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It is no coincidence that Arsenal’s recent trophy drought corresponds to their moving from Highbury into the Emirates in 2006. The move up the road meant the club became burdened with the debts of huge loans used to pay for the new stadium.
This has had a direct effect on the team, as it has meant that Arsene Wenger has not been able to spend money as lavishly on players as rival managers have been able to. As a result, Wenger was forced to follow a philosophy of building a team around young promising players. In August 2009 he gave an insight into this:
"We try to go a different way that, for me, is respectable. Briefly, these are the basics. I thought: We are building a stadium, so I will get young players in early so I do not find myself exposed on the transfer market without the money to compete with the others. I build a team, and we compensate by creating a style of play, by creating a culture at the club because the boy comes in at 16 or 17 and when they go out they have a supplement of soul, of love for the club, because they have been educated together. The people you meet at college from 16 to 20, often those are the relationships in life that keep going. That, I think, will give us strength that other clubs will not have."
Certainly, for a few years, despite not winning any trophies, Arsenal played some fantastic football and won many admirers by doing so with such a young side. Take note, at the time of these comments the Gunners still had the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song.
And that is the key, as while Wenger was applauded for his philosophy at the time, Arsenal still failed in landing a trophy. And the “boys” coming into the club all eventually left to seek pastures new, where they could actually be successful. The masterplan was not foolproof.
Now, with many players having matured, it appears the philosophy is no more. Coincidence or not, though, Arsenal are playing the worst football ever played during Wenger’s reign this season.