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Money vs. Wengspiration

By | 11th September 2009

arsene-wengerLong ago, P.J. O’Rourke in his book A Parliament of Whores said, “You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.”

I just can’t help myself relating it to Manchester City.

The transfer window is closed. And, Manchester City, backed by big bucks, have spent near to £120 million in this single summer transfer window and around £200 million overall since last summer. In fact, of the total money spent on transfers by 20 Premier League clubs this summer, City’s share exceeds 25%.

Now, to mention the transfer money spent by Arsenal as a percent of Manchester City’s spending would be an insult—but I am not sure of whom. The historically ‘poor’ Gunners have spent just £10 million this summer on Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax. In fact, Arsene Wenger, in the last 12 years of his reign at Arsenal is shy of £220 million on all the transfers till date and has recruited only six players (Reyes, Nasri, Hleb, Wiltord, Henry and Arshavin) over £10 million.

Manchester City host Arsenal this weekend and there will be many who might feel that City may prove stronger than Gunners.

Willem De Kooning once quoted, “The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time.” So, when City were poor like many other Premier League teams, they were mostly bothered about improving their team and trying to put up a fight against the top half of the table. They were mainly concerned with their football as they hardly had anything else to ponder over. But now bankrolled by Sulaiman Al Fahim, City’s immediate ambition is to build a global brand by luring star talents with absurdly high wages rather than actually bothering about or working for the development of football at the club-level.

City’s academy, less recognized by English media, has produced quite an impressive breed of homegrown young talent in the form of Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, Michael Johnson, Nedum Onuaha, Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright Phillips. While Ireland has managed to build his place in the midfield and Shaun Wright Phillips is back to revive his career after a frustrating spell at Chelsea, the future of other young players is highly uncertain. After an exciting start last season, Richards is set to get sidelined after the recruitment of Toure and Lescott in the central defense. Onuoha is difficult to spot now and Sturridge has been sold to Chelsea. For Johnson, interests from top clubs have been reported and he might be off in January or next summer.

One can argue that Sparky has bought the best of the players for each position, automatically setting the club up for a top 5 finish. But clearly the money has taken the top seat at Eastlands and the pursuit of establishing a football culture has been mostly disregarded.

At the same time, Wenger has taken up all his time in readying Fabregas, Clichy, Walcott in the past, and now he is building his future starlets – Ramsey and Wilshere. The ambition is to make Arsenal play the most beautiful football in the Premier League season after season.  But the Gunners are still hunting for the first major trophy to officially landmark the success of their football. So being poor has actually kept Wenger very busy.

In his book – The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace D. Wattles wrote,

“The poor do not need charity; they need inspiration. Charity only sends them a loaf of bread to keep them alive in their wretchedness, or gives them an entertainment to make them forget for an hour or two. But inspiration can cause them to rise out of their misery. If you want to help the poor, demonstrate to them that they can become rich. Prove it by getting rich yourself.”

Arsenal has inspiration from Wenger – Wengspiration. Wengspiration has seen them rise out of their misery and has demonstrated to the world how to become rich in football. Arsene Wenger has been churning out young and talented individuals for years. Wengspiration has triggered them to play the best football while the world has looked at them in awe.

The astute mind of Arsene Wenger has made everyone richer. Gallas is richer as there is no Toure to fight with. Fabregas is richer as he is the youngest captain. Bentdner is richer as there is no Adebayor to compete with. Song and Denilson are richer because of the faith shown in them. Arshavin is richer because Arsenal plays the way he likes to play. Hence, Arsenal FC is richer as there is Wengspiration all over the pitch.

City has bought players but they may look poor when it comes to inspiration. Wenger may not have the money, but he is smart enough to build a team that will fight in style.

City’s poverty of not having big players has been sorted out by the sheikh. But the inspiration to build and not buy football may actually get Manchester City out of misery and probably make the club and not just players, richer.

What do you like – money or inspiration? Comment below.

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. Amandeep Singh says:

    Thanks Brian.

    In terms of options – True! But then i think its just down to money. Just another business. If Stoke City have money, they will go and buy everyone. More money, more players, more number of good players.

    Its just two different approaches and Arsene has always worked in a tight budget and a limited squad. He doesn't use his bench much for his players.

    By 'richer', I meant the richness in terms of trust, responsibility and freedom given to each player by Arsene.

    But of course, injuries are a major blow to this philosophy. Arshavin is already out for gunners. But i am looking forward to a player called 'Rosicky'

  2. Fantastic article, Amandeep. I must say, though, that I think you're suggestion of City getting richer is far truer than Arsenal. City have a much deeper squad that should help them survive the tough and grueling 38-match Premier League season.

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