Sam Wallace: The Wenger way... despite record profits, money is not route to success

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The Independent Football

Not many managers would decline to spend money in order to protect their club from crippling debt. Not many would also go to the lengths of covering for their board of directors by saying that they do not need the cash.

Arsène Wenger is right not to mortgage Arsenal's future on chasing trophies but, as with most good things in football, we will probably only really appreciate that long after he has gone. The club's money is not Wenger's own, but he definitely treats it as if it were.

That sort of thinking is not a product of his much-vaunted economics degree from Strasbourg University, more a part of his value system. He just does not regard winning by spending vast amounts of money as part of the sport.

That was why, when Danny Fiszman, the boardroom strongman at Arsenal, said in August last year that Wenger could buy a £30m player if he liked, Wenger was understood to be none too happy. Yes, at a push Arsenal could spend that kind of money. But it would put their finances on a knife-edge and Wenger was not prepared to do it.

Instead of complaining publicly, Wenger let Fiszman off but it is noticeable that no one at Arsenal, especially the new chief executive Ivan Gazidis, have been quite so outspoken on the topic ever since.

That is not to say that Wenger is without his blind spots. He refuses to acknowledge that Arsenal are in a virtuous circle where they can finish fourth and still bank their Champions League money and that the only way Manchester City can break into that circle is by spending big.

Wenger says that a club's spending should be dictated by its size and that smaller clubs – meaning City – outspending bigger clubs – meaning Arsenal – is against the natural order. "At the end of the year the profit must cover the deficit," he said recently. It always does in his player trading.