Arsenal fans love to speak of Arsene Wenger’s shrewd and miserly eye for talent. Up until a few years ago, Wenger’s net spending in the transfer market was something around ten million pounds, extraordinary when you consider the amount of trophies Arsenal have won since his arrival. Of course, much of Wenger’s bottom-line performance can be attributed solely to selling Nicolas Anelka, who’s sale managed to pay for everyone else on the France squad, including Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires.
All of this is great for Gooners, just another aspect of Wenger’s purist notions of the sport. With clubs’ spending ballooning every year, this is just another badge to point to when arguing in Arsenal’s defense, kind of like driving a Prius in middle Texas. A lot has been made of Wenger’s philosophy, not coincidentally, since the last time a team of his came close to sniffing silver was three years ago while mired in a battle for fourth place.
Arsenal’s wage bill is one of the league’s largest, but the stubborness in which Wenger deals with the transfer market certainly differs from most of his peers. Definitely shrewd, his reasoning is that in order to maintain the financial stability of the club, he must be prudent and not give in to the temptation of spending big in the windows.
A good portion of Gooners realize that this would not even be a discussion if it were not for the Frenchman. Arsenal fans would not have such high standards without Wenger, who has not only spoiled fans in north London, but fans of the game overall. But to consider that one or two good players could be what keeps their team competitive down to the end, many are frustrated at times with the lack of signings.
On their day, Arsenal can beat any team. If they’re really on their game, they can even make it look easy. But it can’t always be their day, which is why big squads are so important. For Wenger, it’s a competition like the Champions League that may redeem him rather than the long marathon of the domestic campaign.