So Arsene Wenger's experiment of fielding young inexperienced players ends in another trophy-less season. Is it back to the blackboard now to make some tweaks or is it time to throw out the blueprint for something new?
Arsenal have reached the semifinal of the FA cup, the semifinals of the European Champions League and look likely to finish fourth in the Premiership—this is not such a bad season, even if it ends with no trophy.
The last trophy Arsenal won was the FA Cup in 2005. Since the beginning of this decade, Arsenal have won the Premier League twice in 2001-02 and 2003-04 and the FA Cup three times in 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2004-05.
Compared to Arsenal and Chelsea this is not a bad return but when compared to the amount invested it's nothing short of a miracle.
Arsene has perhaps been the most effective manager of the top four clubs when it comes to transfer dealings with him buying unknown players and developing them into stars before selling them on at a large profit—Arsenal turned a tidy £22m profit on Nicolas Anelka.
However buying players to create a team goes against Wenger's personal beliefs—he would rather prefer to tutor and develop a young talent than buy in an experienced player which he cannot mould to the same degree.
Wenger is akin to an artist who wants to showcase his own works of art with a blank canvas than improve a part finished painting. This belief in his own ability and shunning of the transfer market dovetails wonderfully with the objectives of Arsenal's main directors—Stan Kroenke, Danny Fiszman and Alisher Usmanov.
Wenger is given free hand to mould a young team and in return he provides the directors regular Champions League football, a fourth placed finish in the Premier League and a decent FA cup run.
This symbiotic relationship benefits both parties greatly but comes at one great cost—the fans have to pay for this.
A quick look at the finances of Arsenal will blow the myth out of the water that they do not have enough money to spend on transfers. Arsenal made a pre-tax operating profit of £36.7m in the year ending 31 May 2008 from a turnover of of £223.0m. In terms of World Football their turnover is the sixth largest.
Just behind Chelsea and over £40m more than Liverpool. Since the last time they won the league in 2003/04 Arsenal have spent a net of £37m on players whilst Chelsea £284.4m, Liverpool £112.7 and United £106.6m have spent far more.
For as long as Arsenal need Wenger, and Wenger needs Arsenal and that loyal fans keep on paying expect the relationship to continue—why would you break up a wining formula? Unless of course you're the loser.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!