Christ, those were the days. The days when a manager would pick a fight with the chairman over £300 a week for a top player.
Ever since those dark years of dropping that gold standard of soccer meritocracy, the footballing world has been sucked into a spiraling economy of ambition, where those at the head of TV rights and oil reserves bring in the big bucks. The day of the pound sterling is long gone and the euro remains on shaky ground.
This is the era of ambition credits. And Arsenal’s ambition credit rating is stuck in a bog.
If the topic of ambition is not coming out of Robin van Persie’s mouth, it’s in Alisher Usmanov’s
blatant propaganda open letter to the board, or on The Sun’s forums where every Manc, Spurs and Chav flocks to have a go at Arsenal every day of the week for lacking the stones to play with the big boys.
There are a handful of rags that are linking van Persie with Tottenham, saying that the foundations Harry Redknapp left behind and the signing of Andre Villas-Boas show a club aiming for the top and gunning to overtake Arsenal. I know. It’s the first I’ve heard that mentioned, too.
But if Spurs supposedly have more ambition than Arsenal, then who are we to question RVP joining them? Heck, they may not have the nous, ability or stomach to ever actually surpass Arsenal, but I’m sure their ambition far exceeds ours.
Similarly, after Chelsea’s greatest season ever (where they finished sixth), their money means they will always be able to pay top dollar for any mercenary who gives them another shot to fluke a run in the Champions League.
Sorry, I’ve yet to get a total handle on this. I meant their ambition will always be able to attract top players to help them fight for the top prizes.
Economists have already warned of the ambition economy’s shaky ground. On one hand, you have the sheikhs and Russian oligarchs stumping up suitcases of ambition credits for shiny new purchases, while in the other corner you have clubs like Spurs claiming another type of ambition, making promises of a ‘club on the up’ in comparison to the ‘downard slope’ of Arsenal’s prospects. This arena of ambition derivatives is a complicated market best left for only the shrewdest of investors, but it already threatens another global ambition crisis if we run into a shortfall of ambition down the track.
Before we even look at the Manchester clubs, one can see Arsenal has no hope of keeping van Persie or attracting similarly skilled players to the club when the likes of Chelsea and Spurs are oozing as much ambition as they are.
Even Liverpool threw ambition all over the shop with its mega-million signings of superstars like Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and that bloke with the ponytail.
Arsenal, in its piddly little pond of sorrow and misery, plodded along and merely finished one, three and five places above Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool respectively. Proof, if it was even needed, of the indisputable return on those clubs’ ambition investments.
The only two clubs to finish above the Gunners? The Manchester duo of such moderate spending.
Manchester City needs no introduction – the Sheikh-run club with the most ambition in footballing history, having already claimed an FA Cup and Premier League title in two seasons with an expenditure of over 360 million ambition credits, excluding wages.
Compare that to the 1997/98 season, where Arsenal may have won both those competitions in a single season. In truth, it is a flawed comparison, as while Arsenal may have claimed a double to paper over the cracks, their spending lacked real ambition to compare to today’s clubs. United were the real winners that year, having showed and spent more ambition than the Gunners, despite not claiming the trophies.
The United fans may say City’s spending is well above the Red Devils’ total outlay over the past quarter century, but even then that was boosted by record signings year after year, before Chelsea’s ambition overload in 2004.
Arsenal, all the while, mopes around with its Emirates-branded albatross around its neck.
Most of Arsenal’s ambition credits have had to go towards paying off the stadium debt. Some of what’s left has gone into player acquisitions to replace those who buggered off, citing their ambition lay elsewhere. Wherever they ended up, I’m sure they’ve successfully reclaimed that ambition, now stored safely in their offshore bank account of choice.
Even the major banks are offering reduced interest repayments on all ambition transactions above $US100,000. It truly is an ambitious man’s world out there.
Sadly, it seems Arsenal now truly does lack the ambitions of other clubs. Building a stadium from scratch off of your own steam, slowly but surely repaying off that debt with manageable ambition sacrifices, with an aim to be debt-free in the near future and ready for bigger, better ambition outlays when the commercial deals are renegotiated.
Of course, all the players and opposing fans see now is the outlay of ambition towards that debt, and the need to be frugal with our ambition credits in the hope of a better future.
Even sections of our own fan-base have turned. Why take on all that debt when an ambitious sugar-daddy could buy out a dump site for a new and improved Stamford Bridge? What does it say to your opponents if you can’t splash out and make a statement of intent with the ambitious signings of Carroll, Torres or Dzeko?
In a world where ambition means everything, the likes of Robin van Persie will continue to flock elsewhere. Even if we did stump up sufficient ambition to sign Jordan Henderson (but only for the appropriate, over-inflated and ambitious price).
As long as the club signs capable players for bargain prices (Podolski who?), Arsenal can never hope to compete with such a blatant lack of ambition. If you don’t spend the credits and spend them often, more and more players will leave to clubs who can control the ambition hegemony with their eyes closed.