Funnily enough, our Reserve side stinks and are almost bottom of the league.

  7. 16 RP
    May 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    hey Tim, don’t know if you and others have seen this before…

    The Guardian introduced this a few months ago — a neat chalkboard feature where you can compare any two players (or a player to himself) across different fixtures, etc. Then people submit them to the site for sharing…

    For instance, here’s one that suggests Adebayor was working harder in late 2007 than in late 2008.

    The chalkboard feature is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/chalkboards

    Nice to have this data publicly accessible….(oh, think of the fights it will start….)

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