Why Arsenal must change their ways or risk being left behind

It takes many years to build a club and a reputation like Arsene Wenger has done at Arsenal.

But the way football is these days means you can destroy all that good work in the blink of an eye.

Fans have such short memories. They’ll remember being smashed 8-2 at Manchester United or losing four goals at Blackburn and forget about when they used to watch Thierry Henry or Dennis Bergkamp in full flow every week.

In this profession you are only as good as your last game.

Now I don’t know enough about the machinations in the boardroom at the Emirates to say where the blame lies for the Gunners’ early-season woes.

But I do know that if Arsenal don’t start competing with the other top clubs financially then they won’t be challenging for the top honours.

Arsenal haven’t spent money like Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool or even Spurs.

And as a consequence they are now calling on players who, with all due respect, aren’t yet ready or able to carry the mantle of a great football club.

I know how hard being a manager is when you’ve got limited resources at your disposal and I think that’s what Arsene is experiencing at the moment.

The bottom line is that if you don’t pay your best players the going rate then you lose them.

It happened to me at Blackpool in the summer and it has happened to Wenger at Arsenal.

Arsene is one of the greatest managers there has been, but even someone like him will eventually lose the fight if his club doesn’t compete with transfer fees and salaries.

Two or three years ago would Samir Nasri have wanted to join Man City? Not a chance. Even though Cesc Fabregas was brought up at Barcelona, I don’t think he took a pay-cut when he joined them.

The job Arsene has done is incredible.

He has given Arsenal some fantastic times. Winning the Double, building the Invincibles, changing the culture of the club from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’.

And he has also been responsible for building the infrastructure of the club. Look at the fantastic Emirates Stadium, look at the club’s wonderful training ground. They’ve been built in the name of Arsene Wenger.

But money has always talked in football. It is talking louder than ever at the moment and Arsenal seem to have turned a deaf ear to it.

Maybe they are taking a stand by not paying inflated fees and wages.

But the truth is that either Arsenal change or they will get left behind. That’s the reality of football.

***

You should never be surprised by anything that happens in football, but the game went mad this week when Peter Reid was sacked by Plymouth.

I’ve got history at Home Park, of course, and there are still plenty of regrets about the way I quit the club in 2007.

But hearing that Reidy had lost his job was the lowest of the low.

How the hell can you sack a man when you weren’t even paying him his full wages?

They asked Peter to do an impossible job and then told him he isn’t good enough. So no proper pay, a kick in the b*****ks and then the sack. Unbelievable.

For Plymouth Argyle Football Club to be on his cv is absolutely disgusting.

The fans at Plymouth are wonderful. The Green Army gets into your blood and that’s why Peter took the decision to auction off an FA Cup medal just so he could pay his staff their wages.

How dare the directors of Plymouth treat such an honourable man in such a shabby way?

They have brought our great game into disrepute and are an absolute disgrace.

***

We've had some very strange weather in Blackpool, a town that is of course famous for its sunshine.

The rain was that bad last week that I started to build an ark. At one point, I thought I was going rusty.

So I’ve got to thanks our groundsman Stan and his assistant Alex for making sure our game against Cardiff went ahead.

A drain had blocked and we were worried we’d have to call the game off – and that would have meant Cardiff’s players and their fans travelling for seven or eight hours for absolutely nothing.

Fancy winning £3,000 for FREE this month? Play Mirror Football Streak for your chance to win cash prizes! Start predicting now!

williamhill.com

Your comments

Latest columnists