The Russian oligarch and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov believes that the manager Arsene Wenger was seriously handicapped because of the move to the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners moved to the Emirates in 2006 which strained the club’s finances greatly – so much so that Wenger had to keep his hands in his pocket for long. Usmanov who is the club’s second largest shareholder thinks that the inability of the board members to finance the new stadium had long term repercussions for Arsenal and bit more investment could have seen Wenger win more trophies.
The bad thing is that Wenger went almost a decade without trophies. The good thing is that he never complained about the inability. Instead, he went on about his business with his usual self and built the club based on his youth policy.
Arsenal’s 2014 FA Cup success came after his previous success in 2005 – those nine years without silverware was tough for Wenger because he had to face many questions on the prudent transfer policy.
Usmanov could be the third richest man in Russia and has wealth that puts Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich in shade. Stan Kroenke’s billions also do not find their way to the club. The club prefers a self-financing policy which explains Wenger’s focus on youth and academy.
The manager has always been an advocate of making Arsenal self-sufficient but this came at a huge cost for all the supporters. For years, there were no trophies coming to the Emirates. The club had to watch helplessly as the traditional competitors Manchester United stole a march. Neo-rich clubs Chelsea and Manchester City also found their way to success by spending oil money in the market.
But, the recent years has seen the club move towards big arrivals. The recent years saw the major stars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez choose the club ahead of competitors. Wenger loosened his purse strings and there is a quiet air of confidence among the squad members.
The prudent policy is in the past and now Wenger has his sights on getting back on the honours board of Premier League. The back-to-back FA Cup victories in the last two years are a good start but most of the supporters would be satisfied only with a bigger success.
It would satisfy Usmanov if the club can also progress well in the Champions League. That may not be the barometer for success as yet but Wenger will hope he can add wings to his campaign. And if he needs more loosening of the purse strings, there wouldn’t be anything that is stopping him.