There will always be that group of fans who will complain no matter what we achieve.
Finish top 6, they will moan we did not finish top 4.
Finish top 4, they will moan we did not challenge for the title.
Challenge for the title, they will moan we did not win it.
Win the league, they will moan we did not win the Champions League.
Win the Champions League, they will probably moan we were not unbeaten.
They seem themselves as “having a winning mentality” and “holding the club to a higher expecation”. Reality is they are unrealistic who probably go out every night hoping to pull Ivana Knoll, will not settle for anything less, and end up home alone wanking into a sock screaming that every woman is below them.
Before the season begun, common consensus was that top 4 was our minimum target.
We let top 4 slip through our fingers in the closing stages last season, and having invested in the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira and William ‘LANS’ Saliba, a minimum expectation of top 4 was not unreasonable.
Although even top 4 as a “minimum target” is a tough ask.
The Premier League is the toughest to get top 4 in Europe. There are 6 fantastic teams (soon to be 7 with Newcastle now state funded) consistently challenging for 4 Champions League spots. No other league has that sort of competitiveness.
In Italy, Spain, France and Germany, top teams can have an “off season” and still finish in the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona were average last campaign, but still finished 2nd and 3rd in La Liga. Juventus were also a poor side, but still finished 4th.
All of the “Big 6” would finish top 4 every season if there were in another European top league.
Back to this season. Top 4 had to be the target considering how long Mikel Arteta has been in the job (only Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Frank have been in their job longer), and what has been spent.
We all exdemanded a top 4 finish, and after our form in the opening gambits, we are close to securing that original target.
No one would have expected us to be in the title race. We probably all had Manchester City and Liverpool down as first and second, and then us and Chelsea battling it out for 3rd and 4th. But here we are, top on Christmas Day, and in the title race.
And this is where those moaners, the Arsenal-incels, have moved the goal posts.
Prior to the season, most of us were talking about top 4. They were demanding we challenge for the title. Anything less would be failure. Holding the club to higher expectations and all that.
Now we are in that title race, they are saying “anything less than winning the title is a failure”.
So we have met their original target of being in the title race, and we have exceeded many of ours target with top 4. But they will still label us a failure if we finish 2nd. Bash Arteta. Bash the club. And bash one out after another failed attempt to get a females number.
But would finishing 2nd, below Manchester City, really be a failure?
Manchester City are the most succesful English team of the last 5 years – 4 out of 5 league titles and a further 5 domestic cups (I am not lowering myself to include the Charity Shield).
They have averaged over 91 points a season in the last 5 years, and hit the century in 2017/18.
We have never got above 91 points in our history – the 2004 Invincibles got “just” 90.
In our last 5 seasons, we have averaged just 65 points.
So for us to win the title, we either need to see a huge jump in our recent average performances, or for City to have a huge drop off in theres.
More realistically would be where we have a perfect storm, where we have a decent improvement, and Manchester City have a drop-off.
A decen improvement would be for us to get around 80-85 points. That would also consitute a drop-off for Manchester City.
The only time Manchester City got less than 86 points in the last 5 seasons was when they finished 2nd to Liverpool. And it is that sort of drop off we need.
If Manchester City go and get 90+ points, they will probably win the league. And jumping from 69 to 90 points in the space of a season would be a huge ask.
And if we get 90+ points and do not win the league, can we really have any complaints?
Only twice in history has a team got 90+ points and not won the league. Both times were Liverpool. and both times it was Manchester City that won the league.
Sometimes you just need to put your hands up and agree “the better team won”.
At the moment it is looking good. We are top of the league. And Manchester City have had that drop off.
Despite the drop off, they are still oncourse to get 86 points. You would be surprised if they did not get at least this. We are currently oncourse to breach 100 points. But we would all be surprised if we hit the century.
To hit 90 points (which is what I think it will take to win it this year), we need another 53 points in 24 games. That is just 3 less points than we got in the entire 2019/20 season. Highlighting just how far we have jumped forward.
I think we can hit 85+ points this season, and certainly will not see it as a failure if we get that total and finish 2nd.
70% of their first XI would walk into every other Premier League side – and I include us in that:
Combined Arsenal XI
Walker Saliba Dias Cancelo
Saka KDB Silva Foden
The above is mine, and whilst some of you might debate it, City fans will also fight for the inclusion of Stones, Rodri, and Gundogan.
And it is not just their first XI, but their squad depth.
The brilliant Swiss Ramble has our wage bill for 2022 at £212million (note, this is a real wage bill, taken from the accounts, not an estimate based on Football Manager). Manchester City’s for the same period was £354million.
It should be no surprise that Manchester City have a stronger first XI, and stronger squad, than us when they spend 67% more on salaries than us. And as we all know, the more you spend on salaries in football, the higher you will likely finish in the league.
67% is huge. It equate to an additional £2.73million a week. That is an additional 8 additional players on £340k a week.
Give Edu the capability to buy an additional 8 players on £340k a week and see how much better our first XI is with those 8 players. And how much deeper the squad would be as current members “move down a space”.
We would be looking to recruit from the top 20 or 30 players in world football right now.
Anyone that thinks it will be a failure to finish below City considering their spending power is deluded.
Now those fans that will moan will say “we should just spend more”. And yes, in theory you are right.
But why do they not “spend more” to move out of their mothers basement (or their bedsit in Spain’s version of Great Yarmouth), to own a bugatti, have a home in Barbados? Are there own lives failures because they do not have these things.
“Well I can not afford them” they will respond. Well just spend more…thats what you are saying Arsenal do.
At the moment, we are competiting without Champions League money. In the last lot of accounts we did not even have Europa League money.
In 2021/22, Liverpool earned £117.6m in European TV revenue for making the final. Semi-finalists Manchester City got £112m. Manchester United – who were knocked out in the Last 16 earned £80million.
Ansd these figures do not take into account additional gate receipts – around an additional £20million for Liverpool and City.
We made a £60million loss in 2022. The only way we spend more is by increasing our revenue. By returning to European – and more specifically Champions League – football. By increasing commercial deals and gate receipts (more games, not increasing ticket prices) off the back of it.
“Well Kroenke should spend more of his money on us” is the next argument.
But even if we close that financial gap to Manchester City – through KSE investment and increasing revenue – they will still be at an advantage due to being state funded.
Kroenke is worth an estimated $12bn. A huge number. Whilst Manchester City’s “owner” Sheikh Mansour has a an estimated net worth of $30bn. A potentially manageable difference.
But it is what is behind Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan that makes the difference.
He owns Manchester City through the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADU), an investment group whose accounts are managed by the Abu Dhabi government (although they insist they are seperate).
The likes of the ADU, Public Investment Fund (the Saudi”group” behind Newcastle United’s ownership) and others will try and portray themselves as seperate from the state. But a look behind the curtain will show they are simply fronts for these nations to invest billions across the globe.
They like to appear to be at “arms length” from the state so that they can distance themselves from the horrendous human rights and backwards thinking of those countries. But the truth is these investment funds are investing on behalf of the oil-rich families that run the states.
Sheikh Mansour might “only” be worth $30bn. But his family, and those that he is the front of, are reported to be worth over $1trillion.
Now we are talking about $1trillion against $12billion. That is a difference that none of us can mentalty comprehend.
Kroenke could spend all $12bn of his net worth on his. The Abu Dhabi Royal family could match him and still have over $988bn left. Or $988,000,000,000. And that is why “the owner needs to spend more” is never a realistic argument, as there will always be someone that can outspend them.
So circiling back. We are doing great. But Manchester are more established, have better players, a stronger squad, and richer owners. Will finishing 2nd to them be failure.
The answer is no.
And anyone that disagrees must surely think their own lives are failures because they are not worth $1trillion.
Have a good day!