So the usual suspects are out in force defending the manager. Our captain has been in the news telling the world Arsene doesn’t deserve the sack.
”He’s done a lot for this club. He still does a lot of hard work with us. He is the right man for the job. We have to show it on the pitch as well.”
Thomas dropping the customary JD Motivational morning message isn’t unusual this season. The captain isn’t going to say anything else though, is he? Truth is, if anyone’s position is under threat, it’s the one Thomas holds. Being the Captain really hasn’t worked out this year. His performances were iffy last year, this year, they’ve been out and out atrocious. Well, I say that… not in ‘Arsenal of now’ terms, but in terms of where they have been from past captains. I can’t for the life of me work out why Arsene chose his 3rd best defender to take on the duty. I still maintain Arteta would have been the best choice, but even he over the past few weeks has melted into the background.
I’m resisting the urge to award it to Jack (as if I have the choice), primarily because his game isn’t where it needs to be yet. When he’s one of the top 5 players in the Premiership, then we can talk about adding extra pressure to his game. He certainly has all the ingredients. Bucket loads of energy an passion… a lead by example way of playing… and a natural DNA for the club. We shouldn’t give it to him now though. It’ll be a case of too much too soon. The armband is something that should be worked towards.
Back onto Arsene Wenger. There’s been so many 180 degree spins in the web world. You listen around on the radio and see what people are punching into blogs and it’s quite unbelievable that we’re talking about top class football and basing our judgement on sentiment. This sycophantic behaviour is so counter productive. I just can’t understand how anyone can look at what’s going on at the club and think that Wenger is the man to take us forward. He’s dead as a top class manager, face up to it. It’s never going to change because he won’t change. Half his tenure at the club has been trophyless. The last 5 years have seen a steady decline in the defence, the personnel and style of play.
That from a manager with power, money and infrastructure.
Some say that it’s an impossible task to take on the might of City and Chelsea. Well, firstly, United have done a pretty sterling job taking them on with a lower wage bill and arguably, less quality. Then if we look out into the deepest darkest Europe, the two German teams, Bayern and Dortmund have also done a great job on smaller budgets. Bayern Munich tore up the blue print this time last season and brought in ten players, 5 of which cost £63m… three of which played against us two nights ago. Their wage bill still sits comfortably beneath ours. They’re managing to balance the structure so that the best players earn £140k plus… they had a great summer with the same amount of cash we have sitting in the bank unused.
Dortmund aren’t a million miles away either. They’ve sold big name players and brought in top quality on a budget. Their wage bill again is significantly lower than ours, but they’re managing to find top players and they’re managing to compete at a higher level than us.
Simply put, we need to stop assuming that more money is the only means to success. More money, generally means lazy… History is littered with brands who have had a market lead because of greater capitalisation… then subsequently have been taken over because they’re not the sharpest of most nimble. Arsene Wenger’s success was based on being a trailblazer. We carved out a place in the Premiership market not because we were richer… but because we were more intelligent, we ripped up the rule book and took football to the next level. This current Arsenal set up is a million miles away from being trailblazing. Because of Arsene’s success, he’s been able to get away with surrounding himself with yes men. When things are going well, these people are fine. Now Arsenal are going down the toilet pan, no one has the guts to tell Arsene how it is. He’s got no support. Wenger doesn’t have a voice who will to pull him to one side and tell him the truth.
That’s his fault though. He should be tearing that backroom set up every two seasons if he’s not seeing any progress.
Look at the issues we’re having. We haven’t had a decent goalkeeper since Jens left us. Almunia was a crime against keeping. Who had the guts, bar Jens, to tell Wenger he was a shocking keeper? No one. What was Gerry Payton saying to Arsene? What did Gerry have to say about Mannone and Fabianski? How has Chezzer been allowed to get away with such terrible displays of keeping over and over again. How comes his kicking is still so weak? Why hasn’t Jens been given that job? Because he’d tell Arsene what the deal was… he wouldn’t accept second best.
How have we got to February 2013… and let the past two years pass with one striker? I mean, seriously, we only had one striker last year and the same has been true of this year. What sort of manager is allowed to head into a season with just one recognised front man, who by all accounts, is still looking pretty damn average?
These are major issues. These aren’t ‘let’s just give him one more summer’ type problems. They’re sackable offences any other manager would face the chop for.
The most major flaw in the whole system is our 1998 approach to setting up. We still don’t’ prepare for teams. We still ignore all the basics a modern football club needs to survive at the top level. Ribery is in the news saying the game was easier than expected…
“We didn’t think it would be so easy,”
Why? Because we made it easy. We didn’t offer up a challenge. We didn’t offer up a system designed to stifle them. We just went out and played out flawed game against one of the strongest teams in Europe. That’s why, in 16 years of constant entry to the Champions League, we’ve never won it.
There is some good news though. If Arsene wants a new deal next year, he’ll have to spend this summer to have any hope of having power to leverage the sort of deal he wants. I hope if he is offered a new deal in November, it comes with stipulations, because if we want to compete again, the infrastructure needs to change. The club need to get the power back. The scouting network needs to be assessed, best practice approach needs to be implemented and managerial goals and objectives need to be reframed. This mess is understandable… Ivan is dealing with a legend. He doesn’t want to undermine Wenger while he’s achieving top 4. However, that legend is on a downward spiral, he needs to act and show leadership now… and he certainly needs to make sure he doesn’t cave to Wenger for another three years.
He knows this though… don’t underestimate how aware Stan and Ivan are to the problems. They’re inactive, not stupid.