Arsenal were truly undone by a dazzling display of speed and flair the speed duo of Bale and Lennon last week which left the Gunners with a heavy heart as they were further pushed back in the table and a 7 point gap behind their fierciest rival means that qualification for next year’s Champions league is very much in doubt. There is little question that when the Gunners offense gets going, it can do some serious damage. The problem, however, is that it cannot do it on a consistent basis and often does not get going at all. The defeat to Spurs was preceded by a 2-1 impressive win over Aston Villa at home. Much like the previous 6 to 7 seasons, It has definitely been a mixed bag this year as well for the Gunners and it can turn even worse if they fail to qualify for the Champions League aka “4th place trophy”.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger recently said that Arsenal have a much different model than other top clubs because the difference between the highest paid and the lowest paid players on the team roster is much smaller than in the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City. “It’s a more socialist model” Wenger said with a tint of pride.
In the age of the world economic crisis, where high paid investment bankers are the root of all evil the gap between the super rich and the poor gets bigger and bigger, Wenger’s worlds might have received some empathy from supporters. Maybe that’s why he said them.
But can we really say that Wenger is a socialist or that he is adopting a socialist model for Arsenal. Hardly. All the Frenchman really said was that the difference between the highest and lowest paid players on the squad is smaller than at the big clubs. That is an undisputable fact, But this is not due to the economic beliefs of Wenger. It is not a different, “more socialist” model that he is implementing.
It is just due to the fact that Arsenal can’t afford to pay the salaries that Chelsea and the Manchester clubs can. Young lads probably get paid pretty much the same in all the top teams, but Arsenal can’t pocket the 200,000+ pounds that the superstars in other teams make. Robin van Persie left for United not only for the better silverware prospects, he gets rewarded much better at Old Trafford. His basis remuneration is rumored to around 250,000 pounds per week, with bonuses on top of that. Arsenal simply can’t afford that sum. This naturally means that the gap between the best paid players and the lowest ones is smaller. It’s not socialism. It’s reality.
If you, however, compare Arsenal to other clubs in the Premier League, they are still pretty much better off. The highest earners at the Emirates are currently Theo Walcott and Podolski, who both bags around 100,000 pounds a week. This may pale in comparison to the big names, but is still an unattainable number for the like of West Brom, Stoke or Norwich. If Arsenal is socialist, then those teams have to be the Soviet Union.
The reality is that football changed a lot in the past decade, with an incredible amount of new capital infused into the game. Money trees like Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour raised the stakes a lot in terms of transfer budget and Arsenal simply could not keep up.
Ten years ago Arsenal could afford to keep superstars like Henry on their squad because they were one of the big guys. They paid him what they can afford to pay their best guys now, but it is nearly not enough to lure the top talent these days. Sometimes staying at the same level and following same philosophy means you actually fall deeply behind. Again, that is not socialist, it is reality. Arsene Wenger has a lot riding on the new financial fair play rules. He has said numerous times that he hopes it will bring more equality to the game. Maybe it will not make the game more socialist, but it certainly is a glimmer of hope that reality can change.