Spend small, win big - the Wenger way

Last updated : 04 November 2007 By Kevin Archer
Let's be honest, I was a bit lazy when it came to nailing down the details. I didn't do any calculations - I simply assumed that Wenger would automatically top any 'value for money' table.

Well, I'm glad to say that some very clever people at The Independent have carried out all the hard work for me and, surprise, surprise, Le Boss does indeed get more bang for his buck than any other manager.

In an article written on Friday, The Independent calculates how much each team's league points cost, in the light of the £470m that was spent on transfers during the summer. The results make very interesting reading indeed.

Because Arsenal actually made a net profit of £17.2m on their transfer activity, each of their 26 Premiership points has a negative cost of -£0.7m. In other words, building the current team out of last year's remnants cost the club less than nothing at all! This fully vindicates Wenger's repeated assertion that his existing squad would be able to achieve great results, irrespective of Henry's departure.

Compare Arsenal's figure that with Manchester United, whose net outlay of £50.5m gives a cost of £1.9m per point. This is the third highest figure in the league, after Sunderland (£3.8m per point) and - you've guessed it - Spurs, whose net spend of £27.4m has resulted in a meagre 7 points (at £3.9m per point).

Chelsea provide the only real surprise, trailing just behind Arsenal at £-0.5m per point. However, it's fair to say that summer 2007 was not entirely representative of their normal transfer activity. Which brings us to the next question: how do the teams compare if you go further back into Premiership history?

If someone at The Independent would like to waste a few lunchtimes working out pounds per point for the last ten seasons or so, that would be great. I'm sure the results would be equally fascinating. But just in case that idea falls on deaf ears, here's my own rough guesstimate of how the teams would shape up…

In the interests of clarity, I exaggerate slightly. (Although there must be a dip of vertiginous proportions in '99-00, generated by the sale of Anelka to Real Madrid, and Chelsea's spending since the arrival of Abramovich must resemble Mount Everest.)

Perhaps the final question should be 'Does this mean Wenger is unlikely to ever spend big?' It's clear that he likes to search out talented youngsters, capable of being shaped into Arsenal players, rather than opting for those already at the top of their game - and set in their ways. Consequently, we may never see that red line creeping far above zero.

But who are we to second-guess Le Boss? If there's one thing we should have learnt after all these years, it's to expect the unexpected.

So, just when you think there's no chance of Eto'o ever wearing an Arsenal shirt… that's exactly when it will happen.

True genius. Don't you just love it?