The Lead

If clubs just spent more money, they would win more games, and get more trophies, correct?

As ever, money is only part of the story. An interesting one mind you, one that drives traffic in the summertime to bad websites that you really shouldn’t be reading, ones that trade in unfounded rumours measured in pounds and euros. Yet only one part.

This rule however does not seem to apply in the way most of us think about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. The Guardian went there for example, as have millions of others:

Bradford’s team on Tuesday cost £7,500 to assemble, as opposed to Arsenal’s £65m – Wenger started with eight of his first-choice players – and [team captain Gary] Jones was asked whether Arsenal should be embarrassed.

“Without a shadow of a doubt,” he replied. “No disrespect to us and our lads but they should be beating Bradford City. But team spirit means a lot and it can take a team a long way. We have a massive team spirit and we showed it.

X club spends more money than Y club, ergo X club should win against Y club. This is, broadly speaking, true. There has been a lot of work done to show a strong correlation between transfer and wage spending and final table position. But football is a game won and lost in 90 minutes, and while those minutes may not matter much in the context of a domestic league season, they’re everything in a knockout Cup competition. And—scratch that—those 90 minutes certainly do matter in a league season when you’re within one or two points of two or three contenders.

Many Arsenal fans and pundits though have suspended disbelief in their manager and argue that the vast majority of Arsenal’s issues would be “solved” if the club simply spent more money. Not all however have swallowed this line whole. Michael Wood at Two Unfortunates wrote this today, for example:

Maybe we go back to that Football Manager/Championship Manager mentality again. It’s easier to play with concepts of “good” and “bad” rather than “willing to work hard” and “mentally tough”.

These are the things we think and do not say. That the single defining concept in modern football – that a player is born better than another and thus costs more – is not the conclusive factor. That there are other factors as players which are less exciting than a massive price tag that The Sun can blaze on its back page, but more important.

The difference between Parkinson’s side and Wenger’s was in attitude, in work rate and in determination – and not to be counted in pounds, shillings and pence.

I’m reminded here of Rob Lowe’s character in Wayne’s World, who declares near the end of the movie, “I’ve learned that a flawless profile, a perfect body, the right clothes, and a great car can get you far in America – almost to the top – but it can’t get you everything.” In football, it couldn’t give Arsenal a win in the Capital One Cup over Bradford City, or force Gervinho to finish properly in front of goal.

There are signs that Ivan Gazidis is caving in to demands that Arsenal go on a madcap spending spree. This is a risky venture. Because no doubt, Arsenal has the capability to bring in more skilled footballers than they currently employ. But wages don’t score goals. They don’t give midfielders a sixth sense as to the movements of the strikers, or full-backs the pace and intelligence to exploit space on the counter. Wenger has to ensure the pieces fit, and one need only look to Roberto Mancini’s continued howling over his players to get a sense of the challenge that presents. Yet the question nags, even days later: if Wenger was incapable of doing that against lowly Bradford, is he still the man to lead a newly flush Arsenal line-up to glory?

Canada

Road to 2015 and 2016 kicks off today with evaluation camps for Canadian women’s soccer team.

England

Arsenal‘s chief executive apologizes to supporters, reveals club has money to spend on new players.

FA to introduce a new quota requiring at least 10% of officials and referees are from a minority group.

Frank Lampard, the man’s whose goal was denied at the 2010 WC, is more than happy to embrace goal-line technology.

Kompany’s injury may be more serious than expected.

Italy

Drogba possibly heading to Juventus on loan.

Partanova still thinks he was wrongly banned for match-fixing.

La Liga

Mallorca’s slump continues, but Caparros to stand by his team.

Madrid may face another inury blow with Benzema likely to miss weekend’s match.

First Zambia, now Brazil ready to dispute Messi’s record.

Germany

German clubs rule in favour of tougher security measures to curb violence in football.

Former German referee found dead.

Bayern keen on increasing lead before winter break.

Bit and Bobs

Sao Paulo declared Copa Sudamericana winners after Tigre refuse to play second half due to violence.

Qatar to use cooling technology both inside and outside stadiums for 2022 World Cup.

In case you didn’t see it, here’s Pepe kicking an opponent in the nuts…viewer discretion is advised.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.