Understand: THE CARLING CUP DOES NOT MATTER.

So a lot of fans are still upset by the Carling Cup defeat.  I understand this to mean one of two things.  Either (a) they are dying for a takeover by Kroenke, to let Arsenal compete with che$ski and company; or, (b) they still have absolutely no idea about the economics of football and the strategy to run a major Club.  Unfortunately, I think most fall into the latter half of the equation.  Sigh.  Let me put this in a real simple way: the Carling Cup DOES NOT MATTER!  It is the domestic equivalent to an international friendly.

Lets do a quick review of reality, not dreams, not EPL myths that lead to becoming a mid-tier team (hardman/enforcer??? get real).  Get one thing straight: the Carling Cup DOES NOT MATTER!  I know, I know, I’m not from  the home country and don’t understand the history and tradition.  Blah Blah Blah.  Time to grow up kids.  The Carling Cup is a second/third rate trophy now.  Yes it comes with honors and the home country loves it, but in terms of building a global team, no one cares.  Only two trophies matter: Premier League and Champions League.  And even then, the one that really matters is the Champions League.

Why?  Because the Champions League is the only league that has global credibility.  It is the only league that EVERYONE agrees has a high level of competition.  It is the only trophy guaranteed of attracting the top players.  While the EPL might be the best or most difficult league, there are only four teams, max five, that matter.  Nobody outside of the northeast of england cares about sunderplace or even thinks they matter.  What’s that, five, six people?  What’s the population of England (not GB)? 50 million people.   Hell, California has 37 million and Shanghai 19 million.  Sure, sunderplace upset the Outfit, but that happens in sports; that’s why you play the game and why we love it.  Sleep on your opponent and you pay for it.  But besides that, every coach, every player and every Club knows it: the Champions League winner is the global champion and the one that really matters.  Any player or coach would gladly exchange a domestic trophy for a Champions League one, even if they deny it.  And probably most fans too.

If that doesn’t convince, then try the economics.  How much money does a team get for winning the Carling Cup?  Is it anywhere near the money a Club receives for winning a champions league game?  I ripped this from Wikipedia, but it’s accurate (emphasis added):

“UEFA awards €3 million to each team that QUALIFIES for the UEFA Champions League, plus €2.4 million for PARTICIPATING in the Group stage. A Group stage win is worth €600,000 and a draw is worth €300,000. In addition, UEFA pays each quarter finalist €2.5 million, €3 million for each semi-finalist, €4 million for the runners-up and €7 million for the winners.”

This doesn’t even count the stadium revenue!!!  Which, because of the setup, each qualifying team is guaranteed home stadium revenue at each stage but the Final.  So I repeat, forget the Carling Cup as a trophy IT DOES NOT MATTER ANYMORE.  Add the potential cost of injury, especially to an Arsenal team already depleted, and the real question is why participate at all?

Clubs are already playing way too many games, especially against ridiculously low talent.  Platini’s plan to bring more small teams into the Champ’s League is great politics, but bad for football.  Bad teams have to play bad football (physical, no talent) to have a chance to win.  This means either 1-0 games because of the overly defensive nature of the lower class team OR massive injuries to good players being negligently tackled by bad players.  So raise a pint to the Carling Cup and let it go.

The Carling Cup is not about winning for Arsenal, it’s about developing talent because we need an opportunity to develop young talent against the starting XI of other teams.  It’s more economics than anything, we cannot afford the wage bill of chel$ki or manfool yet.  Take a look at the numbers:  chel$ski spent £172m in wages for 2007/08; manfool spent £121m.  The Arsenal were third at £101-17% less than the second place team and 42% less than the first place team.  The difference?  We were profitable and can manage our debt.  Chel$ki lives on the kindness of the BofA (bank of abramovich) and manfool prays that it can manage its debt.

This means we MUST use the Carling Cup as a way to blood young players and give them a chance to shine against what would be their competition in the champions league qualifications; er, excuse me, I meant Premier League.  Some will point out that the other big teams put in some of their big guns.  But which teams?  Not liverpoor, no, chel$ki and manfool.  Two teams with more money, riskier management (debt-wise) and deeper squads.  And even then, they start them on the bench.  Arsene has particular goals when he puts in players.  It’s what makes him so good at developing talent and making money off of sales.  This is why winning is second, it’s development of technique that matters.  It may not be English, but that’s a whole other discussion.  In any case, lose the development time and you lose a key aspect of our strategy -a strategy that balances economics and football -attracting young talent, paying lower costs for higher quality, developing internally and building a culture of football that extends globally.

So everyone RELAX and get real.  It’s not a loser’s mentality, it’s a realistic one.  Make your choice.  Either the Arsenal stay true to the cause: have a balanced budget, stability, low risk for collapsing to the mid-tier and a long-term plan.  All of which means prioritizing the real competition(s).  OR, we go hog wild and buy a bunch of players that might not turn out, appease all the short-sighted fans to win a trophy that NO ONE cares about except for in a few fans in dive bars and fall out of the top four permanently.

Really folks, I don’t mean to cause a war in the family, but this nonsense over a second rate trophy is a mid-tier mentality that needs to go.  Arsene may not do everything right, but this is a clear strategy, based in reality; you don’t have to like it, but you MUST understand it.

-the student.

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