Man Utd crisis talks emphatically vindicate Arsenal's controversial “investments”

Arsenal are already enjoying a much healthier start to the season than this time last year, while Manchester United – one of their rivals for a European spot last term – are doing anything but.

Mikel Arteta’s team beat Leicester City 4-2 on Saturday to remain joint-top of the Premier League table, with summer signing Gabriel Jesus getting off the mark for the new campaign. United, meanwhile, made it two defeats from two after shipping four first-half goals at the Brentford Community Stadium.

United boss Erik ten Hag responded to questions about early pressure, while supporters of the Manchester club have expressed their dissatisfaction. Arsenal are in much better shape, with even Piers Morgan changing his tune on the Gunners, and it may have something to do with a transfer approach which United could arguably do worse than follow.

Earlier in the summer, Arsenal technical director Edu shared some thoughts on the club’s earlier transfer business, some of which came in for criticism. A number of out-of-favour players were allowed to leave for free, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil chief among them, but the Brazilian looked at things differently to most.

“If you imagine, ‘Oh, no problem: this season we’re going to expose the player a little bit more and then we sell them’ — no, be realistic. You don’t want to sell the player,” Edu told The Athletic in July.

Try to avoid one more year with the problem inside, in the dressing room, expensive, not performing. Clean, take it out. I’m sorry, if you have to pay. To leave is better. Because that guy is sometimes also blocking someone.”

Is Edu’s strategy the right one? Have your say in the comments section

Edu has been open about some of the club’s transfer decisions
Getty Images)

“I know it hurts, I know it’s strange when I go to the board and say, ‘Sometimes it’s better to pay a player to leave, than maintain them’,” he continued. “But I consider it an investment.

“Sometimes people say, ‘It’s expensive’. I say, ‘No, it’s investment’. But will someone pay if you sell? No, guys — if the player is above 26, 27 and not performing, big salary, no chance.”

Admittedly, it is still very early in the season, and Arsenal know after last year not to judge things at this stage of the campaign. However, given the apparent morale in the London club’s squad, there are many who will wonder if the “investments” have played their part.

Man Utd went bottom of the table on Saturday after a second defeat

Compare this to United, whose problems remain despite changes to the coaching and playing staff. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick struggled to united the dressing room after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, but the players reportedly had an underwhelming reaction to Erik ten Hag’s arrival in the dugout and the results remain a worry.

One of the bigger issues last season confirmed dressing room leaks, but CEO Richard Arnold claimed those responsible had left the club. It was a summer upheaval, with a number of departures on free transfers in addition to those sold or loaned out, but some of the same concerns remain.

Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer hinted at leaks around the potential move for Marko Arnautovic, but unrest within the dressing room itself could be more significant. Ten Hag introduced new rules in a bid to curb this kind of activity, but suggestions of dressing room unrest have been spilling onto back pages after the Brentford defeat.

“I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I think Man United stands for trophies and that has to be the standard that everyone has to accept,” the manager said after watching his team lose heavily in west London. “We cannot live with low standards because then we will not get back where we have to be.”

Much of the conversation since has surrounded incomings, with United having failed to add to their squad since July. Outgoings could be just as important, though, with an unbalanced and bloated squad struggling for form.

Edu’s approach has received criticism from some quarters, but Arsenal are – for now at least – looking better for it. A certain other Premier League club may well decide they need to take a leaf out of his book.

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