FM18 simulates what would happen if Arsene Wenger got £371m like Pep

Luci Kelemen

Manchester City brushed aside Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday, but Arsène Wenger might argue the playing field is not level. Well, what if it was?

In the build-up to the showpiece at Wembley it emerged Pep Guardiola’s net spend of £371million in 21 months at Manchester City is greater than Wenger’s net spend in 21 years at Arsenal, with the Frenchman spending just £349million net.

While inflation and many other factors make this comparison slightly less insane than it seems at first – even when you take it into account that Manuel Pellegrini’s team also took quite a lot of money to cobble together – you can understand why Wenger often talks about his rivals’ seemingly infinite spending power.

But how would Wenger fare if he had access to the level of funding Guardiola has benefitted from at City? It’s time to make him put his money where his mouth is. Well, a virtual Wenger anyway.

Using Football Manager 2018, we gave the Arsenal boss a transfer budget of £371million, the same as Guardiola’s net spend over the past two seasons. We also provided the Gunners with a ‘sugar daddy’ owner, just to make sure the simulation is as accurate as possible.

No more excuses, Monsieur: the world is your oyster…

Currently, Arsenal’s first-team squad is valued at slightly less than half than Manchester City’s. It’s time to get rid of this incredible disparity, and an impressive summer transfer window will surely catapult Arsenal back into title contention?

Wait, what?

Sure, I get it, Wenger is a stubborn one, he has his philosophy, and it’s no secret that he prefers to develop players rather than to splash the cash, but surely now is not the time to stick to your guns?

The mad bastard didn’t buy a single player! You had over three hundred and fifty million pounds to work with and you decided that the current squad is good as it is?

Seriously, there is a difference between loyalty and going down with a sinking ship for no reason, especially when you have a fully functional Star Destroyer available right next to you to hop onto. What the hell is wrong with you, Arsène?

In what might be a more telling development than anything else we’ll encounter later down the line, I load up the database editor once more and rip open the Arsenal manager’s soul.

If giving him all the money in the world isn’t enough to bring change, it may be necessary to alter his personality to bring glory to his club in this financially super-charged era of football.

I lowered his Loyalty stat from 20 to 5, while also increasing “Buying players” to the maximum – alongside “Business”, which doesn’t seem to be a relevant stat for managers in the game, but just in case.

I restart the scientifically accurate and precise simulation, and eagerly await this new and improved Wenger’s first moves in the transfer market.

This is ridiculous. Apparently even a backstabbing, spending-happy version of the guy would be unable to find value in the market in this day and age.

I’m just about ready to give up, but I’m willing to give the old fox another chance. Who knows, maybe he can actually wrangle something out of this squad. Maybe they’ll be runaway leaders in the league by the turn of the year. Maybe spending really isn’t the answer to everything in football.

What do you know, Arsenal are actually in second place in January, in hot pursuit behind Chelsea. Guardiola’s side is disappointingly stuck in sixth place, while Manchester United are 10 points behind Wenger’s men in third.

It looks like having the money is just as good as spending it, at least in the eyes of Wenger.

Maybe the threat of a spending spree is good enough to keep the players in line, or perhaps this new-found potential in the transfer market has brought some sort of peace and tranquillity to the man after so many years of austerity, allowing him to bring the best out of his existing squad.

Then, come January, Wenger decides to join the party, spending £329.5million in the space of 26 days.

While Mauro Icardi is certainly a promising striker, João Mário’s IRL loan spell at West Ham makes me think that paying over triple his current value might not be the best way to strengthen.

Perhaps the same could be said about Barcelona’s Lucas Digne. Aymeric Laporte’s signing, however, seems like an excellent way to improve and certainly a nice way to beat Manchester City to the punch.

Considering how these were all January signings, and the fact that Arsenal was already there or thereabouts in the league without all these new players, surely they are nailed-on for the league title, right?

Not quite, as it turns out.

Chelsea retain their title despite their European commitments as Arsenal fade away yet again in the second half of the season.

They were knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup early, but perhaps the biggest heartbreak of all was yet another European cup final defeat for Wenger, who was unfortunate enough both to run into Real Madrid (remember people, it’s only a sim) in the Europa League and lose Petr Cech to injury seventeen minutes into the match.

Wenger resigned from his position soon after, with Zinedine Zidane appointed as a surprise replacement. His considerable talents were augmented by a few hundred million more to spend next year, and with that he duly delivered…

…You’ve got to be kidding me.

By Luci Kelemen

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