Spurs showed why a Champions League place would be wasted on Arsenal

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Heung-min Son celebrates scoring for Tottenham against Arsenal. Credit: PA Images
Heung-min Son celebrates scoring for Tottenham against Arsenal. Credit: PA Images

The Mailbox says the north London derby proved why everyone should want Spurs to claim the last Champions League place at Arsenal’s expense.

Get your thoughts in to theeditor@football365.com

NLD reaction
I want to express how proud I am of our performance this evening. That was an extremely high pressure game that could have ended our season, and we stepped up to the plate and thrashed our biggest rivals.

The improvement right across our squad since Conte came in has been astonishing. Players like Emerson Royal, Ben Davies, Ryan Sessengon, Hojberg all looked a level below what’s required under Nuno, and all of them have become highly accomplished, focussed and effective players under Conte. Even Davinson Sanchez looks like a competent centre back now, Romero’s absence was hardly felt.

While qualification for the Champions League is obviously vital for Spurs, I feel it is also important for English football that Spurs qualify instead of Arsenal. We have four spots for the Champions League in this country and the teams that qualify represent the English game. If Arsenal were to qualify it would be a waste of one of those spots. They have an average team and an average manager and I can guarantee you they would do nothing in the competition. Champions League games are all about dealing with high pressure situations and tonight they proved they are not up to the job, while Spurs and Conte thrived under the pressure of the occasion. Our record against Man City and Liverpool this season proves we can mix it with the top clubs in Europe, and we deserve the chance to prove it.

Spurs fans will be supporting Newcastle on Monday, the rest of the country should too.
Barry Fox

…I have slept on the result and although disappointed as an Arsenal fan, I feel encouraged by some of Arteta’s tactics. I was happy to see his willingness to abandon playing out from the back as it would of played to Tottenham’s strengths. Arteta’s tactical flexibility has improved throughout his tenure as manager.

I was also struck by the illustration of why strength in dept is so important. It’s not a coincidence that Arsenal’s two weakest links were squad players and not first choice. There is currently a noticeable gap between Arsenal’s first 11 and squad players, which particularly evident against the better teams.

Neither of Cedric or Holding are first choice Arsenal players. Tierney was missing with a longish term injury (again) which led to Tomiyasu playing left back and Cedric coming in at right back. White was not fit enough to start which led to Holding playing at centre back.

Cedric and Holding were wisely targeted by Son a player at the top of his game and currently one of world football’s best. Simply, Cedric and Holding are not good enough to compete with world class attackers which led to a penalty and a red card.

I have found myself wondering how things would of been with Tierney and White fully fit and I think there is a good chance the game looks different. Obviously, this is irrelevant as neither White or Tierney played and Arsenal lost 3 – 0. However it shows a) why squad dept at the highest level is important b) why Liverpool and Manchester City are considered so good and c) how Arsenal can improve over time.

Arsenal never do things the easy way so now let’s beat Newcastle and Everton.
Croydon Gooner

Tottenham unleash four months of ‘fury’, ‘anger’ and ‘surprise’ on stunned Arsenal in CL race

…What I’d say to any t*ttenham fan right now (or any Arsenal fan for that matter) is that it’s the hope that kills you. t*ttenham could win their next two games by an aggregate score of 20-0 and still not get champions league.

I just hope we can win our next two games.
Spiros, Gooner In Roscommon

…Burnley after a important win in the league then is it?

That went well last time.
Jon (pleeeeeeeaase), Lincoln

Marsch deserves a break
Maybe it’s just the American bias in me but boy oh boy isn’t Jesse Marsch taking it from all sides right now. Dave Tickner’s piece all but placed the blame at his doorstep and in the Loser section, he was prominently mentioned. I guess I’m not understanding this as it was clearly going in the wrong direction with Bielsa when Leeds made the change so all I can think of is that the general thought is that Marsch was the wrong man for the job. I could get behind that sentiment if there was some sort of factual evidence supporting that with only ten matches under his reign.

Well I’m not sure how one could come to that conclusion ten matches in. He certainly hasn’t been helped by two utterly daft challenges resulting in straight red cards and injuries have certainly hurt as well. Had they kept Bielsa, would the conclusions be the same? Had they appointed and PFM rather than an American, would the conclusions be the same? Maybe but I would bet my mortgage that more attention would have been paid to the sending offs and the injuries and less to the man at the helm and his “quotes.”

Hard to apply tactics for the most part when you’re playing with ten rather than eleven. I can’t claim to know the ins and outs of Leeds football this season other than when we’ve played them so I’d defer to Leeds supporters (and would love to hear from them) regarding their opinions on Marsch ten matches into a tough season and Bielsa’s sacking. But from where I’m standing, it seems like there’s a bit more coming from the cheap seats and the Monday morning quarterbacks than usual because of where Jesse’s from, not because of the job he’s done under the circumstances. Again, I’m all ears Leeds supporters. Educate me.

Just my two cents.
TX Bill, EFC

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch Credit: PA Images
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch Credit: PA Images

PE lesson for Chelsea
I work in Private Equity, and things can get a bit wordy but I’ll try keep things simple. One of the things we’ve seen in recent times, in particular since the pandemic, is an appetite for private equity firms to get involved in sports more and more, with some of the bigger players having funds dedicated to it. In general, football sees these PE firms as value drains, looking to extract payments, like how the Glazers run United, taking their dividends and investing as little as possible into the club. But that’s not what PE firms do.
The general model is buy a company (or sports team in this case) spend some money on fixing their problems, use connections and experience to get the right staff in the right place, make the company worth as much as possible, and then sell it to a) a bigger PE firm, b) a strategic buyer (a company that might absorb the smaller one), or c) by taking it public.
Historically, this has been the reserve of the US. Without relegation, there is significantly less danger in your investment going to zero, so it’s an easier sell. But recently it’s come across the continent. Atletico Madrid have a large slice of preferred equity with a Ares Capital, AC Milan are wholly owned by Elliot Management, Liverpool have a small stake held by Redbird Capital, Silverlake have 10% of City Football Group (Manchester City, Girona, Troyes et al) and the Todd Boelhy deal for Chelsea will be majority PE financed.
What do these deals mean for the clubs?
If your club were bought tomorrow, there’d be a good deal of resource available, PE firms often spend money beyond the initial purchase, but I don’t think transfers would be top of the list. Infrastructure, academy and stadium would be key, as would be preserving their current status. After that, expect the owners to want some growth. Target is usually 20% increase a year in value, which comes out at 2 times as much in just four years. This probably means an increase in commercialisation, so expect pre-season to be further away, maybe more kit launches, and plenty of “official partnerships.”
But what about the running of the club?
Many PE firms, particularly the larger ones, are generalist, with no sector specialisation. Despite this, they come into some of the biggest firms in the world, and make operational changes to (hopefully) improve them. The general view from the top PE players is that they are good at running just about anything.
One particularly extreme example had the actual staff from the Private Equity firm dropped in for data analysis and other operational changes. This has remarkably worked well and the team is vastly improved. So expect significant staff turnover too.
All in all, some good things, some bad. But here’s the kicker.
Often, and especially for bigger deals, the firm themselves aren’t providing the cash. They use others’ money through fixed term deals, usually about 10 years. And they need it back by then. You can usually extend for a year or two, but time is pressed. This means that everything the club does is geared up towards that sale. They want maximum value in 10 years time, but couldn’t really care less about it in 12. That’s the big worry. Many will say, if our club is worth 3x what it was, it must be in better shape – and they’re probably right. But it doesn’t have a long term funding model, it could be turned over multiple times, or most likely sold on as a vanity project.
Time will tell if Chelsea turns out to be more AC Milan under Elliot than Swansea when relegated.
KC (Crawley are owned by a Crypto DAO now though, which is a whole other issue, and probably a much longer mail)

Modern players don’t remember Liverpool success
I don’t want to get into the pointless argument about whether players perform better against Liverpool or City (it’s May, of the 20 clubs in the PL, realistically only 5 have something still left to play for – City & ‘Pool at the top & Leeds, Burnley, & Everton at the bottom – for everyone else, it’s after lunch on the Friday before they go on holidays, they’re just going through the motions until they can hit the beach).

Anyway, Minty said something yesterday that I think is out of date to put it mildly. When talking about players putting in more effort against Liverpool than against City, Minty said “I wonder if it’s more that players grew up when Liverpool was…mega successful…”. Minty, I suspect you’ve fallen into the same trap many of us do and are thinking your childhood is much closer than it actually is!

Assuming the vast majority of players in the Premier League today are between the ages of 20 and 30, they would have been in their formative footballing years (ages 8-18) between 2000 and 2019.

Can the Liverpool sides of those two decades be described as “mega successful”? I don’t think they can be, especially considering there are three other English clubs who were more successful over those 20 years:

(I’m ignoring the one off trophies (Community Shield & Super Cup) and anything below the Premier League)

1) Man United – 17 trophies in 6 different competitions (8 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Cups, 1 Europa League, 4 League Cups, and 1 Club World Cup);

2) Chelsea – 17 trophies in 5 different competitions (5 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Cups, 2 Europa Leagues, and 3 League Cups);

3) Man City – 10 trophies in 3 different competitions (4 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, and 4 League Cups);

4) Liverpool – 9 trophies in 4 different competitions (2 Champions Leagues, 2 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Cup, and 4 League Cups); and

5) Arsenal – 8 trophies in 2 different competitions (2 Premier League titles, and 6 FA Cups).

If players are playing better against Liverpool than against Man City (which I don’t think they are – Fergie was playing that mind game 2.5 decades ago, it’s time to move on), it definitely can’t be put down to Liverpool being “mega successful” when those players were growing up.

Perhaps it is the Anfield crowd? Or perhaps it’s that we pay more attention to matches when our team is playing and so we’re seeing the opposition players putting in the effort?
Jerry (Formative footballing years – 1992-2000, so obviously a glory hunting Man United fan)

Racking up rivals
In response to Jon L from Kew, pretty simple really – Man Utd.

United’s genuine rivals (using Jon’s definition of teams which hate that team more than any other team) are clearly Liverpool, Man City & Leeds Utd.

In fact, during the 1990s/2000s you could have easily also added Arsenal to that mix.
Phil (exiled in Brisbane) Chiz

Chelsea > City
I have to disagree with Eoin saying neutrals have apathy towards Chelsea and City. As a neutral (Leeds fan) I only have apathy towards City. Chelsea took the fight to Man United when nobody else did and didn’t spend anywhere near what City have. Even if Roman is a scoundrel i don’t see them two clubs as anywhere near financial doling equals. City completely bore me. No atmosphere, 50 million back ups, a complete yawn fest.
Jack (LUFC, Championship runners up 22/2023) NJ, USA

Gandhi and derby stress
Inspired by the Gandhi quotes fueled comedy that f365 engaged in today, I looked up Gandhi and football and to my surprise (and shame that I did not know this as an Indian who loves history), Gandhi founded two football clubs in his time in South Africa. Apparently he loved football more than any other sport. Both these clubs were, to nobody’s surprise, called Passive Resistors. Clearly Gandhi ol boy was not acquainted to inter-club banter else he would have surely come up with better names….

Another iconic figure in Indian history was a Hindu monk named Swami Vivekananda who also loved football and claimed an hour of footy was better than meditation.

Thought I would share pointless historical trivia with the F365 community as I nervously await to see if my beloved Arsenal do end up getting tonked at the NLD today.

Abhilash (Gandhi studied in London so it is entirely likely that the words “Them gunners will wipe the floor with spurs” came out of his mouth at some point)

Plan for Pep
Just a thought in case Pep reads the mailbox, regarding the recent bee in his bonnet about Liverpool bias – the media are going to love Liverpool even more if they win the Champions League again. Very unfair.

So here’s the plan, Pep: deliberately lose 4-0 to West Ham this weekend, giving Liverpool just a sniff at the title and compelling them to play their best players in their remaining league games and tiring/injuring them for Paris. Then City definitely win their final game, win the league on GD anyway and everyone loves Pep and his plucky team’s bouncebackability, while the media forever turns against the Reds for letting the country down in the big final, with BT Sport’s Darren Fletcher pushing Steve McManaman under a Eurostar train out of sheer disgust. It’s foolproof, 4D chess at its finest – you might as well tell Grealish and Sterling they are starting at centre-back on Sunday now.

If our plan can get Henderson injured for the final, Klopp may feel he has to play with no defensive midfielder in a Champions League final. Can you imagine the stick Klopp would get for that from the media? Oh you can, ok.
Shappo (worth a try)

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