James Lawton: Arsenal manager Wenger needs to learn rules of financial unfair play
The brusque order from Richard Scudamore, boss of the Premier League, that Arsène Wenger should stop whingeing about how Manchester City have turned his club into a car boot sale, is not without comic undertones.
"Now look here, Wenger, it's time you pulled yourself together," Scudamore might have added when he declared, "They [Arsenal] cannot compete financially so they have to compete in other ways. Arsène Wenger has the talent, skill and nous to be able to do that."
What particular talent are we talking about here? Having failed to mesmerise Samir Nasri into deep contempt for City's financial inducements, will he be able to improve on the performance when Robin van Persie contemplates a similarly life-changing offer at the end of his Arsenal contract?
It is not likely, no more than any unheralded burst of enthusiasm in Blackburn, say, for the Premier League concept of fit and proper ownership of the once proud club, champions of England not so long ago, who now represent quite what can happen when the idea of maintaining a semblance of balanced competition – for which ambition Uefa president Michel Platini is most scorned in English football – is abandoned.
"Arsenal cannot compete financially so they have to compete in other ways," Scudamore goes on. "They have to cut their cloth accordingly. I'm sure that doesn't mean they cannot compete for the title."
Maybe it's time for the smoke and the mirrors, Arsène.