In a way I feel for Arsene Wenger, I really do. I have a huge amount of respect for what he had to put up with during the stadium move and how he kept us afloat in times of seriously poor cash flow. According to fact, we deferred the signing of Robin Van Persie by 6 months because we couldn’t afford his fee in one lump, which was about £2.75million. Also, back in 2006, we didn’t play Theo for so long because we couldn’t afford his first installment that was triggered by an appearance.
Pre summer 2007 we really were in a hole with money and to keep us alive in the Champions League and to get us to a final in the process was an incredible achievement. As many have pointed out, possibly the greatest achievement under his tenure has been keeping the clubs head above water during the move.
Trouble is, coming so close to greatness in 2006 on a shoe string budget scarred his methodology forever, because ever since, regardless of resource, he’s been chasing the low-budget success high he buzzed off that summer Jens Lehmann smashed over Eto’o and killed our dreams.
Since January 2008 he’s has £18million plus to spend in the transfer market. Small fry compared to City and Chelsea, but when have we ever played ball in those markets? Jan 2008 we could have re-signed Anelka, held on to Diarra and we could have picked up a centre back. Instead, we signed no one, sold Diarra for a pittance in case his value fell below £4million on loan and flogged Gilberto.
Summers have generally repeated themselves. Same old problems with promised redress in May with no delivery by September. The result? Often we’d compete with a small squad until February, then things would fall away when injuries set in and mental fragility reared it’s ugly head.
The same coaching staff, the same average players being flogged and the same outcome. Like many scenarios in life, you can forgive mistakes if they’re not repeated, you can forgive them if you see different approaches and a ruthless streak when things are going wrong… But to just watch the same failings over and over again becomes tiring.
This is what many journo’s don’t understand when assessing crowd reaction at the Emirates. Sure the song wasn’t nice, sure booing mid-game isn’t smart when chasing a game, but there comes a point after watching seasons unravel so frequently when you just lose it. Being rational is the easiest thing in the world when you have no emotion invested in a club. It’s easy to stick up for a manager who has kept you in a job with witty sound bites for years. Not so easy when you’re forking out a massive chunk of cash you’ve scrapped hard to find, knowing what you’re likely to see. Like Geoff said yesterday, the UK’s press are up in arms over the pay of the RBS Chief and he’s earning half of what Arsene is at the moment… £7million a year and he’s not doing his best to give us a competitive team.
Arsene Wenger is the root of these issues. Don’t believe the stories about Dick Law bumbling around messing up Wenger’s deals because they’re simply not true. Wenger’s indecisiveness on players is the problem. As reported at the AGM, he values the players and he decides what to pay them. If he didn’t, he’d be elsewhere… as he’s said on many occasions before.
Trouble we have at the club is a power issue. Wenger controls too much. He was given more power when Dein went because most of the current board had too much trust in him. It largely paid off, the issue is that now he’s not doing so well, it’s hard to wrestle the power back.
So what is going on at board level? Are they giving him the rope to hang himself? It makes sense doesn’t it. Gazidis only has power when it comes to the commercial side of the business, the rest of the board are old, bereft of energy and ideas and their satisfaction of Champions League every year to fatten their eventual pay off has caused a malaise in the club which has filtered into the first team. Do you think the current set up suits Ivan Gazidis and Tom Fox. Do you think the commercial team relishes a squad they’re struggling to market? No way… but they can’t remove a legend unless the fans say so.
Why do you think the board chose Stan to take over? Because he’ll stay in America, come over once and year and keep the status quo. What do you think Usmanov would be doing now? What benefit would he see on £50mill profit bar a tax liability? He’d come in, he’d change the board (the old boys), bring in fresh blood and give Arsene the funds needed to transform his squad.
The only demand? Win something. As someone in the comments pointed out yesterday. Football clubs don’t exist to make money, they exist to succeed.
Changes need to happen at Arsenal. I said after the last collapse that the next dip in form will see a far quicker backlash. It proved true. Wenger should have acted in early Jan, that could have saved him a whole load of grief. Sadly we are where we are now. Our relationship with Arsene is damaged forever, regardless of how many guilty ‘there’s only one Arsene Wenger’ songs we sing at the weekend. Gazidis said to me at the AST Q&A that ultimately, the manager was accountable to the fans. Well, things aren’t looking good are they?
As for Madrid coming in for Arsene. You have got to be kidding me? If Mourinho is getting grief after over taking Barca to the top of La Liga, what would they think to Wenger bringing in super class talent like Silvestre and Park Chu-Young? He’d last half a season anywhere like that and he’d be a giant hypocrite if he went to a financially doped club and started spunking money up the wall like Kenny Dalglish at an English Players supermarket.
Right, that’s you lot. Geoff back on tomorrow… whilst I’ll be recording the first podcast for Le Grove!
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P.S. Chelsea fans are all class eh?