For the last few years I’ve said that if Arsene Wenger had money available to him he would surely spend it. He isn’t stupid. If we could see the areas of the team that needed reinforcing then you could guarantee that he could as well.
There had to be a reason he wasn’t buying the players we needed.
Despite the board and Wenger both saying that financial restrictions had been in place, many believed that the Frenchman simply decided not to spend any money. This wasn’t helped by the board’s initial insistence, after the stadium move, that Wenger had money. But, in business, if you’re broke you certainly don’t announce it to the world.
Arsenal weren’t broke, but they may as well have been over the past ten years. Repaying the stadium debt as quickly as they could meant that they were forced to not only scour the bargain-basement for signings but lose many of the top names that they had at the club.
Wenger’s biggest fault during that time was not the stubbornness that he did show but rather his faith in players and his belief that they would remain loyal to him. Had the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Alex Song, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini stayed, Arsenal would have had a squad to compete for more than just fourth place.
They didn’t and Wenger did the best he could with the resources available to him.
2014 was always going to be a landmark year for the club with the renewal of commercial deals and one which showed whether Wenger was being stubborn and stingy or hamstrung by circumstances.
He has wasted no time in throwing open his chequebook. £35m for Alexis Sanchez. £12m for Mathieu Debuchy. £3.5m for David Ospina and a reported £16m for Calum Chambers, a 19-year-old rightback who could cost more than Arsenal’s record signing in the pre-Mesut Ozil days. He also shows no signs of stopping there with a defensive midfielder also on his shopping list plus a centreback when Thomas Vermaelen leaves.
These are indeed exciting times to be an Arsenal fan and the nine years of hurt that led up to the club’s FA Cup win in May will just serve to make what is happening now all the more sweet.
Maybe one day Arsene will get around to writing that book and we will all know for sure what really went on after the move. I wouldn’t count on it, however. For a man who has taken the blame for everything at the club over the past nine years without complaint, a kiss-and-tell is likely to be the last thing on his mind.