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Why Arsene Is A Better Manager Than Ferguson

By on January 11, 2010

The blame game continues at Old Trafford, though, admittedly, it’s not much of a game. Here’s how you play: Show you are a true xenophobic Red by blaming the Glazers for everything wrong with your club and the world in general. And, while a far smaller percentage of Arsenal supporters play the same game with Wenger, it is quite ironic when United supporters make fun of “Arsene Knows” and “In Arsene We Trust” signs considering the way they have they turned the other cheek and given Sir Alex a free ride regarding the tenuous future of their club.

Yes, it was horrible that the Glazers loaded £509.5m debt incurred through loans taken out to buy the club back onto the club’s books. It means that the supporters will eventually have to pay for the Glazers purchase of the club. But, it seems all too easy for United supporters to ignore Ferguson’s role in the fiscal uncertainty surrounding the future of their club.

At the time their club was taken over by the Americans, Ferguson faced a similar fiscal situation to Arsene. Both clubs had just incurred significant amounts of debt-United in the takeover and Arsenal in financing the stadium. Of course, these are two completely different types of debt-Arsenal’s debt was an investment that pays for itself, while United’s debt was not. But for my argument, the type of debt does not matter.

One of the things I love most about Arsene Wenger is his concern for the future of the club, echoed by Ivan Gazidis in his interviews with the BBC and Sky Sports (see video below for full 20-minute interview). It surely seems that Sir Alex does not have quite the same concern for the future of United, beyond his own retirement.

When faced with a mountain of debt, some estimates say close to £1bn, Sir Alex continued to spend £40+m every summer, with a seeming disregard for the future of the club. It seems that Ferguson is willing to do whatever it takes to win now, while he is in charge, and will leave the mess that, though he did not create it, he has helped perpetuate to his successors and succeeding generations of United supporters.

Surely, Sir Alex could’ve gone down the road that Arsene and Arsenal chose when faced with a similar financial situation. Arsene began a youth project designed to ensure competitiveness and long-term potential to avoid worsening the club’s finances. Arsene knew the club would be unlikely to win many trophies during this period, though we did reach Champions League and Carling Cup Finals. He was willing to sacrifice his own personal reputation in order to secure the future of the club beyond his own reign as Arsenal manager.

It’s this foresight and this concern for Arsenal as a club that is one of the things that makes Wenger a great manager. In his interview with Sky Sports, Ivan Gazidis said that it was important to the club to make sure that we are able to compete for top honours at home and in Europe for 10, 15, or 20 years. He said that the club wanted fathers who take their sons to see the club to be able to feel assured that their club will still be at the top-level of the Premier League and the Champions League when their sons have grown up. As a father of two, including a three-year old that wears Arsenal kits 3-4 days a week, sleeps in Arsenal pyjamas near every night, and can name most of the starting XI, I understand exactly what Ivan is talking about.

By contrast with Wenger, Ferguson appears to be someone who could care less what happens to United after he’s gone because that won’t have any effect on his own personal reputation. He continued to spend ridiculous sums of money on transfers, for players that proved disappointments, despite knowing his club’s financial situation. When Sir Alex said on Friday, “I don’t have any concerns about the financial situation,” he meant it.

And now, with United’s inability to spend as before, they are almost certainly looking at another post-Busby period following Ferguson’s retirement and it will be partly his own fault. But, I guarantee United fans won’t see it that way. In that way, they are even blinder followers of Ferguson than many Arsenal fans are of Wenger.

Having released some financial numbers today, United posted a £48m profit this year,but only due to the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo. But, you can’t sell a Ronaldo every year. That means that United are operating on a level that would have seen them lose over £30m this year, while their annual payments to merely service the interest on their debt is £41.9m. They are now being faced with the prospect of a £500m bond-scheme of the type Arsenal refused to issue last year. Surely, this is not a recipe for fiscal stability or long-term security. But, once again, the long-term cracks have been papered over in the short-term.

Managers who are at clubs long enough to change the culture inside of the club can also be judged by the state they leave their club in and what the club does in the years immediately following their departure. Arsene understands this and has spoken about it many times, and to his own detriment. Managers come and go, but supporters remain with the club and they are the ones that will be left behind to deal with the financial mess left by the Glazers and Ferguson.

Meanwhile, whether Arsene signs a new contract or not next year, he has re-signed 15 first-team players to new, longer contracts in the past 8 months. It’s all part of Arsene’s long-term vision for the club that this team be kept together for at least another 3-4 years, and I am just as confident as he is that, in that time, Arsenal will win both the league and the Champions League.

His going with youth and avoiding unsustainable debt will also reap its full rewards as United, Chelsea, and Liverpool struggle under the burden of their increasing debt. These clubs cannot spend money anymore like they have in the past and their financial situations can only improve with further frugality-especially considering the financial regulations UEFA expect to have in place by 2013 which would restrict European participation for clubs in serious debt.

Mark my words, and I have been saying this for a few years now, the financial chickens WILL come home to roost at all the other big 4 clubs. It is inevitable. And, when that happens, Arsenal will reap the benefits that Arsene’s foresight and youth project have sown for many years to come.

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67 Comments

  1. dily

    January 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

    brilliant article..well its often rare to read intelligent articles on blogs, but this article surely is one of the best, not course you praise AW and point out the flows in SAF but course you have brought the truth home. AW could have easily stayed at Highbury spend big on players won a CL and few more PL and waved good bye and joined Barca, Real well any one really..also point out last year Man U won the PL and got to CL final so their finance will only get worse

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, dily.

  2. Sam

    January 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Totally agree with you.

    In the tribe of football managers – Wenger has been like a prophet amonst ordinary mortals. About an year ago, he rightly predicted the financial turmoil that we’re now witness at clubs like Pompey, West Ham and Liverpool.

    At the height of the ecomomic boom before the credit crunch, when everyone else thought that the party will go on forever, Wenger had the foresight to invest in project youth and not riddle the club with additional debt like everyone else was.

    And Arsenal will reap the reward in years to come. Once the Stadium debt is paid off; Arsenal will not only have the best squad coming out its excellent academy, it will also be a financial powerhouse with no debt on its balancesheet used to finance purchase of players. Instead the surplus generated by the stadium will be invested in the making the team stronger!

    I know its frustrating for all of us short-sighted fans who complain that Wenger doesn’t sign experienced players. But he know what he is doing. He will definitely leave the club in an excellent position.

  3. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    One shops in Harrods and the other shops in Tesco’s.

    Great bargains in tesco,keep up the good work.

  4. arsenal tone

    January 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    great very interesting article with some excellently made points. your blog is becoming one of my favourites. keep it up x

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      That’s a great compliment, tone. Thank you.

  5. Sam

    January 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    One shops in Harrods and the other shops in Tesco’s.

    Great bargains in tesco,keep up the good work
    ====================================

    Its better to shop at Tesco with your own money rather then shop at Harrods with other people’s money. Cos the bank will call in its debt someday – and the thrill of shopping at Harrods for few days will not make up for the ignominy of going bankrupt!

  6. Tommo

    January 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    To ibbs. Lol.

    (although maybe aw shops at those cultral farmers markets)

  7. brdgunner

    January 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I often say that ask Fergie where UTD willl be in 5 years and he will say “I couldn’t care less”

    Arsene on the other hand will give you a 45 page dossier.

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      Exactly the point I was trying to make here, brdgunner. And I personally don’t understand why more United supporters wouldn’t be upset about that. It will be interesting to see if his legacy changes should United go into a post-Fergie slump. However, I imagine that they will all take the easy way out and blame the “damn Americans” so they don’t have to take a harder look at their beloved Fergie.

  8. sheba

    January 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Hey you hit it right on the button.. SUPERB article.

  9. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    100% AGREE with ‘the financial chickens are coming home to roost’.
    Even the saudi’s are having money trouble.
    When the stadium dept is paid-off players like Villa,messi etc will be coming to arsenal.

    Where do spurs get their money frm???????????????????

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      Many people wonder the same thing, ibbs. What’s even more amazing is that they consistently outspend us despite not having any CL revenue. Something across North London is not right and you can’t help but think Spurs will be on some kind of financial brink shortly as well. I imagine with them it will come more out of the blue since, for some reason, their spending is not taken as much notice of as the big 4 or Man City.

      • Comrade23

        January 11, 2010 at 3:37 pm

        I think sp*rs financial flexibility as far as purchasing players is down to the absence of debt on Shite Hart Lane (coupled with that famous inferiority complex, of course). Should the neighbors go ahead with their proposed stadium (which ironically looks like they took a photo of Ashburton Grove and changed the colors), Tott’s football will suffer, even as lousy as they generally are now. Without injecting 40 million into the squad every summer and with no real youth program to speak of, St. Totteringham’s Day should come even earlier than we’re accustomed.

        Quality article as always.

  10. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Sorry also meant to say great article,forget the spuds.

  11. Murt

    January 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    It’d be nice to actually hear what intelligent man utd fans have to say about the financial situation of their club.
    Valencia, Berbatov, Owen and Nani were bought off of aldi’s reduce to clear section.
    And anyway we don’t shop in tesco we rob harrod’s delivery vans before anyone gets a chance to buy the shelved product. As was the case with the signings of nasri, van persie and vermaelen.

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      There certainly are United supporters that are worried about their club’s financial position, but, you are right, I would like to hear one of them consider Fergie’s role in their financial problems rather than just solely blaming the Americans.

    • Gumboz

      January 13, 2010 at 3:43 am

      Murt you are very ignorant, your knowledge of soccer is limited or is it because your are drowned in your Emotions of not winning any major title in a long time. I understand your Frustrations Murt and hopefully things might improve and you will have a to 6 Finish. Look man, Owen was never bought, and his contract is pay per game so he came at no cost to us. Look Valencia is producing the goods for us and we are happy. The problem that i see at Arsenal is both the supporters and the players put much concentration on whats happening to Man u and forget the core business of your existence. You see Man U is a world brand , and they will never fall financially, any investor will be thrilled even more than the orgasmic pleasure to be assorcited with Man U. so we are not worried. You see Arsenal is a small team with a small mentality, they now want to shift their focus from the field to the Balance Sheet of Man U. You see Murt i am a football supporter and not a Investment supporter, otherwise i would be supporting Microsoft. All i am concerned with is football, and am happy that we are winning trophies. We are still kings, and History remembers kings not soldiers, Arsenal are soldiers. By the way Kings shop in Harrods!!!

  12. Ted Harwood

    January 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Listening to Gazidis speak, and listening to Wenger speak, I find it hard to believe that there are people out there–Arsenal supporters or Arsenal haters–who think that this club is in any kind of trouble. Both men inspire tons of confidence through their calm, rational presentations and processes. I couldn’t possibly feel better about the future.

  13. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I am just as confident as he is that, in that time, Arsenal will win both the league and the Champions League.Keep dreaming

  14. SoulGooner

    January 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Interesting article. Just wanted to make a quick comment about SAF. Although you pointed out his fiscal shortcomings and have judged SAF based on what is developed at Old Trafford, I think its important to take into consideration what he has developed there as well. He brought Man U to the forefront of world football and has developed a club that he has been able to sustain for over 20 years. With changing times, that is becoming a little more difficult but it should be taken into consideration of what he has done already, and that too over such a long time. Wenger is great as well, and he too is developing a brilliant system at the Grove so good times ahead.

    (I feel dirty complimenting Fergie)
    Up the Gooners!

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      I completely understand Fergie’s past accomplishments, soulgooner. What I am questioning is his concern for the club beyond his own retirement. There is no doubt Fergie did something extraordinary with United in the 90s, but what he has achieved in the ’00s (especially the second half of the decade) will come at what cost to the club’s future, i.e. the next 10 to 15 years?

  15. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    fuck the future we are here and now and not winning fuck all,that’s why the likes of henry and cesc will not hang around,they want to win things in there career not be part of a everlasting project

    • Murt

      January 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      Fans want the club to be here in 50 years. Players like henry, fabregas and ronaldo come and go but the club and the fans stay. Come back here and say you don’t care when you’re getting beat by leeds… when you’re in league two

    • flint

      January 22, 2010 at 7:28 am

      dude you are a classic idiot u probably skipped every class in school too. u want immediate gratification at the cost of the one club you support. what a fan u are.do you even know henry left with the new stadium and everything wenger had to squeeze a dollar out of 15 cents, almost all players wenger bought have been amaizing the like of henry arshavin vermaelen just to name a few.patience is a virtue you dont have kind sir, the comes to those who wait, but yeah it sounds like gibberish to you, coz your brain is the size of a peanut.

  16. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    were already getting beat by the likes of stoke and hull,leeds done something we couldn’t do this season..

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      And United have been beaten by Fulham, Burnley, Liverpool, and Villa. We beat all of them and drew with Burnley. So what is your point? We’re three points off the lead… why such pessimism?

      And Murt is right… players and managers come and go, I’m worried about the club remaining competitive for years beyond and player or manager’s retirement. I would hate for my young boys to grow up and not be able to proud of their club in the same way that I have been for many years. Short-sightedness is what killed clubs like Leeds and Pompey and we will soon see the effects of it on Chelsea, United, and Liverpool.

      To succumb to pressure from fans who are only concerned about winning right this moment, would be idiotic on Wenger or the club’s part. Running a club is about much more than mortgaging the future on merely the possibility of silverware, which we already have.

      Spending money guarantees nothing. Chelsea haven’t won the league in three years. The only way to combat clubs that spend ridiculous money and the coming football financial crush is to become efficient and self-sustainable by thinking long-term.

      If it means 4-5 years without a trophy to guarantee we are not a mid-table side, or worse, 10 and 20 years from now, I’m willing to go along especially as long as we keep making progress.

    • Mike

      January 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      We beat Villa which Man U couldn’t whats your point exactly. The entire article is about short term gain leading to long term finanacial difficulties, with Arsenal doing it the right way round we will be the ones with the titles while others are failing. Anyway its not all about trophies we play the best football in Europe. All companies want to be associated with Arsenal despite not winning and all the true fans enjoy the spectacle. Please don’t “spit yo game” unless something intelligent falls out.

  17. aqqev

    January 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Good stuff. One of the best Arsenal blogs out there. I almost always agree with the articles. Keep it up.

  18. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    mike,go and ask cesc fabregas if it’s not about trophys

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      I think that if Cesc thought it was ALL about trophies that he would have left us 1, 2, or even 3 summers ago. Cesc obviously believes in what Wenger is doing, why shouldn’t we?

    • Comrade23

      January 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

      The worrying about Cesc is unnecessary and destructive, and planted by Spanish clubs into Spanish newspapers, which feed the same nonsense to English papers, repeating the same silly cycle until Cesc, as he always does, rubbishes the rumors for what they are and reaffirms his commitment to Arsenal. He’s not leaving. The reasons for Henry’s departure were myriad, not nearly as simple as you make them. As for trophies, you conveniently forget the 2007-2008 season, in which we likely would have won the league and more if it hadn’t been for the destructive injury to Eduardo and the string of draws which eroded our lead. Arsene knows best, now and for the future.

      If you’re only interested in whinging about not having what you want right now, may I suggest Le Grove?

    • Anon

      January 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      Spurs fan!!! **alert**
      Do not engage this “spit yo game” character.
      He’s a wind up merchant patrolling Arsenal blogs.

  19. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    well comrade 23 we did not win the league in 07-08 did we,you mark my words when this season is done cesc will be off,he doesn’t want to wait around while the club are not winning things..

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      Cesc has shown nothing but commitment to this club. I believe that even if we don’t win anything this year, he would still be back for the final year of Wenger’s contract.

    • Ted Harwood

      January 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm

      spit,

      Your argument presupposes that spending money guarantees league titles. Basically what you seem to be saying is that all Cesc needs to do is go to a team that spends loads of cash, and the trophies will come pouring in. However, only one team per season can win whatever trophy you care to name, and money is absolutely no guarantee; just ask the Spuds. It is incredibly short-sighted to gamble the long-term stability of a club on the what, 5:1 chance that you can win a trophy in any given year?

      I think Cesc is intelligent enough to know that Arsenal, as much as any club in the world, are equipped to win going forward, and to go anywhere else would be exchanging the same chances he has now for, at best, the same chances elsewhere. The point is that nothing in life is guaranteed to us. Worrying about winning trophies will more than likely lead to disappointment when they do not come, so you might as well set that worry aside and just enjoy the matches, you know? And let the chips fall where they may, and trust that Arsenal is in extremely good hands and extremely good shape for the forseeable future.

      • ArsenalStation

        January 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

        I learned that lesson years ago, Ted. For supporters, only one team can win the league and more often than not, it will not be their team. So, you can either be miserable for 95% of your life because you’re one of the other 19 teams that didn’t win a trophy in any given season or you can learn to enjoy the game itself, on its own terms, and not just enjoy trophies.

        Winning trophies itself is kind of a fleeting moment, when you think about it. What remains? A great memory, possibly a song? I’ve had many magical moments watching the lcub in the last 3 seasons, even though they didn’t end with trophies. Playing in a CL final was something I’d dreamed of for a decade (never mind beating Juventus and Real Madrid along the way), each win against Spurs, the Milan match, Theo’s run at Liverpool, the penalties at Roma, the 7-nil vs. Slavia… Are these memories any less real or important because the club did not eventually win a trophy in those seasons… not for me, anyway.

        • Ted Harwood

          January 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

          Exactly. It’s what I was talking about in that blog post from September (or whenever it was).

  20. spit yo game

    January 11, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    yes he has and im sure he is sick of having nothing to look back on his arsenal career at,that’s why he will leave he deserves better then to be playing with the likes of bendtner,eboue,denilson and song week in week out…

    • Comrade23

      January 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm

      After Cesc, anyone with an ounce of footballing sense would name Alex Song as the most important player in the Arsenal team. Eboue is hardly in the lineup “every week,” he’s a useful squad player and by all accounts the most popular player in the dressing room, which is no small thing. Bendtner had played exceedingly well before his injury, and Denilson has been twice the player he was last year.

      If you want a fashionable designer club that throws money around without consequence, there’s one up north and another at the Fulham bus station. Arsenal do things the right way under Arsene Wenger, who, whether you acknowledge it or not, is actually looking out for you, along with all Arsenal fans.

  21. Damian

    January 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    First im arsenal through & through & agree in Arsene,s plan But did he really have a choice once the stadium was listed& he has been offered the CEO position if he wants it Ferguson hasn,t and wouldn,t want it & is to old anyway plus if u were him would u want to win & let the rest worry about what happens after your gone he was hired to manage/win its someone elses job to make sure the club stays a float maybe the owners.;

  22. Damian

    January 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Cesc is going no where he,s to smart to leave being a star on money close enough it don,t matter to be a sub.

  23. Bazza

    January 11, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Full marks to Le Boss to sticking to his principle. I admit the frugal policy to ensure future prosperity is and will always be a gamble, but you gotta admire the guy for patience and wisdom.
    Arsene is just too clever for them mickey mouse premier league managers who blabber about foreign player, cash injections, added on time blah blah blah. Mr Tango and Naked Head butt pay attention this is how to manage a football team.

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

      But the point is that the policy of frugality is less of a gamble regarding the future than SAF’s policy.

  24. danish gooner

    January 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    So we wouldnt like to win a cl and 3 pl in a row and by the way Ferguson recouped a lot off the money spent on selling Ronaldo.Fact is Fergie took a gamble and succedeed Wenger chosse not to take that gamble and havnt succedeed and probably never will with this Tesco team.

    • ArsenalStation

      January 11, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      But as the bond scheme shows, only selling Ronaldo kept them from a posting a massive operating loss of 31m. Next year they won’t have a Ronaldo to sell and then what happens. Plus that profit only holds if he chooses not to spend any of that money now or in the summer.

  25. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Gambles like £30 Berbatov?
    We all knw arsenal currently CAN’T afford to get careless in the market,if not because of MAJOR injuries to big players and some very dodgy refs arsenal have done well.
    Agree with the comments but trophies count for zero if your club goes meltdown.

    The tesco comment was in NO WAY a disrespect to Wenger’s Transfer policy.

  26. danish gooner

    January 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Yes it was !!!!

  27. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Whoops! meant to say £30m Berbatov,lol!

  28. ibbs

    January 11, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Arsenal4ever!!!!

  29. gumboz

    January 12, 2010 at 2:45 am

    I have read the so called good article and its really a laughable piece of emotional downpour of Arsenal`s failures. Its really an insult to some sober minded arsenal fans and a vitriolic attack on the success of Man Utd. Can someone define how long is the future for arsenal because for more than 10 years now Arsenl has been an incomplete project. Let me remind you guys that History remembers Kings and and not soldiers. Manchester is winning trophies for the past two decades and the history books captures that. Its a shame that Arsenal fans concentrate on Manchester too much that they forget the sole purpose of playing in the Premiership. Arsenal is a Romantic team but we all know that romamnce does not produce a baby. Man U makes lots and lots of babies!!!!!!!

    • ArsenalStation

      January 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

      And now Manchester United is about to go on welfare because it can’t pay for all those babies.

      Arsene has made three teams in the last 10 years or so, so how is that an incomplete project. The first team won a double, the second won a double, 3 FA Cups, finished a whole season unbeaten, and broke Forest’s unbeaten record. Do you think that is not in the record books. From 2001-2005, Arsenal were the most dominant team in the league, winning more trophies, playing better football, and setting more records.

  30. The juice afc

    January 12, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Gumboz I think your comments as well as u want to sound clever is also laughable!!!saf taught his Manu babies the gift of gab v well…the facts is in the last decade althou we may not of won as many trophies, we’ve enjoyed watching great young potential grow and grow each year along with the transition from a team u saw steam roll the pl unbeaten lol. Yh 5 yes may b frustrating sometimes but this club to me is a family and we are all seeing something great happening with ARSENAL and all my 4 lil kids and myself will ALWAYS b proud of our GUNNERS regardless mate.. We have a future.simple as.

    • gumboz

      January 12, 2010 at 5:22 am

      Hahahah The Juice you are a funny character. I think you are a comedian, which part of hollywood or bollywood do you stay?. Who cares about potential, when is the potential going to be realised man, save your kids from the heartbreak of being coeced to support Arsenal, let them make wise choices, just admit that in as much as Man u might be i debt and who doesnt have debt anyway,, they are delivering the core business and we the supporters love it. I know you are frustrated that we win trophies year in year out and by the way we will continue to do so.

      • ArsenalStation

        January 12, 2010 at 9:32 am

        Let’s see how many of “we the supporters” love it when United are struggling to keep a top 4 or even top 6 place because they can’t follow their gameplan of spending 40m pounds every summer anymore.

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