What happened to the once-great rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal, asks Fox Soccer writer Jonathan Wilson. These days, it’s not much of a contest. From the Gunners perspective, at least last season’s shock 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford was competitive for the first 45 minutes. “On Saturday, Arsenal was second-best from start to finish,” Wilson says, adding that the club’s failure to compete for trophies in recent seasons comes down to the way it’s being run.
He points the finger squarely at Americans Stan Kroenke (majority shareholder) and Ivan Gazidis (CEO), who seem to be running the club for profit, not for glory. For starters, while the board announces new money to spend every summer, the departures (Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and before them, Thierry Henry) always seem to overshadow the new arrivals (Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Gervinho). The result is that Arsenal often turns a profit in the transfer market.
In light of difficult economic conditions and the looming specter of Financial Fair Play, trying to balance the books and exercise an air of caution is laudable, Wilson says, but Arsenal’s management is going too far. “Gazidis refers regularly to Financial Fair Play, but his interpretation of it seems far stricter than other clubs, and the result is that Arsenal is suffering,” he says, adding: “at the moment Arsenal looks like a club being run with an eye on the balance sheet rather than the league table.”