I don't take time out to read too many of Wengers press conferences these days. They're too repetitive to take note of. I did however catch the a quotes from Saturday nights.
'At the moment I get many lessons from many people who have managed zero clubs and zero games and zero European games.'
Right on cue George. Arsene, before you throw your low fat bran flakes at the cat, George Graham won 2 league titles with an extremely young side, he won a bundle of cups and he was one game away from an invincible season. He also managed a team that conceded just 18 in a term.
‘I think Arsenal are in crisis. I think it’s been slipping away for the last couple of years. They’ve got money to buy and I can’t understand why Arsene didn’t go out and get some quality players in the summer.
‘You’ve got to introduce youngsters, like Sir Alex Ferguson does. But at the same time he’ll buy ready-made players who cost £25m because they’re not afraid to do it. Arsene has overdone the youth policy and the players coming in are not as good as the ones that have left.’
Manu Petit may not be a manager, but I feel he has a unique insight into the way you work and he has direct experience of you at your best.
"Arsene built success based on experienced players and big characters. All of a sudden he decided to completely change it, put confidence in young players.
"For five years they were close to winning something but they didn't and that's why they have to change the policy.
"They have to bring in more experience and big characters. They need leaders. But you cannot sign big players if you are not in the Champions League."
"Every year they're selling their best players. Arsenal are not a football academy - they're one of the biggest clubs in Europe and need to get back to that level.
"They have to spend money to get the big names, and they must also ask some players to leave."
Right on Manu... Many succinct points there. The simple fact is Wenger did have the makings of a few good teams post invincibles but they all bombed in the second half of the season because of a lack of experience and lack of depth. Also, well played on highlighting the summer of shame. Not recruiting replacements for players the club knew were departing was beyond a joke.
Even Ray Parlour, another man with hard experience in a Wenger dream machine reckons we need to spend £75mill to compete. He's right and that sum is definitely well within our limits of expenditure. All the figures flying around this morning claiming Wenger is set to be given a war chest this summer are the same nonsense stories that went around last year.
He's had a warchest since 2008!
The sheer arrogance of Arsene is quite unbelievable. He's overseen zero trophies in 7 seasons and refused to change his coaching staff in that time probably in the belief that only he knows best. Therein lies the problem people... that's why Pat Rice sitting next to him on the bench. How can a man who was a double winner in the early seventies and the assistant manager who helped create one of the greatest back fours the world has ever seen, allow our defence to plod along as it has done. How can he not pull Arsene aside and demand he is given control of the back 4 during training?
How can Boro Piromac, himself a defender who captained Yugoslavia in the eighties and acrrued 600+ games as a professional across 4 clubs not be having a quiet word with Arsene about the disgraceful displays he's witnessing from the back four every week for 7 years?
I'd argue that Wenger has struggled since he had to create a defence from scratch without any George Graham influence. The players he has right now are his signings and they can't defend. The first team he took over he inherited from George Graham. Well, the core of it at least. He had an amazing back four that didn't need managing. All they needed was better contracts and a reduction in pre-match boozing. They were well oiled and well disciplined. They new when to b*llock, when to praise... when to roam forward, when to boot into touch.
The second iteration of the back four consisted of the best centre back in Europe, Kolo Toure, Cashley and Lauren. I can't knock the purchases, they were top notch. However, they were afforded the luxury of learning from the best. Keown, Adams and Winterburn hung around. That knowledge was absorbed and that back four went on to go undefeated. They were good players without doubt, but they certainly benefitted from having the old guard hanging around the place.
Shortly after that, the decimation began. Wenger booted all the invinvibles out pretty sharpish and he brought in players that weren't as good. The team in front of the back four lacked experience and because we've never been able to train young defenders, things slowly went down hill. Wenger should have called upon the experience that had recently floated out the door. He didn't think he needed to do that though. He thought he could trust in technical ability and the idea that if you maintain all the posession, no one can hurt you. He became complacent. He believed if you are great once, you'll always be great. He didn't imagine other people would catch and surpass.
Well, 7 years on, he's still yet to recreate a proper defence. The numbers are getting worse, yet no one seems to be bothered. How can we ever expect to sustain a season if we're beating our record for conceding goals year after year?
If you always think you're the smartest guy in the room, you'll never improve. Fergie knows he's not the smartest in the room. He knows he has the keep ahead of the game an that's why he's always competing. Still, if no one internally has the bottle to challenge a poorly conceived mindset, you'll see the same patterns emerge season after season. I don't think Arsenal fans enjoy the buzz of calling a season correctly in July. We always seem to manage it though, don't we? Well, bar some of the deluded ones...
A simple lesson in football. If you want to compete for trophies you need a big enough squad to handle the games. You also need to make sure the players are good enough. You don't win trophies with average players. It's always been that way. Unless you're a Scottish team of course.
The other thing that is slightly grating me is the bypassing of Wenger when it comes to the blame. Firstly it was the board for not supporting him with money. Now that myth has been exploded, we're blaming the people above him for not putting more pressure on him to spend. Sure, a chunk of the blame has to be put on the owner... but how have we slipped blame from Wenger again? If ultimately he's the power broker, the highest paid person at the whole club, how can we suddenly say it's more Stan's fault for not forcing him to buy players? I thought everyone was jumping for joy at an owner who wouldn't challenge the status quo last summer?
I'm playing devils advocate a little here... but we do have a tendency to absolve Wenger whenever we can.
What is amusing is Geoff and I opposed Stan from the off to much criticism... now look at everyone! So many fell for his cowboy hat and friendly tash. Not us... we'd seen the Yosemite Sam cartoons back in the day. We knew not all cowboys were experts at running International football clubs.
More groundhog quotes emerged late yesterday...
"People are always asking the same question but the first trophy is to finish in the top four and that's still possible for us,"
"I believe that is vital for us, so let's focus on that."
"We have many missing: big, big players, too. We're in February and [Jack] Wilshere has played zero games, [Abou] Diaby has played zero games, [Per] Mertesacker is out for the season and [Andre] Santos for three months. That would be difficult for any club in the world to deal with. But let's win our next game and we'll be fine."
Arsene, I'd say the major players we're missing are not mentioned above. You know, Cesc and Nasri, the players you didn't replace. You knew Jack was out long term, you knew Diaby was never a player you could rely on and Kieran Gibbs was stupidly your first choice left back.
I can't be bothered take on the trophy comment. He should be sacked for suggesting such a thing, it shows a total lack of ambition and it embarrasses the club. What really grates me is that he's not thinking of next season. Why isn't he? He should be working over time to compile a list of players he needs in. He should be thinking about who is going to replace Robin right this second. Dick Law should be given that list and told to start making pre-agreements. There's no use waiting till the season ends, letting Arsene and Gazidis go on holiday like last year then missing out on all our targets, only to follow up with the analogy about supermarket bread.
Tonight sees the first supporters meeting since the crash. I'll be heading down to the AST gathering to hear what the stance is likely to be. It should be a spicy occasion and I'd imagine some sort of action will come from it. One of the most pressing questions will be around how good the financial results are.
The last thing the club need is £50million profit in the bank with a terrible football team...
More on that tomorrow... remember to follow Le Grove via Twitter for all the goss.
[twitter-follow screen_name='LeGrove' show_count='yes']