Jack Preston’s latest Talking Sport column considers whether Arsene Wenger’s policies at the Emirates are to be applauded despite a lack of trophies.
Arsene Wenger has often been criticised for his reluctance to flex Arsenal’s financial muscle in the transfer window, which has ultimately caused the Gunners to fall short at the final hurdle (or earlier) of almost every competition since 2005. But can success be measured in different ways, other than silverware? I believe it can.
Although board members and financial directors may believe a club of Arsenal’s stature heavily rely on their success in major European competitions to operate, I feel their overall success, whether that is in finances, marketing, selling season tickets or even lifting trophies, lies in the investment of youth. And there’s nobody better than Wenger to orchestrate that.
Undeniably, Wenger is renowned for his belief in youngsters and the ongoing conveyor belt that is Arsenal’s youth system, which continuously produces Premier League stars.
Most notable is the recent success of Jack Wilshere, who heads of a long list of products of Arsenal’s academy who have progressed to top-flight football.
In addition, the recent high-cost acquisitions at other clubs of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson, which have raised a figure marginally short of £40m for those doing the selling, have caught the attention of chairmen around the country, which could now both switch their attention and priorities to developing more youngsters.
This, of course, is no secret to Wenger, who has been doing this since the dawn of time. Some of his success stories include Ashley Cole (£5m + William Gallas), Fabrice Muamba (£4m), Justin Hoyte (£3m) and Seb Larsson (£1m).
Although only a few mentioned of the above did establish themselves in Wenger’s starting XI, their sales contributed to the progression of the club, and allowed Arsenal to seek out bigger and better targets who they were interested in.
Because of this, Arsenal have remained a solvent business and football club, and haven’t needed to splash out on over-priced players to help them win titles. Regardless of their trophyless barron run, they are still a top-four side and a Champions League club, which is an incredible feat considering opposition sides who are doing the complete opposite.
But the question faced by those in disagreement with Wenger’s transfer policy is whether they would prefer to win titles at the risk of putting their club in jeopardy or have patience and trust Wenger and stick to his plan?
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