I have to say, I really didn’t expect to lose to WBA yesterday. I thought Wenger was going to juice his team up for the usual winning streak that secures our place in the top 4. I was actually hoping for a bit of respite this week, because if I’m totally honest, I’m finding this especially draining, and I’m sure you are too.
I think we’re witnessing more than a ‘unique blip’ in our season, we’re seeing the players down tools and give up on the manager. They don’t care. Not one of them. They are a big chunk of the blame, you can’t ignore performances like that, but you have to look at the root cause, and that’s Arsene Wenger.
If the players don’t care, that’s because the manager hasn’t given them reason to. That means they’re not motivated to succeed. That’s because they’ve lost faith in their leader. How can people not empathise? Wenger offers up the most basic of preparation for games, in a world where players know and have experienced exactly how proper managers operate. He’s struggling to make players better, he can’t fathom a setup that works for the talent he has at his disposal, and there’s nothing surprising about how we play.
I know people love Xhaka, he’s a beautiful passer of the ball, but someone is going to have to work out a way of making the most of his passing skills, whilst covering off for his chronic lack of pace and physicality. You can’t keep on overlooking these issues because teams are exploiting his weaknesses every week. Considering how we play, I really don’t understand how a manager of 21 years experience in the english league didn’t look for a more mobile / powerful regista when scouting.
Danny Welbeck, bless him, really isn’t much of a striker. His goal record over the last 5 years is pretty abysmal and I’m not sure he’s going to blossom into the Thierry Henry figure we hoped he’d become. What is going on with Mustafi? The man’s value is dropping faster than an antisemitic Youtuber on a meltdown. Even Laurent K, our mighty leader at the back, is mailing it in. How many times was he beaten in the air yesterday? He’s a liability at the moment and he’s certainly not showing he’s our best defender.
These issues, in my opinion, stem from a culture of celebrated mediocrity. Sport cannot operate on a socialist model. That’s not how competition works. If you’re paying 75% of the team more than they’re worth and 25% less than they’re worth, what are people working towards? If you tell the media top 4 is a trophy, how do you think that makes elite athletes feel? If there are no consequences to bad performances or poor careers, how can you expect players to have fire in their bellies?
All of these problems have been widely reported on by Le Grove for many years, I just think the consequences are blossoming hard now, like we predicted at the start of the season. Sad part is I, along with many others thought the problem Wenger would have would be the uprising of the new breed of managerial talent. Turns out, the house of cards collapsed without much pressure from anyone else. It looks like a simple case of – if you pump enough shit into the mixer, at some point, you’re going to get shit out – or something like that.
So what to think?
Well, like they tell me at my AA meetings – ‘things have to get worse, before they get better’ – so yesterday’s result, though horrific to watch was kind of what we needed. Wenger is a boxer who’s been knocked through the ropes, he’s on the referee’s count, question is, do you want to see him get up off the floor?
The manager didn’t really give much away after the game, tellingly, Sky nor NBC grilled him on his future. The writers did though, and this is what he said.
“I know what I will do”
“You will soon know”
“Today I do not necessarily worry about that. We are in a unique bad patch we never had in 20 years.”
“We lose game after game at the moment and that for me is much more important than my future.”
It’s very difficult to analyse what he’s saying here. His body language was very calm, almost bordering on arrogant. He didn’t look broken, he looked pretty at ease. You can read that as the mental lift of knowing he’s calling it a day, or you could read it as the arrogance of a man who knows he’s staying because he calls the shots.
The worrying thing is the lack of analysis of the situation. Wenger thinks the annual collapse is unique to the last ten years, when it’s anything but. The fact he’s suggesting it’s a blip sounds like he’s making excuses as to why staying on or the reason he should be a given a second chance (he has cash in the bank with Stan as it were).
However, if he were to stare at this mess in the cold light of day, it’s impossible for him to look at the problems he’s suffering and think he can solve them.
‘Bayern, PSG, Real, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and City have all changed managers since Arsenal last won away at a top 8 side in the league.’
Look at that statistic. It’s appalling. Then look at the away fans, the most loyal Wenger lovers of us all, waving banners and chanting songs about moving the manager on. Then look online and the seething rage among Arsenal fans the world over. Read what the pundits are saying. Look at the attitude of the players. Look at who wants to leave the club this summer. What will sponsors think as we negotiate a new deal for our shirt? It is beyond the pale that this decision is in his hands, but it is.
… and look, you need to stop blaming Gazidis for this. I’m pretty sure that the whispers I’d heard about him being cool with Wenger were off the mark, and I shouldn’t be surprised, he was pretty pissed off when I met with him in the Podolski days. He and his commercial team will know that Wenger is a car crash and they’ll no doubt want him gone.
The real problem started with David Dein introducing a horror of an investor to the club without doing his due diligence. Stan K is an embarrassment to sport and the billionaires club. How can his ego deal with the fact all his franchises are tanking? There’s a tweet going around about his hockey team yesterday,
‘Looks like the Avs (Avalanches) have given up’
But here’s the problem, because his clubs are such a mess elsewhere, Arsenal look like a volcano of glory. Our owner has such low standards and such a lack of interest in winning, he actually thinks Wenger is a good investment. So until that bond of love is broken, Wenger calls the shots.
That’s why flying banners, though a bit cringe, are important. Because Wenger needs to see these things, because left to his own devices, he’ll stay on forever.
However, he must know what’s coming. We’re going to get torn apart by City when we return from the break. Then we have a bit of respite in the league. Then things get really salty. City at Wembley, Spurs away, then United at home. We could finish 8th if we’re not careful. Everton just drew level on points with us.
That’s why I’m very worried about Wenger using this two-week break to announce that he’s shamelessly signed on. When the narrative is dead, he can let our season implode with shellshocked fans that are numb because they can’t quite believe what’s happened, versus them hounding him out of the club with more and more aggression building as we do worse and worse.
The only hope I hold out for him quitting is that the cold hard facts are too difficult to ignore. There is no argument for him to stay. He should know that and he should leave with a bit of dignity. Because this isn’t a blip, this is the start of a collapse that is going to get more and more expensive to fix the longer Stan K lets it go on for.
Another sad day for Arsenal, let’s hope next week isn’t a sad start to the next two years.
Right, see you in the comments.