After the defeat against Manchester City, a lot of the post-game talk was just how far behind the Champions we were.
This was a City side with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Vincent Kompany & David Silva, but was by no means a B team.
The victory for them showed that even with a few key absentees, they have incredible strength in depth.
Take the missing Leroy Sane for example.
A lot of fuss was made during the summer over him not making the German squad at the World Cup. He was missed by his country, but not missed by his club.
In his place were Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling. Neither are exactly “B team” players; both would start for every side in the Premier League, just like both started for Manchester City at the weekend.
They might not have started Gabriel Jesus, but they did start Sergio Aguero.
And despite Vincent Kompany and Nicolás Otamendi being absent, the centre of their defence cost over £100million, forming the most expensive back four ever assembled in the history of the game.
Kyle Walker John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy costing over £200m between them.
I am a firm believer that it is not what you spend; but who you buy, and Manchester City’s huge expenditure proves this.
They have spent a decade building what they have today. It has cost them over £1billion in transfer fees and they have bought an awful lot of duds.
Whilst most clubs have to buy sensibly, City have been able to chuck money out a player to see if he comes good, and if he doesn’t, discard him,
Think Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz, Stevan Jotevic, Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony. Nearly £150million spent on tripe.
What they have done over the last decade is filter out the rubbish and what they are left with is a ridiculously strong, expensively assembled squad.
So to Arsenal.
In the summer we spent £70million. The gulf between us and Manchester City was clear to see. So should Arsenal have spent more?
The easy answer is yes, of course we should. We should have gone and signed Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezzman. But this is not Football Manager, it is real life.
Manchester City’s empire was not built overnight.
They did not win their first league title until 3 years of that original investment, and it took Pep Gaurdiola 12 months and £500million to build the team that ran away with the league title last season.
Arsenal’s £70million spend took the total cost of the squad over the £400million mark. In comparison, both Manchester United and Manchester City’s squad cost them £800million.
It is unrealistic to think that Arsenal have – and will spend – £400million in a single summer to bridge that gap.
Arsenal’s average net spend over the last 5 years is £25million. With barely anything coming in this summer from outgoing players, this summers outlay will be one of our biggest “net spending” summers in history.
Only Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham actually had a largest outlay than us – with Liverpool spending the Philipe Coutinho money.
So Arsenal did make huge outlays in terms of money spent.
You also do not want to buy too many players in a single window.
The problem for Arsenal is we are starting from a long way back.
For the foreseeable future, Manchester City only need to buy 1 or two players a year. This means that they can spend £70m a season on a single player, every year, and continue improving. Bringing in only Riyad Mahrez this summer is a perfect example of this.
Arsenal need to strengthen the entire squad. The first XI and the “B team”. We do not really want to go out every summer buying 10+ players spending £150million. We need to be sensible.
Spending £70million on 5 players was sensible recruitment. Buying too many players in a transfer window leads you to buying players you did not really want, ones lower down the list, perhaps have not been fully scouted properly.
Arsenal can not go out and buy a Riyad Mahrez for £70million, and then make the 5 other transfer we need for another £70million. We can not expect us to be spending £150million in a single window without bringing money in.
Eventually we hope that we can get to a position like Manchester City are in, or where Manchester United were in the late 90s/early 00s. Where you have the basis of a championship winning squad and just need to buy one or 2 top players each summer, improving the top end of the squad.
Until we get to that point, we are going to have to be buying 5 or 6 players every summer, slowly improving the squad.
The squad we have today is massively improved from 12 months ago. The majority of those who have come in are superior to those who they have replaced.
The trick is to keep going. Next summer get in a left back better than Nacho Monreal & Saed Kolasinac. A centre back to partner Sokratis (and replace Mustafi).
The squad was left in such a poor shape by Arsene Wenger that it might take 3 summer transfer windows to get rid of the poor players and replace them, and as a self-sufficient club, we will only have a spend of about £70-£100million a summer before sales.
I would have liked to have seen a natural wideman come in over the summer, but that is all I feel we are short at this time.
This is Jurgen Klopp’s 4th season at Liverpool. Mauricio Pochettino is into his 5th at Spurs. And Jose Mourinho has now had 3 summer transfer windows at Manchester United.
These managers with their clubs are still “building” to bridge that gap to Manchester City.
Rome was not built in a day.