The year was 2007. Arsenal had been in their shiny new stadium for 2 seasons. Chelsea had been firing millions from their tanks in West London for a few years.
Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, had managed to get together a group of young players who, in the 2007/08 season, would be so close to clinching the league title.
The young squad included the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song, Matthieu Flamini, Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott, and Philippe Senderos.
Add in the experience of Kolo Toure, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky, Arsenal went so close to winning the league, but the season derailed after Eduardo had his leg broken against Birmingham, a game in which Arsenal lost 3 points to a last minute penalty. They finished 3rd.
But the media were full of praise for The Arsenal. Despite having a lower transfer budget, and much lower wages, than the likes of Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool, they had managed to build a bright young squad which would be capable of competing for major honours for years to come. As long as they kept the squad together.
In the summer of 2008, Arsenal lost Hleb to Barcelona and Flamini to AC Milan. Not disastrous as they signed the young French superstar Samir Nasri.
A year later the wheels begun to come off.
In 2009 it had already been 4 years without a trophy, and there was a new big hitter in town.
Manchester City were set to have their first full summer transfer window under the oilmen from the Middle East. And they were throwing about the cash.
Arsenal were having to tighten their belt. The new stadium, alongside the recession, had hit Arsenal big time. They could not pay the top wages. Had to sell to buy. With Man City now in the picture, Arsenal were set to have the 5th highest wages in the league.
The club were not paying enough, nor were they winning anything, and players started to be tempted by success and money elsewhere.
That summer, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor joined the Arab revolution at Manchester City. Doubling their wages. This would open the floodgates as other players realised what they could get elsewhere. That Arsenal were underpaying them.
It took 2 years for the dam to finally break.
2011 was the big one. The wages were still not being paid, 6 years without a trophy. Out went Fabregas back to Barcelona, before Manchester City doubled the wages of Nasri and Clichy.
2012 saw Alex Song join Cesc at Barcelona, before van Persie showed his frustration at lack of success and lack of decent signings. He joined Manchester United where he won the league in his first season.
In the 4 years from 2008 to 2012, Arsenal had sold every one of their Crown Jewels. Everyone wanted away. They chased success. Chased money. Frustrated by Wenger’s socialist wage structure and lack of transfer activity. Angered by a lack of success.
Pretty much every player that Arsenal sold to Man City, Man U and Barcelona in that 4 year period went on to win the league at the side they moved too. Meanwhile Arsenal finished potless year after year until 2014.
The new stadium had hamstrung Arsenal’s development. The club moved to compete had sent the club backwards – at least in the short-mid term.
Roll forward to today. The eve of the 2017/18 season. Down the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, Arsenal’s North London rivals have just had their best season in decades. They finished second.
For the second consecutive season they had put the pressure on. Been so close to a title, but ultimately not won a trophy. They had finally finished above Arsenal.
What was remarkable as they had competed with the big boys without spending big money. They had the lowest wage bill in the top 6. They often turned profits in transfer windows. All whilst financing a new stadium.
It was reminiscent to 2007/08 for The Arsenal.
But now the floodgates are opening. Kyle Walker has done a Kolo Toure. Fed up of where the club is going, he has doubled his money at Manchester City. And now Danny Rose has got a sniff of what he could have.
Spurs have not won a trophy since 2008. The League Cup. Not won an FA Cup since 1991. The league not since 1961. They can not offer their players the wages. They can not offer them the medals.
When you read that Danny Rose is on £60k a week, whilst Jessie Lingard is on £100k a week, you realise how much Spurs under pay their players. It is like Arsenal of 2008. When Wayne Bridge at Chelsea is paid more than Arsenal’s highest paid player, it is only natural to look elsewhere.
At the time of writing, Spurs have yet to buy a single senior player. Despite protests from the owners and manager (similar noises to what Arsenal’s upper structure made) that the stadium is no causing any financial constraints, it clearly is.
Spurs can not pay the likes of Harry Kane what he deserves.
Kane has won the last two Golden Boots. He is the best striker in the Premier League. He is on £120,000 a week.
To put that into perspective, £120,000 a week is what Christian Benteke reportedly earns at Crystal Palace. It is what Bournemouth have given Jermaine Defoe. They scored 30 league goals combined in the Premier League last season. Harry Kane got 29 on his own.
Romelu Lukaku, the man closest to Kane in terms of goal scored over the last two years, signed a £200,000 a week deal with Manchester United.
How much longer will Kane accept being underpaid?
The costs of building a £800,000,000 stadium is stopping the club pay the going rate of wages. Paying the escalating transfers fees.
Walker has already gone, Rose is going. They might be the only two this season. The Adebayor. The Toure of their time. But they will open the flood gates.
Next summer Toby Alderweild will have 1 year left on his contract. He has already leaked to the media that if Spurs take up an option to extend for a year, he will have a £25m release clause.
How long will Lloris sit, winning nothing. Cristian Erickson will surely eventually end up at Barcelona. Dele Alli at Real Madrid. And how long will it be until Harry Kane does a Robin van Persie and realises he must leave to win things?
Like Arsenal 10 years ago, they have no local boys who are die hard fans. Walker was signed from Sheffield United, Rose from Leeds. Erickson, Lloris and Alli were also signed. Whilst Harry Kane might pretend to be one of their own, at heart he grew up an Arsenal fan in an Arsenal family. None of these players have any real loyalty to the club.
Arsenal suffered for 6 years from that “almost” season in 2008 to finally wining the FA Cup in 2014. The difference with Spurs is there manager is not as good as Wenger. And Spurs are not as attractable. Spurs are a smaller club than arsenal and starting from much further behind.
And Spurs troubles are beginning before they have even moved to their new ground. Arsenal lasted a couple of years from 2006-2008 before fully feeling the pinch. Spurs are struggling financially 2 years before they are set to move.
Too weak a squad, not enough depth. It would not surprise me if this season, Spurs finished 7th.