There is an absolutely astonishing piece in today’s Guardian wherein the vice chairman of Arsenal has brought a little reality – harsh reality – to their fans.
Facing a revolt of supporters over the chronic lack of investment in the team, and which has seriously embarrassed them in their pursuit of Kieran Tierney, which they assumed would be easy, Josh Kroenke has told them to forget chasing top honours for a while.
Along with warning that there were “no shortcuts” he pretty much laid it out for them in a way that is impossible to ignore. The board there has decided, it seems, that the spoonful of sugar isn’t terribly important as long as the medicine goes down.
“As much as we would love to say that we’ll be competing for the top trophies tomorrow, we know that that’s not the case and that we have to get to work on that,” Kroenke said.
Then, in a stunning display of management speak gobbledygook, added;
“That’s a daily approach to the little things from the top down. We understand that there’s a daily approach and a daily requirement of detail that goes into the overall approach of building the club back to where it needs to be.”
Well, that cleared things up, didn’t it?
I’m sure that made a lot of Arsenal fans go, “Oh right … so that’s the plan then.”
As used, as we are, to reading unrealistic nonsense and fantasy land stuff in the media about the operation across town, from a neutral point of view it is actually a breath of fresh air to read a senior board member at a top EPL club dish out the real and the raw like that.
Kroenke could have soft-soaped them but he’s chosen not to bother.
Perhaps he thought they needed a reality check.
For too long, their supporters blamed Wegner for the decline of the club.
What’s now readily apparent is that the Frenchman’s biggest fault – if it can be called that – is that he was willing to work with what he was given.
Like I argued about Celtic during the tail-end of last season, our historic failures to go out and bring in top players and top managers has often been misunderstood as weakness; actually, they are symptoms of bad strategy, not serious structural failings.
Arsenal is a mammoth club and shouldn’t be in its current state.
But they are the victims not only of the policies of their owners but of the greed and avarice of the EPL itself, which has allowed foreign owners to take over its best clubs and doesn’t care what the backgrounds of those involved are.
Even FFP regulations – which they at least have – are a joke when clubs like City can circumvent them with mammoth sponsorship deals and other wheezes.
The Arsenal fans will, unfortunately, need to get used to a period where they don’t compete for a while. If my understanding of Kroenke is correct, he’s using the old Moneyball strategy which he is very familiar with and fully subscribes to.
Hey, it works at Anfield, so perhaps it will pay off. But it is not a quick-fire concept.
And this is important in the context of our own club, because this is the team that wants one of our best players and, so far, hasn’t gotten real about how it intends to pay the money for him although Tierney is seriously undervalued – Danny Mills, on TalkSport today says he’s a £35 – £40 million player and not a £25 million one – even accounting for our asking price.
Whilst Celtic fans do understand that in football you have to balance the books, our club will take a hard line on the necessary fee simply because we have to. If Arsenal are seen to be bullying us into accepting a low-ball bid, then it’s open season on all our players.
But this is more than that, of course; this is a warning to Tierney himself.
If he reckons a move to Arsenal puts him one step closer to a Champions League final he is dead wrong about that, as Kroenke has freely admitted. This is not a club with the lofty ambitions that the media here in Scotland sometimes portrays.
Winning things are not on the current agenda.
I have said it before and say it again; Kieran Tierney can have it all here in Glasgow.
Not just big money – he will be a multi-millionaire long before his career ends – but the glory with it.
Trophies, honours, a place in history, immortality.
At the club he loves.
Celtic will not force him to the exit. Kieran will only go if he chooses to go and that’s the ultimate truth here.
He now has to consider whether Arsenal is a better bet than we are.
Oh the money will be fine, but all the rest of it could be nothing but frustration.
If he gives us two more years, and helps us get to ten, there will certainly be other options.
When – if – it’s time to decide … well, he has a decision to make doesn’t he?