Oh, Arsenal. We saw the Van Persie exit a mile away, but Song? Really? Really? For 15,000 pounds a week in a salary bump? Premature, knee jerk conclusion: Arsenal is definitely not playing “Moneyball.” Moneyball is an attempt to obtain a sporting advantage over rivals through the use of novel statistics. Arsenal doesn’t play “Moneyball” because they put money before the ball, not after. Arsenal plays monopoly but without the dice. Pass start. Collect Champions League cash. Do not win trophy. Play again.
In a pessimistic sense, one could say that Arsenal’s transient and often youthful roster mirrors the failure of the 21st century community to offer steady and stable employment for the world’s crop of widely talented twenty-somethings. New Arsenal players arrive wide-eyed and eager to work with Mr. Wenger. They come from such lovely destinations as relegated German club Cologne and financially destitute Spanish club Malaga. However, within a few years, rather than get a raise or promotion, they get sold to Barcelona or an EPL contender. Faces change, but the revolving door keeps spinning. On the other hand, Gunners are not unpaid intern’s assistants who run to Starbucks to get the right diabetic-friendly sugar. They get a chance to play and are paid well, even if most players come on a relatively short-term lease, not for life.
Still, to use a comparison, the Gunners eerily look like several of the mid-sized financial services firms in the Washington, D.C. area. These firms hire recent college graduates, get two years out of them at a very modest salary, and then expect (or indirectly force) them to jump ship. No salary increase ever. No improved benefits. Just the door if you have the audacity to ask. In a real sense, Arsenal bothers us because sport is fantasy and escapism for many. To look at a “sporting” club and see the same turnover business culture stirs the stomach. You may call Van Purse-strings a mercenary, but Song? No way.
Still, ’twas not always so. Hope springs eternal. I found and now somewhat pleasurably (in the Schadenfraude sense) offer a few highlight quotes from friends of mine that are Arsenal fans. Names have been changed to protect the perpetually embarrassed and masochistic.
—”I just love the Emirates, but I wonder how the club could afford such a lavish and exquisite stadium? What assets could we sell? How could we cut or control costs? Oh, well. Those are problems for another day.” Gooner #876, Date: July 22, 2006
—”Good riddance to Cashley. Besides, Gallas is less injury prone. Mercenaries out, I say” Gooner #254, Date: July 28, 2006
—”Whatever doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.” Gooner #796, Date: July 29, 2006
—”I’ll miss Henry dearly, but with the coffers replenished this will be the last time we ever have to sell a striker. Plus, he was getting old. And we still have Hleb.” Gooner #958, Date: June 25, 2007
–”Adebayor scored lots of goals for us, but I can understand his moral obligation to poll the citizens of his native Togo and do their will. At least we still have a solid back line led by beloved captain Kolo Toure.” Gooner #90945, Date: July 18, 2009
–”Kolo was our captain, but you don’t really need a dominating and physical centerback to win the fourth place Champions League qualifying spot honor of achievement.” Gooner #834, Date: July 28, 2009
—”I’ll miss Clichy , but we still have Cesc.” Gooner #933, Date: July 4, 2011
—”I’ll miss Cesc, but he is from Barcelona. Plus, we still have Nasri.” Gooner #280, Date: August 15, 2011
—”Piers Morgan is so right.” Gooner #801, Date: August 16, 2011
—”Gooner ’till I die!” Gooner #477, Date: August 23, 2011
—”I’ll miss Nasri, but we still Van Persie and Song.” Gooner #1204 , Date: August 24, 2011
—”Piers Morgan is such a cunt.” Gooner #48, Date: May 20, 2012
—”I’ll miss Van Persie and it stinks selling him to a rival, but he was injury prone and at least Barcelona wasn’t the buyer. Plus, we still have Song.” Gooner #1009, Date: August 15, 2012
—”Piers Morgan is so right. Cunt.” Gooner #202, Date: August 19, 2012
—”Kill me so I may taste death’s sweet embrace.” Official Arsenal Website, Date: August 20, 2012