The Calculator Is On Wenger’s Side…

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 12:11

The Calculator Is On Wenger's Side...

Thank the lord for Jose. If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at

Oh Jose…
What’s Portuguese for ‘Voyeur’?
Cortez, 25 (LVG is the new Old Mourinho) MUFC, Botswana

…Jose has suggested the simple task of taking a calculator to see how much his rivals have spent in the last few seasons. I suggest an even simpler method – just take the data from who, surely, have a calculator.

So here is the data on net transfer expenditure over the last five seasons:

Manchester United: £327.8 million
Manchester City: £235.4 million
Chelsea: £186.2 million
Liverpool: £175.6 million
Arsenal: £99.0 million

In fact, if you look at the whole list, there are about 4-5 categories:

> 300 mn: Manchester United
200-300 mn: Manchester City
100-200 mn: Chelsea, Liverpool
50-100 mn: Arsenal, West Ham, Newcastle, Sunderland
< 50 mn: Rest of the clubs

Just for completeness, the ranking with wage bill is the same for 2014-15, except that Liverpool have a marginally lower wage bill than Arsenal’s.

Here are some observations:

* Jose is out of his mind trying to suggest Arsenal have spent anything close to Chelsea even in the recent past. Arsenal have spent more than Arsenal did before, which is not saying a lot considering that the club used to be 17th or 18th on this list till recently. In terms of results, Arsenal seem to be outperforming all of the clubs mentioned above.

* That said, Jose is right to point out to the fact that the other title challengers from Manchester have spent a lot more than his side.

* Why does Van Gaal still have is job? After spending close to 150 million on a side that finished 7th (and won the title the year before), surely better results are expected? Isn’t it hypocritical to expect so much from Wenger, who has had barely anything to spend till about two years ago, and give such an easy run to Van Gaal who can probably get any player in the world? Why should Van Gaal be trusted with money to ‘buy a superstar’ given how miserably he failed with Di Maria?

* Manchester United fans must be feeling really silly after having whinged incessantly about Chelsea and City’s spending in the past, and now having to see their side outspend City by close to £100 million over the last five years. These numbers don’t even include transfer spending from this summer.

* While I am addressing only the title challengers here, a small diversion – why is Brendan Rodgers still at Liverpool? There is perhaps a greater and a longer evidence of inefficient use of funds against Rodgers than against Van Gaal. Also, at least Van Gaal can attract top talent even without Champions League football, which, I suspect, Rodgers cannot. Is Liverpool management still patting his back for the Suarez-inspired season?

Taking Van Gaal To Task
So when Gary Neville says Utd must replace Angel Di Maria with a like-for-like player does he mean another genuinely world-class player for Van Gaal to mismanage, alienate and drive out the club in a year?

I’ve only seen a couple of my Utd-supporting friends tear strips off Van Gaal for his boring, ale-house style and poor handling of players. The rest just keep trotting out that tired rhetoric of ‘not fit to wear the shirt/better off without him’ that I’ve heard from our lot about players all too much as well.

Another manager forces out Di Maria (one of the only top-class players to actually come over to England instead of the other way) and the coverage would be much more negative. It’d be top banner news with a pithy headline and an even pithier jab in the byline. But no, it’s a sign of strength to actively choose Ashley Young over a world-class/great/good/competent player.

That said, they’ll likely start the season with Di Maria gone and Young as their best winger…
Kris, LFC, Manchester

Taking On The Managers
It’s that time of the year when an awful lot of guff is spouted in our direction by the boys in charge. It’s obvious why they do it, the only edge to be gained at this point of pre-season is psychological. Let’s set a few right, shall we?

– Mourinho; No, he isn’t. A magnificent player, wonderful to watch, however until young Eden has the bag full of medals and demonstrated the ability to adapt, improve and excel, no matter the situation – he’s not better than Ronaldo. (Scoring more than a goal a game over a six-year period would also help).

– Wenger; Giroud might be your countryman and a handsome bugger, but he won’t win you a league. Well done on the massive keeper upgrade, though you’ll still fall short as it stands.

– Pellegrini; Nope, got nothing. Get in the game son.

– Van Gaal; You have a galactico, the one your club paid near £60mill for last summer and you turned into a lost looking at Sunday league puppy. I’d take your bluster more seriously were it not for the dirge you had very expensive footballers play last season. The easy ride you’ve been afforded by fans and the media will soon turn if that kind of football continues.

– Rodgers; Put up or shut up time Brendan. Another weak season (or even start to the season?), won’t be tolerated. Time to turn all that management psychobabble into points.
Spoons, LFC

Defending Van Gaal
Despite being a fellow Arsenal fan, I must take exception to the points made by Ryan K about Manchester United’s spending. I do agree with some of what he has to say. Van Gaal is unlikely to have the next 5-10 years in mind the way Wenger does for Arsenal (or even Ferguson did for Man U). However, he goes on to slate Van Gaal for spending money on Blind, Rojo, Darmian, Herrera as they are not world-class players. He does realise that not every signing needs to be a world-class player? 95% of purchases for even the biggest Premier League club will not be world-class players. The plan here is to buy good international players that have potential to be world class or the potential to be very good players. All his purchases can not be 50+ million quid world-class players.

He then goes on to have a go at Van Gaal for buying or eyeing-up ready-made world-class players as they are on their way out (Schweinsteiger and Ramos). That doesn’t leave a lot of options for which players he should buy then, does it? Unless he wants to spend 60-100 million on world-class players that are not above 28 such as Thomas Muller, Bale, Kroos, Pogba, Hummels. Seeing as they need about six players this season I can’t see them spending 400-500 million quid doing this. Even United aren’t this rich.
Johnny (Arsenal), Bangkok

…Long-time reader first-time writer. Had to as yesterday’s mail by Ryan k infuriated me at so many levels that it’s a challenge to continue writing in a civilised manner.

So you say that Sir Alex Fergusson was greedy in his last season, why, cause he bought your best player that’s why. Cause your best player did not even look back once before leaving your club. Awww bud must have been harsh right. To be honest he was greedy, he was greedy for success. He did not settle down for mediocrity even when he had mediocre players. He was brutal as a manager and so is Van Gaal. Saf build a team. Van Gaal is doing the same. Both of these managers knew that to build a successful team you must have a mixture of A. World class players. B. Hard working players and C. Players who are happy to take a back seat and play their part when called upon. If a team has too many world-class players then the cohesion between players go missing and there are too many ego clashes.

Van Gaal is on the verge of emulating the same and making a team. When he arrived at United he saw a clear lack of world-class players and also United weren’t attractive to any at that moment as well. So he bought Falcao, a risk any manager in his position would have taken. And Di maria which signalled that United can still purchase the top quality if they like. Both failed but is the blame all on him. Probably. He has bought Herrera who was a revolution in the second half and was one of our best players. Young found his lost motto to play football. Fellini was used to perfection. Mata came out as a rejuvenated player. You see how different players are now. They understand the system. And his purchases this season has been bang on. Schneiderlin is the best dm in the Premier League and only a few months back all you Arsenal fans were cringing to see him at your club. Schwny is a smart buy. Given time for Morga to settle in at the same time takes burden off Carrick. Darmain is an international defender from Italy. Mediocre defenders from Italy are still better than the rest. I won’t say a word about Memphis. His feet will do the talking you see.

So you see, Van Gaal was given a job to fix the situation so when the next man steps in he has team with players in all position ready for action. And Ryan, United will get another world-class manager without a doubt. Who is tried and tested. No David Moyes again. So yea you can stop worrying about us mate. We will never get a manager who is happy with the fourth-placed trophy.

P.s Chris MUFC what you said is absolutely true and brilliant. Have a beer from my side mate.
Vatsyayan MUFC (Jai Mata di)

…Ryan states ‘It absolutely reeks of SAF in his last season, putting his own personal gains before the long-term stability of the club.’ When did winning the title become putting personal gains before team gains? We could all agree with that statement if SAF had spent 150 mil on players in their 30s and left United saddled with high wages. All he did was spend 24 mil on the leagues best striker, who then won United the league title. 24 mil for a title, I think any team would kill for that deal. SAF left United with 100s of million in cash reserves. The problem was Moyes just had no clue what to do with the money.

Secondly, can Arsenal fans make up their mind? Do they want to win titles or do they want to see Wenger groom young players with an occasional cup win. Would you rather watch a manager stubbornly stick with Giroud and Coq without buying reinforcements that could win them the league or would you rather see a manager buy a Schweinsteiger and give his team a higher chance off winning the league. Every year Wenger is short of two players to put in a title challege and every year he won’t buy the required players. This year he needs a striker and defensive mid and off course he won’t buy either.

Yes Bastian will last three years and both Falcao and Di Maria flopped, but at least United tried to get in a star. Would Arsenal fans rather see Wenger take a chance and try and get in star striker and are doing their best to try and assemble a title-winning squad. I’d rather have a Bastian and a Ramos in my team for 2-3 years, who will be great to watch than 200 mil sitting in the vault and highest ticket prices in the league.
JB, (fourth place trophy for Wenger again this year, luckily Ox will be a better player) MUFC

…Ages of United’s signings under LVG (at the time when signed):

Blind – 24
Herrera – 24
Rojo – 24
Shaw – 19
ADM – 26
Schweinsteiger – 30
Schneiderlein – 25
Depay – 21
Darmian – 25
Romero – 28
Valdes – 32

Average age = 25.3

Arsenal over the same period:

Cech – 33
Debuchy – 28
Sanchez – 25
Ospina – 25
Welbeck – 23
Paulista – 23

Total = 26.1

That’s gotta be embarrassing. Sorry buddy, but you did kinda ask for it.

What’s Happening At City…
Matt, LFC, wants to know what is going to happen at Manchester City…for some reason. Sit down, Matt, this won’t take long.

Pellegrini signed a three-year deal and a three-year deal is what he got (and strangely doing – in his third year now, funnily enough). No word of an extension at all have come from City, and in fact, Pep is odds on favourite to replace him.

Will this happen? Well, if I knew that all my money would be at the bookies right now, but I don’t, however whispers I hear, say he very well could be.

City are still in for Pogba – no, really – and maybe new signings are being told who is coming in later. Or perhaps not…something to do with third party rights being the issue.

Plus a Liverpool fan suggesting that taking away one of their best players from them (and all the vitriol that came with it – no, not you, Matt) does not strengthen City? No, the irony is not lost on me on there.

Will Klopp end up at Liverpool? He might, and it would be a hell of a lot of fun to have him in the Premier League, but Liverpool do have their work cut out for them this season.

Time will tell I guess.
Mike D

Liverpool Don’t Use Moneyball
I know where the idea that Liverpool are using moneyball for their transfer policy came from, the newspapers took the fact that Fenway owned the Red Sox who used sabermetrics to aid decision making and assumed that they would try something similar in football, but it is b*ll*cks.

Moneyball is about using market imperfections to gain maximum bang for your buck. What part of signing an established England international in Stewart Downing for £20m sounds like that?

There is no magic formula for having a perfect transfer policy, because you’re dealing with human beings not mechanical components, so there is always the possibility of failure to adapt to the new environment. There are though some rules which transfer policy could follow from the book Why England Lose by Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski which are moneyballesque. They include: A new manager wastes money (depending on your opinion, Borini and Allen), stars of World Cups are overvalued (everyone seems to have cottoned on to this one), certain nationalities are overvalued (English, Brazilian and currently fashionable countries like Belgium) there are plenty more but you can read the book.

Liverpool has the transfer committee which is probably an attempt at using the wisdom of crowds, but some of the signings they’ve made it just seems like the scene from the film with the old blokes sat around a table using sight-based prejudices (ugly girlfriend – no confidence), but without Brad Pitt (No, not you Brendan) walking in with a printed sheet of A4 telling them who they are signing.

This will no doubt get dismissed by people who are in thrall of statistics but I don’t believe that there are statistical magic bullets for football. When one of the best defenders of the modern era is 5’9″ Fabio Cannavaro whilst the prevailing logic is for centre-backs to be 6’4″ and built like an outhouse, when the two best players in the World today are such polar opposites in terms of physique and approach to the game, when the top teams use such diverse tactical approaches there can’t be.
Ron French

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