Gooners might owe the Kroenkes an apology…


So. This might be awkward. I know that, for myself, I’ve slammed Silent Stan numerous times over the year as I tried to have my cake and eat it too. On one hand, I believed in and respected Arsène’s vision for a self-sustaining club. I scorned the free-spending of Abramovich and Mansour. There was something proud and paladin-esque about our purity. On the other, I resented Kroenke. For all of his wealth, he wouldn’t spend any on us. Why buy ought every other stakeholder, including the fans, if you’re not going to invest? Forget that cake. I’m ready to eat crow.

This window has already blown any of our previous transfer windows out of the water​—and it’s only been open a few weeks. We’ve signed Havertz for £60m and are about to confirm Rice’s signing at £105m with rumours of Jurrien Timber signing for somewhere in the area of £50m. There are hints that we’re not done. Add to that the weekly wages given to Jesus (£265k/wk), Partey (£200k/wk), Saka (£200k/wk possibly rising to £290k/wk), and we’re starting to see KSE invest some serious cash in this project.

Last season, including the January window, we spent £165m to bring in Jesus, Zinchenko, Vieira, Kiwior, Trossard, and Jorginho. The season before that, we spent £144m to get Magalhães, Partey, and Ødegaard. Our net spend over the last five years may soon top the list. At the moment, we sit second behind Man U.

As far as wealthy, free-spending owners go, though, the Kroenkes seem to found a decent middle ground between the morally, uh, flexible oiligarchs who have such bottomless reserves of money that one wonders why they don’t spend more of it trying to fly to the moon or visit the Titanic (too soon?). You may dislike Stan Kroenke on a personal level, but the source of his wealth is not nearly as sordid as Abramovich’s, Mansours, or the Saudi Public Investment Fund. SImilarly, the nature of the spending, unlike that of Boehly’s for Chelsea, hasn’t been cartoonish or slapdash, suggesting a sober, level-headed approach that’s designed to promote growth as well as stability.

In fact, aside from a few glitches, the recruitment, signing, and retention of players has been stellar. The one glitch that stands out is that £72m signing of Nicolas Pépé instead of Wilfried Zaha, one that I’ll lay at the feet of Raul Sanllehi. Aside from a few other minor blips such as Tavares, Mari, Luiz, Cedric, and Willian (none of whom cost more than £10m), our signing record has been stellar. Edu and Arteta deserve a ton of credit for identifying and recruiting these players; the Kroenkes deserve a similar level for financing those transfers and agreeing to those wages. Keep in mind, we haven’t had Champions League revenue for the last six seasons. We even missed Europa League revenue for a season.

We’ve moved away from that self-sustaining model but have done so in a measured, meaningful way. Significant investment from the owner is now the only way for a club to contend for a Prem title or progress deep into the Champions League. We’ve seen that over the last several windows, with this one still unfolding. Even if we don’t reach the summit this season, it won’t be for a lack of trying or spending.

To the Kroenkes, then (espeically Stan, to whom I had directed most of my venom in years past): I apologise. Thank you for doing what you’ve done to elevate this club back to such lofty heights. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for this club for the first time in almost twenty years.

Last but not least, I’m working on including a few ads but don’t want to detract from your experience. If you have a strong opinion against the ad that appears above the title of a post or in the middle of the post, please let me know. If you ever see an ad pop up that you have to close, please tell me. I dislike those as a reader and do not want them as a publisher. Cheers!

Average rating 4.6 / 5. Vote count: 50

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

18 thoughts on “Gooners might owe the Kroenkes an apology…

  1. Phillip E Joseph

    The Kroenkes are owed the gratitude of all Arsenal fans for bringing back an exciting Arsenal team. Their large and smart investment in the club in the last few years have made Arsenal into a winning team and a destination that players seek now. Thank you, Kroenke family.

  2. John

    No we dont, he has earned far more then he have invested. Wenger got us to CL year in and out! For pennys, He had to act to fend of buyers nog and reasire supporters! and get back to CL. To get his money maker back!(i do hope im wrong, and we continue invest every year)
    But it’s nice that we actually innvest! I wish wenger had the same budget, would been more trophies then hehe

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      You might be right about how much he’s earned from the club, but he at least isn’t as bad as the Glazers, who treat Man U like a piggy bank to be raided. Their spending recently has been almost as bad as Chelsea’s as well.

      In the Kroenke’s defense, earning money from the club is part of why wealthy people are drawn to owning one. I suspect that Stan Kroenke was content to hide behind Arsene Wenger’s record of success and penny-pinching philosophy for many years. As long as we were reasonably successful (and profitable), why do more? With Arsene retired, and with Josh taking a more-important role, we’ve seen a push to spend more and a drive to succeed that we haven’t seen in some time.

      I’m not saying I love the Kroenkes nor am I quite ready to forget those lean years. If they continue to invest and improve like this, though, all will be forgiven and forgotten.

    2. Kelechi

      He has a right to earn from the club. It’s not like he’s the Glazers milking a cash cow to the point of dehydration. He spent a buttload to get the club. Is it any coincidence that he started spending for real after he got 100% ownership in 2018? Yeah, there were one-offs like Ozil and Alexis, but he really opened the spigots once he had that full control. Wenger probably could of pressured Stan to spend just a little more to keep Cole, Fabregas, van Persie and others. He did the opposite. Kroenke is an easy scapegoat bc he’s a wealthy American who wasn’t spending, don’t forget Wenger’s role though.

  3. Johnno

    I`ve never understood the bile directed at the Kroenke`s. Ever since they took full control of the club, they`ve always put their hands in their pocket. The fact that our recruitment wasn`t very good wasn`t really their fault. We`ve finally got two people working closely together (Arteta & Edu) who share a vision for the club and are targeting the right profile of player. We`ve not really had that sine Dein left.
    Next season is massive for us, we`ve got to finish top4 which is easier said than done in the PL, and then have another good transfer window next summer. Hopefully Pep will be entering his last year at City by then and we can position ourselves as the club most likely to take their crown. Any piece of silverware will be an added bonus, top 4 is a must.
    Up The Arse.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I think a lot of us suffered from a lot of envy as we watched Chelsea and Man City race ahead of us (especially Chelsea, considering how they lured Ashley Cole away and how Mourinho disrespected Wenger). Many fans expected that Kroenke would do for Arsenal what Abramovich did for Chelsea. The fact that he’s American probably added another layer of resentment.

      Spending like this will probably have to continue even after Guardiola leaves, although his eventual departure will probably help to close the gap to Man City. Unless and until FFP actually establishes some meaningful restrictions and consequences, though, the sport risks becoming a cartoonish playground for the wealthiest people (and countries) in the world.

  4. palladio43

    First, no problem with ads unless, of course, they are for MU, Chelsea, Spurs, or other clubs and/or for some of the sponsors whose ads appear on the shirts of other clubs. If you can score Emirates as a sponsor, i offer my congratulations in advance.

    What I find interesting is what has prompted the Kroenke’s to invest so heavily as opposed to how they handled their initially involvement with the club starting with their part-ownership and past when they had full control and left the fandom without a scrap. A few million her or there (here I go again with Sen Dirksen) might have helped Arsene and the club and, possibly, reaped a good return with even one season of CL play as a reward.

    Now they seem to be spending money as if they have a printing press set up under the Emirates or at one of their other stadia. What caused this change of heart? Even if Josh is a fan of football and not the American football that Stan probably likes, what have they seen or learned in the past few years that they did not understand from the start? Have they been influenced by seeing every sheikhdom showing up with their petrodollars and decided their may well be “gold in them ‘thar hills?” or is there another reason?

    Having grown up in Chicago where George Halas, founder and long-time owner of the Chicago Bears (other) football team, was notorious for “spending or throwing his dollars as if they were manhole covers”, it seems odd and rare to have three consecutive years that may well average as much as 200 million per year (gross and maybe even net). While one should never begrudge such spending, as the Trojans painfully learned, we should still look that gift horse in the mouth (if not inside the belly). Meantime, of course, if all this spending does get Arsenal to the top of the Prem, an FA cup or two, and far into, if not to winning the CL, all else will be forgotten .

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      It’s the water we’re all swimming in. To torture the metaphor, Arsene was content to tread water (barely). Under Unai, Raul threw us an anchor and then jumped ship. Since Arteta took the helm, he and Edu have done a masterful job – and Josh definitely seems keen on backing them. “It’s not my money so I don’t care what Rice’s fee ends up at” has been a common refrain during this drawn-out ordeal.

      It’s sink or swim. If the Kroenkes are as astute at managing their money as they seem to be, we should get along swimmingly (I warned you that I’d be torturing the metaphor).

  5. AJ

    Hazard, Kante, Cole, Fabregas, Yaya Toure, Van Douchebag, Nasri, Sami Khedira, Suarez…Just a few names that have haunted my dreams in the past 10-15 years. Stories of losing Ashley Cole to Chelsea because of a few tens of thousands of pounds. Every transfer window, as the vultures circled around the body of our heartbreaking season, season after season. I am relishing this window.

    I became a fan in 1997, and was privy to the Wenger revolution. Window after window seeing him pull rabbits out of his hat as we achieved our wildest dreams. Then the last ten years of his reign, watching all of what he built being torn down by opportunists and plastic fans as he tried to steer this club through one its most turbulent financial times with one hand tied behind his back.

    I will just say this to all Arsenal fans. Dont shy away from this, dont protect yourself because you think all this good happening means something bad is on the horizon. Embrace this moment. We have earned it through many tears.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      very well-said, Aj. A lot of people really didn’t understand how difficult it was for Arsene to do what he’s done for this club. When he embarked on the campaign to build the new stadium, many were upset at leaving Highbury – but it was necessary and even visionary. Then, just as we had committed to a project that could have made us a dominant force in the Prem and in Europe, along came Abramovich and then Mansour to start snatching our players and our transfer targets.

      A large part of where we are now – including have owners wealthy enough to invest like this – is thanks to Arsene’s vision and his sacrifice. I’m sure he’s watching on with pride.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      And yet I think it’s only going to get better. This season was a welcome surprise even if it fell short of our wildest dreams!

  6. jw1

    The ‘sliding doors moment’? When Raul foisted Pepe on Emery.

    Had Emery been given Zaha– he may have been just successful enough– that he avoids the sack in November 2019– and we miss our window to hire Arteta away from City.

    Even Stan’s worst decision– hiring Don Raul– helped get us to where we are today.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Under-rated reference. I thought about devoting a paragraph to that moment, but it might deserve a full-fledged post. Emery has spoken fulsomely about Zaha and his ability to win games on his own (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration). There’s no guarantee that Zaha would have changed our fortunes enough to save Emery, but it’s an intriguing thought. That squad was so unbalanced and Emery was in over his head. Aubameyang’s scintillating form papered over a lot of Emery’s strugggles.

      In the end, although it was an arduous process, I think we can all appreciate where things now stand. As a balm to those feeling bad for Emery – a decent manager thrust into an impossible situation – he seems to have found his footing over at Aston Villa.

      1. jw1

        Never really cottoned to Emery, as I was so attuned to Wenger. AW was so similar to another world class coach– from when I was growing up in Miami– Don Shula. Shula led his NFL Dolphins to an undefeated 17-0 season and a Super Bowl win in 1972.

        Shula and Wenger’s successes, lengthy tenures, even how they treated people– were quite parallel. Both exemplary men, and sticklers for rules (not unlike Arteta).

        I’d predicted in December of 2017 (on another Arsenal site I’d long posted at)– that Mikel Arteta would become Arsenal’s next manager. Took a lot– a lot– of stick for it too. That following February, I predicted AW would be fired. Even predicted the date (missed it by a week).

        Believe me– I was upset that Gazidis bailed to Milan– allowing Don Raul to usurp influence in the ensuing power vacuum– then choosing Emery over Arteta. (even Ornstein had predicted Arteta at that point).

        It’s all come full-circle now– and I’ve accepted that even with the Emery fiasco– this was the better course for Arsenal as a club.

        It is beautiful. And it’s just getting started.

        1. Jon Shay Post author

          I never quite accepted Emery myself. He does seem like a good manager but wasn’t good enough to succeed Arsene (who would be?), and that squad was a hot mess. It almost feels like Emery was a sacrificial lamb whose role was to take the brunt of the frustration we’d all been feeling in the last 5-6 years of Arsene’s tenure. Having taken the fall, so to speak, the deck was cleared for Arteta.

          I like your comparison to Shula a no-nonsense but genuine person. I’m starting to wonder if you should start using this predictive skill you have a bit more often…


Leave a Reply