It has been quite a week for the humble pound, dollar or whatever currency you use. In a week which saw massive budget cuts announced up and down the country, putting an estimated half a million people out of work, footballers and footballing authorities have shown a level of greed that puts them to shame.
The talk has centred on the Rooney saga (which can hardly be called a saga given how quickly it ended) – demanding to leave, only to stay when offered an enormous pay rise that the rest of the squad may look at unfavourably. I’m no fan of United, but you have to credit the likes of Giggs, Scholes and even Gary Neville for the way they have carried themselves off the field in their careers – going from contract to contract without fuss. I’m sure they are well compensated, but it is unlikely they have played the sort of game Rooney has, one which will resonate with us Arsenal fans as it was extremely similar to Adebayor’s. And look how that turned out.
Sure has been the depth of coverage that you would be forgiven for thinking Rooney was the only manipulator of financial power in football, when in fact it goes all the way up to certain members of FIFA, whose exposure by the Sunday Times centres around the apparent willingness to sell their votes for the hosting of future World Cups. Frankly, this sort of thing is far more of a worry than any of Rooney’s antics – the supposed bastions of the game being outed as corrupt goes beyond the transparent greed of yet another footballing mercenary.
Sepp Blatter describes the allegations as having a ‘negative impact‘ on FIFA. Sadly, I doubt they will force much introspection from an organisation whose motives have often been suspect at best.
But in a week in which the average man, woman and indeed business has looked at football as an increasingly out of touch world, it is refreshing to hear some sense still being spoken. Our AGM was held amidst all the drama, and it was the story of a club continuing to be well managed, remaining successful while taking a responsible view of its long term future. As tough an act as Wenger will be to follow, he is making the job as easy as possible for his successor.
And it is a strategy that the entire club buys into. It may not sit well with fans that money is there but unspent, but the economist in Wenger will always stop him paying over the odds for players whose clubs ask for more and more.
Harry Redknapp said this week that he thought Spurs were ‘two top, top players‘ away from challenging for the title. Delusions aside, it was yet another request for money from his chairman, in the week in which Portsmouth, a club he spent enormous sums at, narrowly evaded liquidation. No matter what funds he is given, he always wants more, more, more, despite the irresponsibility of many of his demands.
In a way, Wenger is the anti-Redknapp. And for that alone, we should be glad.